Gallery / October 29, 2013 / $15.00 print, $4.74 digital
When Hanna “Ziggy” Bergstrom moves to New York City for graduate school, Will Sumner thinks his responsibilities to his best friend’s nerdy little sister will be limited to the occasional dinner and check-in. Little does he know that Ziggy is ready to break out of her bookworm academic shell and move more into bombshell territory. Of course she figures the gorgeous womanizing venture capitalist Will is the best person to help mentor her in this new field of study: dating.
Will takes on the challenge with more than a healthy dose of skepticism and humor, but soon finds that Ziggy just needed a tiny push, not a world of change, to reveal a woman every man seems to notice. Soon “Ziggy” is gone and the unfiltered, innocently seductive Hanna Bergstrom is hijacking his dreams, his moods, and even his orderly no-strings-attached dating life—beginning the night his mentoring activities move between the sheets.
Beautiful Player is the third book in Christina Lauren's Beautiful series, and it feels like an everyday believable erotic romance. No one is disgustingly rich. No one talks about owning the city. Everyone still has a day job. No one obsesses in an overdramatic way. Our hero and heroine aren’t strangers who’ve just met. The dual first person point-of-views, alternating between chapters, feel like one minute you’re listening to Hanna, and the next minute you’re listening to Will, as they switch “player” roles and try to cope with their newfound emotions as a result of their steamy sexcapades.
Hanna is a geek/genius who is a bit socially awkward, but very curious about sex with the right man. Like she tells Will, she’s not a virgin, but she just hasn’t dated “well.” Will is the “hot player” who doesn’t apologize for enjoying women, so steps in to teach her how to date, and how to be sexually satisfied. Hanna isn’t 100% innocent, but she is just naïve enough to be dangerous for Will and for it to be entertaining for the reader. The conflict of the story begins to stick when they both realize that the friends-with-benefits angle doesn’t work for them, and they’re just not expressing it.
Normally, the player hero is not my favorite, nor the heartless womanizing rakehell. But if I had to pick one romance that had a player/rake element, this one would be it.
An excellent boomerang-moment scene is when Will runs into another guy whom Hanna is dating, and then wonders if his lovers, of all the girls he’s “played,” ever ran into each other in public like this. Painful, right? He doesn’t like the taste of his own medicine, and wonders if he’s actually the sidepiece. Hanna’s the one saying they’re fine and it’s just sex, nothing formal—and he’s now he’s the one wanting it to be more—but doesn’t want smother her or cause her to leave him. He’s usually the one giving his girls the “Will Sumner chat,” calmly telling them that this is just sex and they shouldn’t feel any sort of commitment with their hook-up agreement. So has she become the player now? They are both keeping their feelings for each other hidden. Hanna tries to resist him for a few days, and she even has to mentally tell her vagina to calm down:
“So,” I said. “Not ready to settle down, then?”
“Definitely not.” His smile pulled up on corner of his mouth and he looked completely destructive. My heart and lady bits would not survive a night with this man.
Good thing that’s not even an option, vagina. Stand down.
Eventually, they do have wonderful scorching sex. Play-hooky-from-work sex. Let’s-hide-over-here-and-hurry-so-we-don’t-get-caught sex. It’s all very well done.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren, available October 29, 2013:
Jena Briars is a California girl living in D.C., feeding her brain one romance novel at a time...When she’s not busy at work, or being distracted (sometimes ambushed) by her cat, she reviews romances on her website Throughout the Pages.