Erryn reviews ‘Power Play’ by Cara Dee. This book was released by the author on January 30, 2018, 276 pages. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I loved ‘Out’, so I was intrigued.
I was my own worst enemy. For as much as I depended on order and a structured life to easier manage my bipolar disorder, fire was irresistible and indisputably my favorite toy to play with. On the ice, it turned me into a hotheaded hockey player. In the bedroom, my attitude was my last defense, a front I wanted to see tumbling down. But lately, all I got was burned.
Love sucked. Correction: it sucked when you were in love with your parents’ closest friend and he didn’t feel the same. I admitted my feelings for Madigan Monroe over a year ago, and I was still waiting for a response. Now my balance was gone. My anxiety was all over the place, my fits of rage had just earned me a suspension from the team, I questioned myself at every turn, and being home for two weeks was gonna make it impossible to avoid Madigan.
I used to be his Abel, his sweetheart, his trouble. It’d been the two of us against the world since I was a kid. I’d even discovered we had kink in common! On paper, I was seemingly perfect for him. Maybe that was why his nonverbal rejection hurt so much. Or maybe it was because, recently, he seemed hell-bent on us “being friends” again.
Whatever. I was a loser, and I couldn’t resist him for crap.
After dinner, the coffee table in the living room quickly filled up with top-shelf alcohol and snacks, the number of bottles enough to give Dad’s rock-star past a solid nod. He still knew how to party. However… They were all fucking talk. In between sips of whiskey, crude jokes, a few shots, and the mandatory topic of “music today,” they mostly discussed their children. They’d clearly not done that enough while we ate.
When Dad said he didn’t get to see Theo—Casey and Ellis’s newborn son—often enough, I took a shot of vodka in hopes that the booze would liven shit up for me. Then Casey got into a discussion with Aiden about makeup for little girls. Casey’s daughter, Haley, was a couple years younger than my sister, and he looked to Aiden for advice since Isla was in her mid-twenties.
“I mean, how do you handle a situation like that?” Casey poured himself another drink, looking completely at a loss. “Ellis and I have decided that nail polish is all right, but unless it’s Halloween, we don’t want her face painted.”
I’d laugh if the topic didn’t bore me. Grabbing the bowl of peanuts, I got comfortable in my chair and flung my legs over the armrest. Madigan was occupying the chair on the other side of the table, and he looked fucking fine manspreading. Not that I was looking at his crotch or anything.
“In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.” Aiden raised his glass. “Save your energy for when your little girl comes home with a man almost twice her age.” He took a swig of his whiskey. “Damn—he might even be your old college buddy.”
“That won’t happen here,” Dad said. “My baby girl’s never gonna date, and we’re working on fixing up Abel with Gray.”
I rolled my eyes and reached for my drink.
“A bit delusional, don’t you think, Lincoln?” Ellis chuckled.
“What is it with you guys and issues with age differences?” I asked. “Mom married your old ass, Dad. You should be grateful some of us are drawn to whiny curmudgeons.”
“I love you, Abel,” Casey laughed. “Lincoln, he got you.”
“He said us,” Aiden noted.
I winked at him. “That includes Gray. One day, he’s gonna come home with an older guy too.”
“We don’t want those we love and want to keep safe to be exposed or taken advantage of.” It was Madigan who spoke, and I narrowed my eyes at him. “Younger minds are often more impressionable.”
“See? Madigan gets it, and he doesn’t even want kids,” Dad said.
“Sometimes, that’s what we impressionable minds want.” I never once broke eye contact with Mad. “I can’t find what I want among my peers ’cause I want a guy who has more experience. While some look to a lot of places for support or guidance, I wanna look to him.”
In my periphery, I saw Casey watching us like a tennis match. Dad was muttering under his breath about not being an old ass.
“That requires a lot of trust,” Madigan murmured.
I trust you.
The realization that I trusted Mad implicitly, regardless of shit we’d gone through, wasn’t a shock, but it was heavy nonetheless. I swallowed and looked away, quick to distract myself by finishing my drink.
“You’re right, it does.” It was all I could say.
“You’re a smart young man, Abel,” Aiden told me.
“Only time I remember he doesn’t come from my swimmers,” Dad said with a dip of his chin. “He’s a hell of a lot smarter than me.”
“Stop it,” I groaned. Okay, so it wasn’t always I handled praise very well. Besides, he was selling himself short. I’d learned a lot from him.
“You know what?” He ignored what I said and moved forward. “Whoever you bring home, whether he’s old as fuck or jailbait, I’ll be on your side.”
I shook my head and smirked. Shit didn’t work that way.
“I have a feeling that comes with conditions,” Madigan muttered into his glass.
“I’m loving this.” Casey was enjoying the show or whatever. “We need more mixers. Abel, give me a hand.”
“When I tell you you’re everything to me, it means I’m with you through every bout of depression, every episode of mania, and every moment in between.”
If you have a chronic or acute illness, these are the most precious words in the world—to know you’ll always have someone in your corner. To have someone who understands that you can’t always control what your mind or body does. Someone who accepts you and loves you for who you are.
This is especially true for someone with a mental illness, and certainly people who are bi-polar.
January 31 is Bell: Let’s Talk Day in Canada. It’s a day to open up a dialogue about depression. I can’t think of a better day to post this review.
Abel, the main character in Power Play, is surrounded by people – family and friends – who watch out for him. Care for him. Support him.
He is really lucky.
However, the person he loves and relies on the most has been MIA for a year. One 4 a.m. text sent by Abel, and his friend Madigan Monroe hasn’t been in touch since. Oh, he’s turned up once or twice for family events – seeing as he’s good friends with Abel’s parents – but he hasn’t spent any quality time with Abel.
Now that Abel has been suspended from the National Hockey League and has come home to Camassia Cove, he has time to reflect. He breaks down and admits to his dad that he misses Mad. Abel’s father has no idea of his son’s true feelings for Mad, so he pushes the older man to contact Abel.
Just being a caring and concerned father.
And completely unaware of the chain events he has set in motion.
The entire book – with the exception of the first scene – is told from Abel’s perspective. Being inside his frenzied mind is sometimes really painful, especially if you know someone with bipolar or if you have it yourself. Ms. Dee is spot-on with her portrayal of the chaotic thought process. Sometimes even medications can’t help when you’re flying high or down on the ground, unable to get up. I fell in love with Abel instantly and that affection never wavered.
He is a special young man. Able to play hockey at the professional level in the high-stress environment of the NHL (and, yes, the Vancouver Canucks do suck, I’m embarrassed to admit – but they are perfect for the situation that allows Abel to be close to Camassia Cove in Washington State. I wanted to call out Ms. Dee for her portrayal of the Canucks…but she’s right. Maybe next season, right…?)
Yeah, pipe dream.
Anyway, most of the time, Abel is able to keep himself together on the ice and his family keeps him grounded, but he needs more. This is where Mad comes in. What was once a pseudo uncle/nephew relationship had later morphed into a mentor/student relationship and, in Abel’s mind, has morphed into love. But he needs more than just a boyfriend. He needs a Daddy.
This is where some readers might get turned off. I have read Daddy/little stories before and this one is a bit different. There are no bottles and diapers in this one. In fact, Mad sees Abel as more of a ‘middle’. A rebellious teenager in need of a firm hand. Maybe it is because of my background or my experience, but this relationship didn’t bother me. In fact, it was pretty clear from the beginning this was something both men needed – craved. And they both fought it until it overwhelmed them.
Daddy Dom/little boy is a kink, for sure. Not something most vanilla people can fathom, but for those in the dynamic, it fits. Abel’s background is shown, but it is never posited as the reason for his kink. Just because the relationship doesn’t fit into societal parameters doesn’t mean it isn’t healthy. Mad’s ability to care for Abel is amazing. Because of their shared history, Mad understands Abel, can gauge his moods and reactions, and most importantly, can intervene before things get out-of-hand.
The world of Camassia Cove, Washington is a wonderful place. There is lots of love to go around. Ms. Dee’s previous books involve many different couples, some of whom make an appearance in this book. Although this town is relatively new to me, I was able to settle in quickly. Moreover, I look forward to going back when her next book, “Auctioned,” is released. It is the story of Abel’s best friend Grey. Grey is actually quite pivotal in this book, so I’m intrigued to see where his story is going to go.
I really enjoyed this book. Love comes in many different forms, and Abel’s love for Mad is pure, while the older man’s adoration and nurturing of his little boy is heartwarming. This is a physical relationship as well as an emotional one, but there is always love (as well as some mild BDSM). The most important aspect of the relationship is honesty. Mad demands not only that Abel tell him the truth, but that the young man be honest with himself. That kind of introspection can be painful and challenging, but with Mad’s guidance, Abel settles into his place in the world.
There are, of course, real obstacles. Acceptance does not come easy when choosing to live an alternative lifestyle. Maybe one day society will be more accepting, but we’re not there yet. So settle back and prepare to be touched, moved, and challenged. Because, as Mad says, Abel is ‘his trouble’.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
I’m often stoically silent or, if the topic interests me, a chronic rambler. In other words, I can discuss writing forever and ever. Fiction, in particular. The love story—while a huge draw and constantly present—is secondary for me, because there’s so much more to writing romance fiction than just making two (or more) people fall in love and have hot sex. There’s a world to build, characters to develop, interests to create, and a topic or two to research thoroughly. Every book is a challenge for me, an opportunity to learn something new, and a puzzle to piece together. I want my characters to come to life, and the only way I know to do that is to give them substance—passions, history, goals, quirks, and strong opinions—and to let them evolve. Additionally, I want my men and women to be relatable. That means allowing room for everyday problems and, for lack of a better word, flaws. My characters will never be perfect.
Wait…this was supposed to be about me, not my writing.
I’m a writey person who loves to write. Always wanderlusting, twitterpating, kinking, and geeking. There’s time for hockey and cupcakes, too. But mostly, I just love to write.