Just one short season ago, major league center fielder John Roper had it all: the looks--and personal life--of a sports hero and the public's adoration. But this hot property's lucky streak has run out. After a World Series disaster, fans diss him, shock jocks mock him and his dysfunctional family hassles him for money he really can't spare. Now it's up to him, and Hot Zone publicist Amy Stone, to get his life back on track. Amy finds it's easier said than done. What with the constant intrusions of his nutty family, a crazed fan playing stalker, and Roper's refusal to put his own needs first, she's starting to think that life in the fast lane isn't all it's cracked up to be. But when the two retreat to a secluded lodge, the sexy center fielder throws Amy a curveball--one she never saw coming....
It's a poignant home run for the final installment of Phillip's cute, sports-themed Hot Zone series (after Hot Stuff). Hottie John Roper, "a high-maintenance outfielder," feels a cold downturn in his public and personal life after getting injured and losing the World Series for the New York Renegades. After meeting adorable Floridian Amy Stone at a friend's wedding, he later discovers she's his new handler at Hot Zone and Athletes Only, a sports public relations firm. Amy's wowed by John during a New Year's bash, spends the night on his sofa and attracts the paparazzi the next day. As she helps him reclaim his life (and navigate his difficult family), she decides their relationship must stay strictly professional. That love obstacle allows Phillips to wind up with a smart lesson: it's all about the game plan. (July) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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June 30, 2008
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Excerpt from Hot Property by Carly Phillips
One month later
Sports agent Yank Morgan sat in the backseat of his Lincoln and rubbed a hand over his scruffy beard. Scruffier now since his wife, Lola, had thrown out his razor to prevent him from accidentally slitting his throat. Dang woman had also somehow discovered where he'd hidden his spares. Apparently an almost-blind man had no privacy in his own bathroom.
Normally he'd be angry, but considering his eyesight had gotten worse, he was forced to admit Lola had a point. Macular degeneration was messing with the balance of power in his marriage. Telling a woman she was right about anything, though, especially his woman, would be the equivalent of relinquishing his throne. And that wasn't happening at home or at work.
"We're here, Mr. Morgan," J.D., the ex-football player he'd hired as his driver, said. "Want me to walk you inside?"
Yank shook his head. "No, thanks. It's bad enough you had to drive me here. I don't need you as my guide. I got Noodle for that." His Labradoodle sat beside him and Yank patted her furry head. He'd got the dog when she was a pup, but now she was the size of her standard poodle mother.
"Be careful. I don't want to end up at the emergency room again because you tripped over something you and the mutt didn't see."
"She's not a mutt, she's a mix of two pure breeds," Yank said proudly as he opened his car door.
"I still say you should have bought a real guide dog and not a pet." J.D. came around and met him.
Yank frowned. "Keep sounding like my wife and you'll have to find yourself a new job."
J.D. merely laughed. "You say that every day," he said as he helped Yank out of the car.
Yank did his best to ignore the indignity of needing aid at basic tasks. A man accepted what a man had to accept. "You remind your father we're playing poker tonight," Yank said.
Nobody asked how Yank played without being able to see the cards, and Yank refused to discuss it. He'd rather lose money every month than give up the things he loved. And J.D.'s father, Curly, had been in Yank's poker game for years, even before Yank had become his nieces' guardian when they were little girls.
J.D. scratched Noodle's fluffy fur and helped Yank pull the dog out of the car. "You think I need to remind Dad of something he's been doing every month for most of his life? At least now with Lola around I know he won't be smoking. You and my father. Neither one of you listen to your doctors," J.D. muttered.
"Wait till you get older before passing judgment. I'll only be about fifteen minutes." Yank pulled his heavy jacket tighter around him and let the dog lead him toward the door of the gym.
Part Labrador retriever, part poodle, completely dense when it came to being in charge, Noodle wasn't the guide dog Yank should have gotten, but he enjoyed the pretense. It was fun making people think he was a little bit crazy. There were worse ways to spend his life, he thought, laughing.
He made his way to the weight room in the back of the gym. The trainers and employees were used to him visiting clients and bringing Noodle along. He headed for where he knew he'd find John Roper, letting years of experience lead the way. The main part of the gym was noisy and crowded, but as he approached the private rooms in the back, Yank could hear that there weren't as many people there.
Which Yank figured was the reason his not-so-star baseball player client John Roper chose to work out here and now. Unfortunately, the televisions were on and the sound coming from the speakers told Yank that morning sports talk-show host, Frank Buckley, was spouting off at the mouth as usual.
"Spring training is around the corner and this New York Renegade fan still hasn't gotten over John Roper's disastrous last season or his role in the Renegades Game 5 World Series loss. Call in and let me know if your lack of expectations match mine for the highly overpaid hero. The Buck Stops Here, folks."
The television station went to commercial at the same time Roper yelled aloud, "Somebody shut that damn thing off before I rip the speakers off the wall."
When nobody moved, Yank added his two cents. "Can't you hear the man? Shut off the noise or we'll sue you for intentional infliction of emotional distress."
The weights clanged hard as Roper dropped them to the floor. "Morgan, what are you doing here?" he asked.
"Visiting the dumbbells." Yank laughed at his own joke.
"You still upset over Buckley the Bastard's tirade? Grow up and get over it," Yank said. He'd already tried coddling Roper through his rough patch and it hadn't worked. He was moving on to tough love.
"Someone dropped off a Roper bobblehead doll with my doorman. Damn thing had a knife stuck in the shoulder."
Yank groaned. The fans wouldn't let Roper forget his nightmarish last season. He hadn't been able to hit or throw, and to make things worse, he'd sprained his shoulder in a failed attempt to stop a game-winning home run by slamming it into the center field wall.