Author: Avery Cockburn
Publisher: Self Published
Cover Artist: Damonza
Lirtle’s Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Teresa’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 09/18/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, New Adult
Colin MacDuff has nothing. Growing up in a Glasgow slum, he learned never to trust, never to cry—and never EVER to be at the mercy of anyone, especially rich men. So how did he end up half-naked at a rave with Scotland’s hottest young aristocrat?
Lord Andrew Sunderland has everything. From ancestral castle to posh prep school, he’s spent his life wrapping others around his wee finger. With a social circle full of celebrities and politicians, nothing can stop Andrew’s rise to the top. Nothing, that is, save his desire for a dirt-poor, wolf-eyed footballer whose scars and tattoos tell unbearable tales.
Colin and Andrew come from different worlds, believe in different worlds, want different worlds. Yet every time they touch, all worlds fall away.
Set amid the fiery Scottish-independence struggle, this searing gay romance tells the story of two men who must lose everything to win each other’s hearts.
There’s a fantastic energy built into and flowing through this story, and it begins on page one. I mean, we’re talking about 19-yr old Colin and 20-yr old Andrew, so there’d better be some kinetic action going on.
Also right from the start were characterizations that had me worried: Colin playing the role of a guy with a chip on his shoulder and a devil-may-care attitude, and Andrew the misunderstood rich kid who focuses on his status on social media and where those efforts can take him in life. Then again, neither of these young men had control over which family they were born into and the circumstances surrounding their family lives, obviously. This set up for an interesting story about overcoming just about every difference two people could possibly have between them.
Battling these outward appearances was the truth that each of Colin and Andrew wanted the other, a mutual desire that struck quick but neither was ready to admit or fully act upon. How would this all play out? Hmmmmm…
As if hearing Colin’s thoughts, Andrew opened his eyes and looked straight at him. They stopped dancing and just stared at each other, panting. Colin reached out and pushed Andrew’s black-framed glasses back up his nose. Andrew’s smile was so sweet and genuine, it almost made Colin feel they were the same.
That should give you an idea that they at least make an attempt to find out what might be between them, and if it could ever work.
There’s no mistaking the political points of view of these characters and I like that. Politics play a large role in this story, the way it affects on the personal level and all the way up. It’s an important part of each of Colin’s and Andrew’s lives but for very different reasons. This is the challenge they face, breaking through all of those bricks of ideas, approaches, policy ideas, family experiences, and expected roles in those families. If you don’t know much about Scotland’s politics, but you enjoy the topic in general, you’ll be aces. If politics don’t interest you in the slightest, you might struggle through parts of this book. For me, this is a fantastic and important part of the story. I am an admitted somewhat political junky and not just about what happens here in the States. All of this is used to provide constant insight into both Colin and Andrew.
These two, they share some spicy, horny, and bdsm-very-lite chemistry. Uh huh. Control is something they both strive for but the way this plays out in the bedroom is oh so enjoyable.
I also like how these two don’t let each other get away with too much. One might not always call the other out on it, but they see, they feel, they can read each other. Oftentimes, the decision to hold back is rooted in not wanting to show perceived vulnerability. I mean, these are young guys, still trying to figure out who they are, how they fit into the world, what they should do about it, in it, and how that all relates to what they both are beginning to feel about this impending relationship.
There were a couple of scenes that involved the ‘magic peen trumps physiology’ dealie, momentarily removing me from the story. It’s not necessary to use this as a way to communicate that something special is happening between these two. It’s already obvious and is being demonstrated in realistic way. Using this tool momentarily undercuts the work already done in building the case for these two and them being destined for each other.
One of my favorite things about this story – aside from all the talk of footie (though we don’t get too much of it this time around) and politics – is how sweet Colin and Andrew can be to each other. Not in a sugary way but in acts of caring, of looking after one another in the tough moments. It’s one of the clearest ways we’re shown that, despite how bad it looks on paper for these two getting together and making it, they have a shot and they’re taking it. They definitely stumble along the way, face heartbreaking obstacles, and don’t always make the right choice, but they refuse to give up, even if they don’t realize it yet.
With a sigh, Colin returned the kiss without increasing its intensity. Beneath the blanket, he pressed his warm, bare feet against Andrew’s cold ones. The moment felt as fragile as those brandy glasses.
For any unevenness or unrealistic circumstances I encountered in this story, the emotion overruled it all with its honesty and inability to be capped. I felt those feels, fo sho.
This is a story of two people getting to know each other with just about as many reasons as to why they shouldn’t do so swirling around them. It’s about how most of us don’t fit into society’s defined roles and boxes, no matter how much we try to force them on each other.
For me, this hit the trifecta with football, politics, and a great beginning to a possibly great relationship between Colin and Andrew.
** I own my own copy of this book.
Playing to Win is the second book in the Glasgow Lads series, and while I loved Colin and Andrew, I didn’t care much either way about the Independence of Scotland, and most of the book discussed the merits or lack thereof, of this issue. I also found the theme somewhat repetitive of the first novel’s Romeo and Juliette scenario; each on the opposite side of a warring faction.
Now that’s not to say the book wasn’t good. I loved all the rest of it. I loved Colin and Andrew coming together. I loved Andrew teasing Colin out of his fears. I loved seeing Colin ground Andrew. I loved the relationship and all the supporting characters. I loved the setting and the descriptions. I loved the accents. There were heartbreaking moments and there were hilarious moments. There were sexy moments and there were ghastly moments. The writing was superb.
I could have stood to see more football (soccer) in it (we only see one game), as the author does a tremendous job of putting you in the game and feeling the adrenaline of playing. This is surprising for me as I am not a huge sports fan.
Though the next book wasn’t really set up in this one, I am still looking forward to reading it. I love this world and these characters and although I didn’t like the underlying theme of this, I did like the couple. You may have a different reaction, so please give it a chance!
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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