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Gentlemen's Game Kindle Edition
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If you are looking to try out an m/m book, I would highly recommend this one. If I wasn't already reading m/m books, this one would have started me in that direction.
The story focuses on Jack Miles and Grayson Foster, but the supporting characters all play important roles. Three heterosexual men get together on occasion to watch a ballgame, play some cards and have very hot sex. Gray is invited to join in. Jack and Gray begin a separate relationship in additional to their "gentlemen's games". There are plenty of steamy love scenes here. There were parts where I simply sighed, yes sighed. You can't help but fall in love with these two. Their love, their doubts, their openness is breathtaking.
There was one scene where a character really does something brutal to the other which tears them apart. I read this scene with my eyes wide open, my jaw dropped. When it was done, I had to put the book down, take a few deep breaths. What just happened? Did I just read that? I had no idea how or if the author would be able to get to any kind of HEA. I liked how the author focused on the recovery process and how their friends all dealt with it. Lichen Craig does an excellent job of helping us see this from everyone's perspective. It was not an easy thing to do. Can trust ever be earned again? Lichen Craig is a gifted writer and is now on my auto-buy list!
"I was entrapped by its intensity. I was unnerved, to be certain, but terribly intrigued. I could not walk away." sums up nicely how I feel about this book. This book is very well-written. Obviously, it was captivating. The story line was consistent and had a great flow. Lichen presented the characters and story as if it was a true story; or at least I felt that I was reading a true story. I felt, as though, this story could have happened in today's society. Also, I felt I could have been apart of this story so I could punch Jack at the end of the story.
I am excited to read Lichen's other books, as well! I'm wondering where I'll be going in the next story!
Reviewed by Nan Hawthorne
4 out of 5 stars
Themes of love, guilt, denial and forgiveness are woven together in this often upsetting novel of two men's love for each other. This is not a sweet book, though it does have lovely moments, and most readers will find it challenging. If you are a reader who expects novels to be Morality Plays where the good are rewarded, the bad are punished, and everyone lives happily and uneventfully ever after, don't buy this book. It is way over your head.
When wealthy business man Jack Miles meets playwright Grayson Foster at an all male cards, dinner, booze and sex party at his penthouse, he is due for a surprise: the love of his life. Jack and two other men have been meeting for their "gentleman's game" to let off steam on the downlow. All three of the men see themselves as heterosexual, two are happily married. This is where some readers will insist this makes them all bad men. Were life that simple. Let me tell you, you are not reading the book to be reassured about the faultlessness of the characters' choices.
Back to the synopsis: Jack begins to court Grayson, and though neither of them have ever identified as gay, they fall in love and become a couple. While Gray seems to accept that he had the capacity to love a man, now that he does, Jack is a sink of various conflicting influences. His wife is, in unblinking terminology, a slut and a bitch. She finds out about Gray and uses the information and her social and media contacts to use the relationship to keep Jack from getting custody of their kids, whom she has had little interest in until they became useful pawns. This stress and the habit of humiliation by his wife works on Jack until he, in an alcoholic blackout, unleashes all his rage... on Gray. It remains to be seen at this point in the story if Jack is repentant, if Gray could ever forgive him and trust him again, if Jack even entirely gets what he has done, and whether Jack will face the consequences. Again, without spoiling the story, let me say, if you want easy morality, think again.
The cover image, a pair of hands, has meaning in this novel. Besides the question of whether a writer can work without his hands and fingers, there is the emotional impact of "Could these hands have inflicted so much pain where they have formerly caressed and worshipped?" The two hands are palms up, not touching, bereft of what they long to touch and hold. They are an eloquent emblem of how isolated we all can find ourselves without love, trust and, yes, forgiveness.
Craig's writing is overall quite good, quite skillful, but she has a tendency to step into the story and explain the various characters' motivations. I was puzzled in the first few chapters that so much of the story was told in the two main characters' self-reflections. These are issues she will need to consider in her next books. The freshness and unapologetic look at the complex nature of love and need overcomes these mistakes, however. Even the groan-and-roll-your-eyes "But I'm not gay, I just happen to love a man" is confronted frankly in this novel. Is there really an "us" and "them"? Or is sexuality more fluid, harder to pigeonhole? More importantly, what does it matter when you are talking about two individuals? Maybe Craig is suggesting we all just butt out and let these guys work it out for themselves?
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