Listening Time: 6 hrs., 58 min.
All the world’s a stage...but real-life lessons are hidden in the heart.
Tristan’s in Shamwell for one last summer of freedom before he joins the family firm in New York—no more farting around on stage, as his father puts it. But the classically trained actor can’t resist when members of the local amateur dramatics society beg him to take a role in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Especially as he’ll also be giving private acting lessons to gorgeous local handyman, Con, who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances. Tristan’s determined to get Con in his bed—not only is the man delicious, there’s fifty pounds riding on Tristan’s success after a bet made with his drama school chum Amanda.
Con’s never dared to act before. A late-diagnosed dyslexic who had a hard time at school, he’s always been convinced he’d never be able to learn his lines—but with Tristan helping him, he might just be in with a chance. Trouble is, the last time Con fell for a guy, he ended up getting his heart broken, and with Tristan due to leave the country in a matter of months, Con’s determined not to give in and start anything that’s bound to finish badly.
Just as Tristan thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes. And the curtain may have fallen forever on their chance of happiness.
Warning: contains a surfeit of Bottoms and asses, together with enough mangled quotations to have the Bard of Avon gyrating in his grave.
I was more than willing to give this one a go. It had a lot going for it...I like J.L. Merrow's writing, Mark Steadman is the narrator and I like him, I enjoyed 'Caught' the first book in this series. The blurb sounded cute and Shamwell seems like a quaint little place to visit...so I was all in and while I gave this one 3 stars, I have to admit it probably fell a little bit short of that mark. But between the quality of the writing and the audio narration in good conscience I wasn't really comfortable giving this one less than 3 stars and there were several things that I liked about this one.
I liked Con. While he was a bit sensitive about his dyslexia, I can't in all honesty say that he was 'bitter' or 'excessive' about it. It struck me that his attitude was more a case of it was what it was and he just seemed to want to get on with his life. He's had his heart broken before and he's not looking for any one night stands or quick hook-ups.
Tristan on the other hand is just in town for the summer and he's more than happy to do no-strings-attached, commitment free fun as he sorts out the house he's inherited and gets it ready for sale before going to New York to join the family business, give up his desires to perform live theater and fulfill his obligation to the family as per daddy's instructions.
Tristan's also more than a bit full of himself which leads to him being more than a little surprised when Con turns him down and doesn't return his interest. When circumstances conspire to throw Con and Tristan together in an amateur production for the local theater company. Con and Tristan begin to form a tentative friendship and feelings begin to grow on both sides.
At first glance this had all the makings of a fun, sweet, friends to lovers romance. Unfortunately as the story progressed Tristan went from self-absorbed and bit arrogant to a total, absolute jerk, I started to like him less and less. Now in his defense I will say he had help being such a huge jerk and that was his bbf Amanda...his Best Biotch Forever...because trust me folks this piece of work was no one's friend but her own. More often than not I found Tristan to be demeaning and condescending in how he treated Con.
As well as just not feeling the love for Tristan, I never really felt the love between Tristan and Con. It just didn't work for me and by the time they got together it was just a bit too rushed for me.
While the story overall was promising in the end it just wasn't enough to save it from what wasn't working for me so it ended up just being ok and with the addition of another solid job on the narration by Mark Steadman I'm comfortable leaving this one with 3 stars.
In spite of it all I'm hoping to give the next book in this series a try it's Patrick's story and we met him in this book and he had a bit of bad luck happening so with any luck things will go better for him on my next trip to the wee village of Shamwell.
********************An audio book of 'Played' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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