The last thing star tight-end Gray Grayson wants to do is drive his agent’s daughter’s bubblegum pink car. But he needs the wheels and she’s studying abroad. Something he explains when she sends him an irate text to let him know exactly how much pain she’ll put him in if he crashes her beloved ride. Before he knows it, Ivy Mackenzie has become his best texting bud. But then Ivy comes home and everything goes haywire. Because the only thing Gray can think of is being with Ivy.
Ivy doesn’t have sex with friends. Especially not with a certain football player. No matter how hot he makes her…
Gray drives Ivy crazy. He’s irreverent, sex on a stick, and completely off limits. Because, Ivy has one golden rule: never get involved with one of her father’s clients. A rule that’s proving harder to keep now that Gray is doing his best to seduce her. Her best friend is fast becoming the most irresistible guy she’s ever met.
Which means Gray is going to have to use all his skills to get himself out of the friend zone and into Ivy’s heart. Game on.
IvyMac: I’m…prickly. I don’t mean to be.
GrayG: Prickly? Naw. You’re…saucy. Like that sauce on a Big Mac.
IvyMac: If you call me special sauce, you lose a nut.
GrayG: I knew it, you’re talking dirty to me! Shenanigans!
IvyMac: Lol. Dork
GrayG: That’s Cupcake to you, Special Sauce.
I am officially a New Adult genre addict…again. And it comes as no surprise given the phenomenal writing style that makes this author’s books so impossible to put down, placing them into a category all of their own, somewhere between ‘when-I-grow-up-I-want-to-write-like-this’ and ‘how-many-times-can-I-reread-a-book-before-it-becomes-unhealthy’. After The Hook Up, I didn’t really think I could enjoy a college romance more than Drew and Anna’s captivating love story, but I was wrong. Gray and Ivy are two characters that we fall in love with on the very first page, their playful banter making us grin like lunatics, and as their story progresses, their every facet makes us love them more and more. This is the type of read I will always be in the mood for and cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone seeking a feel-good, confidently written, sweet but achingly sexy friends-to-lovers tale that makes you want to read it in a single sitting.
“I just like her. I really like her. She’s the first person I want to talk to. Every day.”
They might have bonded over a bubblegum-pink Fiat 500 and the shenanigans that may and may not take place inside this powder-puff car, but it was clear from the very beginning that Gray Grayson and Ivy Mackenzie would become best friends. Their friendship started before they ever even met, their endless text messaging and ability to open up to one another unreservedly thus weaving a rare thread of affection and trust between them that had been missing from both of their lives. So, when they finally meet, the awkwardness their expected to encounter between them immediately dissipates, leaving in its wake a heart-warming feeling akin to coming back home.
“I’ve just officially met Ivy Mackenzie, and I realize I’ve missed her for what seems like years.”
But being best friends with the only person in your life who has ever made you wish of things you never thought you would want, proves to be a constant challenge for both of them. The world might see him as a popular jock, the larger-than-life star player on a championship-winning football team, but there are so many sides to Gray Grayson that no one but those closest to him ever get to see. Highly intelligent and innately talented in much more than just playing football, Gray is determined to live life to the fullest by pursuing a career in a sport he truly loves, his motto of working hard and playing hard allowing him to always live in the moment and never needing to look forward to anything in his life…until Ivy.
“Am I really living for the moment? Or am I running away from reality?”
Ivy grew up surrounded by sports legends, her lack of ‘fan-girling’ tendencies making her a rare sort of female in Gray’s life. Her no-nonsense attitude and ability to see through his macho act make her the first girl to see the real Gray. Her hidden vulnerability awakens the natural protector and carer in him, his need to look after her as strong as his aching desire to be taken care of by her. Their unique bond grows exponentially each day, their easy communication making them utterly addicted to one another and to each other’s opinions, but when that addiction starts blurring the lines of friendship they so carefully drew between them, it becomes apparent that those self-imposed boundaries might have been nothing more than ‘lines in the sand’ they were destined to cross from the very beginning.
“…all I wanted to do was kiss her, explore the gentle curve of her lower lip before sucking on it. And Ivy would have flipped out. Because friends do not maul other friend’s mouths.”
I am a sucker for friends-to-lovers romances, and this one might just be one of my all-time favourites now because I loved these characters as friends even before I wished for them to become more. No aspect of their friendship is sacrificed in order to feed the romance storyline, and it is that loving, selfless, honest connection between them that won me over in the first place. The way their friendship is put first, before everything else, and the way they fight to safeguard it, often even against themselves, was a fresh and truly touching angle that I didn’t see coming. When their friendship is finally allowed to evolve into a love affair, my heart was already bursting at the seams, and it is through heart-shaped lenses that we then ‘live’ their romance, regardless of how steamy and utterly mouth-watering it gets.
“Jay-sus, he’s hot. And freaking huge. A veritable mountain of sexy. Seriously, Iv…You could climb him like Everest, make base camp at his cock, and tackle the rest in the morning.”
The faultless character development and the quirky dialogues are what sets this book, as well as its prequel, apart from many books of this type. The greedy reader in me would have wished even more insight into Gray’s problematic family background and the way those relationships then changed, but we were given enough knowledge of those events in order to form a realistic and credible picture of that facet of his personality, and anything more would have just been icing on the cake. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I loved this book even more than The Hook Up, which I adored, and that is all you need to know.
“You’ve owned me from ‘Shenanigans,’ Ivy Mac.”
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Game On – Recommended Reading Order and Purchase Links
(standalone stories with interconnected characters)
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