The Final Score by Jaci BurtonThe Final Score by Jaci Burton

The Final Score

byJaci Burton

Paperback | September 12, 2017

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about

In the new Play-by-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Contact, a star quarterback is torn between his love of the game—and the woman who may be the love of his life.

Nathan Riley is ready to follow in the footsteps of his famous football player father. He’s been drafted as quarterback for his dad’s former team, and his future is bright. When his friend Mia Cassidy moves to the same city, their years-long friendship suddenly sparks hot, reminding him of the one night they had together in college that he can never forget.
 
Like Nathan, Mia is from a sports dynasty family and embarking on an incredible new career—as founder of her own sports management company. Her friendship with Nathan means everything to her, and tossing sex into the mix again could jeopardize it. But the chemistry between them has always sizzled, and it isn’t long before Mia realizes she wants more with Nathan than just late-night talks and pizza.
 
Passion has a funny way of changing the rules, and soon Nathan and Mia discover that to win it all, they’ll have to make an unexpected play for love.
Jaci Burton is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Play-by-Play series, including The Final Score, Rules of Contact, Unexpected Rush, All Wound Up, Quarterback Draw, Straddling the Line, Melting the Ice and One Sweet Ride, and the Hope series, including Love Me Again, Don’t Let Go, Make Me Stay, Love After All, H...
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Title:The Final ScoreFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.2 × 5.4 × 0.9 inPublished:September 12, 2017Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399585141

ISBN - 13:9780399585142

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Final Score (Play-by-Play #13) by Jaci Burton Ms Burton knows how to keep a series fresh and true to the characters so that it to continues to draw you in because of the emotional investment you have in their stories. It's always such a treat when characters from previous books make an appearance in a story...this author weaves her past characters seamlessly into the current story so that their own stories continue. Nathan and Mia's story is a wonderful addition to those that have preceded it. Throughout the series Mia has popped in and out, having her own story has been long awaited. Mia has come a long way in the series...seeing her blaze her own trail in sports management, doing what she loves most was perfect and the culmination of her struggles over the direction to take following all her college education. Throw Nathan into the mixture and you have the a couple who compliment each other perfectly. The way this author portrays the Cassidy brothers and their relationships with each other was quite humorous and the perfect addition to the the thrill of the football aspects...but all came second to the romance that grew out of friendship between Nathan and Mia...sigh worthy at its finest. All in all, a wonderful addition to the Play by Play series.
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cliche Maybe I've read too many books, but this book offers nothing new to the endless ea of other novels just like it. Still fun to read though!
Date published: 2017-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touchdown! The perfect addition to a wonderful series! I've been a HUGE fan of Jaci Burton's Play By Play series since the very first book, The Perfect Game, and I've loved every single book in the series so far! I've absolutely LOVED seeing her build up the Riley family, the Cassidy family and every other amazing character in between! We started with Mick and Tara in the first book...and now in THE FINAL SCORE we're making our way back to them with their son, Nathan...and his love interest happens to be Mia, the only daughter in the Cassidy family! We've met her four older brothers and seen them all find love, so it was absolutely wonderful to come back to see her budding romance with Nathan! Even better, I'm love friends-to-lovers romances and Jaci did an amazing job with this one! If you're new to the Play by Play series, you won't necessarily know the backstory for a lot of these characters, but don't worry, you won't be spoiled if you decide to pick it up now! You'll see who they're with, but with Jaci's books, the stories of how they got there are really what make them all so wonderful. Of course, if you start here, you're going to love it, and then you'll desperately want to get your hands on all of the books that came before this one...so don't say I didn't warn you! That being said, don't let the fact that this is a bigger series stop you from picking it up. Jaci Burton's romances are phenomenal, and if you're a contemporary romance fan at all, I seriously can't recommend her books enough. I read A LOT of romance, and Jaci Burton is an absolute favourite of mine! Her books are on my auto-buy list (especially her Play by Play series!!!), and she also happens to be the romance author that got me obsessed with sports romances in the first place! If you're a fan of sexy stories with a whole lot of heart, then Jaci Burton is absolutely for you! Her characters are amazing! In the 13 books (and several novellas) that make up the Play by Play series, I have yet to run into any repetitive storylines or to feel like her characters are copies of each other! The characters, the stories...and even the sexy scenes, are all incredibly unique and she manages to keep her writing fresh no matter how far along in the series you get! I was actually a bit worried when I first heard about THE FINAL SCORE because I thought it was the last book in series and I didn'y want her series to be finished yet (I don't think I ever will!)....don't worry though, it isn't! There's already another book planned for February 2018 called SHOT ON GOLD...and I can't wait to read it, too! Somehow...despite being smitten with Jaci's books for years this is the first time that I've actually reviewed one on my blog, so I hope you don't blame me for gushing about how awesome she is before talking specifically about THE FINAL SCORE! ;) As should come as no surprise by how much I've already raved about Jaci Burton in this review, I've loved every single book in her Play by Play series! I'd be hard pressed to ever pick a favourite, but for right now (until the next book comes that is ;D), THE FINAL SCORE is sitting right at the top of my list! Nathan and Mia were phenomenal main characters, and I loved getting to know them better! I also adored their dynamics together. As I mentioned, I love romances that are friends-to-lovers, so I was a huge fan of how their story developed. They were so open and honest with each other, and their chemistry was off the charts! All of the books in this series are sexy, but WOW! Mia and Nathan had hot enough chemistry that I thought my kindle might just overheat. ;) Overall, I loved THE FINAL SCORE! It's the perfect addition to an already amazing sports romance series, and I can't wait for Jaci Burton's next book...SHOT ON GOLD! *I received an egalley through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Full disclosure: I'm a HUGE fangirl of this series, so I may have jumped up excitement when I got accepted to review THE FINAL SCORE.
Date published: 2017-09-16

Read from the Book

one "So, here we are, once again living in the same city." Mia Cassidy took a sip of her green tea and looked over at Nathan Riley. "How did that happen?" Nathan, the epitome of tall, dark, well-muscled and absolutely hot, leaned back in his chair and grinned at her. "Easy. You're obsessed with me so you followed me." She laughed. "I don't think so. You knew I was thinking of starting a business here so you decided you had to get drafted by the San Francisco Sabers." Nathan took a swallow of his iced tea and set the glass down. Mia tracked the movement of his hands. He had really big hands. She remembered that night several years ago in college when he'd used his hands to touch her-all over. They'd only had that one night together, but it sure had been memorable. Yeah, the guy had magnificent hands. "I've been here a year already, Mia. You just got here. So like I said, you followed me." Her lips quirked. "And aren't you happy to have me here?" "Actually, I am. Although who would have thought this kind of major shit would go down for both of us? You were going to get your PhD, and instead, you've got a start-up sports management company. I thought I'd end up in Cleveland or maybe in L.A., but not here in San Francisco, taking over as the Sabers quarterback now that my dad has retired." Mia clutched her glass, feeling the cloud of anxiety rain down over her. Which was why she'd asked Nathan to have lunch. His charm and humor had always been a distraction for her, and oh how she needed it today. "Big changes for both of us for sure. How is your dad? Is he okay with the decision he made to retire?" "He seems fine with it. The Sabers won the championship last year, and he had the knee issue that plagued him at the tail end of the season. He's thirty-seven, so he felt like it was the right time for him to step away." "And you don't think he did that for you, to give you a chance to play?" "I asked him that-more than once. He said no. Knowing my dad, he'd never walk away from football if he wasn't ready. He loves the game too much." Mia nodded. "Since I have three brothers who play football, I believe that. You should believe him, too." She knew Nathan had been worried when his dad announced his retirement at the end of last season. She also knew it added some pressure for Nathan, because he'd take over as starting quarterback this season for the Sabers. He'd had all last season to learn from him, but succeeding someone as high profile as Mick Riley wasn't going to be easy. Plus, Mick was his dad. Now she was doubly happy she'd made the decision to launch her company here in San Francisco. Besides being a prime location for her, she and Nathan had always been close in college. Despite their one night together-which had definitely been a mistake-they'd remained friends. It was a bonus that now they would be in the same city. "How's your company coming along?" Nathan asked. "Just getting things rolling. I told you Monique Parker came on board as my executive manager, didn't I?" He grinned. "Yeah. She'll make sure nothing falls through the cracks." "I know. She's incredibly organized, even more than me." "If that's possible. I've never known anyone as anal as you." "Hey, I'm good at everything I do." He waggled his brows at her. "Don't I know it." She laughed. "We promised we wouldn't bring up that mistaken, drunken night ever again." "No, you made me promise it wouldn't happen again. I thought it was amazing." Her body heated at his words. "It was amazing. But we're friends, Nathan." "And friends can't have sex?" "I don't know. Do you have sex with your friends?" He cocked his head to the side. "You know what I mean, Mia." "I do. But we agreed after that night it wouldn't happen again." "You made me agree. I wanted to keep you in bed with me the next day." She laughed. "We were drunk. It was a mistake. And I'd much rather have you as a friend than a lover." "Oh, so now you're implying the sex wasn't good enough?" He leaned over and grasped her hand, the contact instantly electrifying. "Because if that's the case, I'm calling you out for faulty drunken memory loss. If I recall, you came three times that night." At least he whispered that last part. And if he kept talking that way she was going to have an orgasm right there in her chair. So much for pushing those memories aside. She snatched her hand away. "That is not what I meant and you know it." "Fine. We're friends." "You need me as your friend, Nathan. Who will get you past all your training camp anxiety?" He frowned. "Who says I have training camp anxiety?" She twirled the stirrer around in her tea glass. "Don't you?" He leaned back in his chair again. "Maybe. Don't you have a little anxiety, too, miss big shot business owner?" "Yes, I have anxiety. Like you would not believe. Which is why I'm glad we're friends. I need you, Nathan. As my friend." He glared at her. "Shit. Fine. You know I'm always going to be here for you." He had no idea how much his friendship and counsel meant to her. "Good. Now let's order lunch because I have to get back to work." "You're a tough woman, Mia Cassidy." "But I'm also your best friend, Nathan Riley. And don't ever forget it." These next few months were going to be critical-for both of them. They were going to need each other more than ever. As friends. And nothing else. two After having lunch with Mia, Nathan drove to the Sabers stadium. He felt calmer after spending some time with her. In many ways, Mia was right. Having her as his friend was one of the best things that had ever happened to him. They both came from sports families, so when they met in college in Texas they'd formed an instant bond. It had been a little weird for Nathan to have a female friend at first, but Mia was smart, funny and absolutely beautiful. And since she hadn't seemed at all attracted to him, she was the one he'd gone to with girlfriend issues. She'd always been straightforward with her advice, and it had always been helpful. When his girlfriend Sonja had broken up with him his junior year, he'd been a wreck. It was Mia who'd been there to help him pick up the pieces and move on. She'd kept him focused on football while soothing his ego about the breakup, reminding him that college romances rarely lasted anyway. After that he'd played the field without getting emotionally attached. Until that one night he and Mia had been at his apartment, drinking and watching one of her brothers and his dad play a game against each other on TV. They'd ordered pizza and drank a lot. After the game they'd talked sports and family and careers and what they wanted to do with their futures. It was a heavy conversation. He didn't know how it happened, but suddenly they were on the couch making out. Damn it had been good. He was pretty sure it had surprised both of them, but neither of them stopped once they'd started. Mia had been soft and pliant and the sounds she'd made had driven him crazy. She'd been receptive to his touch, and they'd moved things into the bedroom. They'd spent all night together, and it had been a damn good night. Until the next morning when Mia had told him it couldn't happen again because she valued his friendship more than anything. He could still remember the way her body had moved under his, could still feel the softness of her lips when they kissed, could still hear the sounds of her breathing as he moved inside of her. And now, goddammit, he had a hard-on as he sat in his car in the stadium parking lot. He cranked the music up loud and focused on the playbook to get Mia out of his head. When he finally got his shit together, he got out of the car. He bypassed the locker room and stepped onto the Sabers field. It felt like the first time. Hell, he'd been there countless times before with his dad, the famous Mick Riley. He'd watched him play the game, learned under his tutelage, picked his brain after every play, good and bad. Now his dad was retired and the Sabers was his team to lead. It wasn't his first time on the field as a Sabers player, of course, since he'd been drafted by the team last year, but back then he'd been nothing more than a benchwarmer. This was the first time Nathan walked the field as the Sabers starting quarterback. Christ, how had all this happened? It had been a goddamned whirlwind starting with his dad announcing his retirement. These past several months had been some kind of otherworldly dream, like he'd been asleep all this time and it wasn't real. But as his feet crunched into the turf, it all felt solid. Real. As if he belonged here, like he'd always belonged here. He could still remember the first time he'd walked out onto the field, after seeing his dad play. His mom and dad had just gotten together. Nathan had been fifteen at the time, and being around professional football had been new to him. This stadium seemed enormous, out of reach to a scrawny kid who had only dreamed of someday walking in shoes as big as Mick Riley's. And then his mom had fallen in love with and married Mick, and Mick had adopted him. He'd been one lucky sonofabitch to end up with a father who loved him as much as his dad did. He'd taught Nathan everything he knew about football. How to love and respect the game, and how to respect himself in the process. Nathan couldn't have asked for a better role model. And he was going to do everything he could to make his father proud of him. He sucked in a deep breath and walked from one end of the field to the other, cognizant of the weight that now lay on his shoulders. When the Sabers had drafted him, he'd been excited to learn the game under Mick Riley. But he didn't think he would play right away. In college, he had worked hard, played hard, and he'd been a damn good quarterback. Now he was going to have to be better. "Hey, Riley." He turned to see the coach walking onto the field. He cracked a smile and reached out to shake Tom Butterfield's hand. Tom had been hired on as head coach three years ago, and had been doing a kickass job. Nathan couldn't wait to work with him as the starting quarterback. "Hey, Coach." "Getting a feel for your turf?" His turf. The crush of expectation already weighed on him. "Yeah. Feels good." "We expect great things from you this season." Nathan felt that squeeze of pressure in his chest. He shook it off. This was what he'd waited his whole life for. "I'll give you everything I've got." Coach slapped him on the back. "You sound just like your dad. We're going to miss him around here." Dad had retired. He understood the reasons for it. The Sabers had won the championship last season. His dad was thirty-seven and he wanted to go out on top, plus he had the knee issue that had cropped up. He'd fought through it all season, and the docs said he needed surgery. Sure, he could have rehabbed and come back. Mom and Dad had discussed it. Dad had even talked to Nathan about it, but in the end, it was his father's decision to make. Man, Nathan was going to miss watching him play. And now to step into his shoes, for this team, on this field? Yeah, that was the reason for the tight knot in his chest. One of many. "Let's go talk over the new season," coach said. Nathan pushed all those pressures aside and tried to remember to breathe. He plastered on his signature grin, the one that said "I've got this," even when he didn't. "Yeah, Coach. Let's do that." three Mia lived for her planner and her checklists. At this moment she needed them more than anything, because she had a million things to do. The movers were supposed to be here an hour ago and they were late, she had a separate furniture delivery that was supposed to be here this morning and it was almost noon and so far no one had showed up. She had a client coming in at three. If stuff didn't show up soon, she and her client were going to be sitting on the damn floor. Not good. Not good at all. Her heart beat like a jackhammer in her chest. She stopped and remembered her breathing. Falling to pieces wasn't going to do anyone any good. She pivoted and headed down the hall of her very spacious and very empty offices. "Monique, are you in here?" Monique, her best friend from college and her absolute lifesaver, was on the phone, so she held up a finger to silence Mia. "You need to be here yesterday," Monique said, obvious impatience in her voice. "We had a guaranteed eight a.m. delivery time and it's now eleven thirty and no one is here. So get it done and if you can't, then transfer me to the manager." Monique listened for a few seconds, then smiled, shooting Mia that look, the one that said she had it all under control. And when she nodded at Mia, Mia exhaled. This was why she'd begged and cajoled and pushed Monique into moving from Texas to San Francisco to be her executive manager. No one had better organizational skills or the take-no-shit demeanor that Monique did. When Mia had decided to start up her company, she knew she wouldn't be able to do this without having Monique on board. Monique finally hung up. "The movers are on the way. They got hung up in traffic, then thought they could stop for lunch. I made sure to let them know their movers could have lunch after they delivered our furniture." Mia exhaled. "That's why you're the best." "Now I'm about to crawl up the ass of the supply delivery people." "Monique Parker, will you marry me?" Monique laughed. "You are pretty and all, but I like dick. Thanks for the offer, though."

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Jaci Burton’s Novels

“Jaci Burton’s stories are full of heat and heart.”—Maya Banks, #1 New York Times bestselling author 

“A wild ride.”—Lora Leigh, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Jaci Burton delivers a hot read.”—Fresh Fiction

“Passionate, inventive, sexually explicit.”—USAToday.com

“One of the strongest sports romance series available.”—Dear Author