I swear, Played! (The Shamwell Tales, book 2) was definitely way up on my list of my most delicious reads in many a long year. It’s a play within a play, starring a stereotypical stage bunny, Tristan, and a very atypical ‘you’re kidding aren’t you’ handyman cum stagehand, called Con (short for Constantine).
Hmm, let’s let Tristan describe him, since he does it so terribly well: “The man looming awkwardly on the doormat was delicious. Tall, muscular and delightfully rough around the edges, with dark stubble on his chin and unruly jet-black hair. He was casually dressed in jeans and a singlet, perfectly accessorised with a touch of the grime of honest toil. Things were definitely looking up. And up, and up. Actually, the man’s height was bordering on the offensive, but Tristan was a forgiving sort.”
Now, to be honest, that description tells you just as much about the flamboyant Tristan as it does about the awkwardly shy Con.
On the matter of Tristan, Con says he’s a ‘Poncey, smug, entitled prick.’ Con is prone to brevity. Tristan is not.
Tristan is annoyingly endearing, self-absorbed, entitled, gifted… in short, yeah, he’s a prick. Con is a sweet, huggable, adorable, sighworthy, I need for him to meet my daughter sort. Except… maybe that should be my son.
The temperature heats up the minute they meet. Innuendo and laugh-out-loud miscues, misspoken phrases and general mayhem make this one of the fun-est and funniest books you’re ever likely to come across.
Interfering friends and frenemies, small village archetypes, and of course the foibles and outrageousness of those who follow the adage ‘all the world’s a stage’ make Played! a true romp of Shakespearean proportions.
There were times I had to set the Kindle down because I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. The writing is stellar, the story nailbitingly heartwarming, the humor a broad mix of subtle and slapstick, and the two ‘stars’ shine with a unique brilliance.
I give Played! my unreserved highest recommendation.
All the world’s a stage…but real-life lessons are hidden in the heart.
The Shamwell Tales, Book 2
Though Tristan must join his family’s New York firm at summer’s end—no more farting around on stage, as his father so bluntly puts it—he can’t resist when Shamwell’s local amateur dramatics society begs him to take a role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The bonus: giving private acting lessons to a local handyman who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances. Not only is Con delicious, there’s fifty pounds riding on Tristan getting him in his bed.
A late-diagnosed dyslexic, Con’s never dared to act, convinced he’d never be able to learn his lines. But with Tristan’s help, he takes the chance. Trouble is, the last time Con fell for a guy, he ended up getting his heart broken. And with Tristan due to leave the country soon, Con is determined not to start anything that’s bound to finish badly.
Just as Tristan thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes. And the curtain may have fallen forever on their chance for happiness.
Warning: Contains a surfeit of Bottoms and asses, together with enough mangled quotations to have the Bard of Avon gyrating in his grave.