Saturday, November 2, 2013

Review: Playing Dirty


About a month or so ago I found out about the Stargazer series by Jennifer Echols. I was intrigued by the main characters, PR professionals, and the fact that the series was written by Echols, an author whose books I've enjoyed in the past. I found the first book, Star Crossed, at my library (my review of it will be part of an upcoming mini review post) and requested the second, Playing Dirty, from NetGalley. I loved the first one and was so happy when I was approved for the second. Book two didn't thrill me quite as much as the first book but I still really enjoyed reading it.

Here's the synopsis:
A public relations expert tries to prevent the breakup of a raucous country band and corral their wild—and very sexy—lead singer in book 2 of the Stargazer Series.
As an expert in public relations crisis management—that is, babysitter to the stars—Sarah Seville just spent nine months in Rio trying to keep rock singer Nine Lives out of jail long enough to record his new album…and barely succeeded. Now she needs a triumphant success so she can keep the Manhattan-based job she loves. Trouble is, her new assignment is to travel to Alabama to prevent the breakup of the raucous country band The Cheatin’ Hearts, headed by sexy Quentin Cox. As she edges closer to Quentin, she discovers layers of secrets. It seems Quentin is taking the spin doctor for a spin.
The Cheatin’ Hearts have stayed on top of the charts two years following three rules. Rule One, no drugs. Rule Two, no sex with other band members. Rule Three, no sex with record company spies. Quentin figures he’d better follow the rules, because he made them. And because if you break a rule, you’re out of the band. But he can’t resist the record company’s beautiful PR agent, and inevitably he breaks Rule Three with hot Sarah Seville. As he falls for her, he finds out that she has plenty of secrets of her own, and one of them comes knocking on her door: what really happened to her in Rio.
I think my main issue with this book was that it followed basically the exact same format as the first book. I don't mind when books are similar but when you have the same issues and same climaxes (not those kinds...though these books are steamy!), I get bored - especially when I read the books so close together as I did with these two (within about five days). In both books the main characters end up falling for a guy they probably shouldn't fall for, basically because of professional reasons. In the case of this book, Sarah shouldn't get together with Quentin because he's a client. Both main characters had a serious and scary past. For Sarah, that past concerned her most recent client, Nine Lives, a drug using musician who ended up in jail. Because of this, Sarah's on thin ice with her job. Wendy, the character in the first book, was also in trouble with her bosses. See all the similarities? If I had read this book first I probably would have liked it more. My liking this one less was just because it came second. I just wish Echols had had more differences. If there's a third book and the character ends up having a life threatening scene, I'll probably throw a fit!

My one other issue had to do with Sarah herself. She's an awesome main character...but...she's so different than what I expected from the first book. In Star Crossed she was the tom boy, marathon running, friendly PR pro who is married to a guy Wendy hates and thinks isn't good enough for her. In Playing Dirty, she's made over herself and she's got a ball busting personality that was way too similar to Wendy's. She's also conveniently divorced now. There was no reason for her to be married and divorced because it barely had anything to do with either story. I think there could have been enough drama with the ex-husband, if done well, instead of adding all the stuff with Nine Lives. I did like that Echols had Sarah talk about how she was conflicted with her two personalities (in the non-crazy personalities way). It sort of eased my mind about the major differences I had seen but I guess I just don't understand why Sarah went through such a transformation and why we couldn't have seen the Sarah we got in the first book.

Yeesh. I'm a negative one, aren't I? There were things I liked about this book, I promise! I loved that the band Sarah was helping with was a country band (think Lady Antebellum but with an extra band member). It's so different than the pop or rap acts that you see so much in books and movies. (But maybe I just haven't been watching or reading the right stuff!) The band's issues also provided a lot of drama and intrigue. They kept me on my toes and I was never sure what to expect with them.

The PR aspect was also fun to read about in this book, too. It probably doesn't appeal to everyone but this is a career I had thought about when I was in university (and, honestly, I still think about it now that I'm searching for work again) but had decided against since I don't think I have the personality for it. I definitely wouldn't be able to work for huge celebrities like the employees of Stargazer do! I do think that there needed to be a bit more actual work in this story because we didn't get a great sense of how Sarah is as a professional.

Overall, I liked Playing Dirty. If I had read it on its own I actually may not have liked it as much as I did. I think it helped that I had really enjoyed the first book in the series so much. I wish author Jennifer Echols had written this one differently because the issues were way too similar to book one. If you're looking for a quick weekend read that's romantic and dramatic, the Stargazer series is the way to go.

Happy reading :)

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

1 comment:

  1. That's too bad that this one was too similar to the first book. Star Crossed does sound intriguing though! Looking forward to your review of that one!

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