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"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde

Playing to Win

Playing to Win - Avery Cockburn

4.5 stars - Oh love me some Glasgow Lads!

Well, well, color me surprised.

I honestly didn't know what to expect going in. I enjoyed Playing for Keeps (Glasgow Lads, #1) so immensely, but at the same time I didn't really get a feeling for Collin or Andrew there. I did know however that I would probably want to punch Andrew a time or three. I could just feel it, way before starting this book. And guess what? I wanted to do so quite often in the beginning. At one point I just wanted to use a chair for a slap and be done with the whole thing.

The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that Andrew was not an asshole by choice. Even though some might see it as a weak defense, he really didn't know better. Collin on the other hand, was so very passionate about politics, you couldn't help but root for him. Outside of soccer and politics however, he remained a little flat for me in the beginning.

What I really liked about this story was the progress of things. The relationship developed at a fast, but believable pace. Some things didn't add up in the end, but I enjoyed it so much, I didn't really care. I was also somewhat surprised more than once because things did not go exactly as I thought they would, which was really good thing. Big bonus points for not making it work instantly, not making it easy for these two very different men, and a cherry on top for some pretty hot steamy scenes.

One thing is indisputable, if you don't have the stomach for politics, especially for all the games, propaganda and complexities involved in a referendum for separation - don't read this book. I'm pretty sure, there is no way to actually enjoy this if you don't like politics and political agendas in your romance. Me, I was like a fish in the water. I won't go into detail much, because this is a book review, not a fundamental debate. One thing that bugged me though, was the black and white perspective - you were either one the black or white side. In a way, it's probably a realistic description. I don't think that there was a way to remain in the grey zone during that time in Scottland. Not if you're a Scot. But for me as an outsider, things were made out to be a little too clean-cut here. Which lead to my scepticism concerning Andrew's actions in the end. But that's a personal thing, and probably wouldn't affect other people's reading experience that much.

One other thing was the ending. The way the final "conflict" came into being felt a little forced to me. While I absolutely understood Collin's devastation and desperation, his attack of Andrew didn't really add up. Anger, frustration, even some rage are understandable, blaming your partner for the outcome of a referendum on the other hand, is not. And after everything these two went through to get to this point? I didn't fully believe Collin's reaction. Especially the part about never wanting to see Andrew again. Just didn't really fit. Also, the whole part about the attacks on Andrew felt a little forced at times, and I had a hard time buying all of it. A little too much drama in the end? It wasn't really bad, just not really perfect either.

Other than that, I came to like this story very much. Even Andrew grew on me more and more, especially after meeting his asshole of a brother. What a son of a gun. All in all, another really good book in the series. Avery Cockburn just has knack for bringing lads together who, objectively, should have way too many complex issues between them to make it work. But they still do and I love it.

Definitely recommended, for everyone who doesn't mind politics as a major issue in their romance books.