A five figure fee. A private villa at an exclusive tropical paradise. Absolute compliance. Top tier celebrity trainer Luke McLean demands all of the above, plus strict adherence to his zero bullshit policy. Especially when faced with six short weeks to whip a spoiled starlet into leading lady shape.
Quinn Sheridan suddenly has half the time she anticipated to turn herself into an action hero for the role of her career. Luckily, her agent calls in a secret weapon, but the demanding, drop dead gorgeous hardass fails to understand SHE'S the client. She has no problem taking direction, but Luke's definition of cooperation feels more like complete and utter submission. And she's tempted to give it to him...
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Quinn Sheridan found herself trapped in the taunting, neon-blue gaze of a raven-haired temptress with killer legs, a tiny waist, and improbably generous yet gravity-defiant tits challenging the limits of a painted-on black cat suit. A tremble of intimidation left tiny fractures in the bedrock of her self-assurance, but she refused to crumble. Sure, the framed poster hanging in the hall outside her agent's office presented video game vixen Lena Xavier in all her unattainably perfect, CGI-embellished glory, but with the magic of makeup, good lighting, and a little help from wardrobe, the flesh-and-blood actress hired to portray the icon of male adolescent fantasies would look the part.
She backed up a step and caught her reflection superimposed like a pale, indistinct ghost over the image thanks to the glass protecting the lithograph. The effect wasn't particularly encouraging.
She would. Her spine straightened at the mental affirmation, and she ignored the way the woman in the poster seemed to smirk at her. Of course she would pull off the transformation. She had to.
Lifting her chin, she walked into her agent's office projecting a calm confidence she was far from feeling. The performance would have won her a standing ovation from the toughest audience. She hadn't been this anxious about a meeting since her days as an aspiring actress, about to give her first audition. But, frankly, there was a lot more at stake today.
Eddie looked up as she entered. His everglade-green eyes widened a fraction and he abandoned whatever instructions he'd been giving his assistant over his speakerphone in favor of a brusque, decisive, "Cancel lunch."
Quinn's stomach — her empty stomach — sank to the glossy red soles of her Louboutins.
His assistant responded first. "Eddie Washington, I sold a kidney to get you your favorite table at Toscanova. Do not make me call them back and cancel."
"Cancel," Eddie repeated. Quinn forced herself to stand tall and proud as his sharp gaze inspected her from the top of her upswept hair to the pointy tips of her pumps. "Cancel anything constituting a photo op for the foreseeable future, as well." He hung up on his assistant's muttered curse, pinched the bridge of his nose, and shook his head at her. "You're not camera ready."
So much for the magic of strategically gathered black jersey, and a two- hundred-dollar torture device some fashion marketing genius had the cajones to call a comfort-shaper. The stupid thing was not comfortable, and apparently, it revealed a little too much of her current shape. Which meant when it came to stupid, she won the prize.
Quinn continued into Eddie's office, swallowing the defensive excuses that leaped to her lips. She perched on the arm of the white leather divan situated against the wall opposite his desk. Excuses wouldn't change anything. Nor would getting defensive. Acting wasn't a career for fragile egos, and she didn't pay him to coddle hers.
They'd known each other a long time — since those early days when her twin brother, Callum, had been the real client and she'd been a little extra baggage their mother had negotiated into the deal. Eddie was one of the top sports and entertainment agents, as well as one of her oldest friends, and she was lucky to have him. While his brutal honesty stung, he had her best interests at heart. Their best interests.
Keeping that in mind, she folded her arms across her more ample than normal chest, lifted one brow, and shot him her trademark half smile — the cool facade that gave nothing away. "Okay, fine. I've let my conditioning slip a little."
"A little?" He got up and strode around his glass monument of a desk. The thick, white rug hushed his footsteps.
Inside, she winced. Outwardly, she just shrugged. "I took a couple weeks off after Pep Rally wrapped. I'd earned a break."
Propping his enviably toned frame against his desk, he inspected her again. "Absolutely. But this" — he gestured at her — "is not the result of taking a break for 'a couple weeks.'" Restless fingers formed air quotes around the words. "You've lost all the lean muscle and definition the studio expects for this kind of a role. You were supposed to spend the hiatus turning yourself from a cheerleader into a big-screen, action heroine. If they get a look at you now, they're going to think you're undisciplined or indifferent about the role. We both know you're neither." His eyes narrowed with something suspiciously like concern. "What happened?"
"Nothing." She scoffed the word, but her conscience cringed. Her twin brother had happened. A busted knee had happened. Eight weeks of sitting around nursing the sprain with a steady diet of regret and carbs had happened. And yes, apparently all the inactivity had taken a toll. Her bathroom scale hadn't actually moved all that much, but her clothes fit differently. Her favorite shirts felt snugger across the chest. Her favorite jeans hugged tighter to her hips. Her stomach wasn't quite as taut and flat as it had been before the injury. She still couldn't quite believe it. Between years of acting classes, dance lessons, rehearsals, and a good metabolism, she'd always been able to maintain her shape without giving it any concentrated effort.
Eddie continued to regard her, but now doubt drove his eyebrows toward his hairline. "Nothing happened?" he asked again.
"I took a break. That's all. And fine, maybe I let myself go a bit." She shrugged and examined her cuticles as if a hangnail worried her more than this conversation. "It's not a big deal."
"Not if your next job involved posing for Playboy." Eddie raked a hand through his short afro, making his dark hair stand on end. "But double-agent, martial arts master, and all-around ass kicker Lena Xavier is supposed to look dangerously sexy. The producers want Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, and Atomic Blonde all rolled into one, and zipped into a skintight leather cat suit. Instead you're bombshell curvy, and ... wait. You're not pregnant, are you?"
A harsh laugh slipped out. "Ha. Right. Alert the media. Call the Pope. We've got another immaculate conception." The last six months had been hell on her social life. There were reasons. Several, actually — the sprained knee being perhaps the least of them — but though Eddie held a position of trust in her life, she didn't intend to share any of them with him.
He let out what might have been a sigh of relief, but shook his head. "We're not calling anyone. If the studio brass get a load of you looking like this ..." He let the implications go unstated and combed his fingers through his hair again. "Hell, I'm pretty sure there's an appearance clause in your contract, which means — "
"I know what it means." The producers could fire her at any time during filming if her appearance changed even slightly from the way she'd looked at the time she'd been cast in the role. Of course they could. Audiences expected their favorite anti-hero spy to make the leap from Xbox to big screen while wearing her iconic cat suit. The actress playing her had to do the role justice.
And she would. But "during filming" seemed like the operative phrase here. Filming didn't start for three months. A comforting thought, but the flickers of panic in Eddie's eyes put a skip in her pulse. She stood, moved to the center of the sofa, and took a proper seat this time. "Is that what this meeting is all about? You want to make sure I'll be camera ready? Relax." She ran her palms over the length of her dress. "Twelve weeks is plenty of time to tighten the assets, so there's no need to body shame me into — "
She jerked her attention back to Eddie. "What?"
"They moved up the shooting schedule because of a change in the location availability. You're due in wardrobe in just over six weeks. That's why I called this meeting."
"Oh ... fuck me. You're kidding."
He pulled his handsome face into a grimace. "I don't kid about business."
Fuck, indeed. After spending the last five years singing, dancing, and acting her ass off as the perky head cheerleader on the hit television series Pep Rally — and turning down film after film because Hollywood wanted to typecast her as a bouncy blonde — fate had rewarded her patience with a starring role in Dirty Games, the big- budget film based on the best-selling video game. It had taken half a decade, but she'd finally graduated from high school. This was a major move for her, the chance to transition from the small screen to the big one, from teen starlet to bankable box office draw. She wanted this shot. She needed it, personally and financially. And she'd damn well earned it. But plenty of people would love to see her fail. Especially any of the actresses who'd made the short list to play Lena. This was a competitive industry.
Sunlight streamed through the floor-to-ceiling windows along one wall of the office, slanted across the sofa, and created an uncomfortably hot spotlight directly where she sat. "Okay. Don't give yourself an aneurysm. I've got this under control. I'll get in shape."
He stared at her for a long moment while he turned something over in his mind. "Six weeks leaves no margin for error. I'm calling in professional help."
Professional help? "You're referring me to a therapist?"
"Sort of. I'm sure he'll fix whatever's going on in your head at the same time he fixes the rest of you." Then he strode behind his desk and spoke into his phone. "Lisa, get the secret weapon on this line, ASAP." His gaze slid to her. "Tell him it's an emergency." Without waiting for a reply, he disconnected, and flung himself into his chair. Over steepled fingers, he looked at Quinn.
Something in his stare sent a trickle of sweat down her spine. "What's the 'secret weapon'?"
A beat of silence followed her question, broken by the squeak of Eddie's leather chair as he leaned forward. "Luke McLean. He spent over a decade as a private fitness consultant to the biggest names in Hollywood. Over the last couple years, he's changed his focus somewhat, but he'll take you on as a favor to me, if I ask him. He's exclusive, and expensive, but he always gets results."
An expensive workout buddy? No thanks. "That's sweet of you to offer, but I can do this myself."
"You've never dieted or hit the gym in your life," Eddie argued.
"If you don't think rehearsing and performing the Pep Rally routines counts as working out, I'd like to see you do it."
"I'm sure it was, but you don't have that now. What you have is six weeks to get yourself back into the kind of shape you took for granted when you were eighteen, except, hey, you're not eighteen anymore." He shook his head slowly.
She had a feeling he wasn't sure if even his secret weapon could pull this off. "Thanks for pointing that out," she retorted, unable to keep the snap of sarcasm at bay.
"Look, things change as you age —"
"Right. You're not a teenager. This is going to take effort, and a plan."
"Eddie, I have a plan. Eat less. Move more." It wasn't rocket science, for God's sake. Besides, the change in her physique had nothing to do with her age, and everything to do with weeks of limited activity resulting from the sprained MCL she'd incurred while literally dragging Callum to a long- overdue stint at a private rehab facility.
Thankfully, she hadn't needed surgery to repair the ligament. A clunky brace and six weeks of PT had done the trick. Now that her doctor had given her a clean bill of health, she could spend some quality time in the small home gym she'd installed — the one Callum had used maybe a handful of times before sliding back into the old habits their mom had been naive enough to think Quinn could save him from.
Mom had been wrong, as it turned out. She was nobody's savior, despite her mother's insistence on casting her in the role of dependable, responsible twin. No matter how hard she tried, and how much she missed the old Callum, she couldn't solve his problems for him. But she could solve her own. Hop on the treadmill or elliptical every morning for thirty minutes or so, and turn herself into Lena Xavier. How hard could it be? She didn't need some overpriced expert telling her what to do.
"Talk to me about negative calories," Eddie challenged. "Describe an optimal cardio-strength training balance for burning fat and building lean muscle."
"Just because I don't speak Muscle & Fitness, doesn't mean I don't know how to —"
Eddie's phone buzzed. He held up a finger to silence her, and spoke into the speaker. "Give me good news, Lisa."
"I've got Mr. McLean on the line."
"Put him through, and take an extra half hour for lunch."
"I'm taking an extra hour. Seems I scored a prime table at Toscanova. Since it's going on your Amex, I'll bring you a panini. Line one."
Eddie rolled his eyes, and tapped the line. "Luke, my man. Thanks for getting in touch so quickly."
"Your assistant said it was an emergency."
The deep, slightly impatient response vibrated with an edge of authority that did funny things to her insides — the kind of things that had her recrossing her legs and pressing her thighs together. She had a little weakness for growly voices. And authority.
"It is," Eddie said. "I need you to take on a full-time client, for the next six weeks — "
"This is. I don't take on private clients anymore. Even if I did, I can't do this one. I'm leaving at the end of the week for my first real vacation in three years. I can refer you to a couple of qualified consultants who might be able to help."
"I don't need a referral. I need you. You're the best."
A cynical laugh sent something hot and restless fluttering low in Quinn's abdomen. "Kissing ass won't change anything."
"I'm just stating a fact," Eddie replied smoothly. "Want to know another fact? Everything's negotiable. What will it take to make this happen? Name your price. Name the place. My only requirement is that it be absolutely private and totally confidential."
"You can't put a price on mental health. I need a vacation. For the past three years I've been one hundred percent focused on building my business. The facility, the staff, and the referral network —"
"Mortgage, insurance, salaries ... all this requires cash, does it not?"
"I'm comfortable with my burn rate," the low voice replied, with a calm that backed up the confidence of the statement. "Call Rick Samson, or Julianna Pierce."
"He's a glorified rep counter, and she's insane. Come on, Luke. Remember having an hour of need? This is mine."
A long silence followed. Quinn found herself holding her breath. Half of her hoped he'd refuse. No, correction, all of her hoped he'd refuse. She didn't want to put herself in the hands of some arrogant stranger who clearly didn't want the gig.
Those clipped words came out lower. Harsher. The little hairs on her arm stood at attention.
"Sorry, man. I wouldn't play the 'you owe me' card if this wasn't important. I'm at your mercy."
Her imagination cracked under the pressure, and sought its own escape by conjuring up an image of her strapped to some complicated piece of gym equipment, her muscles straining and immobilized, and that gruff voice telling her she was at his mercy.
A frustrated groan came from the other end of the line. Her hard-up hormones created an entirely different scenario for the thigh-tightening sound. He followed it up with a reluctant, "What's the goal?"
Eddie pumped a fist in victory. "You'll do it?"
"I'm not committing to anything, yet. First, I have to understand what it is, and if I think I can get it done. Then, you still have to agree to my terms."
"My client needs to get chiseled like a slab of granite. No bulking, just cut, cut, cut. Define and tone" — Eddie glanced her way again — "everything, in six weeks."
"Cut, define, and tone in six weeks? Your client's aggressive."
"That's why I need you. You specialize in aggressive."
The phone's speaker carried the sound of a long, forceful exhale. Her cheeks heated at the humiliation of being discussed like an unappealing project, but at the same time, her lips tingled as if the gust of air he'd released from deep in his chest had breezed over them. Pathetic or not, this phone call was the most action she'd gotten in ... forever.
"Age? Injuries? I have to assume there's a reason an athlete with the talent to warrant your representation has let his training lapse."
"Twenty-three, no injuries, and she's not an athlete. Her name is Quinn Sheridan, and she's preparing for a movie role —"
"Oh hell no, Eddie." The voice now held an indignant note. "Not an actress. Anything but an actress."
Heat burned her face for a whole different reason. Anger. How dare this self-righteous jackass reject her, based on her career choice?
Eddie sent her a sharp look, held up a hand, and closed it like a mouth to send her the universal sign for "shut it." "My hour of need," he reiterated into the speaker.
Excerpted from "Dirty Games"
Copyright © 2017 Samanthe Beck.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This story is filled with some pretty powerful chemistry between Luke and Quinn. Both fighting to be in control. It was very entertaining (hint, keep a cool towel or fan nearby) to see them both take charge. The first time they meet, you could feel the sizzle. I loved that interaction. It definitely set the one-hour tone for the book. I loved how easily Luke could read Quinn. And she kept him on his toes. Their exercise regimen and lifestyle change was quite the adventure, but it helped to really get to know the characters. I felt for Quinn and her burden of taking care of her brother. But what a great relationship they had. The ending was perfect, not over the top, but just enough to keep you guessing how the future will unfold. This is a stand alone, no cliffhanger, but very good to make you want more of their story. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
Reviews are opinionated. They generally come from what a person feels, doesn't feel. Like, doesn't like. You can have one person read a book and think it's the best thing since sliced bread. You can have another person read it and not like it at all. I've been on both sides. I love Samanthe Beck’s writing. I’ll be honest and admit that most of the time, I wish I was starring in her books. Her heroes are perfect for me. But Dirty Games just did not work for me. I struggled, but finished the book because hello, it's Samantha Beck! At any other time, she might have given me everything I look for in a book. But not this time, in this moment. Dirty talking hero, check. Strong, sassy, passionate heroine, check. Passionate sex, it was there. I just failed to connect with the characters. Quinn Sheridan is definitely feeling the pressure to get in shape after dealing with her drug addict brother, demanding mother, and a production schedule suddenly pushed up by six weeks. The last thing she needs is some holier than thou personal trainer who doesn’t like her, sight unseen. Luke McLean doesn’t work with celebrities. He just isn’t a fan after getting royally burned. However, he agrees to work with Quinn and get her in top shape at the request of her manager. Luke has six weeks to turn Quinn into a lean, mean, fighting machine for her video game based movie. Unfortunately, Quinn hears Luke make a general disparaging statement about actors. Oops. Luke goes out of his way to work with Quinn. She’s paying him an enormous amount of money and is footing the bill for six weeks in a Caribbean paradise. But she's ungrateful. It doesn’t help that I hate to exercise and Luke believes in extreme pain. I might have hated him a little bit for spanking Quinn after she accidentally ate six cookies. I had moments where I thought finally, I’m going to fall in love with this story. But just as the thought occurred, my happiness evaporated. Quinn has a lot of family baggage going into the story. It appears that some of the drama gets resolved, but it just seemed too easy and too unrealistic. There didn’t seem to be anger on Quinn’s part when it was deserved. It leaves me wondering how this happy-for-now couple will truly have a happily-ever-after. **Received a copy from Entangled Publishing and voluntarily reviewed.**
This one was for me a really fun book full of sexual suspense. I liked both Luke and Quinn and I loved how the Authur build this sexual suspense, how did she tease us until it did really explode. But the book is not all about that and it is not about acting or losing weight it is about finding your weakness and start doing something about it. Although a little bit unusual approach from Luke side he manages to save Quinn of her insecurity and help her finding strength. Quinn is not some shallow actress but a great person with a big heart I was just sad that she drawn to quick a conclusion and accused Luke, but I loved that she didn't let her pride get in they happiness and admitted that she was wrong.I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly
Dirty Games absolutely lives up to its title! I'm pretty sure the personal trainer/client relationship isn't supposed to have that kind of stuff going on (it took a little too long to cancel that contract, given things that had happened earlier...) but wow, was it ever entertaining to read. I absolutely loved their "meet-awkward" (I kept laughing while Mini Moe #2 was driving and was repeatedly chastised for it--worth it, though) and it was easy to root for both Quinn an Luke as the story continued. Things do get resolved a bit quickly at the end, but it's hard to mind much--after all the insanely crazy exercise and diet changes Quinn had to put up with, something had to go easy for her, right? ;) Rating: 4 stars / B I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Luke McLean hates dealing with celebrities, even though they’re the ones responsible for where he is in his current career as a personal trainer. If it weren’t for a favor owed to Quinn Sheridan’s agent, he wouldn’t have taken her on as his client, especially when he’d planned for several weeks of vacation in a tropical paradise. Catching Quinn indulging in some last minute treats the day before they’re meant to start working together, he’s quick to lay down the law. He just wishes she didn’t already have the body that would tempt a saint. Quinn Sheridan knows that the weeks spent nursing a knee injury have left her a little softer in places than she needs to be for her upcoming role. With the timeline for filming moved up from 12 weeks to 6, she’s under the gun to show results, and quickly. Luke quickly becomes the bane of her existence with his rules on everything from eating, to working out, to always telling him the truth (the worst one). And she’s attracted to him too, which is doubly annoying. Luke is clear from the outset that he doesn’t get involved with his clients. But as he and Quinn interact and they get to know each other, it’s easier said than done. Making rules they can abide by to scratch the itch works for a while, but time is ticking. Can their tropical tryst become a life long love affair? I can always count on Samanthe Beck to provide an entertaining and sexy story! The set up for this one is such that you know these two will have a hard time resisting each other. One thing I appreciated was Luke's acknowledgment that Quinn is perfectly healthy and fit as she is, and only the specifics demanded for her role are what are persuading him to put her through an intense eating and exercise regimen. In fact, he's quite attracted to her exactly as she is now, which makes keeping things professional a challenge. As a regular exerciser, I quite liked all the training bits in this story (and may find myself using some of the tips myself!). Quinn has a brother who struggles with addiction, and his problems affect her in several ways. It's his fault that she damaged her knee in the first place, a fact she is reluctant to share with Luke because she's trying to keep the less savory aspects of her life out of the limelight. But as her emotional condition affects her physical one, it all comes out soon enough. Luke and Quinn find a way to address the attraction between them in some sexy scenes that have them both questioning what they'll want from each other when training time is over. The conflict that crops up is one that will test their trust in each other. Luckily they sort things out and get a sweet happy ending. I really enjoyed all the aspects of this story, from the setting, to the plot to the sexy and fun romance. It's a keeper!
Another sexy, fun romance from one of my favorite authors! Luke and Quinn get quite the workout together (in more ways than one) when the two are put together for six weeks in a tropical paradise. Both their jobs are at stake, and their witty banter and Luke's determination to keep things professional makes for a super enjoyable read that kept me up way past my bedtime turning the pages. I smiled, laughed, and swooned my way through this not-to-miss read!
This was a super sexy story and I loved the main characters' chemistry, and how they both fought it for so long. It was a bit of a slow burn for that reason, and it was so hot! Quinn Sheridan is facing the biggest movie role of her career so far, and she needs help. Her twin brother is an addict, and as she was physically shuttling him into a rehab facility, they took a tumble and she sprained her knee. So, for the last couple months, she's been sitting on the couch and comfort eating, other than her physical therapy, which thankfully, has gotten her knee back to full strength. But, while she still looks great, for anyone else in the world, for a Hollywood actress about to star in an action movie, she's too soft. She needs to be whipped into shape ASAP, and luckily her agent knows just the man for the job. Luke McLean is a top tier trainer of the rich and famous. Though, he's moved away from that more and more in the last few years, and instead has been focusing on regular people who really need help with weight management, or learning to exercise again after amputations, etc. But, he owes his old friend a favor, so he agrees to take on the actress, assuming it'll be a disaster since they only have 6 weeks to make it happen. But, his fee is substantial, and he is more than willing to be a tough taskmaster. He has no idea what to expect, but Quinn definitely isn't it. He's had a bad experience in the past mixing business with pleasure and swore he'd never do it again, but Quinn makes it so hard to resist. Luke and Quinn's chemistry was off the charts, and it was made even hotter, and more volatile, by how they each try to fight it, for their own reasons. Quinn doesn't want anyone to know how she hurt herself, and it becomes a bone of contention between them. Luke wants her, but he doesn't really want to, and she takes that personally. Through all the hard work and shared meals, they really get to know each other, and fall into much more than mutual lust. But, he has no real respect for her chosen career, and she isn't willing to be fully honest with him about what's going on in her life. It becomes quite the rough road, especially when the bottom falls out of their situation, and they both say things that are hard to take back. I really enjoyed this book, and the characters push-pull dynamic. Their banter was top notch, and I loved all of their interactions. The sexy scenes were super steamy, and I loved their connection. Since the main characters were isolated on a tropical island, we didn't get a ton of side characters here, but they weren't overly necessary when the main character's bond was so strong. I always enjoy this authors work, and I'm almost sad this is a standalone, as I look so forward to her series. Her series always have such great supporting characters, who get their own stories later down the road. I'll definitely be waiting, impatiently, for what's next from this author!
Quinn's life is a hot mess! She's finally got a break out role in an up and coming action movie that will take her acting career far. That's if her brother doesn't ruin it first. Her brother is spiraling down from a drug addiction. As she intervenes to get him in rehab, he injures her knee just a few months before she starts filming. After resting for weeks to heal, she now needs to get in shape and fast. Eddie, Quinn's agent calls in a favor and sets her up with personal trainer Luke. Only Luke is not happy about the favor being called in. He's been burned by celebrities and he's made no secret to how he feels about pampered actresses. Things between Luke and Quinn start out very rocky. Luke doesn't respect Quinn's career and Quinn immediately goes into defense mode. These two bash heads at first but Luke realizes his attraction to Quinn is something he may not be able to fight. Once we got past the hate part of their relationship, I really began to enjoy this story. I love Samanthe Beck's writing. She does a very good job of creating a sizzling attraction between her main characters and Quinn and Luke were no different. ARC provided by NetGalley
Sizzlingly steamy and deliciously dirty, Samanthe Beck gives us a great story of an actress in of a makeover and a controlling hard core trainer who will accept nothing less than complete submission. The push pull of the relationship between Quinn and Luke is fun to watch as they move from client and trainer to something nothing had been looking or ever expected to find. A well written book with some amazing characters makes this a great read and one I definitely recommend.