Thursday, October 3, 2013

Games Lovers Play by June Tate

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: October 3, 2013

When 19-year-old Connie Morgan falls for dashing young car mechanic and fledgling racing driver, Sam, she is anxious to end her adulterous relationship with her married boss, John Baker. But John isn't going to let her go that easily and, desperate not to lose Sam, Connie finds herself playing a dangerous game.

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Games Lovers Play marks my first encounter with author June Tate and while I feel the story had loads of potential, I can't say I was particularly impressed with final product. 

Though the blurb only mentions Connie's romantic attachments to John Baker and Sam Knight, there is a significant duel plot involving John's wife Kay and one Edward Harrington. Why the marketing department failed to acknowledge this, I can't say, but I honestly think they missed the mark by ignoring the underlying theme of the novel. Tate was trying to explore something here - the intricacies of complicated relationships and the choices people make to survive them - and to boil that down to a simple love triangle is nothing short of criminal.

I liked how Tate painted Connie and her emotional journey and I liked how it contrasted with Kay's situation. The naive young woman testing the waters for the first time and the experienced older woman finding the courage to jump in again. Think Clare Boothe Luce's The Women or Olivia Goldsmith's The First Wives Club and you'll have a good feel for what Tate was doing here, or at least what she was doing before adding Jake Barton to the mix. The marketing department veered off course, but Tate herself stalled out on the track with this character. Everything attached to him came out of left field and served as a distraction to the larger narrative.

The nail in the coffin was the pleasantly packaged punchline. I know they work for some readers, but canned happily ever afters aren't my thing. All told, Games Lovers Play, might make a decent beach read, but I'd be hard pressed to recommend it beyond that.  

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She tried to control the fear building inside her. If Sam thought for a moment there was something between her and her manager, she knew she'd lose him.
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