Author: Tara Sivec
Series: Playing with Fire #1
Release Date: January 3, 2013
Genre: Mystery Romance, New Adult Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
He saw her first, but his friend made the move.
She settled for the safer choice, but her heart knew the truth.
They love, they crave, they lie.
Garrett McCarthy, Annabelle Parker, and Milo Roberts were as close as friends could get. They shared in each other's joy during graduations, promotions, and engagements. They consoled one another through heartache and loss.
When one of the friend's life is tragically cut short, it's up to the two left behind to pick up the pieces and find out the truth - no matter the cost. As they slowly start to uncover the nature of his deception, and the very powerful people behind it, they begin to question everyone and everything, even themselves.
Everyone has secrets - some do it for love while others do it for power. Those secrets can change perceptions, alter reality and sometimes destroy lives.
What do you do when you find out your whole life has been a lie?
But if you were given the chance to go back, to tell the truth instead of lie to save someone’s life and their feelings…would you?
The first time I read this book was a little over a year ago, and it has resonated in me ever since. Knowing that I was going to be reading the third book in the series soon, I decided to read this again and also read the second book for the first time. So sufficed to say, my week has been dedicated to nothing but Tara Sivec. Let me tell you; it’s been a fantastic place to be! Before ABL, I was a Sivec virgin. I’ve heard wonderful things about her Chocolate Lovers series, and they have been on my TBR for FOREVER, but I haven’t read them. I am here to tell you that Sivec has thoroughly, and effectively, popped my cherry into her literary genius of a mind and I am in the midst of a book hangover I never want to crawl out of. Her novels read reminiscent of John Grisham but with HOT Navy SEALS, romance, and scorching sex thrown in for good measure. They are books that transcend multiple genres, ages, sex, and general tastes in books. There is quite literally, in my opinion, something in these books for everyone!
“He looks at you like you’re the key to his soul and like he wants to devour you.”
From start to finish, ABL sinks it claws into your soul and entrenches you into a web of lies, deceit, intrigue, romance, and sexual wanting/anticipation. Will they? Won’t they? WHEN?!?! We are treated to not only dual POV’s between the two main characters, but occasionally a snippet of a side character’s POV. Whilst you may be worried this gets confusing, please, don’t be. Tara writes so flawlessly that you can’t help but be caught up in the madness as if this sort of stuff happens ALL the time. She puts you there, in that moment, and everything makes perfect sense. You can feel Parker’s anguish and confusion over what her relationship was with Milo near the end. You can feel when she begins to make realizations that maybe everything wasn’t always as it seemed. You are there beside Garrett every step of the way as he tries, unsuccessfully, to fight his complete and utter devotion and love for Parker. Reading these two characters was the most delicious game of foreplay I’ve ever experienced, and the impending collision was more than worth the wait. Because when they finally DID give into their feelings, feelings they had fought tirelessly to deny for MANY years, BOOM! My Kindle quite possibly exploded from built up sexual tension.
They fucked their minds into silence as their bodies willingly complied.
Long story short, and with as LITTLE details as possible, Parker, Garrett, and Milo met eight years ago. They quickly because best friends, while Parker and Milo fell in love. Parker followed her dream to be a professional photographer, and Milo and Garrett entered the Navy, SEALS to be more exact. Flash forward eight years and Milo has recently died, leaving behind a grieving and confused fiancé and an equally devastated best friend. Our story begins with Garrett leaving for the Dominican Republic to find out what happened to Milo and why he never returned from a mission. From this moment on, the shit hits the fan. Revelation after revelation continues to abound the book and overwhelm the characters as we are left to wonder if you ever really know a person. It’s so very hard to not say anymore on the actual storyline, but to do that would give away too much, and that’s just something I won’t do.
“Everything I have to give, it’s yours. It’s always been yours.”
However, what I WILL talk about is how I felt about Garrett and Parker. I LOVE authors who write strong female characters, and Sivec has now moved herself to the top of that list. Scratch that, she’s wearing the damn crown! Parker is one kick-ass chick, and she is certainly no wallflower, no matter how much she sometimes led people to think. She may second guess herself sometimes and falter when she wouldn’t let anyone get too close to her, but she had good reason. When she let those walls down though? Whew, watch the hell out! She was so full of conviction, passion, determination, strength, brains AND beauty. It just radiated from her pores. She was the type of character that given a chance would be an awesome friend. Someone who would always be there for you, no questions asked, someone you could turn to whatever the situation was.
Garrett… Holy hotness wrapped in a SEAL burrito, stuffed full of compassion, honesty, strength, bravery, vulnerability, and topped with a little machismo. Through his POV, we were privy to just how much he has always loved Parker, albeit from the sidelines. We were able to witness what he has done in the background that she never even knew about. The devotion in this man, especially when he truly thought he never stood a chance, will simultaneously melt and rip your heart to shreds. All of this and more is what let to the pure torture of the emotional foreplay for half of the book. But like I said, it was a delicious torture, because you just KNEW it would eventually happen and believe me when I say, it was MORE than worth the wait! But beyond that, his devastation of what he learned throughout the book and the destruction of what he thought to be the truth just pulled at my heartstrings. Here was a man who stood by his convictions, and to have that all shatter, well, it’s a sight to see.
“When something you’ve wanted for as long as you can remember is finally yours, you have a hard time believing it’s real.”
To say I loved this book is just simply an understatement. There was such an intelligence that went into writing it that not many authors have. There are some who have it and some who are adept at faking it. Sivec HAS it! I can’t stress that enough. I was so entranced in the story that I never wanted it to end. The second time I read it, I was even more invested with the storyline, trying to pick out things I may have missed the first time. Like a fine wine, it only got better with age. This will definitely be a book I come back to again and again.
Because of You ~ Book Two
Brady Marshall has made a career of playing it safe. When he decides to do something rash and becomes a Navy SEAL, he thinks he’s finally escaped the rigid structure of the high society life his parents forced down his throat. All he does is trade in one set of rules for another. He follows military protocol to a T, but it still results in the death of an entire team of Navy SEALS and puts his best friends directly in harm’s way. He’s struggled to stay afloat and not drown in grief, guilt, and booze, but he’s losing that battle quickly. When his baby sister flees her abusive husband and shows up on his doorstep with his young niece in tow, he has no choice but to clean up his act. He will stop at nothing to protect them and never let them down again, even if it means taking a job that goes against everything he believes in. If protecting a pop star princess who thinks she’s better than everyone means he can keep a roof over their head, what other choice does he have?
Worn Me Down ~ Book Three
“Worn me down like a road. I did everything you told. Worn me down to my knees. I did everything to please.”