Guest Author & Giveaway: Jaci Burton featuring Playing to Win

Wednesday, September 12

I don't think anyone likes to be presented with their flaws.  It's not pretty.  Self transformation is often a difficult and soul searching process...but one that also comes with great reward.  Not only do you gain a better understanding of yourself, but your actions, and hopefully transforms you into an improved and hopefully happier version of yourself.  So in the end it's worth it.

Author Jaci Burton is my guest today to share with us a bit about her hero Cole Riley who happens to have to go through this exact thing in her newest Play by Play novel, Playing to Win.  It's either that, or possibly lose everything, and for a football player who is used to excelling....finding that he's not perfect is not easy. 


“So what’s your conclusion?” Cole asked.

“This is just a preliminary analysis, but my belief is that you have anger management issues.”

He let out a snort. “I do not.”

Savannah speared a leaf of lettuce, and didn’t argue with him.

“Seriously. I don’t have anger management issues. Or any other kind of issues. I told you last night, the media lies. They blow everything out of proportion.”

“What about your issues with the teams you’ve been on?”

He shrugged. “Personality clashes. I’ve just been on the wrong teams.”

“I see. And you think it’ll be different with the Traders.”

“Yeah. I’ve already connected with them. This is a good fit for me.”

“So assuming this team is, in fact, a good fit for you and you have no skirmishes with anyone on your team, from players to management, what about your personal life?”

“What about it? I told you it’s not me, it’s the media.”

She laid her fork down and dabbed at the corners of her mouth with the napkin. “To some extent, you’re likely correct. The media has a tendency to overdramatize and exaggerate. But if you don’t give them anything to work with, they have nothing to report. You give them plenty, so even if what’s there is minor, they have the opportunity to blow it up.”

“That’s bullshit.” He pushed his empty plate to the side and finished his glass of water. Mike was right there to refill it, then blended into the darkness of the restaurant again. “I don’t give them anything. They make shit up.”

“You also have an issue of not being able to accept blame for your actions.”

“If I’m wrong, I’ll accept blame.”

She raised her fork, then paused, her lips lifting in a hint of a smile. “Let me guess. You’re never wrong?”

Irritation spiked. He pushed it down, refusing to get into an argument with her here. “I didn’t say that. And you’re baiting me.”

“I’m not baiting you, Cole. We’re having a conversation. Your anger is quick to spark. Once it does, you don’t back down. That’s why you get into trouble so easily. And so often.”

He sucked in a breath, trying to keep control. “So is this an exercise to see how fast you can piss me off?”

“No.” She looked down at her plate, then back up at him. “It’s lunch.”

“You think this is funny.”

“I wasn’t making a joke. I’m trying to get you to understand that you’re angry for no reason. We’re having a conversation. A conversation that you’ve turned into what you think is me attacking you.” She pushed her plate to the side and drew the file folder in front of her, opened it up and pulled out photos and articles. “If you’d like, you can explain these photos and altercations. Give me an understanding of you, of what was happening during these events.”

He took the photos. “This one was at a club. I was kicking back with some friends, and suddenly there are ten cameras in my face. Lights are popping, they’re pushing the woman I was with just to get closer to me. What the hell was I supposed to do? I shoved them out of the way so I could get my date out of there. She was freaked out.”

He pulled out an article, this one from some tabloid rag that said he’d been drunk and passed out in a club. He snorted. “Paparazzi tripped me while I was trying to get away from them. So they take this photo of me lying facedown in a club and then print that I’m drunk and passed out.”

At her dubious look, he shot her a glare. “I don’t drink during the season. It affects my performance. Look at the date.” He handed the article back to her.

“October fifteenth.”

“Exactly. Deep in the middle of the season. No alcohol. You can go to the club owners and ask them.”

She filed the article away. “I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“This one, I was out with my parents. My parents. That’s news? It was their anniversary and I wanted to take them out to dinner. Some place nice and quiet and the goddamned media shows up. I’m not an actor. I’m not Hollywood. I’m just a jock. Taking my parents out to dinner isn’t newsworthy. Yet they stalked me and hounded my parents, blinding them with their cameras.”

“Did you bring a date that night?”

He frowned. “What?”

“When you took your parents out to dinner for their anniversary. Did you bring a date?”


“That’s why you had the media stalking you. You’re a hot commodity, Cole. You have big endorsement deals, you’ve done commercials, and you’ve been known to date high-profile women. That makes you attractive to the media. Next time you want to take your parents out for a quiet dinner, don’t bring a date.”

“It shouldn’t matter whether I want to bring a date or not. The media should leave me alone.”

She smiled at him. “What you want and what you’re going to get are two different things. You’ve been in the NFL for six years now, and you were hot even when you played college ball. If you don’t want this life, then maybe you should consider retiring.”

He was about ready to let Peaches hoof it back to her car. “That’s a bullshit suggestion.”

“And you’re a whiner. You have a great career, you make more money than most of the people in this country will ever dream of. You have a ton of perks, you can retire before you’re forty and live a life of luxury—provided you’re financially astute and haven’t pissed it all away. Yet you’ve cornered yourself into a terrible reputation and your career is hanging by a thread. What? Fame, money, and success aren’t enough for you? Are you unhappy?”

He pushed his chair back, pulled a wad of bills out of his wallet, and threw them on the table, then tossed some extra at her. “You can take a cab back to your car, Peaches. We’re done here.”

He walked out.

Now that was the Cole Riley she’d researched.

This was a tough scene to write. And it wasn’t the only one. This was a hard book, and I waffled a lot when writing it, because Cole, in the beginning, was highly unlikeable. But in order to do this story justice, I had to make him that way.

I love writing strong, confident, and yes, often arrogant heroes. Athletes have to have great self esteem in order to transfer that self confidence to the playing field. After all, if they don’t believe they’re awesome and can achieve their goals, they likely won’t. But there’s a fine line between belief in self and being a total douchebag. Cole walks that line very finely, and I worried the readers would hate him.

But in order to effect change in a character, sometimes you have to make him unlikeable at the beginning. And if anyone needed to change his life, it was Cole Riley. He was a bad boy, both on and off the field, had been kicked off several teams, his career hanging by a thread. He needed Savannah, even if he didn’t think he did. He liked to party and didn’t ever see himself as part of a team, and it was Savannah’s job to make sure he gels with the Traders. Her job is on the line, and so is his entire career. If I made his transition too easy, there’d be no conflict. And conflict is at the core of any good story, as well as any good romance.

To say that Cole and Savannah conflict with each other at the beginning of Playing to Win is an understatement. She thinks he’s an utter butthead, and he thinks she’s out to completely change who he is as a person. The dance between these two is delicate, but oh so fun to watch unfold.

I hope everyone enjoys Cole’s transformation in Playing to Win.


Someone's going to have to let down their guard...

Football star Cole Riley is notorious for doing as he pleases—on the field and off. He parties hard and fights harder, but if he doesn't clean up his act, his career is over—so Cole reluctantly agrees to work with image makeover consultant Savannah Brooks. He's not used to being told what to do, especially by some (admittedly hot) southern belle. As for Savannah, she's not convinced she can transform this cocky (and aggressively sexy) force of nature. But she's determined to give it her best shot.

When the sparks start to fly, Savannah lays down the ground rules: no personal complications. If she can turn off the tingle she feels every time Cole gives her a hot stare with his gorgeous baby blues, he can turn off his desire as well. But for two people determined to have it all, a hands-off policy can only last so long before one of them yields.

Thank you Jaci for being my guest today!!!  I'm totally loving this series, even if it hasn't featured a Rugby playing hero yet (hint hint).  I can't wait for Thrown By a Curve (March 2013) that features Cole's sister Alicia Riley, and a return to baseball in the next book in the Play by Play series.  What a way to warm up a cold winter day!

If you'd like to learn more about Jaci Burton and the books she writes (that I just love love love), then you can find her at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

To celebrate the release of Playing to Win by Jaci Burton, her publisher Berkley Heat, would like to giveaway a print copy of the book to one U.S. Musings follower.  Enter to win, and read all the rules/disclaimers in the Rafflecopter widget below:

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*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.


Jane September 12, 2012 at 12:15 AM  

Congrats to Jaci on the new release. I haven't read the Play by Play series, but I do like the cover for "Taking a Shot" the best because I'm a hockey fan and those abs are impressive.

CMD September 12, 2012 at 5:36 AM  

Congrats on the new release! Looking forward to this one, as soon as I emerge from under the massive pile of dissertation-related work. Which, sadly, may be never :P.

Favourite Play-by-Play? I'd have to go with CHANGING THE GAME-- I loved seeing the vulnerability in Liz's barracuda personality! And Mike was a bit of a wanker in the first one :P. As for the cover... Jed Hill looks fantastic in all of them, but I may have to go with PLAYING TO WIN.

Also: a rugby hero would be legend... as would a footie [soccer] one. Just sayin' :P.

Modokker September 12, 2012 at 7:29 AM  

I am a book behind so of the two i liked book one the best. Playing to Win. A Rugby player might be fun. Jaci should probably look into that. lol

Love the excerpt!

Lisa B

Carin September 12, 2012 at 9:14 AM  

Congrats on the new release!
I haven't read the the play by play series yet but I must say I love the covers yummy! I think my favorite cover has to be for Taking a Stand I could trace those abs with my tongue for hours ;O)
Thanks Carin

Krista September 12, 2012 at 10:08 AM  

I think Playing to Win is my favorite cover, but they are all great!

I would love to read about a ruby player!

Maureen September 12, 2012 at 11:49 AM  

I haven't read any of the books but I think The Perfect Play is my favorite cover, the hero looks relaxed.

erin September 12, 2012 at 12:06 PM  

Congrats on the newest release Jaci! Thanks for a fun post and giveaway! I haven't read her books but so far I'm loving all of the covers!

Joanne September 12, 2012 at 12:21 PM  

Congrats on the new release. The book sounds fantastic. Can't wait to read it.
I haven't read this series yet but plan on checking it out now. All the covers are gorgeous. What's not to love about a hot guy? Those abs and arms? Yum!


Leni September 12, 2012 at 1:44 PM  

I'm not going to pick a favorite cover or story. All are great and I always look forward for the next in the series.

*yadkny* September 12, 2012 at 1:45 PM  

I haven't read this series yet, but I have been dying to! There is now way for me to pick just 1 as a fav cover, so I'm going to go with all of them:) Also a Rugby player would be a fantastic hero to feature as part of the series! You've got my vote on that one:)

Soft Fuzzy Sweater September 12, 2012 at 1:48 PM  

"Playing to Win" the first book in the series is my favorite. I love how the hero is a nice guy, down to earth. Please enter me in the giveaway.


CrystalGB September 12, 2012 at 1:59 PM  

Hi Jaci. Congrats on the release of Playing to Win. Love the cover. My favorite so far has been The Perfect Play. Loved the hero. :)

Estella September 12, 2012 at 3:04 PM  

I love sport themed books!

Barrie Mac September 12, 2012 at 3:30 PM  

I haven't read any of the Play to Win books yet but am dying to! My favorite book is the first book for 2 reasons: 1. I LOVE football, especially when my beloved team, The Packers, play and 2. LOOK at that body still my heart!

Sheree September 12, 2012 at 4:30 PM  

Congrats on your new release!

I must admit that while I do have the series, I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. Oops! Although all the covers are hawt (thank you, Claudio Dogar Marinesco!), the cover I'm most looking forward to is THROWN BY A CURVE with Paul Marron on the cover! Yowza!

Vanessa N. September 12, 2012 at 6:35 PM  

I haven't read the series yet, but my favorite cover is from The Perfect Play.

June M. September 12, 2012 at 7:42 PM  

Congrats on the new release! I have not read any of this series yet. The covers are all great, it is hard to pick a fave. I guess my top 2 would be TAKING A SHOT (love the jeans and the way it seems like his hand is going to pull them down just a little more *G*) and THE PERFECT PLAY (cause you can see a profile of his nice butt, lol.

I am not very familiar with Rugby, but if the guys wear tight uniforms, shorts, etc and get sweaty, that's reason enough ;-)

scottsgal September 12, 2012 at 9:53 PM  

playing to win - hot!

Julianne Keller September 13, 2012 at 12:06 AM  

I haven't read any of the Play by Play series yet. To pick a favorite cover is impossible. I have cover flats of them, and they are well licked. Yes, I meant licked! I'm going to need new ones soon. What's not to like on any of those covers?
All that HAWT male flesh oozing sexiness. Rugby would be a great cover too! Nice tight butt, and hard abs. Yummy.
luvfuzzzeeefaces at yahoo dot com

Carol L. September 13, 2012 at 1:32 PM  

Congrats Jaci on this newest release. OMG ! Your covers of the Play y Play series are incredibly HOT...I LOVE the cover to a Perfect Play. His body is gorgeous and makes my mouth water.He'd be a very sloooow
ride. lol
Rugby players would be completely Alpha like or own FB players. Sweaty and delicious. Thank you for th
is opportunity.
Carol L
Lucky4750m(at) aol (dot) com

Danielle West September 13, 2012 at 8:12 PM  

I have only read Perfect Play so I obviously need to catch up!

Johanna R Jochum September 13, 2012 at 9:57 PM  

Playing to Win is my fav. Love all the covers! Bring on the rugby players!!!!!!!

evjochum AT aol DOT com

Texas Book Lover September 14, 2012 at 11:52 AM  

My favorite book and cover is The Perfect Play! The is just something about Mick. I loved the drama between Liz and Tara. Throw Nathan in the mix it was greatness!

The rest were terrific as well!

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