Harlequin Blaze #339 (August 1, 2007)
No playing with the players
For Amanda Wright—new reporter on the pro baseball block—this rule is harder to keep than she thought. Especially with the team’s star pitcher, gorgeous Brad Rogers, sending signals her libido can’t possibly miss. How can she indulge her craving for Brad and still prove she can play with the big-league journalists?
From their first illicit kiss, their private ball games lead to delicious pleasure. Then she discovers Brad is hiding a big secret that could make her career—or blow his. And suddenly she has to choose: the best story of her life…or the best sex!
“With her press pass, Amanda Wright lives the perfect female fantasy. She’s allowed into baseball players’ locker rooms with full access to hot pitcher Brad Rogers. Brad is attracted to the beautiful reporter, but he’s leery about the press because he has something to hide. His arm has never completely healed after surgery, and as the daughter of a sports doctor, Amanda realizes it right away but won’t report on the injury. She’s also determined not to give in to her attraction to Brad because she doesn’t want to lose her professional reputation. When rumors of steroid use pop up, loyalties become complicated. HARD AND FAST (4), by Lisa Renee Jones, has heart, passion and very hot sex.”
— Romantic Times
“When I saw that HARD AND FAST was a romance set around baseball, I knew without a doubt that I had to review this book. As a huge fan of baseball and former college baseball groupie, I settled in for what I hoped would be an eye opening and entertaining read. Brad Rogers could be any big name pitcher worrying about his career. He loved his mama, he loved baseball, and oh how he loved Amanda. Sexy and sinful combined with smarts and attitude made a winning character. If I liked Brad, I have to say that I loved Amanda. Bold, sassy, and so much sports knowledge in one small package was great to see as a female lead. She was often unsure and sometimes experienced self doubt in her abilities, but in the end she realized what was important.
“HARD AND FAST just solidifies my opinion of Lisa Renee Jones’ writing ability. She creatively brings to life the wonderful characters of Brad and Amanda. Add in the sleazy persona of Amanda’s sports writing rival and I was enthralled. I love when an author can keep me so focused on their work that I forget everything else. I emphatically recommend reading HARD AND FAST. It is definitely a home run in my book!”
- 5 Blue Ribbons, Natasha, Romance Junkies
“I will admit it. I had never really thought I would be interested in reading a Harlequin novel. Years of hearing stereotypical ideas of these books had me believing them to be fluffy, sweet little romance novels that were not exactly my cup of tea. I didn’t look down on them - just did not believe they were the kind of stories that suited my reading tastes. Boy, was I wrong! Thanks to Lisa Renee Jones, an author who I am already a big fan of, I read HARD AND FAST, from the Harlequin Blaze line and will tell anyone without reservation that I loved it!
“I have thoroughly enjoyed every book I have previously read by this author, and this book was no different. Yes, the romance was sweet, but with none of the `virginal princess in the tower’ feeling I had expected from Harlequin. No, this book had all the sexy heat I had found in Jones‘ other work, much to my delight!
“Brad and Amanda are very down to earth, realistic characters. Their fears, their motivations, and their situation were all very believable, as were the obstacles that kept them from easily settling into a romance together.
“Brad is the kind of sports hero women fantasize about - a star pitcher with soap star looks and a killer physique, complete with down-home Southern charm and a penchant for going after what he wants - in bed and out. His fear of discovery is palpable as he struggles to pitch a memorable year and cement his contract with the Rays.
“Amanda is a great role model for women - she has faced the kind of adversity that would break some people, yet still forged ahead and found a new path for herself, in which she has succeeded admirably. Through it all, she has retained her compassion, and refuses to build herself up by using the misfortunes of others. It is no wonder Brad can’t keep his mind or his hands off of her!
“Which brings me to a stereotype I am very pleased with - the happy ending Harlequin is known for. Lisa Renee Jones wraps up this story with a tidy little ending, resolving any potential loose ends that could derail our couple, and leaving her readers with smiling faces and warm hearts! If you love hot little romances with multi-layered characters, then you will not want to miss HARD AND FAST!”
- Jennifer Ray at CK2S Kwips & Kritiques
Brad reached for her, pinning her against the wall, his legs framing hers, his hands on either side of her head. He was rewarded with the soft, familiar scent of jasmine. He was addicted to that smell. No. Addicted to her.
He fixed her in a hot, tell all, stare. “I want you, Amanda.”
“You had me,” she said, her hands pressing against the wall of his chest.
His reply was instant, his rejection complete. “It wasn’t enough.”
“It has to be.”
“Do you really want that?” he asked, pressing, knowing it wasn’t. Feeling the slight give of her body as it softened into his touch.
She drew a shaky breath, her hands resting on his chest rather than pushing, her response one of avoidance. “You have to leave.”
”I can’t leave,” he said, pressing his forehead against hers.
Her chest rose and fell, her voice low now. “I can’t do this, Brad.”
He eased backwards a bit, letting her see the truth in his eyes. “I didn’t come here over Tony. I told myself that was why I drove here. I needed to believe that, too. But the minute I saw you again, I knew why I really came. I knew it was because I needed to see you. Because I couldn’t help myself.”
He cut her off. “I lied.”
Confusion flashed in her eyes before her expression hardened again. “You left my hotel room, acting as if I couldn’t be trusted, when I’d done nothing to deserve that. Yet now you admit you are the one lying? I don’t want to play these games with you. No. I won’t.”
“No games,” he said. “I came here because I can’t get you out of my mind.” They stared at each other, sexual tension between them, his body burning to feel her closer. “That’s the truth.”
“I don’t know what to believe,” she murmured. “I don’t…we can’t.”
He leaned forward, resting his cheek to hers, relieved when she didn’t push him away. She felt so good. He felt her inside and out. Felt her everywhere. What was she doing to him? He could barely breathe from the impact of her, from the way her touch, her nearness stormed his senses.
“Tell me to stay,” he whispered near her ear.
“Brad,” she whispered.
“Tell me to stay,” he said again, forcing himself not to kiss her, not to push more than he already had.
Her hand went to his face, a tender touch that tightened his gut. “This is so not good for either of us,” she murmured.
Her response spoke of acceptance and he responded with an instant, yet gentle, reaction. His lips slid along her jaw, brushing the sensitive skin with a long caress as he traveled upward. Absorbing the sweetness of her as his lips touched hers.
“Trust me,” he whispered, his hands leaving the wall to frame her face as he stared down at her. “No one will ever know.”
“Like you trust me?” she countered, her voice soft, full of passion, but her eyes alive with defensiveness.
She was always challenging him and he found it incredibly arousing. “Trust is earned.”
He brushed his mouth over hers, this time using his tongue to tease hers, just barely sliding past her teeth for a quick, tantalizing touch. “We could start tonight.”
“How exactly do you propose we do that?” she whispered, her mouth near his, their breath mingling. His hands slid down her neck, her shoulders, her sides. He’d felt her walls the night before. Known she’d only allowed him to see a part of her. Tonight he wanted more.
“Every time you let down your guard,” he said. “Every time you trust me a little more, I’m going to reward you with pleasure.” He let the promise linger in the air for several beats. “How does that sound?”