Playing the Part (Playing For Keeps Series Book 1) by J.R. Barten #LGBT #Review

Sam reviews ‘Playing the Part’ (Playing For Keeps Series Book 1) by J.R. Barten. Published by Encompass Ink on September 30, 2015 and is 233 pages.

A complimentary copy was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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As the star of his college soccer team, Wesley Spencer is used to winning, but when he loses a bet to one of his teammates, his life is suddenly turned upside down. Forced to try out for the musical, “Guys and Dolls,” Wesley finds himself on unfamiliar territory and falling fast.

Max Tomlinson practically lives in the theater. Estranged from his family since high school, he seeks refuge in the comfort of the music hall’s practice rooms and auditorium. Safe and comfortable in his own little world, Max never sees a guy like Wesley coming.

Thrown together by a bad wager and fate, Max and Wesley’s worlds collide in a story of opposites attract and the winner takes all. With the musical production and their budding romance on the line, Wesley must convince Max that he’s not just playing the part, but that he’s playing for real—in theater and in love



Wesley is the star player on the soccer field. He knows he’s good and tends to be a little cocky when it come to his ability to play. Benji, the second string player, challenges him to see who can get the first ten goals. If Wesley loses, he has to audition for the upcoming play. Wesley may like to sing in the shower after the games but the thought of singing, dancing and acting in front of a lot of people is terrifying. Wesley is convinced that he will win and won’t have to worry about the play so he accepts the bet. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. Wesley loses the bet.  Therefore,he has to audition. What Wesley didn’t expect was to land a leading role.

Max is the student director in the theater department. He lives and breathes for acting, writing and directing. When Wesley ends up getting the lead role of Nathan Detroit, Max isn’t happy. He doesn’t believe that the soccer jock will take it serious.

Once Wesley and Max started spending time together rehearsing, Max finally realizes that there was more to Wesley than his pretty face and jock status. He actually likes Wesley. Wesley is also extremely attracted to Max.  Once they got around their preconceived ideas about each other,  they became friends and eventually more. Only, there seems to be obstacles that keep getting in their way. Will they be able to conquer them all or will they end up losing what they have both been looking for.

I really enjoyed Wesley and Max story. They were both easy to connect with and the writing flowed easily.  The secondary characters added a lot to the story and I’m looking forward to seeing some of their stories as well. There is some drama but overall a sweet love story. The author does leave things up in the air as to what happens next but isn’t a major cliffhanger. I can’t wait to read book 2 in the series when it becomes available.

If you like a sweet love story about college boys then you will enjoy Playing The Part by J.R. Barton.

9.5/10 Pots of Gold

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J.R., or Jen as friends call her, has always been an avid reader, oftentimes reading five to six books a week. When she was a kid, she found a huge box of old paperbacks for sale at a neighbor’s garage sale. She offered the woman a quarter for the entire haul, and then went home and locked herself in her bedroom so her younger brother couldn’t interrupt her while she read. This fueled her love for romantic fiction and inspired her to try her hand at writing. In 2013 Jen started writing fan-fiction, and then began creating her own original stories in 2014. Currently, her favorite genre to read and write is contemporary gay romance.

J.R. Barten was born and raised in Iowa and now resides in the Twin Cities of Minnesota with her partner of sixteen years and two rescue dogs.


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