Wicked Player is the third book in Stacey Lynn’s series, Rough Riders. I have to admit that I did not read the first two books (although, after reading this book, I know I will find my way back to the first two books in the series). Thankfully, it wasn’t necessary in reading this book. It is a standalone novel telling the story of Elizabeth and Gage.
Gage is a professional football player with the Rough Riders. He has spent his life, protecting his image and giving back to the community. Specifically, he creates a new wing in a hospital for families suffering with children who have life-threatening diseases such as cancer. His motivation for this is personal.
Elizabeth is a journalist. She reports on special interest stories. However, she is ready for the bigger job: anchor. After one of the anchors decides to leave the job, Elizabeth has an opportunity to achieve her goal. However, she must prove herself by being a part of the media corps surrounding Gage’s donation.
Unbeknownst to anyone else, Gage and Elizabeth have secrets; they engage in a different lifestyle than most. However, anonymity is key to this lifestyle. Once they meet, will they survive their secrets? Can they find a “happily-ever-after?” That is the question of this book.
As characters, Gage and Elizabeth are likeable. While Gage exudes masculinity, and he is a true alpha male, there is a tenderness to him. We see it in his friendship with the young patient, Brandon, and Brandon’s mother. We find it in his later encounters with Elizabeth. He is protective and thoughtful to a fault at times. Gage puts everyone else before his needs, and it creates this uber-hero: loveable but sexy all in one.
Elizabeth could be difficult. Many times, journalists as heroines are bossy and interfere with the other characters. However, Elizabeth doesn’t hold those characteristics. Instead, she is supportive of her co-workers, she’s impressed with Gage and his charitable nature, and she is forgiving to a fault in the way that she re-considers her ex-boyfriend. However, she exudes the most strength in her encounters with Gage. She eventually helps him see that he should be a little more selfish in his own pursuits.\
Together, Gage and Elizabeth are a power couple. They definitely endure some strife in this story, but it strengthens them and their connection. It does take Gage some time to recognize his feelings for Elizabeth, but that angst drives the story.
My only criticism of the story is the style. There were some issues with grammar, but I don’t worry too much about it for the final draft. Also, I thought the storyline with the ex was a bit contrived. I honestly thought Elizabeth, given her strength, would be stronger around him originally.
Overall, however, I enjoyed the story. I don’t believe it is trying to do anything too different, but it entertains you nonetheless.
In love and romance,