Title: The Losing Game
Author: Lane Swift
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 230 Pages
Category: BDSM, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: In spite of some significant-to-me niggles, I liked the romance between Lane Swift’s MCs.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Winchester Crown Court, October 2035: Richard Shaw leaves, a free man.
Grief-stricken and angry, Lucas Green is hell-bent on revenge against Richard Shaw, who killed his sister. Lucas has heard of a man who can help—the handsome and urbane owner of a boutique sex shop with a head for planning crimes. But Dante Okoro has a past he’s desperate to keep buried. Though Lucas piques his interest in more ways than one, Dante turns him away. Still, he wonders if he made the right decision….
An unexpected death brings Dante and Lucas together once more. This time they can’t ignore the chemistry between them. But courting a lover with lies is a dangerous game. Dante has been spying on Lucas, convinced he has plans to kill Shaw. Lucas has been spying on Shaw, waiting for the right moment to strike. If Dante admits his suspicions to Lucas, he’ll surely lose him. If he doesn’t, Lucas might do something reckless—and end up losing everything.
Review: I have some good feelings about The Losing Game, so I want to start with what I enjoyed about this book. I liked that Lane Swift established an emotional connection between reader and story from the outset, which made it easy to empathize with its protagonist, Lucas Green. Grief is a powerful emotion, presenting in myriad ways and causing people to act and react in ways that would otherwise be completely foreign to who they’ve ever been before. Add anger to that grief, and it becomes a volatile cocktail for Lucas to swallow, which is a compelling core to this story. He’s not only lost his sister—the only family he had left—to a sudden and tragic accident, but then, he was treated to the unequivocal injustice of watching the man responsible get away with what amounts to murdering Grace, scot free.
Which leads to revenge, the next facet of The Losing Game that added a nice dimension to not only the storyline but to the way the author acquainted Lucas and Dante Okoro. Grief and anger drove Lucas into the revenge business, and he believes Dante is the man who can help him make Richard Shaw pay for his crime since the justice system had failed Lucas so miserably. But while Lucas discovers that he’s got his wires crossed about who, or rather, what Dante is—apart from being the owner of a sex shop—we readers already know that Dante is something just a little more than a businessman, and I liked the layer of tension and subsequent uneasiness this wrapped around their meeting.
To say that theirs is an unconventional start to a romance isn’t an understatement. It begins with Dante spying on Lucas for his own somewhat nefarious purposes and resolves as Dante spying on Lucas for what he believes is Lucas’s own good. Not exactly the best foundation for a relationship, true, but the way these issues were resolved worked within the scope of the storyline.
Where I was thrown off by this novel lies squarely on both the blurb and its categories, and I had to do a lot of adjusting of my opinion of it based upon my expectations so I could look past them and see the story for what it is, which is, in essence, more a contemporary romance than anything else. The fact that the story is set in the year 2035 isn’t relevant to the plot, as such, as there’s never a firm enough sense of time established to make the setting feel near futuristic in scope. I wasn’t expecting auto-piloted hovercraft or programmable food replicators, but I was anticipating that there would be aspects of the scenery that would ground me in a place other than the here and now. As this was not the case, it caused me to wonder, why not just set the story in 2015 instead?
As for this book being categorized as BDSM, I felt that was off the mark too. The only whispers of BDSM come in Dante’s owning a sex shop and him catering to the custom needs of his clientele. So, if you’re looking for a book that more than tiptoes along the periphery of BDSM, or even the lightest touches of dominance and submission, that’s not really this book.
And while we’re on the subject of categories, I will say that since we know who the antagonist is from the beginning, there isn’t a real mystery here, but the book does deliver some good suspense as we watch Lucas further unravel and straddle the line between reason and irrationality. There was some really palpable tension in what becomes the inevitable confrontation, as it loomed and then came to fruition, which again added a nice undertone of friction to the building romance between him and Dante.
Where The Losing Game worked for me rests solely on the characters and their interactions–especially some of the side characters. There were some tense and touching moments throughout this novel that worked to overcome some of my disappointment in not getting quite the book I was anticipating.
You can buy The Losing Game here: