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Phoenix Rising (Playing for Keeps #1)

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  580 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Two dozen roses, one dozen balloons and a night with a sexy, young stripper. What a thirty-sixth birthday for Jimmy Trent. But the ultimate gift is yet to come as he finds himself falling in love with the beautiful dancer. Adam Hyland's life is in the dumps. Living in his car and stripping for his supper, he doesn't expect much when the birthday-boy invites him to stay for ...more
Published 2008 by MLR Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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A Hearts On Fire Review

THREE & A HALF HEARTS--A homeless stripper and a rich guy find love in Kimberly Gardner's "Phoenix Rising", the revised-reissued book #1 of the Playing for Keeps series.

Adam Hyland is a 22 year old, ex-ballet dancer, now homeless stripper who lives in his car. He is hired to a give tech company owner and closeted older rich guy, Jimmy Trent. The two fall into insta-lust and it snowballs into a tale of Adam sort of working for Jimmy at Jimmy's co-owned strip club, Fles
I suppose this would be called a contemporary m/m romance with a light BDSM theme.

Adam is a stripper that meets Jimmy as a client at Jimmy's birthday party. From that night on it is a constant battle to stay true to each other (Adam is "out" while Jimmy wants a discreet romance). Adam is a struggling stripper while Jimmy is a rich businessman. I liked seeing the relationship between the characters and while I couldn't quite take to Adam pushing Jimmy away, it was apart of the story.

This is the
So I had mixed feelings about this book, but in the end I ended up liking it. It started out with a bang, with Adam showing up as a stripper-gram for Jimmy, the birthday boy. They have great chemistry and spend a great night together. But then the next day happens, and Jimmy turns out to be a bit of a tool. I felt myself getting really impatient with his issues, not to mention the way he treated Adam after they start seeing each other. It wasn't until the end of the story that I started to reall ...more
Love is in the air...

Quick plot summary
Jimmy is a 36 old successful businessmen leading his father company. At his birthday a close coworker pay a striper to do a one man show at Jimmy's house. Adam, 22 years old, is the one payed to dance for Jimmy. A bad knee rack his ballet career, and he try to survive dancing in striper clubs, and the last thing he want is be a keep or boy toy for some rich man, but a serie of facts will made him get close to Jimmy... and the angst will begin

The romance
Dec 23, 2008 ElaineY rated it liked it
Shelves: mm
I found Jimmy more real than Adam because the latter came across overdone by an author obviously trying to portray the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold. Except that Adam isn't a whore. This isn't quite how I felt despite Adam's virtuous qualities, though. These felt unrealistic and contradictory. It was hard to believe a man in his early 20s who's stripping for the next meal, sleeping in his car, who can't afford to go to the hospital when he's injured, who fucks his latest customer when he delivers ...more
Nov 03, 2009 Saritza rated it really liked it
I've had this book on my eBookshelf for almost a year and for one reason or another, I never got around to starting it. I'd read an excerpt which I loved and made me add the book to my "to read" list but never got around to actually reading it until this week.

Summary: Two dozen roses, one dozen balloons and a night with a sexy, young stripper. What a thirty-sixth birthday for Jimmy Trent. But the ultimate gift is yet to come as he finds himself falling in love with the beautiful dancer. Adam Hy
Aug 19, 2010 Alli rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bdsm, m-m
This was a wonderfully told story, I was hooked from the start. The story was beautifully woven around the lives of Jimmy and Adam, these two were meant for each other and were very hot between the sheets but that only made the story richer, it wasn't the focus of the book.
Jun 11, 2010 Leah rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m-bdsm, m-m-romance
Another delicious Kim Gardner book. I swear that woman owns me. Her characters, their passion, struggles, and smexin captivate me. I think I might propose What I loved most about the book was Jimmy's raw vulnerability and Adam's resilient spirit. Fantastic read.
Sep 08, 2010 Maya rated it really liked it
3.5 The first 3/4 of this book was very good and then it just fell apart for me.
Sep 30, 2014 Martin rated it it was amazing
I totally adored this story. I was a bit sceptical because of the many 3 star reviews, but to me, Adam and Jim were a very realistic couple with a delicious 'Pretty Woman' style love story.

True, the main conflict (Adam's conflict) did not seem like such a big deal to me, but I accept that he felt it that way.

And I just gotta admit, towards the end, I couldn't stop playing this song, it so reminded me of the book and fit the theme perfectly:
Rise Like a Phoenix by Conchita Wurst

5 stars, defini
May 03, 2012 Mika rated it it was ok
Only two stars might be a bit hard because I liked the plot, but I just finished the book and I am completely unsatisfied with the ending.

Jimmy tries to make everything right and Adam just shuts down.
And at Stephanies wedding Adam just dismisses Jimmys marriage proposal and also says that they won't live together. If he wants his independence and his own house so badly, he could have asked if Jimmy would like to move in with him. But no, keep the distance. In my opinion they aren't even a real
Jul 16, 2012 Purplegirl rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed, 2012, low-angst
I really adored this book. Adam and Jimmy may make the list of one of my favorite couples. Jimmy almost reminded me of a Mary Calmes character. Everyone didn't fall at his feet but he just had an easy going look on life. He supported Adam and did not admonish him for his profession, which I liked because that would have been more typical arguments. Adam was the one that was a little jaded. But there was insta-love, which I don't mind :)The two were sweet and hot together. I think I will even put ...more
May 30, 2012 Jeski rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book... I really did. From the time I read the summary and then excerpt I was madly excited about it. Turns out I was wrong to have gotten so razzle dazzled.

The beginning of this story is terribly cliched. As it goes on there are many unnecessary misunderstandings, unfaithful encounters and general annoyance. I will admit that I am never a fan of unfaithfulness in novels but sometimes you can see a reason but this one just seemed so... again, unnecessary. I think the autho
Moria Polonius
Apr 19, 2013 Moria Polonius rated it liked it
3.5 stars

It was a good read for the most part, with some Cinderella romance, angst, the problem of coming out of the closet etc. Then both of the characters turn stupid, the book skips 6 months and I have no idea what the hell's going on, and the characters remain stupid. I may be making it sound worse than it is, but the number of times i went "Seriously? No, really, seriously?" in the last quarter was triple than in the first 3/4.
Feb 19, 2013 Jenre rated it really liked it
Very much enjoyed this book with a younger/older man dynamic. I liked Adam's independence and Jim's naivety about the world. I occasionally wanted to bash their heads together when they allowed others to dictate the course of their relationship but they were a great couple and so I forgave that. Their attraction is palpable and led to some very steamy and evocative sex scene but the sex didn't overwhelm the book which was pleasing. Overall, a book I would recommend.
Vicki Easom Johnson
Feb 21, 2015 Vicki Easom Johnson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: m-m
Wow! Jimmy and Adam are just simply made for each other. Even through troubles they emerge wonderfully. I cried so hard during several parts. I cried for both men. This story was a great change up from others I have read. I enjoy Kimberly's work. Can't wait to read more!
Valentina Heart
Jan 02, 2010 Valentina Heart rated it really liked it
Shelves: glbt
The book was very much to my liking, and some details really won me over. The reason it got four stars is that it lacked emotions and that connection between the two heroes at the parts where i think it was needed most. But overall it really is one of the better ones out there.
Sep 16, 2010 Nene rated it liked it
I enjoyed the first 3/4 pretty well...then it lost me. I can't say too much without spoilers, but I just felt like a huge disconnect occured between those parts of the story.
Jul 17, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, gay, 2010, owned, ebook
Very good m/m romance about a deeply closeted guy who falls for a stripper who doesn't want to be anybody's dirty little secret ever again.
Hearts On Fire Reviews
Reviewer: SheReadsAlot
Genre: M/M Contemporary
3.5 Hearts

See Review Here: Hearts On Fire Reviews
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Review: A homeless stripper and a rich guy find love in Kimberly Gardner's "Phoenix Rising", the revised-reissued book #1 of the Playing for Keeps series.

Adam Hyland is a 22 year old, ex-ballet dancer, now homeless stripper who lives in his car. He is hired to a give tech company owner and closeted older rich guy, Jimmy Trent. The two fall into inst
Elisa Rolle
Young friendly gay guy, talented but poor, meets older closeted gay man, wealthy and gentle. Is another Cinderfella's story? Not quite, since our two heroes will not leave happily ever after when the clock strikes the midnight, they need to suffer a bit before.

Adam is a classical dancer that at 22 years old, after a knee injury, had to give up his dreams and lives "between" homes in his car. He sometime works as stripper and one night he is engaged for a birthday party. But when he arrives at t
Joyfully Jay
Sep 09, 2014 Joyfully Jay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crissy
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.75 stars

Phoenix Rising is the first book in Kimberly Gardner’s Playing for Keeps series and is the second edition of this re-published, re-edited masterpiece.

I fell in love with Jimmy and Adam years ago—yes, years—when I first happened upon this book. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve read it nearly a dozen times. I have it pretty much memorized, and it’s likely that this won’t be the last time I read it either. Here’s the thing about this book: it’s captivating from the
Morgan  Skye
Aug 07, 2014 Morgan Skye rated it really liked it
Jimmy is a rich guy who gets a stripper, Adam, for his birthday as a gift. The two hit it off right away and despite the fact that Jimmy’s brother is Adam’s boss, they continue on a “discreet” love affair.

The turmoil comes when Jimmy must put up or shut up about coming out to his family and friends. He takes tentative steps in that direction, to keep Adam happy, and to be true to himself, but it’s too little too late.

Suddenly Jimmy is the victim of hate crimes and losing clients for his “life st
Angela Goodrich
What an absolutely lovely story. Knowing that Phoenix Rising was about the relationship between closeted gay man and an out gay man, I admittedly expected a ton of angsty drama. And while there is drama, particularly from Jim's family, it was more focused on the actual relationship between Jim and Adam. By doing so, Ms. Gardner gave the book a more realistic feel than I anticipated.

That said, I found the opening scene of this book to be extremely entertaining. I mean really? ... a strip-o-gram
Oct 28, 2012 Charly rated it liked it
I liked it, but the angst made it hard to read

Rating: 6/10

- One especially tough (physically and emotionally) character I admired a lot.
- Well-drawn, sympathetic secondary characters. Women in gay romances tend to be portrayed as one-dimensional bitches, but the women in this book felt real.
- The last sex scene is beautiful. Heart-warming, tender, emotional. A lovely breath for me, as in the chapters leading up to the scene I felt like crying because I longed so (along with one of the cha
Mar 08, 2012 Drew rated it liked it
Shelves: přečteno
I know two stars its a little too harsch, and I probably soon change it at three, but I finished it right now and I am a little upset. I read Bound To Please first, so I know how good Kimberly Gardner can be.

Adam, young stripter, with complex about being poor and abandoned by his own family, meet handsome, rich and too much kind and loving man, and fall in love with him. From start he knows it isnt easy for Jim, and that its the first time when Jim think about coming out, but selfishly never tr
Sep 02, 2012 Ayanna rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Eh...not bad?

(view spoiler)
Oct 04, 2009 Betryal rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Still liked it the second time

I still had some issues with part of the storyline but it's a story I've enjoyed. Jimmy was a character with issues and Adam had troubles of his own. The way they came together was sweet and I liked that part of their connection. I didn't get enough of what they did talk about or discuss together. The "I love you's" came a little too quickly. Adam ended up telling Jimmy he didn't trust him enough because Jimmy didn't tell him about problems with his coming out. Jimm
May 16, 2011 LutaWolf rated it it was ok
Shelves: m-m, nook-lendable
I read this awhile back and I didn't write a review right away. I didn't know how to say what I needed to. I didn't know how to express why this didn't sit well with me. It's hard because Kimberly's writing style is exquisite. The details she puts into her work is remarkable. The problem for me at least is I feel as though the characters are too flawed. Like a tea kettle that’s hit the tiled, kitchen floor and you tried to put back together. However it’s maybe too broken for you to really get an ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
(1)author of homoerotic romances

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, back before computers, before email, before the internet–Imagine that!–a book junkie was born. That was me.

Fast forward three decades to a soft spring day in 1997, and find me contentedly reading my
More about Kimberly Gardner...

Other Books in the Series

Playing for Keeps (2 books)
  • Bound To Please (Playing for Keeps, #2)

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