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Estelle: Played by Liz Fichera

Played by Liz FicheraPlayed by Liz Fichera ( web | tweet )
Part of the HOOKED series / companion novel.
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: racial discrimination, brothers/sisters, unrequited love
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: At a teen leadership retreat, Sam and Riley are unluckily paired together. Sam’s hope of getting their time together over with quickly doesn’t come true when Riley gets hurt and he has to think quickly to get them both into safety. To pay him back for saving her, Riley agrees to help Sam get the girl of his dreams back — even if she’s the girl that her own brother is currently in love with.

After a lot of serious / emotional books, I chose Played to read next because I was in the market for something light. Here’s how it fared for me:

Pros:

  • Yay companion novels! I didn’t read HOOKED (Magan read + reviewed it last year) so it was nice to start fresh in a new story with a few references to Fred and Ryan’s story. It’s why I like Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series so much!
  • The tension: Sam and Riley do not like each other at first. Not even a little bit. Sam doesn’t like Riley by association — she’s the sister of the guy who stole the love of his life. Riley doesn’t like Sam’s attitude and think he’s making fun of her the first time they communicate during their leadership retreat. She’s used to being in charge, and that’s when she gets the both of them in trouble. Things heat up between the two pretty quickly, but they resist oh-so-much and the build up is very steamy.
  • Sam is a good guy. He loves his family (though his relationship with his parents isn’t perfect), he’s super smart (scholarships in his future), and he’s dependable even when he doesn’t want to be. He’s there for his friends, and finds himself unable to resist Riley, especially when she needs him the most (which is a lot). I genuinely liked him. Plus he rides a motorcycle! That was pretty darn sexy.
  • Memorable supporting characters: Even though Ryan is (rightfully) downgraded to the supporting cast in this book, I really liked him a lot; he’s a good brother. Then there’ s Mr. Beringer (Riley and Ryan’s dad). Sadly, fathers don’t get the best rep in books but Mr. B has some key moments where I went “aww”. Then there is Martin, who felt like Sam’s brother and not just his best friend. I admired his honesty and his loyalty to Sam — especially later in the book.

Cons:

  • Riley: As someone who is practically perfect in every way and expected to be that way all the time (especially compared to her brother who was always getting in trouble), Riley is supposed to transform into a bit of a wild child in Played. I just didn’t buy it. If we had seen more of her as “the good girl” and there was  a distinct difference between before vs. after — I would have grasped it better. To go a step farther, I’m not sure what Riley had to complain about in her life. Her problems didn’t matter to me, especially because her only reason for acting out was because of her brother? She seemed more bratty than someone who was trying to figure herself out.
  • Leadership retreat: I was SO excited when I read the synopsis and saw this was a part of the book. So different! Except… we weren’t there very long. That was disappointing.
  • Playing Cupid: I get that Sam had a thing for Fred for awhile and he was bummed when they didn’t get together. Their friendship hadn’t been the same in a long time but it confused me that the main character of this book was trying to undue a majority of the action in the first book. Thoughts I had: 1) If Riley succeeded, we could dismiss Hooked entirely. 2) Duh. Riley is totally not going to pull this off so it will all be wasted time where the two main characters get closer. (Can you guess what happened?)
  • Crazy unbelievable events: Um, I think I could have accepted how insane things got for these two if there was more development in other areas of the book (especially character wise).
  • Girl friendship: Drew is Riley’s best gal pal and I’m sad their relationship didn’t get pushed to the forefront more. I think it really needed to be, especially toward the end.

Final thoughts: Unfortunately, I wanted to like Played more than I did. Even all the chemistry in the world couldn’t make me ignore how much I didn’t understand Riley or her motivation to act the way she did. Sam was a great guy, and I was totally rooting for him but, all in all, Played was underwhelming and had far too many holes for me to fully enjoy it.

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June 2, 2014 - 9:50 pm

Alexa S. - I must say that Played sounded a whole lot better than Hooked, and I was nearly convinced to give this author another try. However, it really sounds like there was something missing in this story, like potential that went to waste. I still do think the romance sounds pretty cute though, so I have to give her that!

May 27, 2014 - 3:22 pm

Jess @ Gone with the Words - UGH! There’s nothing worse than when a book is made to sound really good in the synopsis only to let us down overall. I’m sorry this one didn’t live up. It doesn’t sound like I’d have a good time reading it either with the issues you had with it. :/

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