SPOILER ALERT!

Playing for Keeps (Glasgow Lads #1)

Playing for Keeps - Avery Cockburn

First, my gripes:

 

1) Obviously, I'm not Scottish or Irish, so I'm lacking cultural context. Still, it was endlessly distracting seeing these white people accusing each other of being racists because they hate each other's religion. That's not racism, people. Just plain ole bigotry. Catholics aren't a race. Protestants aren't a race. Use your words correctly.

 

2) This is yet another author who clearly thinks only anal sex equals real sex because that's two books in a row now where the MCs are having all kinds of sex but still waiting for when they get to have "actual" "real" sex. I'm so done with this logic. It makes no sense. What does that say about gay couples who never have anal sex? Think about the implications of what you're putting out there, authors. IJS.

 

3) Boys, stop calling each other misogynistic slurs like it's shameful to be a woman. 

 

Ok, onto stuff I did like.

 

This wasn't instalove, though they do get to that point rather fast, given the time frame. Still, there were sufficient enough trials in their relationship that it didn't feel completely out of nowhere. John's a Protestant, Fergus is Catholic and while neither of them go to church, for some reason, this is a big deal. For those who dislike the Big Misunderstanding trope, this book pretty much relies on that from the start as John begins to lie his ass off to prevent Fergus from finding out he's part of the Orange Walkers, a group that celebrates hating on the Catholics. For those who hate religion in their books, there's very little talk of actual religion, so you should be okay, as long as you can suffer people being bigots for stupid reasons. But don't worry, our boys get an HFN at the end.

 

It took me an embarrassing long time to realize that John here is the same John as Brodie's friend in the first book. I had already completely forgotten about him. I guess he made rather a non-impression in that book, since he was delegated mostly to Brodie's wingman. John's an interesting, complex character here and he really gets to come into his own. I don't envy his situation at all. He wants to make his father and brother proud, and feels like he owns something to the Orange Walkers for having his back. At the same time, he clearly doesn't agree with what they stand for. Meanwhile, Fergus is still smarting from his abrupt breakup with Evan. He's knows it's too soon for him to jump into another relationship and he has trust issues up the wazoo, which isn't helped when John clearly isn't telling him everything. It's a recipe for disaster.

 

I wished there had been more emphasis on the asylum refugees, since the Warriors are putting on the charity match for them. Yet we really don't get more than a few pages total about them and only meet the one refugee on page. Also, Fergus's ex, Evan, coming back was handled in an equally casual way. I wanted to see more of the team's reaction to it, since he abandoned them too, and I wanted to see Evan actually show some remorse and do some groveling, but it's all done behind the scenes.