Author: Tara Sivec
Series: Playing with Fire #2
Release Date: April 29, 2013
Genre: Mystery, New Adult
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
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?
Layla Carlysle has lived a life of luxury. She's been a star since the young age of fifteen, and every record she releases shoots straight to the top of the charts. She has people surrounding her every single day telling her how amazing she is, how beautiful she is, and how lucky she is, but she’s never felt more alone in her entire life. She wants nothing more than to break free and do what she really wants to do: write her own music, sing her own songs, and find a way to finally be happy with her life. The only thing standing in her way is her mother, Eve Carlysle. Eve has controlled every single aspect of her daughter’s life and will stop at nothing to achieve fame and fortune, even if that means using her daughter to get there. When an overly-amorous fan’s letters become increasingly more sinister, Brady will have to suck up his opinion of how the other half lives to take the job seriously. The pair will need to learn to trust each other and put aside their differences before the letters become a reality and someone’s life is in jeopardy.
Brady has been to hell and back, and he refuses to let anyone else get close to him again. Layla has never lived her life for herself, and the emptiness is threatening to break her for good.
Sometimes our lives are already planned for us, but because of you, all of that could change in an instant.
I wasn’t free anymore. On days like today, I feel like I never will be.
Not going to lie. I had HUGE expectations going into this book for the sheer fact that I absolutely ADORED the first one. Would I be able to connect with the characters as I had with Garrett and Parker? Would the story still feel as believable and flow so flawlessly as it had before? What would differentiate the two? Well, let me tell you. Not only were my expectations met, they were exceeded! Once again Sivec lived up to the hype and proved once and for all that it was not hype, but pure raw talent. Once again I found myself in awe at her level of professionalism and dedication to the story. She doesn’t half-ass anything folks; she goes balls-to-the-walls! This author will blow your mind with her stylings and I aim to show you why.
I know I’m done for when it comes to this woman. She’s gotten under my skin, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ready to remove her.
I am not really a fan of when authors have a series yet say they can be read as standalones. While they do involve two different main characters, eventually, at some point, they ALL interact. And when something is mentioned, even vaguely, I feel like it’s a disservice if you know about it then go back to read the aforementioned book after the fact. That being said…..and this is a first for me…..while I feel you SHOULD read A Beautiful Lie first, you don’t HAVE to. But that’s neither here nor there, because seriously, go read that book first!
Brady was introduced to us in the first book as a SEAL team member of Garrett’s. He was on the mission in the Dominican Republic and was a huge part of why it ended as successfully as it did; though I guess when people die, the term successful is not so apropos. I digress… Even though he was in the book somewhat briefly, I just KNEW the man had a story to tell. Well, not only did he have a story to tell, he had a frigging life to begin. Brady is a man who lives with guilt. He shoulders that shit and wears it like a badge of honor. Not wanting to live the life his parents constantly forced upon him, nor willing to further try and live up to their expectations, as soon as he graduates high school he flees. Leaving everything and everyone behind, he dedicates his life to the Navy. Brady is a man of honor; always going above and beyond to get the job done and his men home safe. That being said, you can now get a glimpse into why he would shoulder guilt when anything goes wrong. There’s some serious crap going on with his sister, who he feels as if he abandoned, and that just multiplies the guilt tenfold. Needless to say, Brady is a pretty broken man and has built his walls pretty high. Will anyone be able or willing to scale them?
“I’ve wanted to bury myself inside of you since the first moment you and your attitude walked into the room.”
Enter Layla, a seemingly pop princess who has everything she could ever want and the world at her beck and call. Oh, how looks can be deceiving. When I say my heart broke, I feel like that isn’t a strong enough sentiment for what was running through my mind for this girl. My body physically ACHED. The turmoil and angst that course through her veins, the abandonment and hopelessness that she lived with every single day, the pure weight of the knowledge that no one seemingly truly ever loved her. It just all compounded into one shell of a broken girl packed in a perky, pink and glitter loving, fluff spewing package. And that is EXACTLY what Brady thought as soon as he met her. Judgments were high, misconceptions flowed freely, and guards were stationed in every nook and cranny. Layla kept her true self hidden from the world, because how could she really hurt if no one really saw who she was. Not that she didn’t have good reason, but goodness, there just appeared to be no way out for this girl.
“We are absolutely going to pick up where we left off, and the next time you scream my name, it’s going to be when I’ve sunk myself inside of you as deep as I can get.”
Outside forces played a HUGE part in this story. Layla’s mother ruled her life with an iron first and was evil with a capital BITCH. I believe they say it the book that she makes Mommie Dearest look tame, and that is a true statement if ever I heard one! When revelations started to come forward, I have never wanted to cause someone bodily harm so badly. The hatred and pure selfishness that coursed through this woman’s veins was disgusting. The fact that she… and she….yeah, not going there. You’ll find out soon enough. Then we have Finn. Throughout the book, Finn was the ONLY constant in her life, and I fell in love with him for that. Best friends since elementary school, he was the only one who would stand up to her mother.
Brought together when it appears that Layla has a stalker, their chemistry from the first meeting was off the charts! Were you a bystander in the room, I feel confident you would have seen it crackling in the air. As their walls started to slowly crumble, by hopes soared for what would be the eventual collision. And let me tell you…it was worth the wait. The scene in which it happens is quite possibly one of the hottest I have EVER read! It was written with such eloquent detail that you feel as if you are there with them. Be sure to have a fan handy; you’ll need it. I do feel now having read two of these books that something needs to be addressed. I absolutely love that even when these couples fight with everything in them, they always come back to each other. Even when they fight dirty, one can usually see it’s all a front. I find it very refreshing to be able to not have to deal with the trivial bullshit that many books seem to throw at their main characters. Sivec’s characters deal with real life issues, and handle them as adults. Most of their fights stem from insecurities and inability to deal with what’s right in front of them. And you know what? The ending result is always worth the buildup. I’ll take real characters and angst ANY day over fluff.
“Don’t ever say this was a mistake, and don’t think for one minute I can’t read you like a book and see exactly what you’re trying to do: push me away first so you don’t get hurt. I’m not going anywhere, especially now that I’ve felt you come around my fingers and heard you cry out my name.”
I didn’t think it would be possible to fall in love with two characters more than I did Garrett and Parker, but Brady and Layla sailed on through into my heart, knocking the formers off their crown. I had many oh-holy-hell moments, especially at the end. But in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed every single second. Because sometimes, no matter how true you try to stay to yourself, we all need a helping hand to see how strong we really are. And there is no shame in that…
A Beautiful Lie ~ Book One
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?
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.”