Title: Playing the Game
Series: Neighborly Affection #1 of 2
Author: M.Q. Barber
Genre: Contemporary, BDSM, D/s
Content: MMF, MF, MM
Stand Alone: YES, but part 1 – HFN
Re-issued /Re-edited: NO
Date published: July 1, 2013
Published by: Lyrical Press
Purchase links: LINK
Word count: 82,000
Page count: 225 pages
She expects dinner with neighbors, but gets sex with a side of safewords.
Mechanical engineer Alice still drools over her sexy neighbors a year after she’s moved in. She can’t decide whether they’re roommates or partners, but either way, they spark a wanton desire in her that has her imagination–and vibrator–working overtime.
Henry, director of everything around him, studies human nature and applies philosophies to his paintings as well as his relationships. Quirky, polite to a fault, and formal, he follows his own code of honor even when it means denying himself.
Flirtatious and playful, Jay needs stability, guidance, and to please others. His antics counterbalance Henry’s stuffy ways while he brings a level of vulnerability and fun to everything the trio does.
BDSM play with the enigmatic artist and flirtatious joker across the hall allows Alice to put aside the linear thought processes which have kept her unsatisfied and distant with other lovers. She must dismiss her preconception of love, sacrificing her independence, if she’s to find a permanent place in their beds and hearts.
Dammit! I just finished the book and I want more. I mean like right about now!
I started reading this story, thinking that I would read another D/s menage story. I had no preconceived idea, or maybe I had. I thought that it would be the usual submissive heroine meet Dom meet another Dom (or potentially another submissive if MMF).
Well. If I step back and give a superficial description, indeed it was. But oh dear, it was much more than that.
This is the complete journey of an independent woman that life pushed her to be, refusing to love and be loved, discovering her true self in the arms of a Dominant and his submissive.
Chapter after chapter, I was captivated by the very real process of a woman that discovers her submissive self and how a man tamed her, day after day, week after week, month after month.
Honestly? It is one of the best BDSM I ever read so far, maybe not THE best but definitely top 10. Do not be fooled because I gave only 3-stars for romance and equality. It is only because this book is part 1 and the book ends HFN. The romance is in process. The equality will be reached, but probably in book 2.
All this book is the heroine POV. I am not that fond of that. I wished that I could hear or know what the heroes felt. Book 1 could have been called “the taming”. Book 2 will probably be called “the falling”. I am making out here. There is no such titles.
Maybe the author, M.Q. Barber, will use on book 2 the Dominant POV? Maybe not. Maybe we will continue the heroine journey with her opinion only.
I think the author got me when “the contract” was dissected. That is something that I never read. I thought it was totally original and loved this part. It felt totally real and believable. Because there is no such “trust me” in a D/s without very definite do and don’t and those are generally written black and white in a contract.
I related with the heroine completely. Her independence, her pride, her honesty, her wish to please, her need to be loved, to be cared, to be touched. The character was definitely real for me and I found many of her insecurities, needs and wants in this character. how many women have/had unsatisfactory sexual relationships? Sometimes because they are/were too shy to express their needs and I am not talking about BDSM here, just basic needs, or because they just wanted companionship and did not care about sex because they felt that no guy would ever know how to please her. But when a woman meet the right guy, it is quite a revelation…
This story is not a hardcore BDSM. I did find BDSM element like spanking, flogging, cuffs and blindfolds but it was totally integrated with the dominance journey of the heroine.
This story is all about learning how to be a submissive and learn the like and dislikes. It is all about respect between partners and discovering.
I have to admit that in the middle of the book, I wanted a bit more action. I felt that the author did not move the plot quick enough so if I had edited the story, I may have removed one or maybe two chapters. I also thought that the story was too centered on her. Both males were just there to please her. Of course they had a plan but still, sometimes I felt as I wanted some equal attention. But other than that, I loved this story.
I liked the male characters but I could not fall completely for them because I missed this POV. I thought they were lovable and of course, I thought that the Dom, Henri, was the kind of Dom that any submissive should have: patient, caring, respectful, experienced. And the other male’ Jay, was sweet and funny and caring but mostly a little puppy. I completed melted for Henri and I wanted to adopt Jay. 😀
I did not left the last page with a smile though but with a “dammit!” because I brutally realized that it is a story in 2 parts. The frustration came when I also realized that I do not have part 2 yet and will need to wait for it.
That is one of the reason I am not into trilogy or serialized stories unless I have all handy to read them in a row.
This said. I totally recommend Playing the Game. It is a romance story but I did find many aspects that will interest any woman attracted to the lifestyle. It is the kind of book that make you think: yeah, that makes sense. If I was in her shoes, I would act like this.
And THIS is the best compliment I can ever give to a BDSM romance. 🙂
note: although the cover book is very sexy. I believe that it does not reflect the characters at all. I think the choice of the males are not correct, most especially Jay 😛
A second book featuring Henry, Alice, and Jay is under contract with Lyrical Press.
Crossing the Lines is scheduled for an early 2014 release.
PS: Early 2014? *pout*
Characters:5 ~ Plot:5 ~ Sex Heat:5 ~ Romance:3
Equality Level:3 ~ Credibility:5 ~ Originality:5