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Willaful Review: Serious Play by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Serious Play is well named, because it’s a serious kind of book.  Not that it’s at all a downer — just a mature, intelligent story about two adults falling in love amidst some real obstacles.

Paroled after five years in prison for robbery, Luke is determined to turn his life around. His chance comes through Mary, a close friend of his parole officer; Mary offers him a job at her theme bar, “my little playground for grownups.”  Working in a place where people hang out to play silly games or pretend they’re going to the prom is a revelation for Luke, whose life never included much innocent fun — and outgoing, effervescent Mary is a revelation too:

“He loved to listen to Mary talk. And talk. And talk. He never got tired of the sound of her voice or the light, frothy bubbles of her laughter. She was champagne.

He was dark, bitter beer. An awful combination that would never, ever happen, and if it did was bound to make someone puke the next morning.”

Luke doesn’t think he has much of a chance with Mary, obviously, but she’s just as attracted to him. But even while admiring Luke’s good looks and quiet intensity, it’s hard for her to let suspicion go:

“For a second she had a flash of all she’d read and heard. They insinuate themselves into your life and once they’re there, they take over. You’ll find things missing. You’ll find yourself being used.

There were no real surprises here, but I really appreciated the plausible way the story unfolded.  Serious Play gives Luke and Mary a steady, believable buildup of friendship and attraction leading to romance.  The love scenes between them are steamy and mildly graphic, but not gratuitous, and Luke’s quiet sexiness is swoon-worthy. I was happy that the story ended with me believing that, despite their very different backgrounds and personalities, they were right for each other. I give it four out of five stars.

Serious Play is scheduled to be published on April 30th, ebook format only. Thanks to netGalley for providing me with a review copy.  It can be pre-ordered from Amazon and Barnes & Noble