Friday, November 13, 2015

The Play by Karina Halle

* * * *

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.

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.

Holy cow! This achingly sweet and intense novel has given me THE biggest book hangover! So many feels going through me now that I’m still recovering from.

The Play is a case of opposites attract. Kayla is swearing off men – in theory that is until she’s introduced to Lachlan, a hot Scottish rugby player who’s in San Francisco for a visit. He makes her weak in the knees and she wants to do many things to him. Lachlan who’s in town with the sole purpose of helping with his cousin’s business venture, has no intentions of getting involved with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Kayla is a different matter. Both are interested in each other but the fact that he’s only in town for another week makes it illogical for them to start something. Her outgoing personality is a contrast to his dour one, so it’s unsettling to him that she actually gets under his skin. For Kayla, she’s simply beguiled by this guy who shows moments of tenderness behind his gruff exterior. Their hooking up is inevitable and thank the gods because these two together are positively combustible!

I admire Karina Halle for writing a fierce and brazen character in Kayla. It’s not too often that I come across a heroine who owns her sexuality and states exactly what she wants. At the same time, she’s floundering career-wise. I thought it was an accurate portrayal of someone in their 30’s who’s attempting to make sense of how their original ideals and goals hold up against their present situation. Just because you have it all figured out in one area of your life doesn’t mean that’s how it is all the way around. Then there’s Lachlan. To say he needs a massive hug is an understatement! I liked that we are given brief glimpses into his turbulent past, just enough to understand that he’s been through some terrifying things that have scarred him. While on the outside he’s guarded, the walls do come down unleashing a flood of serious emotional distress. Lachlan’s problems go way deep, and the complexity of them are described cleverly and sympathetically.

By the time I was done with The Play, I was a bit of a mess. My emotions ran the gamut thanks to Kayla and Lachlan’s heated romance, their various issues, and Lachlan’s love of rescuing dogs, particularly pit bulls. I have to admit, I didn’t realize how misunderstood and vilified pit bulls have been made out to be. By making Lachlan an advocate for stray animals, Halle has also shed light on a serious cause: that of abused or unwanted dogs in desperate need of good homes. She’s so passionate about this cause that she has even donated $1 from every pre-sale and first-week sale of The Play towards various animal shelters! (If you'd like more info on how much money has been raised from sales and where's it's going click here.) 

The Play is the second book by Karina Halle that I've read (Where Sea Meets Sky being the other one) and it contains the same passion and heat that drew me in. Set in two of my favourite locales, San Francisco and Scotland, it was like I was sight-seeing again as I immersed myself in the story. As a new fan of her writing, I will definitely be making my way through her catalogue. If you need more encouragement to read this book, will it help to know that the muse for Lachlan was based on none other than Tom Hardy, another advocate for rescuing and adopting dogs? Yeah...go ahead and drool. And pick up The Play while you're at it!

~ Bel

Photo: Esquire UK May 2015 issue

*The Play is a stand alone novel. The Pact and The Offer also feature the same recurring characters and can be read in any order.

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