Skip to content

New Release Review: PLAYING WITH FIRE by Lexi Ryan (Love Unbound: Mended Hearts #1)

Another New Hope book!

Available now graphic

Playing with Fire
By Lexi Ryan
Adult Contemporary Romance

Release: July 7, 2015


Dr. Phoenix Reid isn’t who she seems…

Everyone knows a phoenix rises from the ashes. What they don’t talk about are the people she drags with her into the fire.

I thought one hot night with Max Hallowell was harmless. I never expected it would force me to face my past or bring back the man who swore he’d never let me go. Now Max wants to help me. Wants to save me. But if I let him, he’ll be destroyed. I can already smell the flames.

A woman with a secret past. A man determined to protect her. A dangerous passion that could cost them both everything.

PWF Cover

Playing with Fire is the first in a new series of standalone novels featuring the New Hope characters Lexi Ryan fans have come to love.

*Note: Each series can be read on its own, but for the chronology purists, the reading order is below.


Love Unbound: Splintered Hearts

Unbreak Me (Maggie’s story)
Stolen Wishes: A Wish I May Prequel Novella (Will and Cally’s prequel)
Wish I May (Will and Cally’s novel)

Or read them together in the omnibus edition, Splintered Hearts: The New Hope Trilogy


Love Unbound: Here and Now

Lost in Me (Hanna’s story begins)
Fall to You (Hanna’s story continues)
All for This (Hanna’s story concludes)

Or read them together in the omnibus edition, Here and Now: The Complete Series
Love Unbound: Reckless and Real

Something Wild (Liz and Sam’s story begins)
Something Reckless (Liz and Sam’s story continues)
Something Real (Liz and Sam’s story concludes)


Love Unbound: Mended Hearts

Playing with Fire (Nix’s story, coming July 7, 2015)



Max is fantastic–the ultimate good-guy hero. I haven’t read the other books that he played a big part in (Here and Now: Complete Series), but there’s enough of a recap of what you need to know to understand where he’s coming from in this book. Having read Liz and Sam’s books (Reckless and Real: The Complete Series), I was excited to get to Max’s HEA–especially after the scene in Something Real where Liz shows up on Nix’s door and finds her and Max just after what has clearly been an intimate moment.

I was so ready for him to get an HEA–obviously the guy deserved one. I was ready to love this book so much.

But…it didn’t quite deliver as I’d hoped.

Mostly it was Nix–she’s all over the place in this book. Pushing Max away, crawling into his bed in the middle of the night, telling Cade (a cop, and the hero of the next book in the series–since he has a thing for Nix in this one I’m glad his HEA is next) about the weird stalker-ish things going on in her life but then keeping it from both him and Max when she finally figures out what’s really going on and who’s behind it…it was exhausting trying to keep up with all of her bouncing around.

The resolution of the stalker storyline/Nix’s past came about much too quickly and neatly, especially after all the dramatic build-up. It’s hard to believe that Nix’s mom and sister will be able to assimilate into the “normal” world as easily as the book’s ending seems to imply–can being on her meds again really make Nix’s mother show such a dramatic turn around? What about Amy’s B&E tendencies and all her talk about “God’s plan”?

Plus, for all that Nix is a doctor it was a complete non-entity in this book. She’s referred to as the “hot doctor” a lot and she does see Max and his daughter Claire in her office before the book starts, but during the story we never see her at work. She talked about having to go to the hospital and doing rounds and once she used her doctor persona to get into a person’s hospital room for personal reasons, but that’s it. I’d be hard pressed to remember when a main character’s job was so completely ignored in a novel–it was odd.

Still, Max got the girl, and I have high hopes that without all the drama from Nix’s past getting in their way that they’ll be good together and make an adorable, happy family along with Claire. The epilogue is a teaser for Cade’s story, and naturally it has me hooked–so even though this one wasn’t quite my cup of tea I’ll definitely be continuing with the series.

Rating: 3 stars / C

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author Lexi Ryan’s novels have been described as intense, emotional, and wickedly sexy. A former college professor, she now writes full-time from her home in Indiana, where she lives with her husband, two children, and a neurotic dog. Find her on Facebook or Twitter to chat about books, TV, and her children’s latest antics.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

Muscular Male Torso with shirt
Muscular Male Torso with shirt
Published in3 starsblitzBook reviewsBOOKS!Cnew releasespotlight