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.
Played! is book 2 in the Shamwell Tales series by JL Merrow, while it technically can be read as a standalone, I suggest reading Caught! even before or after since it's a great read.
Tristan, a classically trained actor, moves to Shamwell for the summer to clean out his beloved Nanny's house, which she left for him after she passed, before having to take a job at his father's financial business in New York and stop with the acting, much to his chagrin. Things seem to be looking up when he meets gorgeous handyman Con, who is not too willing to give into Tristan's advances and become a summer fling for the actor. However, Tristan is determined to get Con in his bed, since he made a bet with one of his friends.
In the meantime, Tristan is recruited to take a role on the local production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which Con works building the set.
An accident forces Con to accept an offer to play Bottoms part in the play, even if he's reticent to do so due to his dyslexia. Tristan offers to tutor him and they get to know each other better. Just as things seem to be working out between them, though, everything goes to hell due to Tristan and his big mouth. Will he manage to make things better before it's too late?
This is a slow-burn romance, and when I say slow-burn, I mean, Con and Tristan won't kiss until around 83% of the book. However, that doesn't mean there isn't plenty unresolved sexual tension and enough hijinks to keep things interesting in the meantime.
I adored Con and Tristan, who had amazing chemistry, even if took me a bit to warm up to Tristan and I wanted to cuddle Con, even if he was a bit of a drama queen and tended to overreact to things. Still, they had great chemistry and the whole story sounded plausible enough. It was a lovely opposites-attract, too, since they couldn't have been more different.
I really liked the secondary storylines with Con's grandfather and Alfie and Mary and the fact that Tristan's nanny might have planned for them to meet after her death, that was such a sweet touch.
All in all, I had the most fun with this book! It was well-written and even if it took forever for Con and Tristan to kiss, well, there was so much going on and I was enjoying it so much, I barely even noticed.
Definitely a must-read!
*** Copy provided to the reviewer via NetGalley by Riptide Publishing for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***