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Michelle Review: Naughty Games Series by Lena Matthews

Multicultural Contemporary: White male, Filipino female

Sensuality Level: Steamy

I recently went on a brief vacation, and picked up the first book of this series, Seven Minutes of Heaven. After a few pages I knew I’d want to read the whole series. For one thing, I’m an absolute sucker for the “friends-to-lovers” trope, and for another, all of the characters are so interesting that I really wanted to read their stories.

Essentially, it’s like an erotic version of the TV show, “Friends,” but with much more engaging, and less annoying characters. ┬áSeven friends, four guys, and three girls, met in college. Of course, there was all types of attraction going on, but everyone was too afraid to act on it. The group stayed together even after school, attending parties and vacationing as well. At varying times prior to the beginning of the stories there have been hook-ups amongst the couples based on naughty games, all of which have ended disastrously. Though they’ve remained friends, several of the couples have been pointedly avoiding each other.

Each book starts at the same point; Shane, who is the self-appointed leader of the group, and the only one who knows the details of the disastrous hook-ups, has gotten them all together again for his birthday. He gives them all some very pointed gifts as a way to bring about a reconciliation.

Surprisingly, Seven Minutes of Heaven, was, for me, the weakest of the three stories. At a previous party Bev and Holden had wound up in the closet playing the game, Seven Minutes of Heaven. While in the closet, they have a very sexy, very well-written make out session, when it’s over Holden tells Bev that he manipulated the game so that he could draw her name. Somehow Bev gets it into her head that he’s done this out of pity, and storms out, refusing to speak to Holden for two years. I wanted to slap Bev more than once, she’s definitely the “Monica” of the group, and I always wanted to slap that character as well, but Holden was so engaging that I stuck with it, and I did like the resolution of their story, though I think Bev owed Holden an apology, her response was simply over-the-top.

Contemporary MMF

Sensuality Level: Torrid

The second story of the three was far more emotionally engaging than the first, and it’s definitely the grittiest of the three. For years everyone in the group has been waiting for the group’s princess, Skylar to choose between Gideon and Tripp. Problem is, she wants both. After a drunken game of I Never, she gets her wish, not only that but Gideon and Tripp engage in some hip speeding of their own. Tripp freaks out in a really ugly case of “gay panic” and they haven’t spoken since. Tripp’s reaction is understandable. He’s a professional hockey player and if anyone ever discovers he’s gay, or bi, or whatever, his career could be trashed. This story is very realistic, and the three of them have to work really hard for their HEA.

Surprisingly, Skylar, who is definitely the “Rachel” of the group, comes off as very likable and very self-aware. Gideon was a very strong character and I felt a great deal of empathy for the way he was drawn. He’s hurt, and he’s angry and with good reason. The only weakness in the story is that there is a gay player on the team, and he doesn’t seem to have experienced any repercussions, so that weakens Tripp’s justifications and that aspect of the whole story is resolved a bit too neatly for me.

Multicultural Contemporary: Black female, white male

Sensuality level: Steamy

And finally we get to Shane’s story, and his love for Paige. Shane has used outright bribery to get Paige to attend his party. A few years ago, Shane had a bad automobile accident. Paige, a nurse, was very supportive while he went through a long recovery. During a weekend at his family’s cabin, they wound up having sex after a game of Double Dare. Afterwards, Shane, who had very good reasons was reluctant to engage in a relationship with Paige. Paige was understandably angry, and left without waiting to hear his explanation. She hasn’t spoken to him since, until this party.

All three stories were fun and engaging. To my mind there were only two flaws; Why were the guys the only fuck ups here? I mean, I think at least one of the communication problems was more the girl’s fault than the guy’s, but he was the one groveling.

Also, because each book begins at Shane’s party we get that same scene over and over again, though told from a slightly different viewpoint. By the time I got to the third book I was ready to smack the author, but I didn’t dare skip those pages for fear of missing some detail. All three books were very entertaining, and I enjoyed the set-up.

Seven Minutes of Heaven can be purchased here.

I Never can be purchased here.

Double Dare can be purchased here.

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