Java Girl’s Review – The Proposition (The Players #2) by Elizabeth Hayley

I really enjoyed the characters in The Proposition. Ben and Ryan, along with his friends were easy to love. While I did find several plot points not to my liking, the character development and the unfolding of Ben and Ryan’s relationship made up for it. ~ Java Girl, Guilty Pleasures

Professional hockey player Ben Williamson doesn’t quite know how he got himself into this situation; hiring someone to be his date to his brother’s wedding is way out of character for him. But with family pressuring him to settle down, going stag just isn’t an option. It would just be one more thing his polite, cultured family uses as ammo against him.

Ryan Cruz is having a bad day. Wait, make that a bad year. Broke, technically homeless, and living on a friend’s couch, she’s now also unemployed after her sharp tongue gets her fired from her job. So when a handsome stranger approaches her out of the blue with a proposition–he’ll pay her to be his date to his brother’s wedding for the weekend–accepting his offer is a no brainer. She needs the cash and figures it wouldn’t be in the best interest of a professional athlete to murder her.

What starts as a simple business arrangement soon becomes more as these opposites attract and get caught up in the wedding magic. Will Ben and Ryan be able to turn their relationship into something more? Or is love based on a proposition too much of an obstacle to overcome?


I enjoyed The Proposition by Elizabeth Hayley until nearly the end of the book. Ms. Hayley is a new-to-me author, and The Proposition is the second book in a series, but she did an excellent job of working in characters from the first book without leaving the reader lost and confused. I always appreciate when series books are able to be read as standalones. The basic premise of Ben needing to hire an escort to act as his girlfriend while accompanying him to his estranged brother’s wedding, and the manner in which he and his friends go about finding an escort was a little unrealistic, however, I liked all these characters so much I was willing to go along with it. The Proposition is filled with misunderstandings, some with good reason, others not so much. Ben is a professional hockey player from a family of academics, who feels his family neither understands nor accepts his choices, and is disappointed in him. I guess there are people who would be unhappy if their son was a NHL star. I don’t know any of those people, but I’m willing to believe they’re out there. Ben makes his family out to be jerks, so I was surprised to find they really weren’t. I was confused about his belief of how they thought of him, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. In his relationships with his friends and Ryan, he’s pretty straightforward. It was one of the traits I liked most about him, in fact. For that reason, the entire reason for thinking he needed an escort didn’t ring true. The animosity between Ben and his brother rang true, however. There is an incident near the end, a very important plot point, that seemed to come out of nowhere and felt very contrived to me. In fact, it completely changed how I felt about this book. I guess I didn’t understand the unresolved issues between Ben and his brother, and the inconsistency didn’t work for me. I did, however, love Ben and Ryan together. She was a very strong, independent, feisty heroine, and Ben was fun, generous, and very sweet with her, although a bit clueless. His friends, Jase and Gabe added the voice of reason, and a sense of playfulness, respectively. My biggest issue with this book was in the main conflict in Ben and Ryan’s relationship. I felt it came out of nowhere. I was shocked and appalled by his behavior. I knew what would happen, but I didn’t see it unfolding in the way it did. I’m not often surprised, but this one took me by surprise for sure. Honestly, it would have been a deal breaker for me. Other readers may not agree, however, and for that reason, I am still recommending this book.

3.5 stars

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“All right, all right,” Gabe said. “I’ll be serious and help you.”

“Thank you,” Ben said, happy he had the support of both his best friends. The three had been practically inseparable since they’d met in college and roomed in the athletic dorm. All three had been lucky enough to play professionally, Gabe as a shortstop for Philadelphia and Jace as a quarterback for New Jersey. His friends’ close proximity to one another was the reason Ben chose to get an apartment in Philly and spend his time here in the off-season. “I knew you were kidding when you mentioned the bet, but—”

“I wasn’t kidding. I have an idea that might work.”

“No,” Ben said sternly.

“Didn’t you learn anything from me, Torres?” Jace asked Gabe. Now that the bet they’d made last summer was behind them, they could all joke about it. But a year ago, it would have been a different story. Jace had nearly lost Aly when the three friends had competed to see who could bring the hottest date to an awards ceremony. Jace had unexpectedly fallen hard for the beautiful doctor, but all of that had almost crumbled when she’d learned he’d initially asked her out because of a bet.

“Okay, I get why doing a bet again would be a bad idea, but I do think that finding some arm candy as a distraction is a solid plan. A buddy of mine brought some chick he met at an airport to his parents’ anniversary party, and everyone thought they’d been dating for months.”

Ben was skeptical. “Like a fake girlfriend? There’s no way that’ll work.”

“I don’t know, man,” Gabe said. “It might. The secret to a good lie is you gotta believe it yourself.”

“You’re so wise,” Ben said flatly.

“I’m serious,” said Gabe. “The chick I was telling you about ended up getting my buddy’s grandmother’s crab cake recipe, and that shit’s for family only.”

“Just to make sure I’m understanding you right, I should believe you because of a crab cake recipe?”

Jace raised his eyebrows at Ben and Gabe. “It’s actually not a bad idea.”

Ben rolled his eyes. “Not you too.”

“You got any better ideas?” Jace asked. When Ben was silent, Jace continued. “I didn’t think so. There’s a decent chance this could work. We just need to figure out who to get to pretend to be your girlfriend. You’re gonna be up there for a few days.”

Ben rubbed a hand over his forehead in frustration. “I don’t know. Fuck. No one’ll want to spend that much time with my family. A few hours with them is more than enough.”

“She doesn’t have to want to spend time with them,” Gabe said, a look in his eyes that told Ben he was up to something Ben was probably going to want no part of.

“Should I even ask what you’re talking about?” Ben said.

“Probably,” Gabe said. “Because I have the answer to your problem.”

Ben looked at him expectantly, but when he realized that wasn’t enough, he said, “Fine, you’re really gonna make me ask, aren’t you? Why doesn’t it matter if she doesn’t want to be there?”

A smile spread across Gabe’s face. “Because you’re gonna pay her,” he said simply.

“Like a prostitute?” Ben replied.

“Not a prostitute,” Gabe said. “An escort.”

Elizabeth Hayley is actually “Elizabeth” and “Hayley,” two friends who love reading romance novels to obsessive levels. This mutual love prompted them to put their English degrees to good use by penning their own. The product is Pieces of Perfect, their debut novel. They learned a ton about one another through the process, like how they clearly share a brain and have a persistent need to text each other constantly (much to their husbands’ chagrin).

They live with their husbands and kids in a Philadelphia suburb. Thankfully, their children are still too young to read.

Elizabeth Hayley’s writing motto is best captured by the words of Patrick Dennis: “I always start with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.”



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