Review: Played by Clare James

Image from Goodreads
Image from Goodreads

Title: Played
Series: Elite PR #2
Author: Clare James
Publisher: Brazen
Publication Date: 19 Oct 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Play. Or be played.

The music should be enough. End of story. But Aaron Major is finding out it’s not, and now his agent has hired a firm of suits to help launch his debut album, turning his life into a goddamn circus. Smile here. Play there. Be nice. Well, screw that. If Aaron wanted to spend his time shaking hands and kissing babies, he would’ve gone into politics.

Helping launch the career of country singer Aaron Major should be a cakewalk for PR pro Melody Sharp. Aaron is charming, sexy, and oh-so-appealing when he’s on stage. Off stage, though, he’s her worst nightmare. A stubborn, ornery, reclusive nightmare without a lick of business-or fashion-sense. The only way he’s going to make it in music is with a serious makeover-and quite possibly a personality transplant.

Soon, they’re engaged in a game of give and take, and though it’s Melody calling the shots, it’s Aaron who holds all control…

Received from Good Choice Reading
Received from Good Choice Reading


Although I haven’t read the first book in the Elite PR series I don’t feel as if it had an impact on my enjoyment or understanding of Played. The characters from the previous story are mentioned but do not play an integral part in the plot, this also helps while reviewing not to give spoilers for the previous stories 🙂

Written in third person narrative with the focus switching between the main characters, Mel and Aaron. Both Mal and Aaron have a pile of emotional baggage they are carrying around with them; preventing them from opening themselves up to other people especially each other fully. While Aaron’s issues play a major role in the plot it is Mel’s story that takes centre stage.

Mel has been raised as arm candy all her life, when her carefully laid out future is abruptly altered by the end of her long-term relationship, leaving her small town Mel creates the impression of success in order to stand above the gossip. However, the humiliation and lack of parental expectation weigh heavily on Mel’s subconscious.  Mel has invested her happiness on the pretence of success, when her achievements are put under pressure Mel finds herself in a downward spiral, unable to muster enthusiasm for anything in her life and inevitably believing she lacks substance, her only option to become the trophy wife her parents envisaged.

Played has a lot more than romance occurring within the plot; themes of identity and issues of feminism provide food for thought. It also makes you question the role parents play in self-esteem issues, with low parental expectations a person can either become very driven in order to prove them wrong or end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is not an easy position to be in. Played also takes a look at how motivation and inspiration from others can affect our belief in ourselves, shown by the support system Mel has with her friends. It begs the question of the effectiveness of life coaching 🙂

Throughout the narrative Mel and Aaron are confronted with their emotional baggage forcing them to recognise their own weaknesses and in order to overcome them, develop effective coping strategies. I do adore a thought-provoking plot dealing with human nature while providing real-life solutions 🙂

Played really is so much more than a smexy romance; music, themes of identity and self belief work together to capture the attention and create admiration for the characters and their journey ♥

Author: Book Angel

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