Playing for Keeps

Author: Luann McLane

Publisher: Signet

Release Date: March 1, 2011

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5


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Noah Falcon had left his hometown of Cricket Creek, Kentucky after high school to be a major league relief pitcher, for which he won several awards. After his career ended, he used his charm and notoriety to get a part as Dr. Jesse Drake on the soap opera, Love in the Afternoon. But he had recently been killed off of the show. As a public figure, he feels he always has to be in character anytime he is in public, using a persona that he does not care for.  His hometown, which relies on tourism, is having economic problems and he hopes to help. So he is returning to his hometown and auditioning for a new play being performed at the Cricket Creek Community Center. In the process, he also hopes to hone his acting skills. The romantic comedy was written by one of the young women in town, Madison, and the proceeds would go to support the community center. This play is important to help build up the community by increasing tourism again.


Olivia Lawson, a teacher at Cricket Creek High School, had been Noah’s tutor in high school, helping him to keep his grades up so he could play baseball. Like the other girls, she had had a crush on him, but he never gave her a second look. She remembered him as being a goof-off, who tried to get out of studying, hoping that she would do the work for him. She had studied theater at Cooper College and had been a barnie for years. A barnie was a name given to actors who had performed in plays, which originally had been held in barns. She has even performed in several local productions.

Arriving back in town, Noah cannot pass the bakery without stopping for their butter cookies, remembering how they use to melt in his mouth. However, while there Olivia walks in, and she has a hostile attitude towards him, something he is not used to. But it intrigues him, and he doesn’t even realize that this is his former tutor until after she leaves. Following her to the community theater, they soon get into a heated discussion, exchanging barbs back and forth. Watching them, playwright Madison sees the chemistry between them and knows exactly who she wants to play the lead parts in her play…Noah and Olivia.

Knowing how important the play is to the town and that his acting is not up to par, Noah asks Olivia to help him with his acting. To make the play a success, Olivia agrees to help him. Soon the chemistry between them explodes…both onstage and off. Can he convince her that he is no longer the goof-off she knew years ago and that this time, he is PLAYING FOR KEEPS? Does this former bookworm and jock stand a chance at a happy future together, or are they just too different?

The first book in talented author LuAnn McLane’s new CRICKET CREEK series, PLAYING FOR KEEPS is a humorous, yet touching, contemporary romance. Olivia is also known as a matchmaker. Her latest attempt with her matchmaking project is to match Madison with Jason, the local carpenter who will be building the sets for the play. At first, Olivia is not happy that Noah was chosen to play the male lead because she knows how important the play is to the town’s future, and she doesn’t believe that Noah is talented enough for the part. Although she does not want to be impressed by him, his charm and sincerity soon win her over. Baseball, theater, small town Southern charm, likable characters, heated romance, an entertaining plot, laugh-out-loud humor and a town that I would love to visit combine to give us an unforgettable story…one that is a welcome addition to my bookshelf. As I eagerly await the chance to revisit the town of Cricket Creek and its residents in Ms. McLane’s next book in this series, be sure to get your own copy of PLAYING FOR KEEPS.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Dottie

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