Playing for Keeps by R.L. Mathewson

Playing for Keeps (Neighbor from Hell, #1)


Done with being the world’s biggest pushover, Haley decides that things are going to change starting with the aggravating neighbor who has too much charm and not enough restraint. What she didn’t expect was to be sucked into his world, but Haley has a game plan and she won’t let herself forget just what the bad boy next door is capable of.

The last thing Jason expected was for his little shy neighbor to go Rambo on him over some ruined flowers. After he decides to take her under his wing he can’t help but notice that she fits very nicely in his life. Now the only thing left is to convince her that this is anything but a game.


I have to say I’ve had this on my to-read list for a while, but kind of put it on the back burner for a rainy day. Well, today was that day. Playing for Keeps is about a girl who needs to learn to stand up to people, and a child-man who needs to learn how to not be an idiot 24/7. Naturally, the two are neighbors. For five years Jason has been tormenting his sweet little neighbor while Haley just swallows her wicked comments, too afraid to fight back. To top it off, the two aren’t just neighbors, they’re also fellow colleagues at the high school they both teach at. Yeah, not a fun set-up for Haley. But a round of flower stealing (yes, you heard me right) leads these two to an uncommon friendship then something more. The book alternates between their POVs and we get an entertaining look at these two polar opposites come together.

I liked the whole plot line. I thought it was cute having them be neighbors and also work together. It made it entertaining to see how the two of them interacted at first and how it slowly grew to a friendship. I favor books where the main characters are friends first then move on to meaning more. I guess I just like to see the development and to get involved with the characters. Jason is by far the most immature man, in the beginning that is. He made a horrible impression the day he moved in next door and continued to degrade his image for the next five years. I loved that I got to see him mature and look at things differently the more time he spent with Haley. His development as a character was really satisfying to say the least. Haley on the other hand was a refreshing take on a protagonist. She isn’t some tall, thin as a twig blonde who has all the confidence in the world. Nope. Haley is short, curvy, rocks glasses, and has a bit of a self-esteem issue. Not surprising since her family is a bunch of put down snobs, but I won’t get into that. She started her new goal of assertiveness with her idiot neighbor, and who knew that would turn into something more?

Now on to the things I didn’t fancy. The cover for starters. It seems like the author seriously doesn’t want anyone to read this book. I can say that I have never seen a more bland book cover in my life. A word to the wise: people DO judge a book by its cover. Another element I didn’t care for was the conflict a little over three quarters in. Now I won’t say it for the sake of spoilers, but I was bit confused towards the end, that’s all I’m saying. There were some points in the book where I just skipped because I got bored or because the dialogue was a bit crude. But that’s just me. I like a nice clean book without dirty scenes or gross talk of the subject. If you’re like me, then this book is not for you. Just a fair warning!

Playing for Keeps = 3.8 stars


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