Rating: 4 Stars
Not What I Was Expecting
Doctor Jake McCoy has been in love with Dana Cochran since they were young. They've had an on again, off again relationship that's frustrated Jake beyond words. He doesn't dare tell her. He knows her too well. Whenever it comes to deep emotion, Dana keeps everyone at arms length. Playing, however, is her forte, and one night when a storm has taken out the power on the street they live on, Jake walks across to check on her, only to find her and her boyfriend in the back yard in an intimate situation. Dana comes off the porch to stand in the rain in front of him, and her entreaty is too much to resist. Ignoring his possessive nature and his dislike of her casual boyfriend Mason, he gives in to the woman he loves and joins them.
Dana knows that Mason is just a good time, that Jake is forever, but she's just interested in playing, enjoying her sexuality now that she has two men who will share her. She plays with them both, unconcerned, until one encounter with Jake changes her life. When you know you're going to be a mother, you start to realize either playtime is over...or you have to start playing for keeps. And telling Jake and Mason takes that to a whole other level.
What started out as a relatively simple menage a trois erotica romance novella with Walker's classic intense romantic angst takes a turn after that and becomes a much more serious and emotionally powerful and poignant story of love and unspeakable loss. I have nothing against the first part, really, but it lacked a bit in depth and character development for my tastes. The second part was so intense, however, and the emotions so vibrant and real as Jake and Dana try to survive a tragedy that shakes them to the soul, that it utterly eclipsed the beginning and made it seem shallow.
I can't say I enjoyed the second part - it was very dark for the genre - but it was very well written and felt very emotionally honest. I have to give Walker credit for the courage and strength to write something so personally devastating. I also have to admit I loved the end and appreciated the hope and joy and promise that was reintroduced. I may not have been expecting the breadth of the story in Playing For Keeps, but I'm glad I read it.