This five part series is a little different from my usual romance fare. Not to say I’ve not indulged in my fair share of BDSM novels, as I have, but that subgenre is not one I actively read often. After reading this series, I think that is something that I will have to change going forward. I very much enjoyed the Play Me series. This is my first time having read a Tracy Wolff book and it certainly will not be the last time I read anything by her.
The heroine has moxie! Aria Winston is a Vassar graduate in a thankless cocktail waitressing job in a Las Vegas casino that includes many leches and more than a little bit of sexual harassment. She is tough and the reader sees early on that she’s is the type of woman who will step-in to defend someone weaker. I loved the introduction to her character as the author puts the reader right in Aria’s head and plays out a situation that makes it easy to appreciate her.
When we first meet him, Sebastian Caine is harried and slightly resentful. He's back in the city he grew up in, but not because he really wants to be there—he's returned to run the family casino because his father’s health problems make it impossible for him to manage the business anymore. It’s not something Sebastian's happy about but regardless of his feelings, he is dedicated to making sure the casino runs smoothly and with some class.
Aria and Sebastian do not meet cute. In fact, while he’s impressed with her attributes from the first time he lays eyes on her, she’s wary of rich and entitled men both from personal experience and on the job. Sebastian himself is also not looking for any type of commitment.Yet the mutual attraction between them at first meet is overwhelmingly sizzling, almost paralyzing, in its magnetism. Aria’s scared by the intensity while Sebastian is intrigued and hungry for more to happen. When they finally connect, both are blown away by the ferocity of their lust for each other.
This is not to say that Aria and Sebastian is simply about the strong sexual connection between them. A brilliant thing about this series is how quickly the author shows the vulnerabilities of both, so one can see quickly how they mesh. Strong when the other feels weak, comforting when the other feels lost; it is a love at first sight that I bought quickly. These are two strong characters, but in different ways. He sees the façade her in tough act and she sees the kind soul behind the control factor. Both of them have baggage and the revelation of the past pains that still haunt them are truly well-done, drawing the reader in to the horror while also producing much sympathy. I was not let down when the back stories driving their respective demons came to light as has happened to me a few times with other novels. Kudos to Wolff on handling those past revelations with a angst-ridden brilliance.
“From the moment we met, Sebastian has taken care of me even when I didn’t know I needed to be taken care of. Here, tonight, it’s my turn to take care of him. My turn to give him what he needs. And if he needs this, the pleasure and the pain, the control and the cruelty, then I’m willing to give it to him.”
There is the introduction of Sebastian's friend Ethan Frost, another character in this series who also has his own series. Strong friendships are always a plus to me in any romance book because it adds layers to the characters on a platonic level as well as to the story. I will definitely be checking out his series, and not just because it’s noted that Aria and Sebastian will cameo in it (though it certainly isn’t a bad thing!). I also got the feeling after reading these five stories in the Play Me series that Aria and Sebastian’s story isn’t over and the author will release more books with their adventures, which I plan to happily gobble up as soon as I can.
Whether or not one is a fan of BDSM novels, I think there is a lot of chemistry, angst, and just a good story with two attractively flawed characters in this series. Erotica on its own is good, but erotica with emotional angst and well-written characters is wonderful! I plowed through all of these books well into the late night and it was worth it even with only a few hours of sleep before work.
Learn more about, or order each book in the serial:
|Play Me 1: Wild|
|Play Me 2: Hot|
|Play Me 3: Hard|
|Play Me 4: Real|
|Play Me 5: Right|
Miss_D has been reading romance books for over 25 years. A native Californian making her way in the Big Apple, she likes to spend her downtime relaxing in front of the TV, chatting with friends, sitting in Central Park and playing beach volleyball. Miss D can be reached via Twitter @bonobochick.