REVIEW: Games Boys Play by Zoe X. Rider
Brian and Dylan have been best friends for years. They have no secrets between them, except for the ones they’re keeping from each other.
When Dylan lets himself into Brian’s apartment to drop something off, it couldn’t be worse timing–for Brian. He’s tied himself up to play out a kidnapping fantasy. He’s mortified, but Dylan is intrigued. He even offers to help Brian out next time he has an urge to be tied up.
No. That’s all Brian can think. No way. But the idea of someone else being in control overwhelms his thoughts–and self-bondage is suddenly a pale substitute for the real thing. He gives Dylan permission, on a trial basis, and comes face to face with a side of Dylan he’s never seen before. A really hot side.
As their games pick up steam, so does their relationship, along with Brian’s courage to go after the things he wants. Like, Dylan.
It might be happily ever after, but there’s one secret left, and it could ruin everything.
Dear Zoe X. Rider,
Kate reviewed your book at Book Likes some time ago and I was so intrigued by it that I bought it right away. Unfortunately, I only recently got around to reading it,but I completely agree with Kate (I deliberately have not reread her review, but I remember the gist of it because that was the reason why I bought the book). The way kink is described in your story is wonderful. Necessary disclaimer – while I love to read about kink in romance, I do not have any personal knowledge of it. Nevertheless, the way BDSM is done in this story is something I wish would happen more often in m/m stories and I almost never see it.
So what was so unique, you ask me? It is that the guys in this book are doing BDSM because they are curious, because they enjoy it, and because it is fun for them. They do not do BDSM because they are broken and they think BDSM will fix them. Another disclaimer – I have no objections (and as a complete outsider I would have no right to make such objections anyway) to reading about anybody doing BDSM, no matter what issues they may have, but I am so tired from reading so many books in which BDSM is used as a substitute for therapy.
So what is the story about? As the blurb tells you, Brian and Dylan are best friends and members of a quite successful band (my impression is that while they are not super stars, they are pretty well known). Although, Dylan’s need/desire to do construction work and Brian’s decision to offer guitar lessons when they weren’t touring, in order to pay the bills, made me question just how financially successful they were with their music. But that’s not really important for this story.
Brian has been into self-bondage for years. He imagines all kind of hostage/kidnapping scenarios while he is doing that and it makes him fly. He does it pretty often, but he has never tried it with anybody else.
One day Dylan walks in on him when he is tied up. All kinds of awkwardness takes place when they at first attempt to avoid this topic, but when they discuss it later, they decide to try doing it together – because it could be fun, like playing “cowboys and Indians” and all kinds of other games.
“How’d you get it buckled?”
Lifting the back of one wrist toward his mouth he demonstrated. “Same way I get it unbuckled.” He dropped his hand and drank from the bottle. It was a new game: reveal an embarrassing bit of trivia about yourself; take a drink. Take enough drinks, you could get drunk enough to forget this ever happened.
“Huh.” Dylan tapped his cigarette against the counter again. So you just hung out in your bunk with your wrists tied up?” – p.15
“I’ve been thinking,” Dylan said, the words a little slow, cautious. They were standing in front of the low strip building the band accountant had her office in, traffic chugging by on the bar side of the parking lot.
With the shrug of a shoulder as he dropped his cigarette on the ground, Dylan said, “That thing from last week that we’re pretending didn’t happen.” He ground out the butt with the toe of his foot.
Brian swallowed and leaned back against the brick wall, hands in his pockets, gaze trained somewhere in the distance ahead of him. “And?”
“Since it’s not about sex—“
There was an extended pause, during which Brian had time to watch a bird fly past, its body black against the faded blue sky.
Finally Dylan said, “There’s no reason we couldn’t do it together.”
Brian’s throat clamped shut.
He had to force it open before he could respond. “You and me?”
He sensed more than saw Dylan’s answering shrug.
“Why not?” It sounds like fun.” – p.17
And they do have fun. Dylan comes up with all kinds of elaborate scenarios, and they manage to talk about limits (oh boy that conversation was great, but I will let you read about it if you decide to read the book).
The complexity of their encounters grows every time and it is fun, it is erotic, and even though there is really not much of actual sex for quite a while. I loved it. I loved how the deepening exploration of BDSM was done.
For that alone I really wanted to give this book a higher grade. But unfortunately, I felt that the author almost forgot to write a story about anything other than the two of them them playing their games.
I mean, I can see what the writer was trying to do (I think) – they had been best friends and bandmates for years, and cousins (by marriage) for a while, so the way romance starts, very very late in the book, should have been grounded in their friendship, but I still felt that the story was lacking something. Plot? Maybe I am not being fair, because kink is a main theme and I guess it was The Plot, but it was not enough for me.