Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Brian is a bit, ummm, tied up at the moment. This time, he has tied himself up in his bathroom. Whenever he has a bit of down time, Brian keeps himself occupied with self bondage.
Brian and Dylan are best friends, band mates, business partners, and step cousins. It certainly does not occur to either of them that they have secrets from each other; except they do.
When Dylan walks in on Brian engaging in self bondage, Brian wants to die of embarrassment. But Dylan is intrigued, asks questions, and offers to help Brian the next time Brian wants to indulge.
Brian immediately thinks, “No!” but then realizes that his darkest desire is to have someone else be in complete control. When Brian and Dylan agree to try a scene together, Brian sees a new side of Dylan, and cannot control the erotic thoughts that overcome him.
As the stakes get higher and the games get hotter, can Brian reveal that what he really wants is Dylan? And Dylan, oh Dylan is keeping his own secret, and exactly what game is he playing?
I learned after I finished Games Boys Play that this is Zoe X. Rider’s debut novel. Should that have made me more impressed? Well, it kinda did. Well done Zoe! This book knew exactly what it was and what story it wanted to tell.
So what exactly is it? We first meet Brian as he has tied himself up in his apartment on the bathroom floor. When Dylan stops by to drop something off and finds him, Brian is mortified as Dylan helps him free himself. This is Brian’s release, his kink, his secret. His mind fantasizes scenarios where men overtake him and tie him up. He has tried some mild bondage with girlfriends, but it was not hardcore enough for him. Oh yeah, Brian is heterosexual.
To Dylan’s credit, he does not judge Brian, but becomes fascinated. Dylan suggests that since it’s not about sex, he could stage a break in at Brian’s apartment. Brian’s humiliation increases when he admits that the whole thing is an erotic thrill for him.
The first role playing break in scene is so very well done. We know its coming, yes we, us and Brian, but the adrenaline rush is pretty awesome. Brian’s mind plays along so well that there is a moment of wondering if is really Dylan behind that mask. The imagery is fantastic. From the cold sweat dripping through Brian’s hair, the “rrr-rip” of the duct tape, the “chunk” sound of the ice in the freezer, the taste of tobacco and leather from the intruder’s glove, to the bulge in Brian’s jeans. There is no sex, but the scene is erotic and filled with sexual tension, desire, and arousal.
The story progresses from one bondage scene to the next and there are only small pieces of their lives. There is no true violence, but a safe word is chosen to stop the action if needed. The scenes increase in intensity as Dylan gets into the role, but the bondage is light, as Brian just wants to feel restrained and immobilized, and it’s more of a heavy role playing. Brian and Dylan’s relationship shifts after each scene as the boundary lines become blurred and start to fade.
So that’s what it is. What is it not? It is not a romance and there is no dating. Brian and Dylan have known each other for years and have a solid and heterosexual friendship. There is no actual sex by definition in the book; there are sexual acts, but the eroticism of the role playing takes center stage.
While the story certainly had my attention and I kept telling myself I would read only one more chapter, I did have a few issues. Brian and Dylan have just come off the road touring with their band for the last year and a half. They define themselves as “slightly famous” or “famous-ish,” yet the moment they are back home, Dylan works construction and Brian is looking for students to teach guitar lessons. They mention bills have to get paid, sure I get that, but we are given so little of them outside of the role playing that the choices of jobs stuck out at me, although it’s a minor point.
The scenes. The scenes ramp up in intensity and detail and are pretty much one after the other. I would have liked to see just a little bit more between the next role play. The scenes themselves were so vividly detailed and erotic, but at the end of the scenes I was a bit deflated. The wrap up lacked the punch of the rest of the scene. The final role play scene had a character that I did not care for, personal preference, so I lost out a bit on that. Also, Brian’s is clearly seeking some type of after care when the scenes are finished. This is not a true dom/sub relationship by any means, but some further exploration of this would have assisted with the scene wrap up and further developed their dynamics.
Last point, when Dylan’s secret is revealed, I did see it coming. I had mixed emotions to Brian’s reaction to it. Brian felt lied to, betrayed, and manipulated; I get it. But, given everything Dylan put together for Brian and the intensity of Brian’s thoughts and actions, I was not totally sold on how he handled it.
In its entirety, Games Boys Play was a great read and was a story that was unique, highly erotic, and visual, as we have Brian’s thoughts, visions, and desires raging through us. HEA? Well, more of a happy for the moment. I have no information if there will be another book, there certainly could be, and chains, cuffs, and duct tape probably wouldn’t keep me away.
On a side note, Brian catalogs discographies of late 70s music to distract his mind during scenes. Any time now, the chorus of the early 80s song, Games People Play, just may stop playing in my head.