This trio of Play-by-Play novellas involves three athletes spreading holiday cheer; a hockey player, a baseball player, and a professional surfer. On the whole, I’d absolutely recommend this anthology for anyone looking to get in the holiday (read: Christmas) spirit and wants a steamy read to help. However, double check before you one-click, as these have all been published previously as independent novellas.
Grade : B Sensuality : Warm
Liz Riley is desperate to get pregnant. While the rest of the Riley clan is focused on Jenna and Ty’s wedding, Liz and her baseball star husband, Gavin, are seizing all available opportunities to make that happen. Throw in hosting duties for the clan’s Christmas dinner and Liz certainly has a lot on her plate. The chemistry between the two is both sizzling and adorable, making this a delightful read for fans of the series.
This novella spends nearly as much time with the other Rileys as it does with Liz and Gavin, which is confusing if you’re not caught up with the series. There’s a lot of comments about events of books past, connections between other characters emphasized, and less time is spent with just Liz and Gavin. Personally, I’ve dipped in and out of the Play-by-Play series, so I can’t keep everyone straight in my head anymore, and I found these visits to other characters confusing.
Holiday on Ice
Grade : A- Sensuality : Warm
My favorite of the three stories, this focuses on Patrick “Trick” Niemeyer and Stella Slovinksi. Trick is a hockey player with the New York Travelers and Stella is a professional dancer, currently in rehearsals for her début as a lead dancer in a Broadway musical. Stella and Trick were an item before the start of the novella, but have drifted apart. When a chance meeting throws them together again, they’re both forced to realize that they’ve never really moved on.
I loved both Trick and Stella, who are both driven professionals in their fields. Stella’s PoVs give us a lot of insight into the mental game of a professional dancer, the give and take between pleasure and sacrifice. The big conflict is a communication mix-up, which is my least favorite driver of conflict, but the charm of the two main characters makes up for it.
Hot Holiday Nights
Grade : B- Sensuality : Hot
First off, this is a ménage story. It doesn’t really present itself as one to start with, and I know some folks draw a hard line at ménages, so I wanted to mention that immediately. It is also a novella about a more mature heroine, which I know ticks the boxes of many readers. Victoria Baldwin is a sports agent who takes herself to Hawaii for the holidays. There, she finds two gifts; a hot younger surfer and his suave and mature business manager.
Victoria meets Alex McConnell almost immediately upon her arrival in Hawaii and they begin a hot holiday fling. He’s there for a professional surf tour event and starts spending his free time with Victoria. A few years her junior, Alex’s PoV tells readers that he’s drawn to older women and enjoys the sexual confidence they often have. Eventually, Victoria meets Alex’s manager, Ben, and is drawn to him as well.
Lucky for Victoria, Alex and Ben have shared women before and are quite open to entering into a three-way sexual relationship. This evolves into a romantic commitment, and the novella concludes with a happily-for-now vibe.
As I said in the introduction, these novellas are quick and delightful reads, perfect for getting into the winter holiday spirit. They’re certainly perfect for any fans of the series, but even those unfamiliar with the Play-by-Play world can find enjoyable moments, especially in Hot Holiday Nights and Holiday on Ice.