We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Review: The paranormal erotic romance of "Playing Hard to Forget" by new author Piper Doone features two men who fall in love in their twenties and continue to love each other for over twenty years. Warning: MF sex scenes (secondary and main character), cheating. This book has a lot of elements: GFY NA, enemies to lovers, amnesia, 40+ older main characters, long lost lovers and the two warnings I mentioned. (I don't mind het sex BTW) Was it a smooth ride? Not really. Some parts were better than others. I had to rate the book by parts to get my final rating.
The first half: 3.5 Hearts (including the prologue which was the best of the book and the historical note at the end - very cool history lesson, Ms. Doone)
The main themes - enemy falling for enemy, young, hot new adult lust (the love wasn't fully believable to me) and Liam's otherness. Liam was the standout character for me just because he embodied wolf like characteristics. On a level of 5, he was in the 3.5-4 range. He could have turned it up a notch for me, but his way of scenting Ethan, his quick reflexes - I enjoyed.
I think the bigger issue with this first half is that straddles the campy and serious side of the fence in different areas and it did mesh well to me. I could just take it at face value and read: two boys whose families are enemies, see each other, have (a lot of) sex and then fall in love lazily.
Tell me, are you thinking of me when you're alone in your bedroom? God, I hope so, because that face you make when you come, I'd really like to see that face when you're under me. I'd like to make you come myself instead of watching you think of me from a distance."
But I wanted depth and exposition for example the jokey archery team was unnecessary. Ethan could have just been written as a expert archer and left it at that. The archery was interesting without the foolish antics from minor characters. Fiona read older than 15 and he trying to act like a teen read forced, instead of natural. A lot of the interactions rad forced to me. And Ethan never giving any inkling of being attracted to a man just jumps into being attracted to Liam, no problems, no hesitancy. And this is set in 1991, in the south, the boys are holding hands, making out in public...no issues, no hesitancy. And let's get into the non reaction from Ethan's crazed bigot of a father. He was more upset about the wolf factor than the gay factor...though he could just be accepting but the man didn't seem that accepting of much.
But Ethan and Liam had a lot of sex...while driving, in the forest, in Ethan's house, motels...all over. The forbidden aspect made the sex scenes hotter.
So not looking into part one too deeply, it's good-ish.
The second half: (a very generous) 2 Hearts
Let me get to the parts I have no issue with before I get into the weaker second half: cheating - that part was decently written. I don't mind it especially when it ends with the right characters in a HEA. But everything else? The flashback/sex dreams - I started groaning after the 2nd one and they kept getting longer. We have a lot of different plot points thrown into the second half...and it read messy. Most of the issues were given a quick explanation here and there but it didn't mesh well for me.
Fiona turned into this super mega villain that everyone is afraid of. Ethan was hurt and let his little sister take charge for 23 years. Why? He didn't seem to be as weak in the first half as he did in part two. What happened to him that he just sat in the backseat of his life? He has amnesia for a certain part of his life (the months where he and Liam were a couple) but did he forget himself in the process? It seemed so. He was repugnant, everything I dislike in a MC. I barely tolerated him in the first half but the second half? No thanks. I think Liam could've done a lot better.
And Fiona's reasoning after reading the big reveal? She flip flopped, either she wants him dead or she doesn't. Sloppy villain. And speaking of sloppy tactics...Ethan's way of handling Fiona and not having tabs on her? *stares*
Everything was a big let down in the second half, not enough depth, very easy explanations or excuses. And the daughter who is 14 read older than her age too.
There were a few story minor story inconsistencies but it wasn't glaring. If you're a reader who just wants a beginning and HEA, don't truly care how you get there, then you might like this. I'm not looking for unique shifter erotic romance, just solid shifters with an interesting back story, maybe some action or adventure and an ending worthy of the main characters.
This didn't cut it for me.