The Play, by Karina Halle

The Play

Grade: A+

Doing it at: 33%

Catnip: Hot Scot, A Foreign Affair, Puppy Love, Tattoos, Beards, Strong Female Lead, Big Brooding Hero, Brogue, Hot Scot, Rugby Players, Epic, Deep Dark Secrets, Shower Sex, Dual Narrative, #DISP, #TeamAnal

Shame Scale: Not a drop, The Play is a big, sweeping romance that will break your heart and you will feel fine recommending to anyone (no machetes in this one!)

Fantasy Cast: Tom Hardy, Kristin Kreuk

Book Description:

A troubled Scottish rugby player who doesn’t play by the rules.
A vivacious man-eater who’s given up on love.
When it comes to Lachlan and Kayla, opposites don’t just attract – they explode.

From the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact and The Offer, comes The Play, a standalone spinoff and contemporary romance about taking chances and rescuing hearts.

Kayla Moore has always been comfortable with her feisty, maneating reputation. At least it was fine until she hit her thirties and saw her best friends Stephanie and Nicola settle down with Linden and Bram McGregor, leaving Kayla to be the odd one out. Tired of being the third wheel with nothing but one-night stands and dead-end dates in San Francisco, Kayla decides to take a vow of celibacy and put men on the backburner.

That is until she lays her eyes on Linden and Bram’s cousin, hot Scot Lachlan McGregor. Lachlan is her sexual fantasy come to life – tall, tatted, and built like a Mack truck. With a steely gaze and successful rugby career back in Edinburgh, he’s the kind of man that makes her want to throw her vow right out the window. But Lachlan’s quiet and intense demeanor makes him a hard man to get to know, let alone get close to.

It isn’t until the two of them are thrown together one long, unforgettable night that Kayla realizes there is so much more to this brooding macho man than what meets the eye. But even with sparks flying between the two, Lachlan can’t stay in America forever. Now, Kayla has to decide whether to uproot her whole life and chance it all on someone she barely knows or risk getting burned once again.

Sometimes love is a game that just needs to be played.

Mary: By now you all probably realize that we’re a little evangelical about Karina Halle new releases. We’re fan girls and it’s hard for us to have any chill. But this book, you guys. This was the best thing I’ve read all year. Ridiculously sexy, achingly evocative, this one dragged us all over the emotional map.

PLUS: $1 from every preorder/release day sale is going to save-the-puppy charities, which is so fucking generous you guys – it’s a $3 book. And I’m not saying that a month of rescue dogs flooding my news feed sparked the start of a long-con on my husband so that we can get a puppy, but I will say that I will probably have a doggie by Christmastime.

Cleone: Rescue pups play a big part in the book, and this one had me hugging my pup extra tight (for support while I cried). AND looking at local dogs for adoption, for Mary ostensibly.

M: The Play is huge; it’s really two novels in one. Karina Halle generously sent us ARC’s for early review, but we got it in two chunks, roughly two weeks apart. So we read the first half and then tried to live normal lives even though we were basically dead inside, waiting for the second half. We could really do this whole review via text screenshots.

Play hangover

play hangover 1

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The Offer, by Karina Halle

the offer

Grade: A

Doing it at: 58%

Catnip: Single Moms; Hot Scot; Ass Biting; Car Sex; Hate to Love You; Exhibitionism; Dual Narrative;  #fingersniffing

Shame Scale: The cover (almost) looks like it could belong to a Real Book, and the characters are written for more than just screwing, shame free

Fantasy Cast: James McAvoy + CLEONE (What? It’s FANTASY casting, ok)

What do we taste like: Like rich tobacco and mint

Book Description:

She thinks he’s an arrogant playboy.
He thinks she’s an uptight prude.
But he’s about to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

Nicola Price used to have it all – a great career, the perfect boyfriend, an excessive shoe collection and an apartment in one of San Francisco’s best neighborhoods. But when she gets knocked up and her a**hat boyfriend leaves her high and dry, Nicola’s perfectly crafted world comes tumbling down. And stays that way.

Now, Nicola is the proud single mom to a five-year old daughter and living a giant lie. She can barely afford their ghetto apartment and all the men she dates run when they hear she comes with a child. She’s struggling and scared – and nowhere near where she thought she’d be at age thirty-one.

Her saving grace comes in the form of a tall, handsome and wealthy Scotsman Bram McGregor, the older brother of her friend Linden. Bram understands a thing or two about pride, so when tragic circumstances place Nicola at rock bottom, he offers them a place to live in the apartment complex he owns. It’s pretty much the perfect deal, so as long as she doesn’t mind living beside Bram, a man that, despite his generosity, seems to antagonize her at every turn.

But nothing in life is free and as Nicola gets her feet back on the ground, she discovers that the enigmatic playboy may end up costing her more than she thought.

She might just lose her heart.

Those McGregor brothers are nothing but trouble…

MaryI’ve been begging Cleone to read a Karina Halle book for months. The Artist Trilogy, Love in English, Where Sea Meets Sky, The Pact… Everything I’ve read by Karina Halle has been fantastic – truly relatable characters, writing you can lose yourself in, and steamy. And I still haven’t had the chance to make it all the way through her books – our girl is prolific. When we saw there was a sequel to The Pact on its way, Cleone finally found time to pick up The Pact, and she loved it, as I knew she would. (I know what you like, C.) We dove into The Offer together, our new favorite way to read books – and it was pretty clear that this one was written for her.

Cleone: The Offer is pure catnip for me, single mom fallen on hard times? Fired a week before her probationary period was up and she’d get health insurance and a raise? (that happened to me, only it was also two weeks before Christmas) And now there’s this super hot Scottish guy who wants to take care of her and fuck her into next year? Tell me Karina Halle didn’t write this just for me, I won’t believe you.

M: And don’t forget that  she says she’s basic! You are Nicola. You should start looking online for local Scottish playboys, because it’s obviously going to happen for you.

C: I read The Pact directly before The Offer, after much urging from Mary, who knew what I would like before I did. That book was hot and sweet and raunchy and I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed in Bram’s raunch level either. There’s a reason Halle is using the hashtag #teamperv on Instagram, we love her.

M: The story is of the woman who has been burned before meets playboy type. Nicola is a single mom who’s having a rough go of things lately – money troubles, loss of job, sketchy apartment, and her daughter is having medical problems. Bram (Linden from The Pact’s brother) offers to let her move into the apartment building he owns, rent free, until she gets back on her feet. Nicola has a hard time accepting charity from others, but especially from Bram.

Nicola and Bram made out at Linden and Steph’s wedding, but when she told him that she has to get home to her daughter, he shuts it down fast, and manages to find another woman to take off into the bushes before Nicola’s cab even shows up. Her ego is bruised, and she’s definitely not a fan of Bram – hot as he may be.

C: Nicola is known as the ice princess in her friend circle, she’s dedicated to that mom life and hasn’t had sex for so long. She’s on #teamcobwebs. Bram isn’t shy about telling her he thinks she’s an undersexed prude. They’re not off to the best start.

M: Regardless, she’s in such a bad spot, she has really no choice but to accept his generous offer, and she and her daughter move in next door to him. Bram has a constant parade of women in and out of his apartment, but he starts to fixate on Nicola.

C: It bothers Mary more than it bothers me when our girl can hear the manwhore next door banging a steady stream of throwaway skanks (this trope happens more than you might think). I figure as long as our pair aren’t together quite yet he can screw whomever he wants.

M: It just means he has to work a *tiny* bit harder for redemption in my mind. Bram was really charming in that bold, kind of slutty way you secretly want to be treated like in real life though, so he won me over pretty quickly – even with all the strange he rubbed our noses in. Plus he says arse all the time, which was really doing it for me for some reason. His general attitude was obscenely sexy – like this casual conversation about finding a job for example:

What’s wrong with bartending? You’re fucking hot too, so you’ll make a lot of tips. If you show off your nice tits a bit, you could make even more.

C: Nicola is having a hard time not thinking about him as well, she even tries to go out with her lady friends to screw Bram out of her system with anyone BUT Bram. Of course, this doesn’t work. Only schtupping the hot scot next door will do her.

M: And this book was fucking hottt, and not in the funny way – in the smoldering put it in the spank bank way. Halle knows how to write about the sex we wish we were having.

He shoots me a wicked smile and then runs his fingers – the same fingers that were inside me just moments ago – underneath his nose and breathes in. “I’ll be back for more of this,” he say thickly.

C: #fingersniffing Forever hot, we were reading in tandem and texting over how hot this all was. Bram is just controlling enough, talks very very dirty, and knows how to use his fingers for things other than sniffing. There is car sex that is ranking up pretty high in the spank-bank-o-meter:

He slowly begins to slide out and then pushes back in, holding me in place until I start to slip. Then my hands are up against the door of the car, my face pressed against the fogged-up window as he slams into me again and again.

the offer text

He is also extremely sweet with Nicola’s five-year old daughter – who is really well-behaved, where does a real life single mom get herself one of these book kids?

M: Right? I don’t know a man alive who doesn’t act annoyed when a kid repeatedly cockblocks like Nicola’s daughter. My husband included.

When the relationship drama inevitably appeared, Cleone and I were both wishing that Nicola could be a little more understanding and just get past it already.

let it go

C: Bram had a secret he was hiding,  it was alluded to but not revealed until the last quarter of the book, and by then Mary and I had correctly guessed what he had neglected to tell Nicola. Yes, it was kind of shitty, but Bram is a super hot guy who makes you weak kneed, saved you from being homeless, and took your kid to Disneyland — maybe think before you freak out.

M: He had me at the car sex. He could literally do almost anything after that point and I would have been like, “Dat accent tho.”

C: The Offer was such a fun, hot, little read. If you have a single mom in your life you’re looking to ruin, this is the PERFECT Gateway Book. It will also change what you think about when you think about IKEA.

M: It’s also great for anyone with a vagina, and moms who might occasionally fantasize about being a single mom who meets a gorgeous Scot who just wants her to ride his giant bagpipe all day. You don’t do that? Me either…

And it’s on sale for only 99 cents for a limited time. That’s a fantastic deal. We pay way more than that for total trash on the reg, and this one’s like an actual Book. (For fucksake we preordered Grey) You should definitely pick this one up if you’re looking for a fun book.

Check it out on Amazon:

Moonlight on Nightingale Way, by Samantha Young

Moonlight on Nightingale Way

Grade: A-

Doing it at: 41%

Catnip: Hot Scot; Hot Neighbor; Enemies to Lovers; Surprise Children; Kitchen Sex; Bad Childhood; Ex-con

Shame Scale: C: Zero shame here, Mary? Shame? M: My only shame is that I know I’ll be going back and reading my bookmarks again because some of this one is going in The Bank.

Fantasy Cast: Tom Hardy, Adelaide Kane

Book Description:

Logan spent two years paying for the mistakes he made. Now, he’s ready to start over. He has a great apartment, a good job, and plenty of women to distract him from his past. And one woman who is driving him to distraction…

Grace escaped her manipulative family by moving to a new city. Her new life, made to suit her own needs, is almost perfect. All she needs to do is find her Mr. Right—or at least figure out a way to ignore her irresistible yet annoying womanizer of a neighbor.

Grace is determined to have nothing to do with Logan until a life-changing surprise slowly begins turning the wild heartbreaker into exactly the kind of strong, stable man she’s been searching for. Only just when she begins to give into his charms, her own messy past threatens to derail everything they’ve worked to build…

C: We love Samantha Young’s Dublin Street series. My possible favorite book couple (at least in my Desert Island Top Ten) are Nate and Olivia from Before Jamaica Lane. When this loaded up Mary and I decided to read it in tandem so we could text frantically and review together. This is quickly becoming my new favorite way to read books, everyone should have a buddy. There are some mild spoilers in here, so if you want to avoid them, scroll down from this hot picture of Tom Hardy in a hot tub, to the hot picture of Tom Hardy in a suit.

tom hardy hot tats 2

Logan and Grace are new neighbors in an apartment building in Scotland, Grace is not much enjoying her new neighbor and we meet her on the morning where she discovers that his playmate of the evening has left her thong to dry on the stair landing in the common space. Which is incredibly foul. Grace confronts Logan and he’s apologetic about it at first, but also annoyed that Grace is being kind of a bitch about the situation.

M: On the one hand, Grace was kind of a chit with her whole “I’m Miss Grace Farquhar” intro, and then politely requesting that he not let girls dry their undies in their shared hallway. I personally would have gone with humor, but she’s a shy girl. But I thought Logan was way too much of an asshole for the first few chapters. He was dismissive of Grace in an “I don’t want to fuck you,” kind of way, and that’s my least favorite kind of book hero. He had to work for it to get into my good graces in this book.

C: My brain, for once not being a scumbag, immediately started picturing Logan as Tom Hardy. Big and gruff and scruffy and super hot. I was swoony for him even when he was being kind of a dick and loudly banging a cavalcade of sluts.

M: So much better than when you were reading Beautiful Disaster and your brain gave you Weevil from Veronica Mars. Tom Hardy is perfect for this one. He just looks like he’s mostly a prick and super dirty in bed.

C: The two establish a begrudging, quiet truce until the morning Grace comes out of her flat to find a puddle of vomit on her welcome mat. She’d been woken up before dawn by the never ending chorus OH LOGAN OH LOGAN OH GOD GOD and is all the way done with this nonsense. He tells her she has a stick up her ass, they hate each other, its all very tension filled and cat nippy.

M: He was pretty embarrassed about the vomit though. And he didn’t realize she could hear through the walls. He initially seemed properly apologetic to me. I was siding with Logan on this one. If she couldn’t sleep, she could have bought some ear plugs, taken some Tylenol PM…

C: I’m super glad I never had a neighbor who had extremely loud sex that kept me up nights. Pounding bass, crack fights, barking dogs? Sure. But no obnoxious bangity bang bang bang.


M: I used to hear my upstairs neighbors, but I loved it because the guy was such a milk toast. The sex sounded so disappointing. My roommates and I used to all crowd into my room to listen and speculate. Like, 3 minutes of rhythmic creaking which would abruptly stop, then he’d immediately run into the bathroom and flush the toilet. I digress. Anyways. I can see why it was bothering Grace. This was loud, protracted, frequent banging.

C: Grace works from home, editing books (mostly romance novels- nice touch!) and has had to change her schedule because of the frequent sleep interruptions, she wants nothing to do with Logan. Even if she finds him disturbingly hot and has an amazing sex dream about him. That is until she’s in the stairwell and a teenage girl shows up, a girl with lovely violet eyes just like Logan’s. Our gruff, dreamy, man-whore has a teenage daughter he never knew about.

M: Logan was terrified of being alone with a life-changing bomb like poor Maia, so he dragged Grace into his apartment for support. Maia confessed that her home environment was awful, and begged Logan to let her stay with him.

C: I was a little annoyed when Maia first turned up, secret children (unlike accidental pregnancy) don’t tend to be catnip for me. but I then ended up immediately sympathizing with her and finding her extremely likeable. It helped that she was never a bitch to Grace and was rooting for her dad to get together with her.

Maia’s had an awful life with a junkie mom in a shady Counsel Estate – this is a lovely English way of saying Projects – and when Logan goes to see if the girl really is his and to tell her mom he wants to take care of her, Maia’s mom is basically “Fine, whatever, just give me your phone so I can get some smack.” Grace had an awful mother herself, in different ways, and is immediately taken with and sympathetic to Maia. And Logan is floundering, but wants very much to be a good dad and make up for all the years he didn’t know she existed.

M: Since Maia’s paternity was up in the air at first, Grace volunteered to let Maia live with her while the legalities were sorted out, and so Logan could transition his apartment from bachelor pad to family home.

C: Soon Grace, Logan, and Maia have formed a tentative family unit, they’re having dinner together, Grace is helping Maia with her homework, and giving Logan advice on how to handle this strange new teenager living in his house. They’re like a married couple who have never had sex. And let’s be honest we were getting impatient for the sex. Grace is too, which is why she gets very upset at the news that Logan had sex with some American tramp – he TELLS her, the fucker – and she decides to go on a blind date to get Logan out of her head. Which goes just awfully. Luckily, when she goes home Logan is jealous and takes Grace right up against her kitchen counters.

Kitchen sex is so hot, plus its very convenient for snacking right after. #practical

M: This is when we started with the midnight texting. I was SO MAD that he slept with The American, and then had the balls to be like, “Well you know how it is, I was just so used to getting it regularly, it’s hard to go without…” UGH. I wanted Grace to fuck someone else so badly to get back at him. I confess I was mildly disappointed that her blind date sucked so much. But then there was the kitchen sex. It was glorious. If you’re reading this book at night and trying to get to a good stopping point before you go to sleep, stop immediately after they come and close the book!

C: Hating Logan was really hard for me, I was falling hard into book boyfriend love, I don’t know how Grace stayed strong as long as she did. Mary was way more fired up about his post screwing Grace against a wall transgressions than I was. I’m a soft touch.

M: He was a dick to her. I like to see the heroes suffer sometimes. I still think she should have pointed out what an asshole he was being by screwing Maia’s history teacher.

C: It takes us a bit longer to get to our HEA, Logan let us down and it takes a few chapters and some character growth for him to realize that he can’t live without Grace. That he and Maia both need her, but especially him.

tom hardy cig

This is the last Dublin Street series book, and Young gave her readers a little epilogue for each couple. I’m not going to lie it made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

M: Definitely. I might have gotten a little teary at the end. And while I did want Logan to suffer a little bit, he did manage to work his way back into my good graces. This was a great end to one of our favorite series.

Check it out on Amazon: