05 December 2013

BOOK CLUB THURSDAYS:HOLIDAY GAMES:A PLAY- BY- PLAY NOVELLA- BY JACI BURTON


AVAILABLE NOW IN E-BOOK 

ABOUT THE BOOK:


A Riley wedding is in the works, a Riley Christmas means a house full of family, and baby making is on Liz Riley's mind. Chasing Gavin around and meeting in dark closets can be fun, but Liz is more than a little determined. Even with family in every corner of the house, Gavin is more than ready to do whatever Liz wants—especially when sex is involved. It's a Riley family Christmas.







Changing the Game

Read the beginning of Liz and Gavin's romance in Changing the Game





EXCERPT FROM HOLIDAY GAMES

Chapter One

Not Pregnant.
Liz Riley sat in her bathroom, crushing disappointment tightening her stomach as she stared at the pregnancy test.
Not pregnant. Again.
Her period was three days late. She’d been so certain this time.
Dammit. The word failure wasn’t in her lexicon. She’d always succeeded, usually found a way to get what she wanted. Even when faced with a temporary roadblock, she wrangled her way around it and won. She was one of the best sports agents in the business, and always got what she wanted.
But that was business, and this was personal. For the past year, she’d tried—and failed—numerous times to get pregnant.
She tossed the stick into the trash and stared at herself in the mirror.
“This sucks.”
“What sucks?”
She whirled to face her husband, Gavin, the love of her life and the only man who could have ever made her want to have a baby.
She twined her arms around him. “Nothing. Okay, it’s something. I might have a pimple coming up on my chin.”
He gasped. “Oh, God, no. Not a pimple. It’s the end of the world.”
She glared. “This is serious.”
He tilted her chin up. “There’s nothing on your chin. And even if there was, you’d still be the sexiest damn redhead I’ve ever laid my eyes on.”
He pressed a kiss to her chin, then let his lips trail down over her neck. Her woes temporarily forgotten, she leaned against him, loving the feel of his body pressed along hers. He’d just gotten out of the shower, and the fresh, clean scent of him never failed to hit all of her hot buttons.
Then again, she liked him sweaty, too. After a practice or a game, with dirt and perspiration rolling down his face, he wore his work on his body, and she loved him that way.
As his former agent, she knew how hard he worked at baseball. He was the best first baseman she’d ever represented. Of course, as soon as they’d fallen in love, she’d had to bow out of representing him, but she never stopped appreciating what a fine specimen of an athlete he was.
Or what an amazing and giving lover he was.
Like now, as he set her on the bathroom counter, spread her legs and dropped to his knees, burying his face between her thighs.
She shuddered as he slid his tongue along her sex. Gavin always knew exactly how to pleasure her.
“Oh, yes,” she murmured, sliding her fingers through the softness of his hair, directing him to where she needed his mouth. And when he hummed against her clit, she arched against him, so close already she could come right now.
But not yet, not when the sensations he brought out of her with his tongue were so delicious. She wanted to wait just a little longer.
The distant sounds of knocking permeated her senses. But she was right on the edge, so close to coming that she blocked everything else.
“I’m almost there, Gavin. Just like that.”
And when he pressed his tongue against her clit and licked her, she came with a loud cry, holding his head there as she rode out an amazing orgasm that left her shuddering.
He rose up and kissed her with the same hard passion that always left her breathless.
She heard the rapping at the door again. Only this time, the doorbell accompanied the knock.
Gavin pulled back. “Was that the front door?”
Then realization slammed into her. “Oh, shit. I forgot Jenna and Tara were coming over.”
Oh, shit is right.” He looked down, and she followed his gaze where his erection bobbed hard and tempting against her leg.
She let out a rueful sigh. “So much for the hot sex. I guess I’ll get the door.”
“Good idea. I’ll be here thinking about what we could have been doing. No. Bad idea. I’ll think about on-base averages, and then I’ll get dressed.”
She laughed, slid off the counter, and hurriedly threw on some clothes before running downstairs to get the door.
Jenna arched a brow. “What the hell. I was about to call you. Were you in the shower?”
“I’m sorry. I was upstairs getting dressed. I’m running late this morning.”
“Are you sure this is a good time?” Tara asked, giving her a hug.
“It’s a perfect time. Come on in.”
Jenna brushed by. “You were probably having sex with my brother.”
Liz followed them into the living room. “And if I was, you so wouldn’t want the details about that.”
“You’re right. I wouldn’t.” Jenna laid a bag next to the sofa, then turned back to Liz. “Your face is all flushed. Oh, my God, you were having sex. Geez, Liz, you could have called us and told us to come back later.”
“No way. It was an impromptu thing.”
Tara crossed her arms, a serene smile on her face. “So, a quickie, huh?”
“More like half a quickie.”
“Ouch,” Tara said.
“You have lousy timing, Jenna,” Gavin said as he sauntered downstairs and into the living room.
“Hey, Tara’s here, too, you know.”
“Yeah, but you’re my sister, so I’ll blame you.”
He gave both Jenna and Tara hugs and asked, “Who wants coffee?”
“I definitely do,” Jenna said.
Tara nodded. “I’d love some.”
“Tea for me,” Liz said.
“Since when do you not drink coffee?” Jenna’s eyes widened. “Are you pregnant?”
“No. Just working on putting healthy stuff into my body just in case it happens someday. Which, so far, it hasn’t.”
Jenna squeezed her hand. “I’m sorry. I should stop asking you all the time about it. I’m as excited for you to have a baby as you are.”
Liz looked into the kitchen, then returned her attention to her sisters-in-law. “I took a test this morning because I was a little late. It was negative.”
Tara frowned. “I’m sorry. That has to be frustrating to want it so badly. But you just need to relax and give it time.”
Liz gave her a look. “When have you ever known me to relax?”
“Good point. But maybe if you did try to relax a little, it might happen?”
“I don’t know. We’ve been trying for a while. And I know I’m not in my twenties anymore, so maybe there’s something wrong.”
“Did you ask your doctor?”
Liz waved her hand. “She ran tests on both of us. Gavin’s fine. She said I’m fine, and that there’s no reason I can’t conceive. And she also said I should relax.”
Jenna laughed. “Okay, so just enjoy the sex thing and let it happen.”
“That’s the problem. It’s been a year. I’m not pregnant. Clearly I’m not trying hard enough.”
Jenna gave her a look. “I can’t imagine there’s anything you try to accomplish that you don’t give your all to. Even this.”
“Maybe.”
Gavin came in with drinks for all of them. “Thanks, babe,” Liz said.
“My pleasure. What were you all whispering about in here?”
Jenna gave Gavin an innocent look. “My wedding stuff, of course. Do you want to take a seat and hear all the details?”
Gavin looked horrified. “God, no. It’s bad enough you’re putting me in a tux and making me take part in it. Do I have to hear details, too?”
Liz loved the terrified look on his face. Like Jenna would ask him to go over invitations or something. “No. You’re dismissed.”
“Thank God. I’m going to the gym.”
He grabbed his gym bag and kissed Liz good-bye.
After he left, Liz motioned to the bag sitting next to the sofa. “So, what’s going on with the wedding stuff?”
Jenna grinned. “Tara brought over the place cards the other day. I thought you might want to see them.”
“You know I do. I can’t believe the wedding is only a few weeks away.”
“I can’t, either. Ty and I put it off for so long. The whole wedding thing just wasn’t important, because we love each other and are committed. I really wanted to just go to city hall or maybe to Vegas for a quickie wedding.”
“But then there’s your mother,” Tara said. “Who would have never forgiven you.”
Jenna nodded. “Exactly. Denying her a wedding, especially for her only daughter, just wasn’t an option, especially after the two of you married Mick and Gavin in such elaborate ways.”
“Uh, sorry?” Liz said with a grin. “I never thought I was the fancy-wedding type. Or even the marrying type. Until Gavin came along.”
“I can relate, believe me. I never believed in the whole commitment thing until Ty. And marriage wasn’t all that important to me, but I loved Ty and he wanted to get married, and then there’s Mom. So I caved.” Jenna took a deep breath. “And so here we are.”
Tara dipped her hand into the bag and pulled a placecard out, handing it over to Liz. “With these.”
The placecards were purple, matching the color of the tips of Jenna’s hair, and the ink was in Ty’s hockey team color. The upper quadrant had a musical note and a hockey stick coming up through it, signifying parts of both Jenna and Tyler, with their initials woven through it.
“I love these. So much,” Liz said.
“Me, too,” Jenna said. “You don’t think they’re hokey or stupid?”
“Of course not. They’re you. And Ty. And perfect.”
Jenna grinned. “Thank you. I love them, too. Tara helped me with the design.”
Liz slid her glance over to Tara. “It’s what you do best.”
“Thanks. I’m ridiculously excited about this wedding. At least this time I’m not pregnant.”
“And how is our gorgeous nephew?”
“Pulling himself up to stand.”
“Oh, my God. Already?”
“Yes. Mick thinks he’ll be walking soon. He said when he was a baby, he walked at ten months, so he thinks Sam will walk early, too. I’m not ready yet. I want him to stay my cuddly baby as long as possible, though he can crawl through the house like a speed demon. I have to watch him every second, or he disappears. We’ve already got the gate up across the stairs.”
“He’s adorable, Tara. And where is he?” Jenna asked.
“With your parents. When I told your mom I was meeting with the two of you this morning, she asked if she could have him for a couple of hours.”
“Figures. She’s always grabbing Sam.”
Tara leaned back on the sofa. “You know you can have him whenever you want. Or come over whenever you want.”
“Sure. In my spare time, when I’m not overseeing the bar, or working at the club.”
“Oh, cry me a river,” Liz interjected. “I never get to see him, either.”
“I never thought the two of you would be fighting over my baby. You are the two least likely women I’d ever have guessed would have motherly instincts.”
“Hey,” Jenna said. “I love your baby. Not that I want any of my own right now. Too busy. But your kids? Love them madly.”
“That’s because one is in college, and the other you can love and cuddle and spoil, but you don’t have to keep him.”
Jenna nodded. “Exactly.”
Liz laughed. “Speaking of the one in college, how is Nathan doing?”
A streak of motherly pride crossed Tara’s face. “He’s doing so well. He’s putting his studies first, which I insisted on. And of course as you know, Texas ended up winning the Big 12 Conference championship this season. I’d like to think Nathan leading the team at quarterback had a lot to do with that.”
“He’s an exceptional quarterback, like his father,” Liz said. “I watched every game. He has a natural talent, very much like Mick’s.”
“Agree,” Jenna said. “In some ways, he’s better than Mick, because of the way he runs. He confuses the hell out of the defense.”
Liz nodded. “I’m eager to get my hands on him and get him an NFL contract.”
Tara looked horrified. “Oh, God, don’t tell him that. He’ll want to come out next year, and Mick and I want him to stay in school and finish up his degree.”
Liz laughed. “My lips are sealed. And I tend to agree with you. Some of these boys leave school too soon, the lure of the big contract and big money too much to resist. The longer they stay in college, the more experience they gain. At least that’s what I always advise them.”
“Obviously, they don’t always listen.”
She shrugged. “Bottom line is the choice is theirs to make. Many of them go on to have highly successful careers, but it’s my hope they all get their degrees. Or at least stay through their junior years, then finish up their degrees later.”
Tara nodded. “We’re going to push for Nathan to stay in school as long as possible, but you’re right, it’s his career and his choice. We just hope he makes the right one.”
They went over wedding planning, then went out to lunch. Liz parted ways with Tara and Jenna, then headed home, hoping to find Gavin there. Instead, he’d left a message on her phone letting her know he was going for a tux fitting, and then lunch.
Which was fine with her. She had some work to do, anyway, so she opened her laptop and answered a few emails. When she was done, she reviewed her calendar.
It was going to be an extremely busy holiday season. Not only was Jenna getting married—with Liz taking a very active role in that, which she was very excited about—but in addition, she and Gavin would be hosting Christmas for the Riley family in their home this year. Since this was the first time they’d have the entire family over for Christmas, Liz felt the burden of doing everything just right.
Not that Gavin’s family put high expectations on Christmas or anything. His parents were the kindest people she’d ever known. Kathleen and Jimmy Riley had been family to her—more parents to her than her own—since before she and Gavin had ever gotten together. She loved them so much, and they were genuinely warm people. So there was no pressure, other than the normal pressure she put on herself, which was always high.
But still, there’d be a lot of coordinating to do. The Riley family was formidable, and now that there were wives and kids and significant others in the picture, Christmas was going to be huge this year. And Liz intended for this to be the best holiday ever.
She made a few notes about food. Catering was out, unfortunately, because the Rileys just wouldn’t go for that. Nothing but homemade at Christmas. Kathleen would help her, of course, and so would Tara, along with Kathleen’s sister-in-law, Cara. They’d all have to get together and discuss options.
This would totally work.
She leaned back in her chair and stretched, then thought about Gavin and that wretched pregnancy test from earlier.
She pushed back and stood, heading into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. She’d be damned if she’d let her body defeat her. She poured tea into her cup and leaned against the kitchen counter.
If someone had told her two years ago that she would be married and trying to have a baby, she’d have laughed in their face. She’d been totally career driven, and there had been no man on her radar.
Except Gavin, of course. She’d always loved Gavin, but in secret. He’d been the man of her dreams, someone she’d been close to as a client only. Never in her wildest dreams had she ever thought she and Gavin would get together, let alone fall in love and end up married. That’s when her desire for a child—someone who was part of both of them—had started to take hold. She was almost in her midthirties now. If she was ever going to have children, it was time to get going on that. A now or never kind of thing, because she wasn’t getting any younger.
Which was why she wouldn’t let her dream of having a child go up in smoke.
Giving up wasn’t an option. They just needed to have more sex. Gavin was strong and virile, and she was still young enough. She worked out and ate right. There was no reason they couldn’t get pregnant. Gavin was off season right now, which meant he was more available than usual, and that meant more time for sex. Granted, she’d be a more than a little busy with the wedding and holiday planning, but if there was one thing Liz knew how to do, it was make time for sex.
She smiled against the rim of her teacup.
Operation Make A Baby was on.

Jaci BurtonABOUT THE AUTHOR: I'd like to say I always wanted to be a writer, but that's not the case. First I wanted to be a teacher. When I was a kid I used to play school in my friend's basement. She had actual school desks—and index cards. I'm a list maker, so those index cards rocked my world. Then later on, I wanted to be a nurse. My other friend had a stethoscope and a medical book. I had a thing for props, okay?
But during my early teen years my cousin and I—back in the day before the internet –would exchange scripts we'd written of a popular TV show. No, I won't tell you which TV show because then you'd know how old I really am. But it was a western with two gorgeous cowboy heroes and we were each in love with one of the main characters. I'd say that was my first foray into writing, and it got me hooked.
As an adult, marriage, work and raising two sons took priority. And while I fell madly in love with reading romance, there wasn't much time to write it. It's amazing how much corporate life, soccer games, high school musicals, dinner and laundry can suck out of the average day. But I would occasionally dabble in writing, then put it aside when I got busy. Unfortunately, I was always busy.
Eventually my kids grew up and I was on my second marriage when Biker Dude (what I call my husband because of his love for his Harley Davidson) found out I used to dabble in writing and encouraged me to try again. So I did.
I sat down and wrote a romance novel, start to finish. I was so proud of it, but I didn't sell that romance. Not right away, anyway. I didn't sell the one after that, either. Or the one after that. Suffice it to say I wasn't an overnight success. But eventually I did sell a book, then another, and then another. I have an exceptionally smart agent and write for amazing editors. I'm a USA Today andNew York Times bestselling author, and I have you wonderful readers to thank for that.
This has been a dream come true for me, one I wanted for so many years. Writing is my full time career and something I love so much. I can't imagine a day that isn't filled with hot, sexy heroes who save the day, strong, capable heroines who don't need a man to save them, and the happily ever afters in every book.
Sometimes I even write about teachers and nurses. And hot cowboys.
I live in northeast Oklahoma with Biker Dude and our wonderful, crazy dogs. Between us we have three kids who are all grown up and living out in the wild. When I'm not writing I can usually be found in the garden, coaxing the tomatoes to grow, heading out to our local casino trying to become a millionaire (so far, no luck there), or riding on the back of Biker Dude's Harley. And when I want to relax I read other authors' masterpieces or I'm parked in front of the television watching sports, reality TV or crime shows. And maybe a drama or a comedy. Okay, I really watch way too much television.
Welcome to my world.
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MY REVIEW:
I'll keep my thoughts short and sweet.

This was NOT one of my favorite books in this series. Granted I've only read the first three but I thought it would be more focused on JUST Gavin and Liz. That said, I did enjoy appearances by the other characters from this series. I also thought that although many of things I love about Ms. Burton's style were present here in the novella- the heat and emotion- at times the novella felt a bit clunky. 

It was still enjoyable and I would recommend to fans of the series. 


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