New Release Group Review: The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan

The Game PlanThe Game Plan by Kristen Callihan
#3 in Game On
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
Publication Date: November 1st, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A beard-related dare and one hot-as-hell kiss changes everything.

NFL center Ethan Dexter’s focus has always been on playing football and little else. Except when it comes to one particular woman. The lovely Fiona Mackenzie might not care about his fame, but she’s also never looked at him as anything more than one of her brother-in-law’s best friend. That ends now.

Fi doesn’t know what to make of Dex. The bearded, tattooed, mountain of man-muscle looks more like a biker than a football player. Rumor has it he’s a virgin, but she finds that hard to believe. Because from the moment he decides to turn his quiet intensity on her she’s left weak at the knees and aching to see his famous control fully unleashed.

Dex is looking for a forever girl, but they live vastly different lives in separate cities. Fi ought to guard her heart and walk away. But Dex has upped his game and is using all his considerable charm to convince Fi he’s her forever man.

Game On


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Our Review

Wendy: I love sport romances.  I don’t know what it is about them, because I’m not really into sports in my personal life but I love sports in books or movies.  I also love hot tattooed dudes with beards.

AH: I never actively sought out sports romances before. It’s not that I avoid these types of books – I have enjoyed a few of them before. I’m not the kind of person who sits around watching sports on TV, so I never thought of sports romance as a sub genre. I must say that the author made me a little more interested in football, especially the hunky hot main characters. And….in this case, the man is the virgin! (Aside from Outlander, how many times have you seen this?)

Wendy: Never, that I can think of.  It was unique character trait to give him, especially as a hot dude in the NFL.  I would have thought, personally, that it wouldn’t have been believable.  Yeah right, a guy in the NFL is a virgin.  There are far too many sport groupies.  Except, it did actually work.  She gave him the right kind of personality for it.  Dex was really cute.

AH: We should talk a bit about Dex. What an intriguing character. He’s not only good looks and muscle. Dex is a wonderful guy as well. He has loyal friends, a good moral compass, and he’s great with babies. What more can a woman want? Oh, and the virginity thing, that was kind of endearing as well.

This is not one of those love at first sight books, although you can argue that Dex has been in love with Fi for a long time. There is a delicious slow burn as Fi and Dex get to know each other.

Wendy: Dex could very easily have become a character that was ‘too’ good.  When you spell it all out, all those traits of loyal, good morals, great with babies, patient, gentle… he could have very easily become unreal or boring, but again the author really made it all work.

It actually made it hard for me to understand why Fi attempted to hold back at all.  I mean, this guy was nearly perfect!

AH: I liked Fi. I could understand her hesitation to commit – Fi has never had a steady relationship. She has no idea what she’s missing, lol.

Wendy: I always worry that I’ll struggle with female characters in contemporary romances.  I’ve said it before, but most of the time (for me) the author tries to write a female character as strong and in control, and they just wind up coming out as mean and bitchy.  That totally didn’t happen with Fi.  I think there was only one time in the whole story that I found myself frustrated with her character.

AH: I can understand what you mean, however, you have not met Kristen Callihan’s female lead characters. You definitely need to check out her Darkest London series.

Wendy: I’m actually really glad you pointed this book out to me, AH.  I didn’t know it existed, or know about this author previously, and it turned out to be a big hit.  Since I’m not normally a fan of the CR genre, any time I come across one that I really like I get very excited.  This was a solid 4 star book, and I know I’m going back to read Gray and Drew’s books for more.

AH’s Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  = A+

Wendy’s Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  = B+

Series Reading Order:

  1. The Hook Up
  2. The Friend Zone
  3. The Game Zone

Darkest London series (Paranormal Romance):

  1. Firelight
  2. Moonglow
  3. Winterblaze
  4. Shadowdance
  5. Evernight
  6. Soulbound
  7. Forevermore (June 2016)

Note: Each book in both series can be read as a stand alone book and in any order. We recommend reading the Darkest London series in order for optimal enjoyment.

Thank you to the publisher for a review copy of this book.



His lips quirk. “You should find out if your assumption is true before you condemn the beard.”

“Is this some sort of creepy way to get me to touch your beard?”

A challenge flashes in his eyes. “There are a few guys at the bar sporting beards. You could go ask them. But I figure since we know each other…”

“Not that well.”

“You’d rather ask a stranger?”

“You’re assuming I care enough to ask, Slick.”

His teeth shine white in the shadows of the club. “I know you’re curious. You’re fairly twitching with wanting to know.”

I flatten my hands against the table and glare. Is it just me, or is he closer? Close enough that I can see his eyes are hazel, lighter around his cornea with a starburst pattern. I wish I could see the colors, but he’s painted in shades of blue and gray right now.

And he’s watching me. Patient. Calculating. Tempting.

“It’s always the quiet ones,” I mutter before taking a breath. “Okay, I’ll pet your fuzzy face.”

“Hold up.” Without hesitation, he reaches for my drink and takes a sip. “Liquid courage.”

A strangled laugh leaves me. “Because I’m sooo scary.”

“You have no idea, Cherry.”

I think I growl at him. I definitely want to give his precious beard a good, hard tug. But he simply lifts his brows at me. “Get on with it, then.”

This cheeky bastard is totally playing me. And here I am falling into his trap. Because I cannot look away from his beard now. More specifically, his lips, which are parted just slightly. An invitation. A dare.

Shit. I’ve never been very good at ignoring a dare.

I hate that my hand trembles as I reach up to touch him. He stays perfectly still, his arm casually slung on the edge of the booth behind me, his body turned toward mine. But I don’t miss the way his breathing has kicked up just slightly.

I hesitate, shy almost. Hells bells, I’m only going to touch a bit of facial hair. Why does it feel like we’re two kids tucked in a dark corner, playing a game of “I’ll show you mine”?

Annoyed with myself, I close the distance between us.

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