AJ Morris works as a guidance counselor and career specialist in his small town, so he’s used to seeing people at their best and their worst. But nothing could prepare him for the mystery that is Calvin Purnell. A man with a past that he can’t talk about, Calvin needs a job and one that won’t ask too many questions.
When Calvin meets AJ, he isn’t looking for love — far from it. He’s on the run and he isn’t able to trust anyone from his old job. Still, he has bills to pay and the entry level job AJ is able to set up feels like a desperately needed lifeline.
Calvin knows he should keep his head down and stay away from AJ; it’s too dangerous to associate with anyone. But when he’s with AJ, Calvin feels safe and loved for the first time in more years than he can remember. AJ is an oasis of calm in the storm that is Calvin’s life and he can’t let the man go. When Calvin is drawn back into the danger and intrigue of his old work, he ends up putting AJ in the line of fire. Now, the clock is ticking and Calvin is in a race against time to save the man he loves.
The Long Game is a decent romance, though it tends to get tripped up by an occasionally weak plot. But on the whole, this book has plenty to recommend and if, like me, you look past the issues, it’s an enjoyable read.
Calvin and AJ are a sweet couple and, for the most part, their romance works on multiple levels. There were times it felt a bit rushed to me, but there’s still a meaningful connection between them and an honesty that I appreciated. Both are developed as characters and they never seemed superficial. The pacing is strong and I felt engaged. The author did a good job of bringing me along as a reader and integrating the romance with the action, without getting bogged down in unnecessary details or long-winded explanations.
Nothing about Calvin’s past work makes a ton of sense. I don’t want to say too much because of spoilers, but the entire situation just read as unbelievable and something of an awkward plot device. And the idea that Calvin was stupid enough to involve AJ doesn’t seem consistent with what we know about his character. It was such an obvious “this won’t end well” moment that I found it frustrating and it read as out of step with the rest of the book. Given that Calvin’s job eventually becomes the main focus of the plot, it also ended up weakening the story as a whole.
The Long Game has its hurdles, but is ultimately a sweet romance between two men who are somewhat adrift in their own lives. Calvin and AJ make one another stronger and better and this is what makes their relationship work. The plot lacks believability and if not for the strong protagonists, the story could have derailed the entire book. The author manages to bring everything together by the end though and I think The Long Game is going to appeal most readers.