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Playing to Win

(Play-by-Play #4)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  13,882 ratings  ·  661 reviews
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 (admittedl
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Berkley Trade
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,882 ratings  ·  661 reviews

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Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Let's start with the cover of this book first, shall we?

Next, let's move onto Cole Riley...

"With his inky black hair and gorgeous, well-toned and muscular body, he stood out, even if he did wear his hair a little long and shaggy."

And how about that Savannah Brooks?

AND those hot sex scenes?!?!

Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of erotic sports romances
Wow. Yet another winner in Jaci Burton's Play By Play series...I don't know how she does it but keep 'em comin', Jaci!

In Playing To Win we get bad boy NFL wide receiver Cole Riley-- cousin to Mick (The Perfect Play), Gavin (Wow. Yet another winner in Jaci Burton's Play By Play series...I don't know how she does it but keep 'em comin', Jaci!

In Playing To Win we get bad boy NFL wide receiver Cole Riley-- cousin to Mick (
The Perfect Play), Gavin (Changing the Game), and Jenna (Taking a Shot) Riley. Twenty-nine year old Cole is 6 feet 200+ pounds of gorgeousness, but he has a fatal flaw--his self control. His short fuse has gotten him into trouble with the media, and has NFL teams giving up on him (despite his football talent). Nobody wants a hothead who can't get along with the media on their team, and it looks like hometown team St. Louis Traders may be Cole's last chance. Both ownership and Cole's new agent Liz (Changing the Game) want Cole to toe the line and change his ways. But Cole may need a little help remaking his reputation. That's when image consultant Savannah Brooks enters the picture. The southern blond beauty never met a client she couldn't help, but Cole may prove to be a difficult subject. He's stubborn and refuses to take responsibility for his actions. He's self-contained and not a friend to his teammates. People have him all wrong--he's not a bad guy, he's just being goaded by the media. Can Savannah work her magic on someone who doesn't think he needs help?



Well. Cole starts out as a bit of a jerk in this book, with the whole spoiled athlete bit. But gradually, as he starts to take Savannah's suggestions, he comes around and becomes waaay more likable. And there's definitely some major chemistry between Cole and Savannah (or "Peaches", as he calls her). Cole wants to hook up with the pretty, proper, blond, and Savannah fights like mad to keep their relationship "professional". In her mind, her career is all she has, and she's not about to blow it for a guy who's never been in a real relationship. Due to her upbringing, Savannah is too wary to let herself care for someone--and falling in love? Forget it. But what if Cole keeps tempting her? Can she really resist his charm and risk it all?

Typical of this series, this was another well-written, fast moving, super sexy book. At first Cole comes off as a stubborn, spoiled jerk, and wasn't that easy to like (no matter how hunky he was). But gradually, hearing his POV, we get to know him better and hear what he's thinking. And he becomes more likable.

Needless to say, the romance between Cole and Savannah is white hot, so have a cool drink handy.:) The sexual tension is quite high, builds and builds until...whew!

JB deals adequately with Savannah's crappy background, and the reader will certainly sympathize with her. She's a hard-working, self-made woman, and I was rooting for her to get her HEA with Cole.

Readers of this series will be happy to know that we get an update on all the couples: Mick and his (view spoiler); Gavin and Liz (who has lots of snappy dialogue with both Cole and Savannah); and little sister Jenna and fiancé Tyler. We also get to meet Cole's family, including his sister Alicia whose story (Thrown by a Curve) is up next.

This is one of my favorite contemporary/erotic series right now. Jaci Burton always delivers a well crafted story with believable characters, smoldering sex scenes, and the perfect HEA to warm your heart. Although she may run out of Rileys soon, I think this series still has plenty of legs. Just keep serving up the studly sports stars, and I'll be reading them! 5 stars
Rosalinda *KRASNORADA*

Nothing special, it was an ok read. Hot characters but the plot is very similar to the previous books. Predictable but enjoyable.
Sep 20, 2012 rated it did not like it

Scared to start this because of all the bad reviews. The only book I've even enjoyed was Changing the Game. Had high hopes for Taking a Shot, but it sucked. *sigh* Well, it's due back at the library in a few days, so I'm going to just give it a go...

Edit - Horrible book. Everything about it. I only gave it a star because of the parts with Elizabeth. She was the only thing I enjoyed. I don't know why I continue to read books by Jaci. They're always written so badly. The dialogue is always so da
4.00 Stars - Contemporary Sports Erotic Romance.

I couldn't help but picture Tom Brady as Cole Riley! Typical much?:P

Although football superstar Cole Riley excels both on the field and with the ladies, he falters big time in dealing with the press and the public! When his public image needs severe brush up, Savannah Brookes is just the magical PR lady hired by the team to do the job. But never did she imagine avoiding the super magnetic charm and killer good looks of this Riley would be such a chore
Sharon ∞❥ is an emotional book junkie ❥∞
Cole is a cousin to the rest of the Riley's and just moved home to St. Louis to play with the Traders football team. The problem is he has a bad attitude and needs some adjusting. Savannah Brooks is an image consultant and just the woman for the job.

If you've read any of the other books in the series, you'll know what to expect in this one. Cole and Savannah are really sweet together and it was great seeing Savannah break through Cole's bad boy shell. There are plenty of smexy scenes...especial
Oct 12, 2015 rated it liked it
*** 2.5. ***

I am a romance novel addict and since they were my first love, I tend to be very generous with my ratings. Usually. And I have learned to bite my tongue and take many shovenistic trades subtly encouraged in this genre. I can take a bullieing alpha, I loooove a good Dom, even an overprotective neanderthal can at times be tolerated. What l can not stand is a whiny man-child who never takes responsibility for any of his actions and blames all others for his mistakes and bad
Oct 13, 2011 marked it as to-read
Wow...Jaci's publisher really knows how to pick 'em.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 4th installment in the play by play series by Jaci Burton did not disappoint! I was already half in love with Cole even before his book and he only got better and better throughout his story.

Savannah was hired by the Traders to “fix” Cole Riley. He’s the new guy who has been let go and picked up by multiple teams. He’s good but it seems as though no one really wants him.
Savannah is there to get him into shape, not physically but mentally. He’s got a bad attitude and isn’t shy about what he
Jan 30, 2016 added it
It's not that this book is bad, I am just not in the right frame of mind for it. I'm not even going to rate it.
The point is, that if you liked the first three books in the series, you will also like this one. I would have, too, but the timing was just wrong.
Amanda Steward
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Let me start off saying I love this series. This book was good but it wasn't as great as the previous books. Seems like every single book seem to have the same plot. They meet fall in love then run from each other then make up and get engaged. Maybe I'm playing too much into it. *shrugs*.
Sheryl C. Nash
Nov 02, 2011 is currently reading it

Look at that cover!!!!! I'm going out of my MIND looking at it!!!!! Yummy... I'm such a book cover whore, I wonder if that is that hunk Jed Hill again. For that cover alone I'll give the book 5 stars!!! I'm shallow, I admit it! Really looking forward to this story!
Originally posted at

Favorite Quote: “He took her breath away.”

Talented wide receiver Cole Riley should have the world at his feet, but his antics on and off the field have made him a liability. His agent tells him to shape up or else he’s done. Image consultant Savannah Brooks has agreed to help Cole clean up his image but isn’t sure she can take the bad out of this aggressively sexy man. When the sparks start to fly, Savannah lays down a few rules; hands off. But even Sam
Feb 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Playing to Win is the fourth book in Jaci Burton’s Play by Play series, Cole Riley hasn’t had any luck with longevity with his football teams. After being traded to his 3rd NFL Team, Cole needs to clean up his image. In comes Savannah Brooks, a Georgia Peach who’s an expert at making over an image. Cole doesn't think that there’s anything wrong with his image. If his image is tainted, it’s because of the media, not him. Savannah’s job is to convince Cole to knock that chip off his shoulder and t ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Cole Riley is a hotshot Wide Receiver for a fictional St. Louis Traders NFL team. He’s been recently traded despite having a record season with Green Bay. The problem? He’s got an image problem. His reputation as a hothead, narcissistic, egoist has worked against him. He wants his stats to speak for him, but his defensive reaction to the media has made him a team liability. In comes Savannah Brooks, an image specialist. She is hired by Cole’s new agent, Elizabeth Darnell (fr
Cole Riley is the poster child for bad boy, no matter the exceptional amount of talent he has as a NFL player it hasn't stopped him from being traded to his home team the Traders. His agent and now wife to his cousin, will do everything in her power to keep Cole from being traded again including hiring a makeover/PR consultant who has a knack for working miracles.

Cole can't seem to take his eyes off of the feminine beauty at a party he is at with his team, when he meets Savannah and
Val ⚓️ Shameless Non-Snowflake ⚓️

I've read all the play-by-play books and in my opinion this is the weakest of the series, which was disappointing because I was so looking forward to its release. Both Savannah and Cole are very like able, however, Savannah is really hot and cold and a bit of a cock tease, frankly. One minute she's adamantly refusing to jeopardize her career by sleeping with Cole and the next second she's jumping his bones and then fleeing. Repeat several times over. Cole's character betterment seemed to happe
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for_review
Review posted: Happily Ever After - Reads

Cole needs some help with his image, whether he wants it or not and he most definitely does not. He’s bounced around from team to team in the NFL, his name is in the news, mostly in a negative way, and the impression he gives off isn’t a good one. He has a temper which doesn’t help matters and his first instinct is to always go on the defensive about everything. Enter Savannah, hired to give Cole a makeover or sorts. She’s going to help him fit in wit
Monique Pearson
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great chemistry, nice back story for both characters. Loving the updates from previous series characters and the "sisterhood" the ladies have formed. This one was more predictable unfortunately.
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Full Review originally posted here:

Whenever an author combines my love of romance with my dedication to all things sports, it’s a match made in heaven. When Burton does it, I get all warm and tingly on the inside.

Cole is a wild-child and not known for his teamwork, instead he’s built his career on a reputation that is making him less and less desirable for agents and owners alike. He’s got an attitude problem, a problem with authority, and a general distaste of all things PC. But now
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, ballers, erotica
Cole shook his head. "Women and love and marriage and weddings and babies? I remember when all we could think about was sports. And getting laid."

"Not this guy. I like my life just the way it is."

Playing to Win is a  love story that follows a hard to love football star Cole Riley and his image consultant Savannah Brooks. Cole Riley may be a charming, well built, good looking and successful NFL football player, yet despite his success he's often traded to other teams due to his t
Taiyesha-Duchess of Indiana
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Shalvis Fans, Lucky Harbor Fans, Romance Readers

FIRST JACI BURTON BOOK, it was a touch down!

Playing to win by Jaci Burton is the fourth book in her popular Play by Play series. I really loved the premise of the Bad-boy needing to be reformed by the guarded Southern Belle, which is the most concise summarization of this book. If I had to describe this book, I would call it mature. It was very refreshing to read a romance book that didn't rely on some asanine, easily fixable, commun
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
“Does the idea of a woman paying for dinner offend your masculinity?”
“Hell, yes. Deal with it.”

Playing to Win is the fourth book in the Play-by-Play series by Jaci Burton and it is right in line with all of the other titles in this series. They are dominated by alpha male athletes and strong successful business women. The first three titles were each about one of the Riley siblings (Mick, Gavin and Jenna) this new title is about their cousin Cole; a professional football player
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
4 stars

As always, I like Rileys and it's the sports romance, the more reason to love it.

I enjoyed reading of how the story went. Cole the some-sort of lone ranger pro football player and being troublemaker jeopardized his career. Savannah came into his life to coach and form the newly nice ideal image of Cole. Within so, the two liked and enjoyed each other until love bloomed and burst.

Cole is hot but I liked it when he tried his best to do good and started to do some
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jaci Burton is one of my favorite authors I love her type of fluff! This one was missing something and I think that maybe Savannah was keeping her family and lack of a secret but then when we found out about her Mother it was no big deal. I mean nothing compared to Liz and Tara and what they grew up in and around. It seemed maybe a little less important than the others in this series.

What I loved was the Riley family and of course having Kathleen and Uncle Jimmy back behind the bar was cool too
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'd like to give this 4.5 stars - wish there was that option with stars. I really liked this book a lot. Having read the other three books in the series though, I found myself in love with Cole, but not absolutely enamored of Savannah- that's the only reason for the minus half a star. Now don't get me wrong, she was still a great character - just not as moving as the others I guess or maybe there wasn't the depth. Not sure - just my impression. Still a fantastic addition to the series (I wasn't ...more
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jaci-burton
I started this book thinking that I wouldn't really like Cole. Boy was I wrong. He had so many layers. He was such a sweetheart underneath it all. Not really any drama or serious misunderstandings. I just loved that all the other couples were in here. I cant wait for the next book about Cole's sister Alicia.
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book bored me to tears! I've loved every other book on this series, so I was very excited about the release of this one. The characters were dull, the dialogue even duller. And the usual steamy Jaci Burton scenes were blah. I want a refund! LOL
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The family interactions and the emotional development were quite good in this story. If only the romance side was more obvious instead of the sex scenes which, in my opinion, don't add much but seem to be there just to give this an "erotic" sort of label....
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Playing To Win was an enjoyable read, but that is it.
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Not a Win for me 7 87 Feb 20, 2013 03:31PM  

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Jaci Burton is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of over 70 books. She lives in Oklahoma and when she isn’t on deadline (which is often), she can usually be found wrestling with her uncooperative garden, wrangling her dogs, watching an unhealthy amount of television, or completely losing track of time reading a great book. She’s a total romantic and longs for the hap ...more

Other books in the series

Play-by-Play (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • The Perfect Play (Play by Play, #1)
  • Changing the Game (Play by Play, #2)
  • Taking a Shot (Play by Play, #3)
  • Thrown by a Curve (Play by Play, #5)
  • One Sweet Ride (Play by Play, #6)
  • Melting the Ice (Play by Play, #7)
  • Straddling the Line (Play by Play, #8)
  • Quarterback Draw (Play by Play, #9)
  • All Wound Up (Play by Play, #10)
  • Unexpected Rush (Play by Play, #11)
“Love is a damned frightening thing.” 15 likes
“Washing dishes is the great equalizer. It solves many a dispute.” 12 likes
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