Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary M/M romance from Lane Hayes. RULES OF PLAY is the second book in her new The Script Club series, and features a literal rocket scientist falling hard for his childhood crush–a jock friend of his older brother. You can catch my review for the first book in the series, FOLLOWING THE RULES, but this one is fine read as a standalone, too.
Drop down to catch my review and enter for a chance to win a $25 GC.
About the book:
The genius, the mechanic, and a new playbook…
My brother’s friend is hot. If you’re into flannel-wearing lumbersexual former jocks who eat donuts for dinner and still scribble to-do lists on their palms. I’m not. I’m a serious scientist in my final of grad school. Okay, I admit I have few quirks of my own. I also have a broken truck and a boss who thinks I can help him find love. I’m in over my head. Help!
A few quirks? Really? George the weirdest dude I know. He wears capes in public, brings a book everywhere he goes, and loves all thing spooky. He’s also the smartest person on the planet—who somehow thinks I can help him write a How-To-Get-A-Date playbook for his boss. Yeah, that sounds suspicious. I know baseball; I don’t know anything about love. But I can’t say no. I’ve always had a soft spot for George. I just didn’t count on falling for my best friend’s nerdy brother. This is against the rules, isn’t it?
Rules of Play is an MM bisexual awakening story where opposites attract and shenanigans ensue!
How about a little taste?
“The Script Club?”
I grimaced. “Well, yeah. That name came later.”
“You really are a little weirdo, aren’t you?”
The twinkle in Aiden’s eyes and his affectionate tone paired with an unlikely term of endearment were exactly what I needed to pull me from my infatuation-induced awkwardness.
I smacked his biceps playfully, then leaned against his side, staring up at the crescent moon in the twilight sky. “I am weird and I am proud.”
Aiden chuckled. “I like that about you. I like your idea too. It’s a good one. I should get in on that and collect a few new experiences before I quit the garage and move on to my next venture.”
“What would you do? I mean, what would you want to try?”
“I don’t know. Maybe something will come to me.” He set the half-eaten container of meatballs down and reached for his beer. “As for your boss…he needs a rule book.”
I shifted to face him. “What kind of rule book?”
“A dating rule book. It would be the equivalent of a sports playbook…a list of strategies and a backup plan if things go awry.”
“Okay, that makes sense. Step one, ask for a date.”
Aiden shook his head. “No. Don’t go in hot. Gotta practice a little finesse. It’s better to get to know someone—ask about their interests, share yours, and see if there’s anything there. Theoretically, that’s how I think it should work.”
“You’re right. They have to build a rapport.” I squinted. “He’s going to need an icebreaker.”
“Yeah, that makes sense. Hit me with your best shot.”
“Uh…what do you mean?” I stammered.
“Pretend you’re into me and you want to get to know me.” Aiden quirked a brow and wiggled his fingers. “Ask me something.”
“What are your interests?”
He made an obnoxious buzzer noise and rolled his eyes. “Wrong. That’s a date question. A lame one, too. Would you really walk up to someone and ask them what they’re into?”
“No, of course not.”
“Redo. You’re trying to get to know me, but you can’t be too forward, and you can’t make assumptions. Got it?” He waited for my nod of agreement and continued. “Pretend we’re standing at the coffee machine at work on a Monday morning. And…action.”
“O-kay…what did you do last weekend?”
Aiden smiled. “Good one. And my answer…not much. I went to that college ball game I told you about last week, watched a lot of basketball, made arrangements to schlep your Bronco here, and played pool with Kenny and a couple of high school buddies. You?”
“I studied and hung out with my friends.”
He stared at me long enough for me to wonder if I had meatball between my teeth.
“If that’s all you have to say, you just killed this conversation,” he deadpanned.
I chuckled. “I did not. It was your turn to ask <em>me</em> something. That’s how it works in real life. I’m not that big of a dork!”
“But what about your boss?”
Good point. “Newton is a big dork. Very big.”
“Right, so this is where rules come into play. You have to pay attention and take hints and clues to heart. Almost everything I mentioned about my weekend had a theme…sports. I told you what I’m interested in without announcing, ‘I like sports.’ If you really wanted to get in my pants, you’d ask me a sports-related question.”
I shot to my feet, whirling my cape like a true badass. “Who said anything about getting in your pants?”
Yes, I was entirely in favor of the idea, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t said it aloud.
“Isn’t that the end game?” Aiden flashed a devilish grin my way.
“No! I mean, maybe for you, but not for Newton. I don’t think he’s hoping for sex.”
“Then what’s the point?”
Aiden widened his eyes comically. “What’s that?”
“I don’t know,” I sighed in defeat, reclaiming my spot on the stoop next to him. “That’s why this is complicated.”
George is the youngest child in his family. His two older brothers were huge jocks–Simon even played pro football before concussions sidelined him. And, Simon’s best friend Aiden has been the star of many a nighttime–and daytime–fantasy for George since forever. Aiden played football with Simon and baseball with their eldest brother, but George never got into “sportsball,” always sitting on the sidelines while his brothers played, usually wearing a cape, and always reading a book. George didn’t fancy himself a superhero, he was more goth/vampire inspired, and is a bit high on the socially awkward scale, with a low tolerance for peopleing. George is bisexual, but he leans more toward men than women in his sexual attraction.
George really adored how Aiden would stand up for him, like his brothers, whenever idiot jocks would pick on him. He’s a grown man now, working on his graduate degree in aeronautics and trying not to lean on his folks for help, so when his ancient truck breaks down, George is happy to oblige Aiden who suggests a creative way to pay for the repairs.
Aiden’s nearing 30 and wants more than working as a grease monkey for his homophobic uncle. He’s always loved athletics, and has been quietly taking courses that will help him become a scout for baseball teams. He even has some rudimentary algorithms put together to make this more structured, but he wants George’s mathematics brain to look over his calculations in order to confirm he’s on the right track. George is a little overwhelmed, with his internship and school–especially now that his incredibly awkward boss wants tips on how to woo a co-worker who’d made play for George. He isn’t really interested in her–a mutual feeling–but it’s convenient to claim he has a boyfriend to get his boss off his back, except now the boss thinks the “boyfriend” can also help him in his romantic quest.
So, George and Aiden spend a lot of time together, fixing the truck and watching baseball games, to help Aiden’s mission to become a scout. It’s quiet nights sharing the meals George’s mom delivers and moments of absolute discovery as Aiden confesses his own unrequited attraction for the shy but beautiful man George has grown into.
This is a sweet New Adult romance with lots of playfulness, and the expected family struggles, as George attempts to keep his fling with Aiden on the down-low to not upset Simon. I liked how this echoed the tension from FOLLOWING THE RULES, where Simon was keeping his interest in Topher–George’s good friend and housemate–on the super down-low. Aiden’s personal life is definitely changing, but in ways he’s ready to embrace as he finally follows his own path and becomes the man he’s strived to be. There are some dirty firsts, flirty moments, and caped crusades in this one, and I really enjoyed them all. Highly recommend.
Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards.
She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.