Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ARC Review: Dirty Games by Barbara Elsborg


Blurb:
The last thing Linton needs when he arrives home after three months in the States, is to find his beautiful flat is a squat, complete with his younger brother Dirk, who’s lying in Linton’s bed with a couple who’ve paid him for sex. Dirk isn’t even supposed to have a key. But after Linton throws Dirk out, life slams in hard and if his brother is to have any hope of a future, Linton has to play dirty. Or at least pretend to. What he hasn’t factored in is having to play the game to the bitter end.

Film star Thorne Morrisey has everything. Good looks, charm, seductive magnetism and a voice that could charm a snake from its basket. He can also be a real shit and yet people still love him - though he’d rather not have the love of his suicidal ex, dumped by Thorne in a very public and humiliating way. His ex’s wealthy brother has his own reasons for wanting revenge on Thorne, and his weapon of choice is Linton.

Linton and Thorne are on a collision course and in for the game of their lives. But who is playing whom?

This book has dark themes and violence.



Jewel's rating:



I'm a big fan of this author's paranormal romances. I haven't read much of her contemporary stuff, but I wanted to give Dirty Games a shot. This one sounded a bit angsty, which is fine with me and the blurb, while convoluted, still intrigued me enough to read the story.

The plot, though, was ... busy. That's about the only way I can describe it. There's so much going on and the characters criss-cross in some unbelievable ways that I nearly had to draw a map to keep up . Also, it involves revenge dating and blackmail, which I wasn't so sure about but thought I would try anyway, just to see. Well...

Linton is an architect. It's all he's ever wanted to be. He left London for three months to work at his company's New York office, to get away from a coworker he got involved with (Pascal). The relationship ended badly when Linton found out that his boyfriend had been cheating on him, with a woman. So, he swears off dating bisexuals and heads to New York to try to get a hold of himself.

When Linton gets back to London, he finds his younger brother has trashed his flat and has been turning tricks. Again. And after a couple days, his brother ends up in the hospital, after being beaten up and dosed with heroin, and he finally wants to get clean. Of course, Linton wants to put him in rehab, but he needs money to do that, and also to pay the debt that his brother owes to some very bad people.


Thorne is an actor. A bit arrogant and very much gorgeous and he has a tendency to get into trouble. He's bisexual, and his agent keeps trying to get him to "choose" to be gay or straight, even though he knows it doesn't work that way. Well, Thorne's last relationship ended spectacularly badly and he's feeling very burnt by it all. Trust doesn't come easy for him at the moment because he's been burned too much by people that were supposed to care about him.

And herein lies the plot. Linton's boss, Max, is the older brother of Thorne's ex, Owen. Owen is very unstable and went off the rails after Thorne, very publicly, dumped him. So, Max pays Linton to seduce Thorne and publicly humiliate him, and blackmails him to make sure that Linton complies.

O.M.G. If you think those last few paragraphs were exhausting, you should read the story. I didn't hate it, I didn't love it, but damn, was it a lot to keep up with.

Summary of things I liked about the story:

-- I liked Linton and Thorne. I liked their banter. I liked their chemistry. I liked their sexy-times. I liked that they really wanted to do right by their brothers.

-- I liked River (Thorne's brother)

-- I even came to like Dirk (Linton's brother), somewhat, once he stopped being a selfish twat.

And what I didn't like:

-- I didn't like that that Linton kept putting off telling Thorne about Max and Owen's plan and where Linton fit into it. So much bullshit could have been avoided by having that conversation and I spent way too long dreading what would happen when Thorne found out (and I wasn't much a fan of what did happen when Thorne found out).

-- I didn't like Max, Owen and Pascal. At all. Not a single redeeming anything with the lot of them.

-- As it turns out, I didn't care for the blackmail plot line or the petty revenge, either

Dirty Games isn't what I expected. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn't. I'm still trying to work out which it is, in this particular case.


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ARC of Dirty Games was generously provided by the author, via Signal Boost Promotions, in exchange for an honest review.


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