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Book Review: The Games We Play

The Games We Play by Alexandra Warren was my first audiobook of 2023, and it did not disappoint. It was my introduction to Alexandra Warren's books after a Book Twitter recommendation from Heather (@heabooktubes) and was able to pick it up from my local library. I'll get to my rating down below, but I will definitely be reading more from this author in 2023 and beyond.


As far as 2023 book challenges are concerned, I'll be counting this one toward week 1 of the Audio in Black Challenge (Prompt: Read an audiobook by a new-to-you Black author).

Synopsis:


The Games We Play is a brother's best friend, contemporary Black romance between characters who knew each other in high school but always kept their distance.


Chance is just in town long enough to wrap up a work project, help his mom get some projects done around her new fixer-upper, and catch up with some old friends. Londyn is just trying to mind her own business and cut out of her mom's party early when Chance comes over to see her brother ... until her mom does a little meddling. When he drives her home from the party early, they both know that getting involved is a bad choice; she's his best friend's little sister, and he's only in town temporarily.


That doesn't stop them from rationalizing that a one-night stand couldn't do any harm. And when the sex is too good to quit, they agree that being friends with benefits until he leaves town again wouldn't be such a bad choice.


They spend most of the book sneaking around together and taking turns getting jealous, not hiding it nearly as well as they think, and reveling in the other's jealousy once the tables turn. There are some close calls, a little bit of denying feelings, and a lot of sex. A lot. He's determined to be the best she's ever had, and he has no qualms denying that her oral game is enough to make him lose himself completely.


The road trip and their journey toward an HEA are cute, but what would a best-friend's-sibling book be without them getting found out???


Tropes:


  • brother's best friend

  • small-town

  • friends with benefits

  • don't catch feelings

  • meddling family members

  • sneaking around and almost getting caught

  • strip video gaming

  • (temporary) workplace romance

  • toys (but overall pretty vanilla)


Thoughts:


This audiobook was narrated by Leon Nixon, who I have enjoyed before, and Morae Brehon, who was new to me. Overall, I enjoyed both the story itself and their performances, so in addition to reading more from Alexandra Warren, I'll be going through each of their narration catalogues and adding those to my audiobook TBR.


Clocking in at just over 8 hours, this book kind of surprised me with its length. The sneaking around part isn't a huge plot point; other than a couple instances of almost getting caught, it's not like a big angst or complication. As much as I tend to prefer a shorter audiobook, this story never dragged for me. There are quite a few sex scenes, and I did really enjoy the parts where Londyn is hanging out with her best friend, who I'm assuming gets the second book in this FWB series.


Generally, I don't go out of my way looking for sibling's-best-friend books because it's just a trope I don't totally connect with. It's hard for me, personally, to genuinely understand why that's treated as taboo or as high of a stake as it often is, but I like the way it was executed in this story. While Londyn doesn't want her brother to find out, it's framed more as her wanting privacy and to not have to deal with him when this is just a short-term thing because Chance doesn't live local anyway. Additionally, when we finally get the confrontation, it doesn't last that long, there's no third-act break-up because of it, and we do get some depth to why her brother is as protective as he is.

The Ratings:


Overall Rating: 4 Stars

I loved this one and already downloaded the next book in the series!


Romance Rating: 3.5 Stars

I really enjoyed seeing this couple's relationship grow from insta-lust and high school memories, to fwb, to something serious. Their banter was great, and there was no end to the chemistry between them.


Heat Rating: 3.75 Stars

Fast burn with no shortage of sex scenes all the way to the end. Honestly, if I had read this in a physical/ebook, it might have bumped up to a 4; it's hard to say how the narrators impact this.


Kink Rating: 0* Stars

None by design


Dark / Taboo Rating: 0* Stars

None by design


Let me know if you've read or plan to read The Games We Play by Alexandra Warren!

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