October 24, 2014
SERIES REVIEW: Play Me
Play Me Wild (Play Me #1), by Tracy Wolff
Play Me Hot (Play Me #2), by Tracy Wolff
Play Me Hard (Play Me #3), by Tracy Wolff
Play Me Real (Play Me #4), by Tracy Wolff
Play Me Right (Play Me #5), by Tracy Wolff
To Be Published December 2, 2014
Format: e-book, obtained from Netgalley
Genre: adult erotic romance
Rating: 3.5 STARS
(From Goodreads) My name is Aria Winston. I’ve fought desperately to escape the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas. Now I’m on my own, in control of my own life and my own destiny . . . just the way I like it. Until Sebastian Caine changes everything.
Working as a cocktail waitress at one of Vegas’s hottest five-star casinos means putting up with a ton of bad behavior from the big spenders. But it pays the bills—and that’s all that matters to Aria, who needs every last dollar to escape from her father’s destructive grasp and the brutal man he expects her to marry. But when she lashes out against a billionaire who won’t take no for an answer, she nearly loses everything—until Sebastian steps in. The owner’s son and handpicked successor, Sebastian is dark, sexy, and kinder than any rich man should be. And when he apologizes and offers to keep her job safe, Aria can’t help the way her body reacts to his. Suddenly her job, and the security it brings her, isn’t the only thing Aria wants.
**This review is for all five PLAY ME novellas as a whole**
Tracy Wolff's PLAY ME series was not exactly what I thought it would be. Some elements were exactly what I expected, but as a whole, the feeling I got at the end of the final Play Me novella was one of... confusion, maybe? As you can tell, I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything that happened. Writing reviews helps with that sometimes, you know?
Aria has been working as a cocktail waitress in a Las Vegas casino for a little more than a year when she gets the opportunity to meet the son of the casino's owner. Sebastian Caine is captured by both Aria's beauty and her firey spirit. He thinks that she may just be perfect for him. He persues her, not knowing where she came from, and she reciprocates because she can't seem to deny him anything. As they discover sides of each other that are surprising and captivating, their pasts start to catch up with them and threaten the budding relationship they're building together.
The Play Me series has a lot of BDSM elements. I'm not a huge fan of BDSM books - I always have a hard time reconciling the desire to be submissive with the type of female MCs I prefer - strong, capable, commanding. I approached the Play Me series with a measure of trepidation, but it didn't take me long to relax. Aria is most definitely strong, capable and commanding. We slowly learn throughout the book that she took some huge risks to escape a near impossible situation. She took control of her life without leaving responsibilities behind. THAT is a woman I can absolutely rally behind.
And, perhaps this is where my aforementioned confusion comes in. She didn't seem to be a woman to fall in instalove. She didn't seem like someone who would willingly submit to a man at all, much less one she knew for less than 24 hours. Yet, as soon as Sebastian makes his way onto the scene, that's exactly what happens. It was a little disappointing. I wanted so much more from Aria. I wanted her to rail against her lust and to make Sebastian work for it a whole lot more than what he did.
I know it doesn't sound like it, but I actually really liked Sebastian. If I have to read a book with a Dom in it, he's the best kind - one who truly cares about his sub and wants to TAKE care of her. One who is tender with her, even as he's getting roughly kinky. Tracy Wolff does an excellent job painting Sebastian Caine with very broad strokes. He had a very troubled childhood, which has resulted in a troubled man. But, I loved who he was once he met Aria. I loved that he wasn't afraid to fall in love with her. And, I also loved that he didn't always do the right thing and that he actively sought out chances to make it right again.
There was a lot of BDSM speak in the Play Me series. Sebastian frequently talks about things like "subspace" and "subdrop" and other things that, if you participate in the lifestyle would probably be well-known terms, but to most people, you kind of have to define them by the context of the story. Admittedly, it wasn't too hard to do, but there was a lot of time taken up describing Aria while she was "going under" and Aria spent a lot of time in this "subspace" state. It was a little weird for me. It was like, she wasn't Aria, at least, the Aria we were introduced to in the beginning of the book. She was this zoned out nymphomaniac, and it was just so hard for me to reconcile the two parts to this character. I realize this is my own issue, and it in no way calls into question the skills of the author. But, there it is, anyway.
Like in any romantic love story, there are high points and low points. I live for those peaks and valleys. They make the story so much more rich and colorful and anticipatory as I read. When Sebastian and Aria are together (and not totally sex-drunk yet), they made a great couple. He was protective and she was supportive. It was sweet. The Play Me series is told in dual POV, which is my favorite kind, so that was definitely a check in the plus column.
I'm a big fan of Tracy Wolff's Shaken Dirty series and have had her Ethan Frost series on my TBR forever. Even knowing ahead of time that the Play Me series is a spin-off of sorts from the Ethan Frost series didn't deter me from reading it right away. And, although the Play Me series wasn't my favorite thing I've ever read of hers, it hasn't changed my desire to read the Ethan Frost series. In fact, I think I'm even more intrigued now. I loved the glimpses we caught of Ethan and Chloe. And, to be honest, the Play Me series didn't tie up many of the loose ends at the end. The situations that arose between Sebastian and Aria as a couple were taken care of, but most of the peripheral story elements were left flapping in the breeze. I assume these loose ends will be tied up in the final Ethan Frost book, which is definitely good, but at the same time, it's a little frustrating because that means the focus will be removed from Sebastian and Aria as the situations work themselves out. Sebastian and Aria will become the side characters, and I wish I could see these elements resolve from their POVs, as well as Ethan's and Chloe's.
It's all good, though. I trust Tracy Wolff to see all four of these characters through to a very satisfying and happy ending. In the meantime, while I wait for the last book in this saga to relese, I now have time to pick up the first two Ethan Frost books and get caught up. Hello silver lining.