Review: "Changing the Game", by Jaci Burton + Giveaway

Filed in Giveaways , Jaci Burton , Review , The Danger Lover Posted on July 25, 2011 @ 6:00 am 66 comments
Format Read: e-Book provided by Author for review
Series: Play by Play Book II
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Berkley Heat
Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Nook, Kindle

Book Blurb:

Most people play by the rules. Gavin and Liz aren’t most people…

Win at any cost. That’s always been the mantra of sports agent Liz Darnell. When she carries things too far and risks losing her number-one client, baseball pro Gavin Riley, Liz realizes that she’ll have to work extra innings to win him back. It might not be too much of a stretch. She’s had a thing for this player’s moves since she first laid eyes on him, and by the looks of it, he wants her just as bad.

Gavin’s more than ready—especially when Liz is offering herself as part of the bargain. And as much of her as Gavin wants. For added thrills, he decides to throw a little curve ball Liz’s way to see just how far she’s truly willing to go to keep him as a client. But when love unexpectedly enters the playing field, neither Liz nor Gavin are ready for the biggest game-changer of them all.


My Thoughts:

Jaci Burton set a daunting task for herself in casting tough as nails sports agent, Elizabeth Darnell as Gavin Riley’s love interest in Changing the Game. If you read The Perfect Play, (Gavin’s brother, Mick and Tara Lincoln’s story) you will know Elizabeth was Mick’s agent until she pulled a cruel and completely self serving stunt in an attempt to ruin his relationship with Tara. To add insult to injury, Elizabeth used Tara’s teenage son Nathan in her manipulative ploy. Elizabeth therefore played an antagonistic role in The Perfect Play, vilifying her in reader’s eyes, including mine.

In losing Mick Riley as a client, Elizabeth not only hurt her business, she lost a friend and alienated herself from the close knit Riley family who had embraced her as part of the clan. She deeply regrets hurting Mick, Tara and Nathan, has tried to make amends, but continues to suffer the repercussions of her meddling. However, Elizabeth is one tough cookie. Born and raised in small town Arkansas in a less than optimal family situation, she used her intelligence to escape, go to college and become a self made woman who has worked exceptionally hard to be one of the most sought after sports agents in the business. Elizabeth is one of a handful of women who have made it in a man’s world. She is focused, considered a shark in the business-Elizabeth is a weapon in stiletto heels. She doesn’t become sexually involved with clients, in fact her personal life takes a back seat to her career, she prides herself on being independent. She does have one Achilles heel-Gavin Riley, who is still her client despite the situation with his brother.

Gavin plays first base for the St. Louis Rivers and his life is baseball. He lives up to his playboy image and commitment to one woman is not in his game plan. Gavin loves his no strings attached lifestyle. And, he has LOVED playing baseball since he was a kid. I became totally enamored with this hero, he is alpha, but kind and polite. Gavin has a sensual aura, he is a man’s man who attracts women like bees to honey.

In the wake of the fiasco with Mick, Elizabeth has avoided Gavin for months. Her behavior is completely uncharacteristic because as his agent she has been in his life for the past 4 years negotiating lucrative contracts, and orchestrating endorsements and promotional publicity events to keep his career on the right track. So, Gavin decides it is time to clear the air and when he corners her after a sports banquet Elizabeth automatically assumes he, like Mick, is going to fire her. Gavin has always viewed Elizabeth a cold, calculating businesswoman. He has never seen her in a sexual way, oh he as noticed her because Elizabeth is a beautiful woman, but she does an excellent job managing his career, so their relationship has been purely professional.

On the other hand, Elizabeth has secretly been in love with Gavin for the entire time she has known him and when he takes her back to his Florida beach house for their ‘talk’, things heat up-fast and they become involved in an intense, no strings attached affair. And, let me tell you the erotic scenes in this one? SMOKIN. HOT. As in, air conditioner, fan and ice water needed. Gavin is a major studly! 😉

Ms. Burton peels away the layers of Elizabeth’s armor and shows readers that beneath the tough heartless exterior, she is vulnerable and surprisingly has self esteem issues. There is major conflict in this love match. Mick carries a monumental grudge against Elizabeth and will not forgive her, he is none to happy that Gavin has become involved with his nemisis. Then there is Gavin and Elizabeth’s working relationship. She finds reconciling her roles as his agent and lover difficult. It’s a rocky road for these two and while the situations surrounding their break-ups tugged at my heartstrings, it made the fiery passionate scenes when they reunite all the more intense and special.

The Riley family play a key role in Changing the Game, especially Kathleen, the remarkable matriarch of the Riley clan. Jaci Burton has written a stellar character in Gavin, Mick and Jenna’s mother. Ms. Burton also explores the simmering sibling rivalry that has always existed between the boys, moreso for Gavin than Mick. When a family crisis occurs, this resentment comes boiling to the surface.

Ms. Burton also introduces ice hockey star center, drop dead gorgeous Ty Anderson who plays for the St. Lois Ice and becomes one of Elizabeth’s clients. Ty is the hero of the next Play-by-Play novel Taking a Shot scheduled for release in March 2012, for me, March can’t come soon enough. The feisty, independent Jenna Riley is Ty’s love interest.

Elizabeth sat in the owner’s box with Ty, her new client. He wanted to see the game, she wanted to impress him, so she got him seats in the owner’s box since she and Clyde Ross, owner of the Rivers, were close.

She made it a point to be on friendly terms with all the team owners. Not too close, but close enough that negotiations would go her way and her clients would get a good deal. Owners trusted her because they knew she wasn’t out to screw them over. She didn’t give them drug or steroid-addled players or players who were interested only in becoming the next action movie star. She represented players who were serious about their sport. Which was why she’d spent several days in close meetings with Ty Anderson before she signed him on. She checked out his background and his playing history, wanted to make sure there were no skeletons in his closet, then she hit him with some tough questions and let him know she’d tolerate no bullshit. He had to be serious about playing hockey and staying in the sport. Money was great and all, but as she told all her clients, it wasn’t just about the money. They had to love their sport.

By the time she’d spent several days with Ty, she was convinced he lived, breathed, and ate hockey, which was just what she loved in a client. They’d signed the papers yesterday.

Changing the Game © Jaci Burton

Did Ms. Burton redeem Elizabeth in my eyes? Absolutely. There is considerable groveling involved but it is also thanks to the Riley family and their ability to forgive and love her for who she really is. Ms. Burton, was very clever though because she puts a key character in an antagonistic role, then redeems this character in what is a wonderful, special conclusion of this story.

There is so much I’d like to say about this book, because IMHO it is a smart multi-layered romance with humor, drama, and sensuality. I became completely invested in Changing the Game, loved the baseball scenes, the Riley family, and the insight into what it takes to be a sports agent. Most of all I loved the way Ms. Burton crafted a romance that brings together two extremely competitive, career driven people.

When I finished Changing the Game I wanted to read it and The Perfect Play all over again. If you decide to read Changing the Game, I hope you will enjoy it too.

I give Changing the Game 5 Bookies


Jaci has generously offered an inscribed copy of The Perfect Play Book I of the Play by Play series to one lucky winner! And, BLI has a paperback copy of The Perfect Play for a second lucky winner!

Winner #1 will receive the inscribed copy of The Perfect Play from Jaci!

Winner #2 will receive the BLI copy!

All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment about the review.
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please leave us a way to contact you.
(Email in blogger profile or twitter name – no way to contact you – no entry).

This giveaway is open worldwide!

Giveaway ends on Saturday, August 6, 2011; and we will announce the winner on Sunday.

Good luck!


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Lea

Lea is an animal loving, tree hugging vegetarian who lives in Toronto, Canada with her family, which includes three dogs. She is a prolific reader and has been blogging and reviewing since 2008. Lea is a contributor at the USA Today HEA Blog and an active member at Goodreads.

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Join the Discussion
  • Camille July 25, 2011 at 6:06 am

    While I read Jaci's Wild Riders and have several of her stand alone books and anthologies, I have yet to pick up Play-by-Play books (so I was afraid to read the review in case of spoilers XD) and excited for The Killers series- love your work Jaci!!

    midnite dot fantasy at gmail dot com

  • Jennifer_After_Dark July 25, 2011 at 6:50 am

    OH WOW! I sooooo want to read this series,,I read the overview on the perfect play and was hooked and quickly added it to my TBR Pile,,and now here is the second one and I WANT IT!!lol so sign me up,,Ive never been much of a baseball fan,,but the cover alone,,Im now a hughe fan..

    thanks for the giveaway

    westtexasjen at gmail dot com

  • Barbara July 25, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Whywhywhywhy is the release date a week and a full day away? And I'm not even going to think about how long we have to wait for Ty's book. This seriously hurts me.

    I had a case of serious dislike for Elizabeth in Perfect Play but I didn't totally hate her. I may be totally sad that she had to grovel so much but I have a feeling that the steam will more than make up for it.

    Email is in Blogger profile as is website that has email in it. 🙂

  • Maria (pronounced Mariah) July 25, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Next week cannot get here soon enough! I am a huge sports junky but I never thought to combine it with my love of reading until I saw the cover for the Perfect Play. It was the first sports themed book I read and it still has my favorite cover ever!

    After what Liz did in the Perfect Play it is going to take a lot to make me like her…but I could tell that she was going to be the one for Gavin and trust Jaci to give us one heck of a story. Now if only it was next week so I could read it already!

    mmafsmith at gmail dot com

  • Victoria July 25, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Wow, thanks for the post and giveaway. I haven't started the series yet so this would be wonderful. Have to say Taking The Shot has a cover I could die for.


  • Anonymous July 25, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Ahhh! I love Jaci with her great stories and uber set covers. I would love to win this contest! @Monica_Rewiako

  • Amanda July 25, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I am a huge Jaci fan! I haven't started the Play series yet and would really love this book. The cover is smokin' hot!! I love the Wild Riders series and have read many stand alone books as well. Can never get enough of Jaci's books!!

  • Mary G July 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Hi Lea
    Terrific review. I totally hated Liz. I had faith that Jaci would
    change my mind about her. I’m so glad I was right to have faith. I’m just imagi-ning how great Gavin is to turn things around. Don’t enter me. I already have the fab Perfect Play.

  • Elizabeth July 25, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Great Interview, i haven't read this series yet but it's on my tbr list!

  • oklanannie July 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Wonderful review! It just makes me more anxious to read "Changing the Game" to see the "rebirth" of Liz. Jaci's new series started off "perfectly" and from the reviews and blurbs, her readers are in store for another fab read. Can't leave without saying that those covers for the first two books are mighty fine.

    Please don't enter me in the contest. I own "Perfect Play" and the next one is pre-ordered.

  • Sheri Moore July 25, 2011 at 9:28 am

    My first book of Jaci's was The Perfect Play. Loved it and have read some of her earlier ones. All great reads. Going by the review here of Changing the Game I can't wait for it. Liz was a real "Bitch" in Perfect Play and I can't wait to see how she redeems herself. Loved the Riley family also and it won't be any hardship to revisit them also.

  • Ruth July 25, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Wow! I wanted to read "Changing the Game" before I read this review. Now I can't wait! I was going to wait to get the series till after this book came out, but now I think I need to go get the start of the series today that way I am ready when "Changing the Game" is released.

    Twitter Ruthmarie94

  • Anonymous July 25, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I have read Perfect Play and Elizabeth will
    need to redeem herself in this book I hope!
    I love Jaci work.

  • ClaudiaGC July 25, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I've read several of Jaci Burton's books but not her Play-by-Play series and the covers look so hot! 🙂 This review is pushing these books now definitely higher on my wish list.

    claudigc at msn dot com

  • Margaret July 25, 2011 at 10:30 am

    There's is nothing I love more than a story of redemption. Changing the Game sounds great. I have The Perfect Play on my TBR list already. Thanks for posting such a thoughtful review!

    mkethridge1 (at) gmail (dot) com

  • Stephanie July 25, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I love the Rough Riders series and would love to read this new series. I like seeing characters having the chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of the other characters and the readers.

    smccar1 at hotmail dot com

  • bianca thaci July 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Well I never try to read any reviews…most people don't have any idea what they're talking about..not the case here though… but sometimes on amazon…i'm thinking..what in Gods name are people reading..those are my favorite authors..i loved the book and they write this s&%t…go read the phone book… I ♥ jacis books…haven't read this series yet…

  • Na July 25, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I have been wanting to try Jaci Burton's books ever since I learned about her books about a month ago. I'm a hockey fan and overall enjoy sports so her covers were what caught my attention and the premise hooked me in. The series sounds like a fun, hot read with all these sports players featured front and center.


  • Rebecca WS July 25, 2011 at 11:13 am

    These books sound great! I'm a big sports fan and love her books. Thanks for the giveaway!


  • krisgils33 July 25, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I LOVE Jaci's books. I am holding off reading these until they are all out (I know once I start reading them I won't be able to stand not being able to move immediately on to the next one!!!). Great review and makes me wish they were all out right this second.

  • ChrisS July 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Thanks for your great review. I haven't read this series as of yet but have read so many great things about it. This sounds like a wonderful and emotional story of love and redemption. With Jaci's hot heroes (awesome covers!) and your review, I have added it to my wish list as a definite must read.


  • Danielle Gorman July 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I have had both of the books in this series on my wish list for a while now. I keep hearing such great things about them and I definitely can't wait to read them. Thanks for the great review.

    Danielle @Ramblings From This Chick

  • Pat L. July 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Ok, post didnt take thru google, so will try again as anonymous. LOL.

    Playing the Game was my first Jaci book and what an introduction..I love sports related books so this was great.\

    patoct at yahoo dot com
    Pat L.
    Looks like I am ok.

  • Pat L. July 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Darn forgot my email:
    patoct at yahoo dot com
    Playing The Game was my first Jaci book and since I love sports, this was great.

  • Jane July 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Great review. I can't wait to read this series. I've enjoyed Jaci's Demon Hunter books.

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

  • CrystalGB July 25, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Great review. I have been wanting to read these books. Love the covers. Thank you for the giveaway.

  • Lisa Jo @ Once Upon A Chapter July 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Heeeeyyyyy St. Louis Rivers???? St Louis is my home town and we love baseball here in St. Louis! So of course, I'm in! Sounds like a great book!


    Lisa @ Once Upon A Chapter

  • Karen July 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I've had The Perfect Play on my TBR list for awhile; looks like I need to hurry so I can also read Changing the Game. Very nice review.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    kacbooks at hotmail dot com

  • Chelsea B. July 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Wow! This series sounds AMAZING! I've been hearing wonderful things…. I really need to grab myself a copy!


  • June M. July 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I have heard really great things about this series, but have not read any of it yet. Everything that I have read makes me really want to read these books. Thank you for the great giveaway.

    GFC follower: June M.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  • Diane July 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I always enjoy Jaci burton's books; she writes a great romance, an interesting plot and lovely characters!

  • Di July 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    If these books read as good as they look they must be fabulous! And based on the excerpt I bet it's a winner on both counts.

    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  • JessieR July 25, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    I love Jaci! Her books are steamy but there is still a great story there. The first book in this series was awesome and I can't wait to read Changing the Game. I will buy this book, but it would be nice to win one instead!

    jrust28 AT gmail DOT com

  • Melissa (Books and Things) July 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I don't know if it is a meaningful comment, but I SO enjoy the covers of your books! I can hardly look away! lol

    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (dot) com

  • Marg July 25, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    I just recently read the first book from the library and loved it. Would love to own it.

    My email is ozdiamondlil at gmail dot com.

    Thanks so much for making this an international giveaway.

  • Sheree July 25, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    I'm so glad that the stories live up to the HAWT covers of this series.

    ironss [at] gmail [dot] com

  • marybelle July 25, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    I haven't read a lot of books based around sport. Looking at the cover of 'The Perfect Play' I'm thinking how foolish am I?


  • Maureen July 26, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Some of my favorite stories have characters who were villians who are redeemed. Usually it's the hero but I think this sounds interesting to have a heroine who did something awful.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  • Tore July 26, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I have read any of Jaci's books yet but I would like to. Please enter me in contest.

  • Anonymous July 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I love sports related books and would love to win this. The covers are to die for. Look forward to the next two.

  • Morticia Knight July 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I don't normally read sports oriented romance books, but the reviewer has me convinced. I not only want to read this one, but I'm interested in the first of the series. Great review!


  • Tanya July 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I have read a few books by Jaci and I realyl enjoyed them. I have not read any in this series but they sound great! I like a little sports with my romance.

  • samantha35 July 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    great giveaway
    follow via gfc

  • Shaiha July 26, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I would love to win this book! I have always loved any book of Jaci's that I have read.

  • hellokittiexoxo July 26, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I've heard nothing but good things about these books, and I would love to win one! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

    – Monica

  • Scrumptious Reading July 26, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Play By Play was the first book I read of Jaci Burton. It hooked me and now I am a huge fan of her books. I can't wait to read Changing the Game!


  • Lea July 27, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Hi Everyone!

    Thank you for all your comments and for entering the contest! As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed "Changing the Game" and now have to wait in suspense for "Taking a Shot""!!

    Remember folks – the giveaway is for 2 copies of "The Perfect Play"! Which is full of awesome too.

    Thanks again!

  • Birgit July 27, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I have always loved Rachel Gibsons books, also those from the hockey series, and here we obviously have a hunky sporty guy and a smokin hot romance too, BUT this book sounds of much deeper with its premise and while I do like brain candy I certainly appreciate a solid story between those hot scenes 😉 ! This one will definitely go on my wishlist!!

    danaan at gmx dot at

  • Anonymous July 27, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    appropriate email huh? LOL.

    Love the covers of these books. Would love to win one.

    Thanks for the contest.

    Natalie's Mama

  • mbreakfield July 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    This sounds like a good read. I'm, especially, interested since the villain from the previous story is redeemed. thanks for the giveaway

  • Lisa Richards/alterlisa July 27, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    As a lover of baseball, this sounds like a book I could really get into.

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  • JenM July 27, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I love it when there is a lot of angst in a book and it sounds like this one has a great set-up. I would love to win a copy. Thanks for the in-depth review.

    jen at delux dot com

  • Sherie July 28, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I have not read this series yet, but I have heard how others have Hated Liz. I am glad she will come out in this story as a better woman.

    sheriemd12 at yahoo dot com

  • Crystal ♥ July 28, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Loved the review! I first added the Play by Play books to my TBR list just on the covers alone! LOL Uber sexy!
    I can't wait for Changing the Game and then Jenna's story, Taking a Shot. The Perfect Play is def a must read of 2011 imho. Thanks for the giveaway!

    folksohana at gmail dot com

  • JessS July 29, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Awesome review! I really, really want to read the first one, it sounds good. I sort of just started reading erotic romance but this series is definitely on my TBR pile. I love what you said about the characters being so real because that's super important in a book. Thanks for the giveaway.


  • mizzmaja July 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    You have no idea how I appreciate this giveaway. I absolutely cannot wait to read this book. I loved The Wild Riders Series and I can say that Jaci gives lives to her characters. Mick and Tara's story is surely one of the best love stories I have ever read and I read a lot. I am a little afraid about Elizabeth since I didn't like her that much in The Perfect Play, but I am sure that this story is also just-to-die-for. I would love to win a copy. Great detailed review, loved it.

    You can find me as mizzmaja on twitter!

  • Anonymous July 31, 2011 at 2:22 am

    love jaci books, damn so hot covers whoo i love sports so any sports theme i am in, great reviews, great blog and ty for the giveawys

    kim h

  • Lexi July 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    The combo of sports and romance is new for me. But these books seem to have a good following, makes me interested. And the summary sounds hot.
    Thaks for a chance to win!


  • Jen B. July 31, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Darn, I just bought a copy of Perfect Play last week. I keep saying I won't start any new series until I get caught up! Snort! Then I saw the description of Changin The Game and I knew I had to start reading this series. Thanks for the giveaway. If I win, I am sure someone would love my copy.

  • Jeanne August 1, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I didn´t read any book from Jaci Burton yet but I heard about this author quite a lot so I would like to read at least one book sometime…
    Thank you for the chance to win!

  • Maria August 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I love Jaci Burton books. Her writing is amazing! She has became one of my favorite Authors and I would love to win a book. Thanks for the givaway!

  • Debbie Kennedy August 1, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I have never read any of Jaci's books and I can't figure out why I haven't come across them before. The reviews of her books are great. I would really like to read these. I just got back into reading, now that my kids are a bit older and I would love to have this book to read.
    Thanks for the chance.
    cleaningrhouse at yahoo dot com

  • Melissa August 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    WOW!!! I loved the review!!! I haven't started this series yet but now I can't wait!!!! I try to get Jaci's books when I can!! Thanks for the great review and giveaway!!


  • lisa August 4, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Great review. You hit all the right
    spots for me! Any author would love
    to have you on their side. I have
    loved all of your books and I can't
    wait to start on this one, however
    I can't afford it yet!

  • winnie August 5, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! Great to know that Changing the Game is pretty much as good as The Perfect Play! Can't wait to read this myself!

    Thanks for the giveaway!


  • Melanie S. August 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Jaci Burton is one of my favorite authors, but I haven't had the chance to read her Play by Play Series.
    To be honest, I saw the cover of book 1 a while ago and thought I have to get my hands on that one. Then book 2 was released and I didn't know what to think any longer 😉 and then there were the fantastic reviews saying I have to read it ASAP – thanks for your review!

    booksforalleternity at gmail dot com

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