4.5 Stars, Avery Cockburn, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Play It Safe by Avery Cockburn

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Amazon

Title: Play It Safe: A Glasgow Lads Story

Author: Avery Cockburn

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 65 Pages

At a Glance: I just keep loving on these boys so hard.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: In this followup story to Playing for Keeps, Fergus and John must overcome bad advice, broken headboards, and the Doppelgänger from Hell to find their forever bliss. A must-read for Glasgow Lads fans—and for new readers, a short ’n’ sweet intro to this hot new Scottish gay-romance series!

“Fancy a game of hide-and-seek?”

After living together for three months, Fergus Taylor and John Burns have come to love each other’s quirks, and the bond between them is starting to look permanent. But when John wants to take things to the next level, Fergus balks, haunted by the betrayals in his own past.

To overcome these fears, Fergus and John must embark on an epic journey, one that tests their faith, their trust, and their ability to keep a cool head in a hot, hot place.

Note: Like all Glasgow Lads books, Play It Safe may be read as a stand-alone story.

Dividers

Review: It’s no big secret how much love I have for Avery Cockburn’s Glasgow Lads. John and Fergus, Colin and Andrew (I have yet to read the prequel, Play On), both couples stole my heart in their respective books and never even tried to give it back. And I love that sometimes when that happens, when I get the couple’s HEA but wish there could still be just a wee bit more to the story, the author goes and gives me exactly what I want. That’s what Cockburn’s done for John and Fergus in Play It Safe.

First let me say that though this novella is billed as a standalone, I don’t feel as though I’d have experienced the fullest depth of love for it had I not had the boys’ backstory. Or, the likelihood is that I’d have liked it on a different level, because there’s no disputing it’s still heartwarming and sexy. John and Fergus’s beginning in Playing for Keeps hinged a good bit on trust issues—Fergus was short on trust because of a bad breakup; John didn’t do much to foster it because of a rather volatile secret he was keeping. The inability for Fergus to give of himself fully becomes the cornerstone upon which the author builds Play It Safe. Does Fergus trust John enough to take their relationship to the next level—a level that requires complete faith in a place where Fergus has been burned before? I thought they were there, but I was wrong, so that’s my roundabout way of saying that had I not had all the puzzle pieces in place, the story would have been perfectly lovely but maybe not as emotionally engaging as it was.

That said, I adore this little vignette. This is the true beginning to John and Fergus’s happily-ever-after, as they work through one final obstacle so they can start their future together. And I must say, they got a little creative in a fun and seductively suggestive way; playful, but there was also a good bit of tension of the non-sexual variety that gave the story an edge too, which does nothing but make the sweet part that much more gratifying once we get there.

If you haven’t read this series yet but are planning to, please don’t read this first. Read Playing for Keeps first. It’s so worth it, and then you can slip right into Play It Safe without a hiccup. Again, it’s so worth it and I’d bet you’ll want to anyway. I can say this with almost no reservations because Avery Cockburn has created all these new adult characters you can’t help but love, with all their charm and charisma just oozing off the pages. That’s how they get under your skin and worm their way into your heart, they’re just that loveable.

The conflict in this story is so real for Fergus, and John just keeps going on to prove how utterly wonderful he is. Fergus was afraid he may have given John enough rope to hang himself. John didn’t tighten the noose, though. He didn’t even come close. He just left the rope behind as a trail to lead Fergus back to him. And it was priceless.

I’m head over heels for this series and its characters. It’s one of my best discoveries of 2015, no question about it, and I’m hoping like crazy to hear more from Colin and Andrew, sooner rather than later.

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You can buy Play It Safe here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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5 Stars, Avery Cockburn, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Playing for Keeps and Playing to Win by Avery Cockburn

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Avery Cockburn
Title: Playing for Keeps & Playing to Win (Glasgow Lads: Books One and Two)

Author: Avery Cockburn

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 325 Pages/360 Pages

At a Glance: I can conceive of no reason not to read these books!

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb Playing for Keeps: 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. 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?

Blurb Playing to Win: Colin MacDuff has nothing. Growing up in a Glasgow slum, he learned never to trust, never to cry—and never EVER to be at the mercy of anyone, especially rich men. So how did he end up half-naked at a rave with Scotland’s hottest young aristocrat?

Lord Andrew Sunderland has everything. From ancestral castle to posh prep school, he’s spent his life wrapping others around his wee finger. With a social circle full of celebrities and politicians, nothing can stop Andrew’s rise to the top. Nothing, that is, save his desire for a dirt-poor, wolf-eyed footballer whose scars and tattoos tell unbearable tales.

Colin and Andrew come from different worlds, believe in different worlds, want different worlds. Yet every time they touch, all worlds fall away.

Set amid the fiery Scottish-independence struggle, this searing gay romance tells the story of two men who must lose everything to win each other’s hearts.

Dividers

Review: So, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Where has this author been all my life?

Have you read these books yet? If you haven’t, do it. I don’t know who Avery Cockburn is IRL, but one thing I do know is that this author has an immense talent for storytelling as well as for creating characters it’s utterly impossible not to fall in love with. I admit I picked up these books because Scottish men in kilts are Scottish. Men. In. Kilts. But then I began reading Fergus and John’s story and couldn’t put it down. The bonus is that when I got to Andrew and Colin’s novel, I loved it even more.

This series tells the story of an LGBT football league. For us Americans that’s soccer, and I’ll admit I don’t know the first thing about the sport, but I do know that the author hasn’t made the books as much about the football as they are about the team and its message—that the world of athletics is striving for change in a positive direction. That’s not to say, however, that these men and women don’t eat, sleep, breathe, live for and love their sport.

The theme of the series, at least so far, is one of opposites attract. These are storylines in which the deep sociopolitical divides of religion, as it is for John (a Protestant) and Fergus (a Catholic), and class, as it is for Colin (a low class commoner) and Lord Andrew (a wealthy aristocrat), introduces the two men in their respective books and then weaves the immense conflict in with secrets, lies, and flat out resentment about and of their differences. Cockburn weaves the angst into these books, not in a heavy handed or irritating way—as often happens in the angst-for-angst’s-sake novels we see in romance—but in a way that suits the climate of this country. The obstacles these men face are genuine, constructed by history and tradition, and the key to their finding a way to make a relationship work is in their willingness to cross those divides, sacrifice for the sake of the love that grows between them, and accept that their feelings for each other far outweigh the dogma of their ancestry.

Honestly, I can’t begin to do these books justice in words. I devoured them. Cockburn’s storytelling is rich, smooth and burns with the intensity of a good Scottish Whiskey. These characters, all of them, ooze an irresistible charm and draw the reader into not only their stories but their lives thanks to the author’s attention to detail, all the way down to the language of the country in which the series is set. Pure and unadulterated love is the only way to describe my feeling toward these books.

With each book Cockburn steers us toward the climactic arc with a deft and clever hand. By the time I got to the make-or-break point for the couples, I was so thoroughly invested in the relationships that their pain was my pain, and I don’t mind admitting I got a little choked up when everything seemed as though it was going to come crashing down around them. I don’t know about you, but I’ve become a little jaded over the years and after the thousands of books I’ve read and reviewed in that time, I have to give all the respect to an author who can make my gut churn and my heart hurt simply because they’ve made me love their characters. These books are a solid plus in the win column.

Sexy, steamy, erotic, whatever word you want to use to describe the way the author brings the characters together, they all fit. The lust is what brings them together. The love that grows between John and Fergus, and Colin and Andrew, is what keeps them together. And yes, they’re young (these are new adult novels), but there’s something there between them that makes you believe with all your heart that they’re together for the long haul.

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You can buy Playing for Keeps here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

You can buy Playing to Win here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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