Feisty redhead, Isla Hamilton, is the ambitious Assistant General Manager of a luxury Kensington hotel. When the hotel is sold, she is desperate to become the new General Manager. There’s just one problem standing in her way, and it’s standing over six feet tall – the king of arrogance and inappropriateness, Xander Rhodes. Her mind hates his obnoxious, godlike presence but, no matter how hard she fights it, her body reacts to his distinct style of directness, particularly his dirty mouth, and maintaining a professional distance soon becomes difficult.
Events from the recent past haunt her, forcing her to swear that she’ll never give another man a chance to hurt her. But Xander isn’t interested in commitment, he’s too busy battling his own demons that are shrouded in secrecy so he can’t hurt her, right? When he warns her that spending the night with him would only make her crave him like an addiction, she is sceptical and determined to prove him wrong. If anything, she’d make him crave her.
But will she be ready to handle the fallout if she succeeds? (Goodreads)
The Player had been recommended to me by someone I am friends with on Facebook. Jo had sung the praises of it, but as the author was attending the Edinburgh Author Event, I held off buying the ebook in order to buy a paperback at the event. So after some scientific algorithm involved in picking my first post event read (i.e. closing my eyes and selecting a book), I sat down to start The Player. Before I knew it, it was 3:45am in the morning and I was almost half way through the book. Yes, dear readers within these rather innocent looking pages, there is a captivatingly sexy tale of two people with such sexual chemistry that the pages almost burned. This is one of these books that really should have a warning on the front: CAUTION: Reader may require a cold shower… or a post coital cigarette (if you smoke) after reading.
What I particularly loved about this book was the fact that Chase has taken the vastly popular Alpha Male character and the Female character who works for him and given it a bit of a unique spin. Yes, the book does begin very much like many of the other books that I have read in this genre, with Isla, the female lead trying to balance her growing attraction and rather unorthodox relationship with Xander, the lead male. We bear witness to the fact that relationship begins as purely sexual one into that of something more. Xander helps Isla to gain the self-confidence she lost, both due to her cheating ex-boyfriend, along with the dismissive relationship she had with the hotels former manager and owner. He helps Isla discover what she finds enjoyable in “the bedroom” (I use this in the loosest of terms due to the numerous locations that they end up having sex).
As the book progresses and we learn more about the enigma that is Xander, red flags begin to go up. He seems to keep so many secrets from Isla and though she doesn’t push this, you can’t help feeling that there is more than meets the eye to Xander. When they are having a discussion about Isla’s ex and the fact that he cheated on her, Xander made a comment that really made me question what he was hiding from Isla. I had my suspicions and by the end of the book, this SEEMED to indicate that I could be right, but something just didn’t sit right with me and I am convinced that there is more to the story that is first let on. That doesn’t mean that I am right with Isla and her quest for payback, which is heavily hinted at the cliff-hanger ending. Many a woman will be throwing up their hands with a resounding “YES” Ok, that may be just me.
So why do I still like Xander? He clearly has filthy mouth and his sexual prowess is a bit unorthodox, but on the whole, he seems to be straight shooter. He never denies to Isla that this was only really about sex, but I still think that this could all be a masquerade and that he has been hurt by someone he loved. I still think that he is going through this break-up and it could be tied up with why he is trying to keep his purchase of the hotel on the quiet.
As for Isla, I really like her as a character. It was so nice to read about a female character that is not described as some failed Victoria Secret supermodel that has stumbled into this job through one thing or the other. Isla is intelligent and real. She has real issues, such as keeping her flat and her job. She wants to make the hotel a success and sees the new manager as a chance to prove her worth. The fact he is a card carrying sex-god is an added bonus and in his own way, he helps her see herself in a more attractive light.
The only other character I had any reaction to was the late to the party James, Isla’s ex. Though he is only in a couple of chapters, he makes a huge impact and in a way I think that he only took this action because Isla seemed happy. He comes across as the vindictive ex in how he drops the bombshell to Isla. The fact he appeared to take such glee in doing it, made me hope that he gets a dose of crabs.
I rarely finish a book in a day, but The Player is the type of book that is just so moreish. With each page you fall under its spell that before you know it you have reached the frustrating cliff-hanger, but with a gleeful feeling that the best is yet to come. Oh, yes, as I closed the book I knew that Xander would not know what had hit him and the phrase “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned” would be sung from the highest mountain. Like a Bond villain, I sat there, rubbing my hands together, knowing that though there would no doubt be more to why Xander has chosen to do what he did, it still stung poor Isla and he is going to pay.