Juliana Mayfield is famous just because her parents are celebrities. She is known for being a party girl and all-around publicity hound, but with her trust fund running low, simply staying in the spotlight isn't going to be enough. She has to find a way to make money, and fast, or the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed will soon become a thing of the past. She has been trying to get a reality TV deal, but without a fresh angle no producer wants to take her on. When Juliana hears that an old friend may be a member of the infamous Player's Club, she immediately calls him while hatching a plan to join the club and turn her adventures with them into a hot new reality show.
Lincoln Stone is a wealthy man and one of the founding members of the Player's Club. He has always kept the club a closely guarded secret and tries to avoid any personal media attention too. When his best friend and fellow founder, Finn, wants to bring Juliana on board as their newest pledge, Lincoln has serious misgivings about the media darling. He can barely stand to be in the same room with her, but neither can he stop his body's strong reaction to her. Juliana fills his imagination with a desire to throw caution to the wind and do some very naughty things with her. Wanting to get to know her better, and also out of a sense of fairness, Lincoln finally agrees to take her on with the caveat that he be her one on one mentor, but how will he react when he discovers that the lovely Juliana has been using both him and the club for her own personal gain?
Lincoln is the second book in Cathy Yardley's new Player's Club trilogy. It got off to a slightly shaky start, mainly because I wasn't quite sure what to make of the heroine. As the story progressed I slowly began to like her more and more, and in the end, was once again pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book overall. The premise of the series, that of a group of guys (and now girls too:-)) who try to live life to the fullest, is a fun one, and I especially love the club's philosophy that it's not just about cheap thrills but about facing your fears to become a better, more confident person. I adore the fact that they allow geeky types to join too, and that it's not just a club full of gorgeous babe-magnets. It all just comes together to make the characters and stories more relatable to me. If it were any other way, I doubt I would like the series half as much.
Lincoln is a founding member of the Player's Club. Aside from one brief lapse in judgment, I really liked him in the previous book, Scott. He was a deliciously mysterious character and his inscrutability continues until about halfway through this novel when the reader finally gets to learn his backstory. I enjoyed finding out where he came from and thought it explained a lot about how a filthy rich guy could be so down to earth. He is a man who lives by his principles, and I love his deeply loyal, brotherly bond with the other members of the club. Lincoln is a very serious-minded guy without being a stick in the mud. I thought it was very sweet that he wanted to get to know Juliana better before becoming more intimate with her, although if that happened the reader doesn't get to see any of it which was a bit disappointing. I guess it's the thought that counts though. Lincoln is also a very insightful guy. He really sees people for who they are, and cares about them enough to really help them. I love how encouraging he is to his fellow Players and how he created the club as a place for people to face their fears to live a fuller life. Lincoln is just an all-around great hero that I adored.
As I already mentioned, I had some doubts about Juliana early in the story. At the beginning, she's pretty much exactly what Lincoln had her pegged as: a psuedo-celebrity who was a publicity hound. She knows she's attractive, and she's not above using her body to get what she wants, namely membership in the infamous Player's Club. It was hard to like her in the first few chapters, because she doesn't really respect the philosophy of the club and was also ready to throw over the club and all its members for her own personal gain. I also had misgivings about her wanting to do something blatantly illegal for one of her challenges, but I have to admit that turned out OK for me. My opinion of Juliana began to improve when she helped out geeky Terrence with one of his challenges, although I couldn't help wondering why she did as she just didn't seem like the type to be sympathetic to that kind of situation. It may have taken a while to get there, but about halfway through the book, I finally started liking Juliana. After her meeting with her parents, I understood that she wasn't just a poor little rich girl, but someone who needed a family and a sense of belonging. The Player's Club could offer her that, and eventually she realized it although not before she screwed up big time. In spite of that, I still respected her, because once she became aware of how many people she would be hurting, she stepped up to the plate, confessed all, and did her utmost to make amends. By the end of the book, I thought she had done an excellent job of turning her life around.
Probably because I didn't like Juliana much at first, I had a hard time feeling any connection between her and Lincoln as a couple. Their relationship starts as a basic love/hate scenario, which is not one of my favorite romance tropes, because I have a hard time buying into the idea of someone being attracted to a person who drives them insane. Initially, they don't share much more than a strong physical lust for one another, and I have to admit that they did seem to fall in love a little too quickly and easily to be fully believable to me. They don't appear to have a whole lot in common, but as Juliana began to change, I also began to like them more as a couple, most likely because I was now seeing what Lincoln had seen in her from the beginning. Although I still thought their relationship could have used a little more zing and their love scenes weren't quite as hot as they were in Scott, I still ended up feeling like Lincoln and Juliana were a pretty good match.
There were some common secondary characters who returned from Scott. Lincoln's fellow founding member and hero of the upcoming book three, Finn, was back, and since he's also Lincoln's best friend, we get to learn a bit more about his character. Out of all the guys so far, he seems to be the one who is the most like a true adrenaline junkie. He's kind of a laid back, good ole boy who really seems to get a rush from doing all their stunts and for him, the bigger the better. I found it intriguing that apparently he and Lincoln both had life threatening experiences which seemed to propel them to "live life like they were dying." I'll be interested to see if Finn's previous health crisis has any impact on his upcoming story. Of course, Scott and Amanda (Scott) return as background players who attend the meetings and participate in some of the challenges. Obnoxious, sleazy, ex-Player, George is also back stirring up trouble for our intrepid hero, and although he was taken down a peg, I doubt we've seen the last of him yet.
Overall, Lincoln was another enjoyable read in the Player's Club series. It had a yummy hero and a heroine who may not have been very admirable to begin with but who grew a surprising amount in such a short space. So far, I'm finding Cathy Yardley to be an author with a pretty entertaining writing style, and I'll be looking forward to seeing what's in store for Finn next.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook