Play, by Kylie Scott

play

Grade: A+

Doing it at: 64%

Catnip: Rock Stars; Tattoos; Drummers; Limo Sex; Stage Dive; Funny Guys; Beta Heroes; Fake Relationship; Gateway Books

Shame Scale: All of the Stage Dive covers are pretty shame-y. A hot tattooed torso stretched across a bed is pretty much not going to belong to anything but a sex book. The plot is real though! And I love the dialog in this one, and would recommend it to a romance newbie I was trying to bring to the dark side. Low-medium shame.

Fantasy Cast: Chris Hemsworth (his giant Thor arms are from drumming in this fantasy) and Rose Leslie

Book Description:

Mal Ericson, drummer for the world-famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast–at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl.

Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls–especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?


Malcolm Ericson might be my favorite book boyfriend of all the trashy romance books I have inhaled this year. There have been a lot of obsessive, possessive, alpha boys– wooing girls into bed with martial prowess and relentless libido. But Mal doesn’t fall under that category. Mal is just really really funny. Mal will make you giggle until you just jump him. He will Literally Charm. Your. Pants. Off.

literally

Basically what I’m trying to say is that this will not be an objective review of Play, maybe Mary could do one, but I wanted to sell everyone on reading this and witnessing the glory.

Anne works at a book shop, she had a shitty adolescence, and has zero romantic life to speak of; minus a big crush on her boss. Until she meets Mal at a Stage Dive party she’s attending with her friend Lauren. She’s having a bad day, her room-mate moved out like a thief in the night leaving her with debt and simmering anger, she is not in a party mood even though she is a BIG Stage Dive fan. More specifically she is a BIG Mal Ericson fan (this book is the first time I’ve ever seen the appeal of a drummer, I tell my daughter all the time Never Date a Drummer). When she meets him in real life she gives him what Mal deems “the crazy eyes”, and he decides that they should pretend to date, for the good of them both. But while Anne knows why it’s good for her– he’ll pay her rent and buy her a new couch and he’s Mal freakin’ Ericson and she’s been in love with him 4Eva– he won’t tell Anne what’s in it for him. In fact he doesn’t want to talk about anything serious, he just wants to keep everything light and funny. And very very flirty.

“Your cheeks have gone all rosy. Are you thinking rude thoughts about me, Anne?”

“No.”

“Liar,” he taunted in a soft voice. “You’re totally thinking of me with no pants on.”

I totally was.

“That’s just gross, dude. A massive invasion of my privacy.” He leaned in closer, his breath warming my ear. “Whatever you’re imagining, it’s bigger.”

As these book fake relationships go, Mal and Anne decide that it will be all business, no sex, no feelings, they’re just FRIENDS. Except Mal is bad at boundaries and Anne really does want to see him without his pants on, she can’t stop having the Crazy Eyes. Mal doesn’t like Anne’s boss, Reece, who she has been quietly lusting after for years. Reece dates A LOT, lots of girls who aren’t Anne, but he likes having Anne as his eternal back up plan. Always good for a hang out, or to cover an extra shift at the book store, always when its convenient for Reece and never when its convenient for Anne. When Reece shows up at Anne’s apartment at 5 am on Mal’s second night in residence, smelling of alcohol and some other girl’s perfume (but with donuts!), Mal is distinctly displeased with how Reece treats Anne:

“A?” asked Mal, crossing his arms over his chest. He turned and winked at me. “You call her ‘A? What, saying her whole name’s too much of a commitment for you?”

And Anne seems to realize for maybe first time that Reece isn’t the dream guy she’s convinced herself he can be, especially when he tells her that she could do way better for a hook up than Mal:

“Shit, Reece, how can you even…” I stared at Mal, frowned, and cocked my head. So much skin. I looked and looked until I hit the dusting of dark blonde hair leading down from his belly button, heading straight for No-Anne Land. He had a treasure trail. A map to hidden delights. The donut box trembled in my hands.

What I like about Anne is that she pretty quickly knows that Mal’s hidden delights trump Reece’s donuts, hands down. And even though we don’t get doing it until 64%, we get a pretty awesome bathtub make-out at 57% and a bed breaking scene before that. They’re not technically having sex when they break the bed, but it’s a great scene anyway. And back to that bath tub scene? Fully clothed Mal climbing into the tub with Anne, neither caring that they’re essentially flooding the apartment just does it for me. Despite my rational brain knowing how not sexy wet jeans are in real life, in books they’re just fine and dandy. When the doing it does happen (“Hello Anne’s clitoris. It’s me, Malcolm, your lord and master”) both characters agree that they’re not faking it anymore, this is real and they want to see where it will go.

The last 30% of Play gives us the inevitable book break up and reconciliation, it wouldn’t be a shame book without one, all the couples have to battle for their HEA. I love Mal and Anne so much that I didn’t have any moments of not rooting for them, and very little annoyance and eye rolling. This is my A+ read, it’s fully mybookshame endorsed, and if you’ve got  a friend you’re looking to ruin it would make a fantastic gateway book.

Check it out on Amazon:

Before Jamaica Lane, by Samantha Young

jamaica lane

Grade: A

Doing It at: 50%

Catnip: Friends to Lovers; Funny Guys; Strong female lead; librarians; Pygmalion; Sex Lessons; Stranger in a Strange Land; Beta Hero

Shame Scale: Very low, the cover is not the best, but the book itself is well written, incredibly readable, and hot where it’s supposed to be hot

Fantasy casting: Tom Hiddleston and Mindy Kaling

Book Description:

Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.

Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.

The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left brokenhearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever….


Full disclosure? I adored this book, I couldn’t put it down, was sad when it ended, and had that good book buzz the whole time I was reading. Nate and Olivia are well-developed, interesting characters who have some of the best banter I’ve read in any romance novel to-date. The pair bond over Star Trek, movies, and video games. They like each other as people well before any sex comes into play and it’s not just a case of insta-lust and no actual shared interests.

Olivia has moved to Scotland from Arizona with her father, following the death of her mother. She had missed out on much of the normal high school dating and sexing experiences taking care of her sick mother; and is painfully awkward around the opposite sex and has no idea how to flirt. Her self-esteem is also pretty awful; she dresses to hide her body and blushes every time her crush enters a room. Nate lost his childhood sweetheart to cancer as well, and now sleeps with everything that moves and has no plans to ever commit. It’s a testament to the writing in this book that Nate can be a total man whore and still come off as not only completely charming but also pro-women. Olivia remarks more than once that Nate doesn’t seem to have a “type” and that he flirts with, sleeps with, likes all body types and personalities and etc… No one is safe from his silver tongue, ladies. When Olivia drunkenly reveals to Nate that she has no idea how to flirt, have sex, be confident, or have a romantic relationship he very selflessly volunteers to teach her on all fronts. His building os Olivia’s self-esteem was one of my favorite parts of the book, he tells her not to talk shit on herself to guys she wants to have sex with (solid advice for the real world, too) and playfully appraises all of her parts

“Curvy, And I’ll let you in on a wee secret: There are still men out there that like a woman to be soft under their hands, to have curves, hips, tits and arse.” He tapped my butt gently with the palm of his hand. “It’s a good arse, babe. I don’t want to hear you refer to it as anything else”

And when Nate decides that part of the tutoring should include actual sex, Olivia doesn’t need much persuasion to agree. Because of course that could never get awkward or ruin their friendship or lead to something more. These pop culture fanatics are clearly not up on their romantic comedies.

When things between our casual sex having protagonists Do get awkward the conflict feels real, and their turmoil is close enough to what two people who care about each other might go through that my frustration and eye rolling was at a bare minimum. The inevitable happy-ever-after was also damned satisfying.

Jamaica Lane is book three in a series (I’ve read one but not two), and characters from the first two books make appearances. One of the couples has a conflict that rings true to the experiences of their original books, it was nice to see that the HEA hadn’t magically fixed these two people who felt so real in their own story. The love cures all ideology that is so prevalent in romance novels can be grating.

Before Jamaica Lane earned a solid A rating, it hit a lot of my catnip with a beta hero, interesting supporting characters, and well written dialog. The sex is plentiful and mostly free of cringe– I’d happily recommend this one to a casual romance reader that I might be trying to lure into our shameful world.

Click to view on Amazon: