Playing for Keeps

Playing for Keeps by Kendall Ryan Book Summary

A sexy, brother's best friend hockey romance from New York Times bestseller Kendall Ryan, kicks off a series you'll devour!

"PLAYING FOR KEEPS IS PERFECT!" -Modern Belle

"A TOTAL, UTTER MUST READ." -Book Fanatic


I've never been so stupid in my entire life.

My teammate's incredibly sweet and gorgeous younger sister should have been off-limits, but my hockey stick didn't get that memo.

After our team won the championship, and plenty of alcohol, our flirting turned physical and I took her to bed.

Shame sent her running the next morning from our catastrophic mistake. She thinks I don't remember that night—but every detail is burned into my brain so deeply, I’ll never forget. The feel of her in my arms, the soft whimpers of pleasure I coaxed from her perfect lips…

And now I’ve spent three months trying to get her out of my head. Which has been futile, because I’m starting to understand she’s the only girl I’ll ever want.

I have one shot to show her I can be exactly what she needs, but Elise won’t be easily convinced.

That’s okay, because I’m good under pressure, and this time, I’m playing for keeps.

Free Bonus With Purchase
✔ A bonus scene in his POV that you DO NOT want to miss!
✔ A sneak preview of the next book in the series


Get ready to meet your new favorite hot jocks in an all new stand-alone novel. If you like sexy, confident men who know how to handle a stick (on and off the ice), and smart women who are strong enough to keep all those big egos in check, this series of athlete romances is perfect for you!

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Playing for Keeps (Kendall Ryan) Book Reviews

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- Loved this story!5 star

The story of Justin and Elise is sweet, romantic, but also frustrating as they muddle their way through their changing relationship. They finally figure out what most of their friends and family have known all along!

- Would recco5 star

I loved this book. It’s a great read and it makes it so that you don’t want to put it down.! IG: Bria.gabe Snap: Smileforbria

- Playing for keeps5 star

This book is a keeper. Loved it!!

- Decent3 star

A decent, easy read! But, the whole thing seemed so rushed. A lot of scenes and storylines lacked detail.

- Must read5 star

Loved this book Justin and Elisa had great chemistry. Also a great hockey player. 🏒💙💙💙

- Steamy!5 star

4.5 Stars This is book one in the Hot Jocks series and it features super sexy hockey star, Justin and his best friend‘s sister, Elise. These two have known each other since they were children. At 24, she’s a preschool teacher and at 28, he’s a pro hockey player. This is an EXTREMELY sexy and sweet but forbidden, bestfriend's sister romance. You could see the steam rolling off my E-reader! By forbidden, I mean that her brother knows exactly how much of a player Justin is and wants him NOWHERE near his sister! The story line was smooth and the characters were fantastic! I was captivated right away and couldn’t put it down until the end. This author knows how to write her hockey players and I cannot wait to read about the others.

- AMAZING5 star

This book is just as amazing as all the rest! I couldn’t put it down and read it from start to finish in 3 hours! Absolutely love it!

- Romantic enough to melt an iceberg5 star

First I forgot how much I loved this author. She has the ability to draw you in and keep you in her world long after you’ve read the last sentence. The same can be said about this story. Justin and Elise’s chemistry is evident from the beginning but with Elise’s over protective brother Owen she is off limits. In Ms Ryan’s brilliant way of story telling Justin and Elise’s journey towards an HEA starts with a drunken night of vodka and ends with these friends to lovers growing up and except and facing adult challenges together. As much as I disliked Owen I trust Ms Ryan’s gift that by the end of the next book I’ll dislike him a little less I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

- Captivating, Emotional, & Passionate!!!5 star

This was a fantastic, fun loving friends-to-lovers story. Elise has always been in love with Justin, her brother's best friend. Justin is a professional hockey player, playboy jaded about love due to a painful past. Playing for Keeps was a great story filled with humor, heartache, angst, passion, romance, friendship, and love. This is a captivating must read, with wonderful characters readers will fall in love with. I really loved this book and can't wait for the next book in the series. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

- Loved it!!5 star

Honestly the first book I’ve read fully and it kept my attention the whole time and really only thought about it when I wasn’t reading it. I had to know what happened next. Thank you for this book!!

- Playing for Keeps5 star

Awesome reads!

- Playing For Keeps5 star

Once again Kendall has scored a hat trick this hockey romance is off the charts. It grabs you from the first moment you meet the handsome broody Justin and his over the top room mate Owen the over protective brother of sexy sweet Elise. These three have grown up together and Elise has had a crush on Justin since she was nine. Justin has been drawn to her since she was in high school. Elise has always been off limits. This is their story as two old friends reconnect and maneuver the their ever changing relationship and learn that neither of them can be friends with benefits. A five star romcom that will leave you begging for more. Bring on Owen’s story. Bravo Kendall once again you pulled every heartstring !

- I want my money back1 star

Not worth the price! The book was only fair and lacked all juicy details. There was like 2 times that the author wrote dirty explicit encounters. The book wasn’t as thorough as i hoped.

- Sweet, charming and adorable read!4 star

I originally listed to the Audible Original of Playing for Keeps by Kendall Ryan and loved it! So when I had the opportunity to read it, I jumped on the chance! This is an older brother’s best friend romance with all kinds of feels! Justin Brady has been friends Owen and Elise Parish forever. As best friends with Owen, his little sister was always a fixture in their lives. But now they are grown and there isn’t anything little about Elise. But bro code dictates he stay as far away from her as he can. But a night of celebrating leads to an unforgettable night together they both try desperately to forget. Elise and Justin have tried to deny the attraction they feel for each other, so much so, they never expected the other to feel the same way. But when things come to a head, can they keep things fun and light? I loved Justin. He was a truly a good guy who did not think he deserved Elise. He was such a caring and strong man. Elise grew up around hockey and hockey players all her life. She saw the good in Justin, even when he did not see it. She was very likeable, sweet and considerate. I absolutely loved Justin and Elise’s story in Playing for Keeps by Kendall Ryan. A sweet and delightful older brother’s best friend romance with light angst and a whole lot of charm. I definitely recommend either listening or reading this charming read! Loved it! Happy reading!

- 3stars3 star

This was a good read. Both Justin and Elise frustrates me and I so wanted to smack them but I’m glad they got over their issues.

- Hockey romance fun4 star

SPORTS ROMANCE, FRIENDS TO LOVERS, BEST FRIEND'S SISTER, SECRET ROMANCE. This books hits all the popular tropes with a characters that make you pull for the win. Justin is a professional hockey player. He has enjoyed the fruits of his labor but now is tired of the puck bunnies and jersey chasers. He wants something real. It can't be Elise. she is his childhood friend, his best friend's sister and definitely off limits. One night proved him right or maybe wrong Elise has had feelings for Justin since forever. After their night together, things did not turn out like she had hoped. Can these two work it out to get a HEA? I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

- 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥5 star

I love this type of book! Especially when they have known each other a long time, and he knows he is supposed to stay away from his best friend’s sister. Justin is the perfect broody man, but he was always thinking of her and always put her first. They started this relationship that was supposed to be casual. They were funny though and sweet. I fell for these characters in the first chapter! I can’t wait for more!

- Stunningly sweet with awesome heat!5 star

This story was sooooo good!!!!! Justin, hockey Pro who is bored with the status quo, struggles with believing he's lovable due to his parents constant bickering over him during his childhood. Elena, sister to Justin's best Friemd Owen... she's an awesome human and the unofficial wrangler for the hockey team they're on. She's also had a crush on Justin since she was in middle school. Sparks fly when they 'collide'. Highly recommend!! It was awesome!

- 5 Goal Stars!!!5 star

Another "Goal" for Kendall Ryan! I really fallen for this new series. Playing for Keeps was witty, funny, and smokin' hot! The forbidden romance trope will have you craving for what you cannot have. Elise and Justin hit that spot! I loved this story and cannot wait for more to come from this new series! I mean come on, who does not like a bunch of hunks falling for the right girl :)

- Great Forbidden Romance5 star

Elise has had a crush on her brother’s best friend, Justin, for years. When a drunken night of fun brings them together, is Justin willing to test his friendship with his teammate and best friend. Great forbidden romance. I liked how Justin admitted his flaws and tried to atone. Elise is super sassy and sweet. I liked how she unapologetically owned her sexuality. Great dynamics between Elise’s friends and hockey players. Plenty of feels and heat. Great start to this new series.

- Fun, Sexy, & Sweet!4 star

This was a great story. A charming hero who’s sexy as sin and a smart, fierce heroine who gives him a run for his money. Filled with characters who live, breathe and jump off the page at you. The mix of sexual tension and emotional decisions will lead to you wanting to read this late into the evening. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, waiting and wanting to get to their HEA! I was gifted with a early copy for a honest opinion.

- Sexy, fun & flirty with hot hockey players!!5 star

Sexy, fun and flirty best friend’s sister romance. Elise has had a crush on Justin forever but he’s her brother’s best friend and roommate. She believes he never notices her other than as the kid sister that is always hanging around. Justin doesn’t believe he could be in a relationship after the horrible example his parents set for him as a child. He found a second home with Owen’s family but always knew Elise was off limits. After the hockey team’s championship win, Justin finds Elise in his bedroom, well, he finally acts on his feelings. What will happen in the light of day? Will this be just a casual fling? Or could these two find something more? What happens if Owen finds out? Justin has a heart of gold but struggles to know if love is really possible. Elise is the perfect balance for him and hopefully she can get him to realize that love is worth the risk. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book and this is my honest review.

- This book can keep my heart!4 star

This is a friends-to-lovers/brother’s best friend romance between Elise & Justin, and I enjoyed it so much! I laughed, I swooned and I felt for these characters, so what more could I ask for?! I liked Elise, because she was her own woman and fought for Justin. I enjoyed Justin’s journey/character arc in this book. I also enjoyed that it was low on angst; it was just two friends realizing they were perfect for each other. I recommend this book if you want a fun, quick, swoon-worthy romance! I received a copy of this ebook from the author for my honest review.

- Mind. Blown.5 star

This author can cross genres like a champ. Her first hockey romance is an A plus! I absolutely loved it!

- Didn’t want it to end5 star

I absolutely loved this book and didn’t want it to end. This is the first book in a new hockey series and if the next two books are anything like this one then this series is an absolute winner! Justin and Elise are childhood friends and to top it off Justin is best friend’s and teammate to Elise’s older brother, Owen. Which means Elise is on the Do Not Date list. Of course they are both attracted to each other and try to fight it especially after a one time drunken encounter which doesn’t turn out too great, well.... For as much as I love Justin and Elise, I also loved Owen, Becca, Teddy and Sara. All of them were a great group of friends and teammates and it was great to meet all of them in this book. Justin and Elise were perfect for each other and I was so happy that Justin realized his feelings off Elise was more than just sex and that he really loved having her as his friend too and missed that just as much when he would be away from her because of hockey. I am so excited for the next two books in this series. I couldn’t put this one down and I know that will be the same with the next books.

- Sweet and steamy hockey romance!4 star

A sweet yet steamy, best friend’s little sister romance. Justin is a pro hockey player and Elise is the little sister of his teammate/best friend since forever. Elise is much more than that though. She’s always been a friend and more recently the woman he can’t stop thinking about. Elise has always had a crush on Justin, but knows that it will never and should never happen. Until one night changes everything. Well sort of everything. In Playing for Keeps Justin and Elise are basically navigating what has changed between them. Mainly by starting a secret, no strings, hook-up relationship. But those never work out how the participants plan, do they? If you’re looking for a sweet and steamy romance that follows a handful of tropes, then you will enjoy Playing for Keeps. It was an easy and somewhat quick read, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

- Sexy start to the series4 star

You really can’t go wrong with a book by Kendall Ryan, and when you add in a best friend’s little sister / pro athlete storyline (plus that awesome cover), you know it’s a book you’ve got to read. I’ll openly admit that this isn’t the book that I was expecting based on the title and blurb (which is probably why it took me a little while to get into the story), but it’s certainly a solid start to the new series. The story follows Justin, a pro hockey player who has enjoyed the lifestyle being an athlete has provided him... but things have started to feel stale lately. He’s over meaningless nights with faceless women, and in a drunken moment of weakness he winds up in bed with his best friend’s little sister, a woman he grew up with and one of the only people who knows him inside and out. When the sun rises, awkwardness ensues as the two try to gauge how the other is feeling, and a misunderstanding leads them both to believe that the other isn’t interested in anything other than what they’ve already shared. Fast-forward three months later, and neither has been able to forget their steamy night together, so they clear the air and find themselves in a friends with benefits situation. But you can’t truly have a no strings attached relationship with someone who has known you for so long, and they find themselves in a complicated situation. I love Kendall Ryan’s writing style, and the setting she created for this book will lead perfectly into an intriguing series. These are all guys who play hard on and off the ice (to the extreme), but it’s easy to see that they all have good hearts. Though Justin doesn’t have the best track record, he was easy to love and I was rooting for him to find happiness. It’s a steamy book and the chemistry between Justin and Elise is readily apparent. What threw me off initially is the direction I thought this book was going to take. Based on the blurb, I really thought Justin was going to see the error of his ways after his night with Elise, but it takes a LONG time for either one to acknowledge that they want more. That’s more an issue with my expectations for the book rather than a flaw in the story, so I can’t really fault Ryan for that, but it definitely colored my opinion of the book from the start. I’m intrigued by the couple that will be featured in the next story - we’re introduced to Owen in this story and it will take a strong woman to tame him, but assault survivor Becca seems like she’s up to the task. Overall, it’s a sexy and fast-paced start to a promising new series. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

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- Hockey Romance5 star

Who knew my thing is now hockey romance, I love the story and the characters

- Hot hockey player and best friend’s little sister4 star

This is a really sweet friends-to-lovers story. This is the ‘feel good’ kind that’s easy to read. Can’t wait for the next book!

- Just so flipping good!5 star

This is a sports romance with a best friends to lovers story that will make you laugh, swoon and has some great friendships, secrets and steamy moments to keep you intrigued and not want to put the book down! I just loved Justin and Elise and I think Justin is a very swoonworthy man trying to do his part justice. Yes there is dilemmas, yes there is so much LOVE and I cannot wait for more of this series. Does keeping a secret from her brother longer than necessary mean the proverbial poo will hit the fan when he finds out??? The suspense was killing me and I thought the way their connection deepened was beautiful! Shouldn’t you go after the person you want regardless of the consequences?? Drama galore and so many laughs to be had but the whole storyline is just so flipping good!!

- Fun entertaining read5 star

I loved this fun entertaining story, I loved the characters, the story and it was everything I have come to expect from Kendall Ryan and so much more. If you are looking for a sweet entertaining story that will leave you smiling like a Cheshire Cat look no further then this book. Justin and Elise grew up together after all he is her older brother’s best friend and he was always around. Justin is now a pro hockey player he is rich and sexy and he should be completely off limits but that doesn’t stop Elise from lusting and dreaming about him. What Elise doesn’t know is the feelings are mutual. But what happens when Elise wakes up in Justin’s bed after a few too many shots......Lines have been crossed but will Justin finally open up to his feelings for Elise and what will her brother have to say about his best friend and his little sister becoming an item.... I loved this book, the chemistry is lighthearted and the banter flows throughout this fun romance. Looking forward to book 2 in the Hot Jocks Series

- Great story5 star

When ever I pick up a Kendall Ryan book I know I am in for a great read or listen. Playing for Keeps is book 1 in a new series and I for one cannot wait to read them all. I really liked Elise, although I am not sure I would have put up with the behaviour of the men in her life. The behaviour of Justin and his friends, particularly his roommate Owen (who also happens to be Elise’s brother) was immature and off putting at times. However in fairness once Justin realized he had strong feelings for Elise, his party animal ways ceased immediately. The chemistry between Elise Parrish and Justin was lighthearted and yet extremely hot and it really added to my enjoyment of this book. The story was lighthearted and fun and altogether a joy to read. It was also at times, sexy, sweet, romantic and emotional. I like that Kendall Ryan is not afraid to write about characters who have flaws and this just makes them easier to relate too. I cannot wait for the next book in the series which is Owen and Becca’s story.

- Boring. Predictable. Nonsense1 star

A story of people who sleep together, know each other almost their entire life but cannot have a decent honest conversation. Instead we have to listen to preschool lies and denials that drag us into a preventable and boring spiral. This is a typical soap opera story, and should have been a high school essay rather than a published book.

- Great4 star

Always been a fan of good sports romances and this one, certainly didn’t disappoint. Full of sympathetic characters makes it a fun read. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

- Friends to lovers, hot hockey romance5 star

Another light, easy read from Kendall Ryan, a new series no less (Hot Jocks), and yes, Justin Brady is definitely hot. He’s also sweet, sexy, and a hockey player to add to the mix. He’s also got the hots for his best friend’s little sister, Elise Parrish, whom he’s known pretty much all his life. Elise too has a major crush on her friend (a friend who’s like a brother to her), and she knows she can’t act on it, she just watches from the sidelines. Until that one fatal night, you know what I mean, one party, too many shots and a lot of bad judgement. So what do they do? Yep, pretend like it never happened, that’ll make it better. Yeh right. My kind of story, friends to lovers, forbidden hockey romance. What’s not to love? Also the audio version has Jason Clarke narrating. More perfection.

- Brilliant5 star

I received a free copy of this book however all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own, and given completely voluntarily. I loved this! It grabbed me from the first page, kept me til the last and enthralled me in between. Well worth your time to read it.

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@loganclarkhall Cocaine Mitch is playing for keeps.

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can my brother please quiet down because he's so loud while playing that among us game, i've been waiting an hour f…

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You know whether I’m in uniform, or playing games, @redbull is my go to drink. It keeps me focused on my job, provi…

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Touch Back: An Enemies to Lovers Sports Romance (Playing for Keeps Book One)

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“Ain’t no mo extras we playing for Keeps aint no no not having strap under seat”

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Everyone trying to keep up for the looks of things & the trend. Meanwhile I’m playing for keeps & see the longevity between

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So APC losing Edo woefully? Oshiomole overestimated himself? Beautiful. That drawing board we have been stubbornly…

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@JosephCannone: @OlgaNYC1211 @Kasparov63 @NealDawgFan64 Olga yes! R’s shown they are playing for keeps in stunning ways the D’s only hav…

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I picked up Uuulra C as an impulse purchase yesterday and it is really different than I thought it'd be I tried pl…

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Trust me Tony Soprano these people are playing for keeps You should not ever trust them I've never seen anything li…

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@JeffFlake That ship has sailed. They are playing for keeps.

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Dear person that keeps stealing my Trump sign. Apologies, I thought you were stealing person property. I now rea…

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@galaexied: better— I'm playing ana. there's a smurf mercy on my team. I'm confident for two seconds. I heal mercy bc she keeps flying i…

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better— I'm playing ana. there's a smurf mercy on my team. I'm confident for two seconds. I heal mercy bc she keeps…

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@moiseschiu: This is the most effective way to fire up the liberal base: act like you are playing for keeps for once, Democrats. Get Col…

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