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Playing for Keeps (Glasgow Lads Book 1) Kindle Edition
Rule One: No Drama!
Fergus Taylor is damaged goods. Reeling from a brutal breakup, he’s determined to captain his LGBT soccer team out of scandal and into a winning season. For that, he needs strict rules and careful plans. He does NOT need a brash, muscle-bound lad messing with his head and setting his body afire.
John Burns has a rule of his own: Don’t get attached. Boyfriends are for guys with nothing to hide. Nobody—not his university mates, not the men he beds—knows his family’s shame, a shame that stains all Scotland. Now his double life is starting to unravel, thanks to a certain Highlander whose storm-riddled eyes turn John inside out, who wears a kilt like he was born in it.
Fergus is the first man John wants to share his secret with—but he’s the last man who could handle it. John knows the truth would shatter Fergus’s still-fragile heart. But how can he live a lie when he’s falling in love?
Glasgow Lads series
More Lads are on the way! The series features a recurring cast of teammates, but each novel contains its own stand-alone romance, so they can be read in any order.
- Play On, Duncan & Brodie novella
- Playing for Keeps, Fergus & John novel
- Playing to Win, Colin & Andrew novel
- Play It Safe, Fergus & John short story
- Playing with Fire, Liam & Robert novel
- Play Dead, Colin & Andrew novella
- Playing in the Dark, Evan & Ben novel
- Play Hard, Liam & Robert novella
- All Through the House, Duncan & Brodie short story
- Playing by Ear, Jamie & Perry novel, coming 2022
Glasgow Lads on Ice (spinoff/crossover series featuring curling):
- Throwing Stones, Luca & Oliver novel
- Must Love Christmas, Garen & Simon novel
--Lirtle, Prism Book Alliance®
Fergus' legs may be the most talented body part when it comes to the soccer field, but off the field, I think it's John's tongue hands down. Not only can that tongue put anyone at ease (he's a natural charmer with everyone he meets), but that wicked tongue created one of the most memorably erotic scenes I've had the pleasure to read (Aye!) following shortly after one of the most memorably awkward.
--Wendy, Hearts on Fire Reviews
I really loved this book and it should appeal to a number of different tastes. This is first and foremost a sport-based romance. Add into that anyone who, like me, loves just about anything Scottish...In short: I really, really, really, really, need to read the rest of this series.
--Prime, MM Good Book Reviews
From the Author
John gazed at him, then broke into a wide smile. "Hey, look. When we're horizontal, we're the same height."
"Then we should be horizontal together more often." Fergus regretted the words as soon as he uttered them. He was coming on too strong. Perhaps that was why John had panicked to begin with.
Hesitation flickered over John's face, then vanished like a ghost. "We should." He reached out and slowly swept his finger over Fergus's collarbone, eyes following its journey up and down the V. "Sorry about my, erm, malfunction earlier. I guess I wasn't ready."
"Don't apologize. When you asked me to dinner, I assumed nothing. When I invited you over, I assumed nothing. Though you were pretty clear about what you wanted."
John grimaced. "Too bad I'm all talk." He touched Fergus's chin and met his eyes. "I hope it's okay if we take things slow."
Fergus reminded himself to breathe as that gaze threatened to drown him. "I can do slow if you can do slow."
"Oh, I can do slow." He traced Fergus's mouth with one fingertip. "Shall I prove it?"
Fergus hoped the parting of his lips was a sufficient reply, because he couldn't speak for the desire rising in him again.
John eased forward and kissed him, so softly Fergus could feel his breath caress the chapped, sunburned places on his own lips. Then he gently pressed Fergus onto his back.
"I'm gonnae make you come," John whispered. "In about an hour."
Fergus glanced at the clock: 10:55 p.m. "An hour? Are you serious?"
"Shh. You'll see."
John kissed him so slowly, carefully, artfully, that Fergus began counting the minutes, for he'd already grown hard as granite. But then he let himself just exist in this moment and feel every press of John's lips, every sweep of his tongue, every tug of his teeth.
John moved to kiss his nose, lashes, brows, cheeks, chin, always returning to Fergus's mouth. Then he continued lower, covering every inch, reminding Fergus of all the sensitive places on his body he'd forgotten. Like how a tongue twirling inside his navel could make him gasp, and that he was more ticklish on the left side of his ribs than the right.
After a dreamlike eternity, John pulled back the covers, then settled between Fergus's legs, where he kissed and nipped his inner thighs, fingertips swirling over the backs of his knees. All of this should have tickled too, but instead it made Fergus feel dazzlingly alive. Never had his skin seemed so connected to the nerves deep inside him.
- ASIN : B00ZY6REAY
- Publication date : June 17, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 2808 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 354 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1977661084
- Best Sellers Rank: #152,281 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2015
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But back to the laughs…
~ * ~ ”Hiya,” he said, holding out a hand to shake. “I’m John Burns.”
That voice – deep and solid, yet strangely buoyant - made a dormant part of Fergus awaken and uncoil. His steps slowed as he concentrated on not stumbling.
“John. Yes.” What does that mean? “Yes” what? ~ * ~
Who can’t relate to that kind of shorting out of the brain? Someone makes that impactful of a first impression and suddenly nothing in your body seems to work right, including the abilities to walk and talk.
We get both Fergus and John’s points of view, and I think the story would’ve only worked in this way. These are two guys in their early and mid-twenties and they’re written as such, including struggles with their families and sins of those past generations. They’re that mix of which many of us experienced at this age: playful yet serious, willing to state their opinions while still feeling confused and uncertain about how to do that, quick to passion, and working to forge their own paths to make a mark on the world. They’re at the age when you realize you have the power to decide who you want to be, not what others, including parents, hope for or try to make you be.
~ * ~ ”I know you telt me to watch the players.” ~ * ~
A turning point: I could hear that accent in this line spoken by one of the supporting characters, and it put me into the headspace for the rest of the read. I was able to hear all of the voices, to be IN this place, Glasgow, and it filled me with such glee, and the ability to let it all in.
Yo, this was all in chapter one, to boot.
Then things take a serious turn (as often happened with a new chapter, I was to find out as things went on), both in tone and detail. If you know even a little bit about the conflict between Catholics and Protestants over the centuries in places like Scotland, Ireland, and England, you’ll feel your stomach drop like mine did. Sectarianism, separation, manipulation, especially of the young… welcome to John’s world, and his family.
I have to say, I love this author’s writing. There’s a definite point of view here, a lovely mix of confidence and playfulness, a not taking oneself too seriously tone that runs through the whole thing. It might seem odd to say, but I think this is a necessity when dealing with the specific issues included in this story: let the characters and their lives be the heavies, not the writing itself.
~ * ~ As Fergus set down the empty glass, the glow of camaraderie illuminated his insides like a torch in a haunted house. ~ * ~
Huge bonus for me and any other sports lover out there: all of the footie talk! Don’t worry, though, it’s all in context and is one of the supporting characters, a necessary part without being overwhelming. But I loved it! I ate it up. And if you enjoy sports in your stories, especially knowing about Premier League and the huge system that surrounds it, you’ll have so much fun with this.
John and Fergus share a palpable chemistry. They’re caring of one another, aware, and definitely horny. They’re also both taken by surprise with this unexpected connection they feel, and they both suffer times of uncertainty as to the viability of it all. Past experiences and current circumstances shoulder the blame for the conflicts they create.
There are a few passages that feel over stuffed, words sort of stumbling over one another. They’re rare, though, and when compared to Cockburn’s clear abilities in communicating emotion, humor, history, and a clear vision for this story, they’re also very minor. They certainly didn’t lessen my emotional response while reading.
Dirty talkin’, that’ll make ya proud, and plenty of it. ‘Nuf said.
Fergus and John are making decisions colored by their experiences, as I mentioned above, just as we all do. Any missteps they make feel real, not forced, because they’re completely fleshed out characters. This goes hand in hand with the dual points of view, as well.
I know, you’re still thinking about the dirty talkin’. I can’t provide an example of that, but I can do this for you…
~ * ~ He looped his arms under Fergus’s shoulders, then kissed his earlobe and whispered, “Hiya.”
“Hello.” Fergus laced his fingers of his left hand with John’s. “All right?”
“A wee bit short of breath.” John rested his cheek on Fergus’s shoulder, savoring this intimate press of flesh from head to toe, inside and out. He let his thumb drift through the sweat-damp waves of Fergus’s hair. ~ * ~
This is an intense read, especially as the final quarter begins. Family and social issues push their ways to the forefront, forcing John and Fergus to each deal with them, sometimes failing in their endeavors. I was on the edge of my seat, hoping for the best, whatever that was to be.
This is also an undoubtedly Scottish story, without feeling isolationist. This is accomplished with fantastic cultural references, fully formed characters and their realistically portrayed complicated relationships, just as realistic family dynamics, humor, history and its way of impacting the present, and off the charts sensuality between Fergus and John. All of these things gave me an unforgettable reading experience. And everything is set against The Beautiful Game aka football aka soccer!
I highly recommend this book and this author’s writing. This is definitely a new-to-me author success!
PS: I hadn’t even finished reading this before I purchased the prequel and the sequel. I’m ready for more!
*Originally reviewed for Prism Book Alliance®
The first of her “Glasgow Lads” series, Avery Cockburn’s “Playing for Keeps” shows us a side of Scotland that few travelers ever see. This book is full of barriers: the barriers gay football (soccer) players face in the amateur leagues that form a crucial social element in Scotland’s life; the barriers Scots-Irish Catholics face in a country whose Protestant majority is sometimes still deeply tied to the anti-Catholic movement in Northern Ireland; the barriers LGBT refugees from homophobic nations face when confronted with unfeeling UK government policies and uncaring bureaucracy; and finally, the social and economic barriers that underemployed blue-collar Glaswegians face in a country where industry is declining. This is still the Glasgow of Charles Rennie MacIntosh, but it’s not what tourists see. And that’s what makes this story special and vivid.
Fergus Taylor, country-raised and highly educated, is still reeling from the deceit and betrayal of his ex. John Burns, born and schooled in Glasgow’s toughest neighborhood, is smarting from the constant pressure of his father to participate in the anti-Catholic Orange Man walks. The football pitch becomes a place where these two men find each other unhindered by the barriers that, off the pitch, threaten to impede their paths to happiness, individually or together.
Cockburn gives us marvelous Glaswegian patois and an insider’s look at gay life in the UK’s unromantic industrial north. She focuses on Fergus and John, but surrounds them with wonderful, funny, loving, sometimes difficult people. She presents a challenging social reality and doesn’t take the easy way out.
The sex is integral and passionate, interwoven with the burgeoning emotional ties these two men develop for each other. There is the usual m/m romanctic emphasis on beautiful bodies and ample endowment (pause to roll my eyes), but that is balanced by the richly detailed personalities of both Fergus (a redhead too boot, swoon) and John. Cockburn gives the romance reader what he/she wants, but also gives us a chance to expand our experience of the world and understand something new.
I’ve already bought the second book in this series, which focuses on two other characters who were significant sideline players in this book. That’s the way to sell your work.
Top reviews from other countries
This is such a great book...I almost don't know where to start.
Avery tackles (see what I did there) some difficult subjects in this story -- how sectarianism and indoctrination, whether it be football or religion, isn't straightforward most of the time -- without being preachy or worthy, and handing the themes with sensitivity without being wishy washy about it either.
I love the writing style, and pretty much read this in one sitting as it was so hard to put down. I love the characters, omg I love the characters. There's a big cast in this but each has their own distinct voice so you never get lost and they just felt very real to me.
I also really loved seeing dialect in the dialogue. Personally, I don't think a lot of writers can pull this off but it works so well here and Avery never lets us get confused to what something might mean.
At its heart though, this is a love story and Fergus and John are just perfect. Well...actually they're both idiots at times but you know what I mean. I loved watching them grow and slowly find each other, and themselves, as the story progressed.
I even didn't mind the football :)
This was a lovely way to spend a Saturday night/Sunday morning and I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest in the series.
However, my bug bear is with the little section on racism in the back of the book. Mr Cockburn indicates in this passage that this is only shown one way - as indicated by his views on the English. One can only assume from this that he is oblivious to that shown by some Scots towards the English (one just needs to know the word sassenach...). A little irritating as none of it is OK & am hoping it's an oversight. Plus it is rather ironic considering the themes within his book.
Although one of the main themes of the book is football you don't need to be a fan, I know nothing about the game and this almost put me off downloading it, but I'm glad I looked past it. This is an incredible LGBT themed book with fantastic characters, a brilliant storyline and quite hot 'erotic' scenes. I also love that it is based in the UK as most of the LGBT fiction I find is American and I find it hard to relate to.