5 Stars / Contemporary / Review

Review: Princess and the Player by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Level-headed Francesca Lane never thought she’d miss her own wedding. But when her fiancé betrays her, she puts on her wedding dress and ditches the altar for a masquerade ball—at a sex club.

There, she meets NFL star Tuck Avery, dressed as a prince and hiding behind a mask as he celebrates his birthday. For one night, Francesca and Tuck indulge in a wickedly incognito affair. No names. No strings. And the masks don’t come off.

Unfortunately, Francesca soon realizes her prince is the wealthy jock who lives in the penthouse of her apartment building. His hobbies include parties and supermodels—or so the tabloids say. Another shallow jerk is the last thing Francesca needs, so she vows to keep Tuck from recognizing her, not that she’s his type anyway.

But fate has a teeny-tiny trick up her sleeve… a plus sign on a pregnancy test. Can this tormented prince accept love, or will he push his princess away forever?

Title:Princess and the Player
Author:Ilsa Madden-Mills
Series:Strangers in Love (Book 2)
Trope(s):One Night Stand
Opposites Attract
Neighbours to Lovers
Sports Romance (American Football)
Point of View:First Person, Present Tense, Dual Viewpoint (H & h)
Location:NYC, NY, USA
Release Date:8th November, 2022
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Romance with emotion and just enough angst

Ilsa Madden-Mills can do no wrong in my eyes. And even with that lofty heigh to reach with each book, she once again manages to smash it with this opposites attract, secret-baby romance. For other fans, this is the second book in the Strangers in Love series, the first being Beauty and the Baller. Each stands completely alone (although Ronan from the first book is mentioned in this one as he and Tuck are best friends) but they are markedly different; Beauty being a small-town romance while this one takes place in NYC.

I can’t say I’ve ever read a meet cute in a sex club before but I have to say that I liked it. It was just the right amount of sassy, funny and sexy – and really gave us a crash course in the personalities of Tuck and Francesca. Tuck more so, probably.

We continue to learn more about him as the book continued and I loved him. He’s my catnip hero of a big, strong guy who is a little broken inside, in Tuck’s case due to a traumatic childhood and parental relationships. He always kept a smile on his face, masking his true feelings and yet he still could be that funny, silly guy – especially with Francesca. He was complicated and just the kind of man you so want to get his deserved happily ever after.

When authors’ write heroines like Francesca, I admit that I can find it hard to like them. I mean the tattoo artist heroine who’s tough, fierce and scrappy. Someone wholly unlike me, I mean. But like Tuck, Francesca was so much more than she first appeared. Her tough shell hid a tender, needy inside and a woman who was unfailingly kind and loyal. She was a delight and I was thrilled to find that I loved her as much as I did Tuck – and with her own previous traumas, she deserved her happily ever after just as much.

“…the kind of book that you find yourself thinking about – and reliving – long after you’ve read ‘the end’.”

With all their similarities, Tuck and Francesca are very much opposites – but they fit together like puzzle pieces that are made for each other. It’s like Francesca says, it has to be fate that they kept coming together. The banter between the pair was top notch – I love a couple that laugh and have little inside jokes to go along with all the love, sex and seriousness.

And the sex was goooood. While the sex club isn’t over detailed (it wouldn’t have felt right to have overly descriptive sex in the first chapter, I don’t think) they make up for it later on. Sex in a book store? If that’s not a fantasy every bookworm didn’t know they had – you’ll know it after reading this book. Their sexual compatibility only solidified their connection and made them even more perfect for each other.

When faced with a secret baby romance, I’m always ready to feel a bit of superiority as I wait the heroine to tell the hero already, goddammit. Fair play to the author for making me 100% in tune with the heroine. Every time she went to tell him, I would agree with her that perhaps this isn’t the right time. Or that something thwarted her plans. So for those with those same concerns – fear not – Francesca’s dilemma is clear and surprisingly relatable.

The story was absorbing and so engrossing. I lost myself in this world and even felt deeply for the side characters, who shone nearly as brightly as our couple. As always with Ms Madden-Mills’ writing, it’s smooth, clever and oh-so-delicious. It’s just the perfect book for those who like a contemporary romance with just the right tough of emotion and angst. This is the kind of book that you find yourself thinking about – and reliving – long after you’ve read ‘the end’. I don’t hesitate to give it the full 5 stars.

* I received this book in exchange for my honest review *

Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is best known for her contemporary romances ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Seven of her ten novels have placed in the Amazon US Store Top Six Best-seller List: Dirty English hit #1; Fake Fiancée and I Dare You hit #2; I Bet You, Filthy English, and Very Bad Things all placed #6 in the Amazon US Store. The Last Guy, her collaboration with Tia Louise, hit #4.

A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.

She’s addicted to frothy coffee beverages, cheesy magnets, and any book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. Feel free to stalk her online.

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Strangers in Love Series

Beauty and the Baller Ilsa Madden-Mills Cover

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