Title: Playing Dirty
Series: Stargazer #2
Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: Oct 2013
Source: Review Copy
Synopsis from Goodreads
A public relations expert tries to prevent the breakup of a raucous country band and corral their wild—and very sexy—lead singer in book 2 of the Stargazer Series.
As an expert in public relations crisis management—that is, babysitter to the stars—Sarah Seville just spent nine months in Rio trying to keep rock singer Nine Lives out of jail long enough to record his new album…and barely succeeded. Now she needs a triumphant success so she can keep the Manhattan-based job she loves. Trouble is, her new assignment is to travel to Alabama to prevent the breakup of the raucous country band The Cheatin’ Hearts, headed by sexy Quentin Cox. As she edges closer to Quentin, she discovers layers of secrets. It seems Quentin is taking the spin doctor for a spin.
The Cheatin’ Hearts have stayed on top of the charts two years following three rules. Rule One, no drugs. Rule Two, no sex with other band members. Rule Three, no sex with record company spies. Quentin figures he’d better follow the rules, because he made them. And because if you break a rule, you’re out of the band. But he can’t resist the record company’s beautiful PR agent, and inevitably he breaks Rule Three with hot Sarah Seville. As he falls for her, he finds out that she has plenty of secrets of her own, and one of them comes knocking on her door: what really happened to her in Rio.
Playing Dirty sustains the dynamic of the Stargazer series by combining an amazing romance with a killer thriller. This time it’s Sarah’s turn in the spotlight.
In Star Crossed, Sarah is the sporty, calm, logical voice of reason to Wendy’s snark. Due to personal tribulations Sarah has undergone a dramatic make-over. That idea that you can fake it til you make it, although she doesn’t lose her fitness freak self as much as she thinks she does However, it is Sarah’s perceptiveness and ability to read people that is her essence and it really shines through the plot.
I really liked how the narrative examined the role the media plays in the success of bands (in this instance) – you’ve heard the saying no publicity is bad publicity – this turns it on it’s head.
The success of the band hinges on their publicity and the outlandish things they are willing to engineer in order to get it. Image is everything even it is a false image. Appealing to a specific demographic and the attributes that go with it form the basis of their image. Who they are in private is at odds with their public image and therefore, must be protected at all costs. Take Quentin, for example, I adore that he is inherently a geek in wolf’s clothing
Misrepresentation and media misdirection form the basis of the story. The different approaches to public relations and the psychology behind it are touched upon within the plot providing insight and understanding to certain aspects.
The third person narrative is essential in order to control all the different dimensions within the story-line. For me, the elements dealing with identity stood out the most. From Sarah’s make-over to Quentin’s theatrics; who they were on the outside as opposed to who they were on the inside provided much food for thought on how people perceive us and how we perceive ourselves as a result.
Playing Dirty because there are no rules when your heart is at stake