Friday, July 29, 2016

Playing for Keeps by Avery Cockburn

Playing for Keeps by Avery Cockburn

Review by Lauren

source: personal copy; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryRule One: No Drama!

Fergus Taylor is damaged goods. Reeling from a brutal breakup, he’s determined to captain his LGBT soccer team out of scandal and into a winning season. For that, he needs strict rules and careful plans. He does NOT need a brash, muscle-bound lad messing with his head and setting his body afire.

John Burns has a rule of his own: Don’t get attached. Boyfriends are for guys with nothing to hide. Nobody—not his university mates, not the men he beds—knows his family’s shame. Now his double life is starting to unravel, thanks to a certain Highlander whose storm-riddled eyes turn John inside out, who wears a kilt like he was born in it.

Fergus is the first man John wants to share his secret with—but he’s the last man who could handle it. John knows the truth would shatter Fergus’s still-fragile heart. But how can he live a lie when he’s falling in love?

Review: To be honest, sport-related books aren't usually my thing but I've found that I tend to like the ones that also feature an m/m romance. Enter Playing for Keeps! There is actually a novella before this one, but I just went straight to this book. Cockburn also has other books in the "series" featuring other members of the LGBT+ football (soccer for us U.S. folks) team. In Playing for Keeps, the new captain Fergus is introduced to John, who helps a non-profit in Scotland that works with refugees. The two are working together to set up a friendly (meaning the score doesn't count toward the regular season) between Fergus' team and another where all the money benefits the charity that John helps.

The two are immediately attracted to each other, but John is dealing with a lot of family issues and he knows that part of them need to stay hidden. Well, he believes they should. At least until he can figure out how to break the news to his dad that he no longer wants to be part of the whole Orange Order. Okay, I'm going to stop here and say that if you live in Scotland, maybe some of this will make sense to you, but I didn't know about any of the bad blood between various parts of Scotland. I think the author did a good job explaining everything and how John's family is on the opposite side of Fergus - a lot if is religion. John is Protestant and Fergus is Catholic.

Anyway, I might not explain it 100% perfectly but the book does a good job, so no worries! Back to the book - as John and Fergus work together, they start up a relationship and Fergus thinks he might be getting over his ex, who up and left him at the end of the last season. He still has troubles with trust though. As readers, we know that John isn't always telling the truth to Fergus but he's not cheating and he does care about Fergus. However, Fergus is burned from a past relationship with lies that he second guesses things and jumps to the wrong conclusions at times. It makes sense, but you definitely want the two to get things all out in the open and make it work.

Overall, this was a really layered story and I loved that. It's a romance, but there is more to it than that. I like a romance with substance! I'll certainly be checking out the next book in this series.


Ramona said...

"Romance with substance!" I love that :))) I'm not usually drawn to novellas, but occasionally I do come across one that I just can't resist! I'll check it out - thanks for a wonderful review.

Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity said...

I love it when you learn something new from a book! It just makes it all the more awesome because as well as walking away with the story, you're also walking away with new knowledge, which I think is great.

I'm glad you liked this one, Lauren! It sounds like it deals with a lot more than just the romance, which can sometimes make the romantic scenes all the more special, I think. The relationship between Fergus and John sounds like it could get pretty tumultuous, so I hope they got their happily ever after.

I hope you like the next book :D

Jennifer @ Bad Bird Reads said...

I love sports romances so I should try this one.