16 February 2016

Playing with Fire by Avery Cockburn

Hey everyone,

I’m back reviewing an M/M romance book, but to make a nice change this one is set in Scotland! In fact Playing with Fire by Avery Cockburn is the third book in her A Glasgow Lads series. I was also lucky enough to be sent this book by Avery Cockburn herself. 

The book:

Robert McKenzie has a secret. As the only straight player on an all-LGBT soccer team, he’s known to fans as “McWhatAWaste.” No one would guess Robert’s actually bisexual. At twenty-one, on the verge of a brilliant career in video game design, he’s finally ready to be his true self. The only thing keeping him in the closet is…his gay best friend?

Liam Carroll has a problem. His gorgeous best mate wants to kiss him and touch him and…everything with him. But for how long? With Robert embarking on a bright future—far from their rough-and-tumble East End streets—Liam may soon be left behind. He can’t risk falling in love with a man he can’t live without. His solution? Keep things casual, see what happens.

Aye, right. After one night together, “just mates” is no longer an option. Robert wants more than sex, but diehard cynic Liam won’t drop the barriers around his heart. As they push and pull each other, their lifelong bond—the heart of the Warriors team—is ready to rupture. With the bridge back to mere friendship well and truly burned, Robert and Liam must go forward together—or fall to pieces apart.

My thoughts:

Like the other books in the Glasgow Lads series, Playing with Fire as one core conflict that creates conflict for Robert and Liam. Whereas Playing for Keeps focused on religion and Playing to Win focused on wealth/class in her latest novel Avery Cockburn has focused on an issue close to my heart. Sexuality. More specifically bisexuality. In previous books Robert has been the token straight guy on a team of LGBT football players. Yet Robert has been hiding the fact that he isn’t quite as straight as everyone would believe. In fact he’s bisexual and has been aware of it for quite a while.

I’ll make you want me. I’ll make you beg. I’ll make you make me an exception to your rule, until the rule no longer matters.

Of course the first person he wants to tell is his best-mate Liam. There’s only one problem, Liam isn't exactly positive towards bisexuals. Rather than seeing bisexuality as a genuine sexuality he views it as a stop-gap between being in the closet and being openly gay. As Playing with Fire progresses we learn that Liam's reluctance to accept bisexuality and bisexuals is due to a bad experience with a previous boyfriend. As an openly proud gay man Liam is afraid of what people will say if he dates Robert. Someone who has only previously dated girls despite identifying as bisexual.

Sex needed trust too.

I loved Playing with Fire because it brought bisexuality and the societal problems around bisexuality to the forefront. Robert wasn’t just someone who suddenly starting liking Liam specifically, but instead had a fully developed sexuality. As a reader we join Robert  (and in part Liam) on his coming-out journey. For me this not only enriched the characters of both Robert and Liam, but was also an important aspect of their relationship.

That's why I like being a barman. Things move fast in a pub, with loads of people in and out.
'Loads of people in and out.' That's your autobiography title sorted.

If Robert’s bisexuality was the main theme in Playing with Fire, Liam and Robert’s journey from friends-to-lovers was the main romantic trope. I loved reading about Liam and Robert’s journey towards their HEA. The sexual tension that built between them, the push and pull of whether they would cross that final line. Avery Cockburn has produced a wonderful M/M New Adult romance that focuses on character development and internal conflict. By the end of the novel I was completely routing for Liam and Robert to get their happy ending. I felt like I knew who Robert and Liam where as individuals and a couple.

Goodbye is one word you’ll never hear from me. Not unless you say it first. And even then, what you’ll hear is me saying, ‘Please don’t go.’

Also for fans of the series so far couples from the previous novels and novella makes regular appearances. Similarly this is definitely a novel that can be enjoyed as a stand-alone, so if you’ve never heard of this series before don’t be afraid to dive on into Playing with Fire!

My rating:
Happy reading and see you next time!