What is “Ruthless Player” by R. C. Stephens about?

Hockey winger and campus hottie, Cole Davis, might be an MVP with the ladies, but I’m not falling for a player… not with medical school on the line.

With our best friends dating, our forced proximity is inevitable.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it—or the way he makes me feel. Like I’m missing out and there’s more to life than sitting on the sidelines.

It only takes one moment of weakness to remind me why I should have stayed away from Cole.

 He might be a ruthless player, but nothing about this is a game.


Holland Donovan knows exactly what she wants out of life— and it isn’t me.

She’s not looking for any distractions, and I’m a one-night kind of guy, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting her.

From the first electric kiss—I know one night will never be enough.

I just need to convince her that I’m in it for the long haul—this isn’t just about scoring.

On the ice, I’m a pro at blocking shots and stealing passes, but when it comes to Holland the rules change.

I won’t stop fighting for her, for us, until I make her mine.

​​​​​​​Authors Note: A heartfelt college sports romance with an HEA. No Cliffhanger. For mature readers.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars


We first meet Holland and Cole as part of Rebel and Wolfe’s story (in “Heartless Player, the first Westfall U book), so I was interested to see how their story would pan out. It was nice to see characters from the previous book, especially Rebel and Wolfe, plus some of the side characters. The ending teases the next book, and I’m looking forward to reading more about Declan and his story. Any of the books can be read as standalones, but if you’re going to start, I recommend reading it from the beginning!

Holland and Cole’s romance is a slow burn. And by slow, I mean slow – it might be one of the slowest slow burns I’ve ever read. Their friendship develops throughout the book, but we barely see them together at all, which I thought was an interesting choice. I liked how their both stayed true to themselves and their dreams/career paths (for Cole, that meant playing hockey in the NHL, and for Holland, that meant becoming a doctor) despite all of the curveballs life threw at them.

Some of the dialogue felt a little awkward. Sometimes the way that the characters spoke to each other didn’t feel all that natural — at least, that’s not how my friends and I speak, as recent college grads. I think it’s because they wouldn’t always use contractions, which made their speaking sound a lot more formal than it otherwise would. There were also some grammatical issues, but that’s to be expected in early copies of books!

I won’t give away the surprise plot line, so that makes my review a lot less detailed — but I will say that I did expect to see more of a resolution between Cole and his dad and stepmom, and between Holland and her dad. Not necessarily a resolution in terms of a happily-ever-after, but I thought they would find out about the plot twist and have something to say about it. I’m not sure if their families even know, with the exception of Cole’s grandma. That would’ve been an interesting mix, to see all of them together. The surprise plot reveal (not the one regarding Cole and Holland’s parents, there’s another one) is one of my least favorite tropes, as I feel that it oftentimes can rush along character development, but it didn’t rush Holland and Cole along as much as I’ve seen in other books.

Overall, I liked seeing Holland and Rebel’s friendship from Holland’s point of view, and how they both support each other. The same goes for Cole and Wolfe’s friendship, even though Wolfe was away for part of the book after being drafted into the NHL. It was fun to see who Cole was behind the front we’ve seen him put up, and I hope we get to see more of him and Holland in Declan’s book! Huge thanks to R.C. Stephens and Grey’s Promotions for entrusting me with an early digital copy of the book!

As with all new adult books, I recommend this for 18+ due to some of the sexual content!

Reviews of Books by R.C. Stephens:

“Heartless Player” (Westfall U #1) by: R.C. Stephens – ARC

Playlists for Books of R.C. Stephens:

“Heartless Player” (Westfall U #1) by: R.C. Stephens

9 thoughts on “[ARC REVIEW] “RUTHLESS PLAYER” (Westfall U #2)

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