Today, I am hosting author DJ Jamison’s latest release Truth or Darren, book one in the Games We Play series, a m/m contemporary romance. Be sure to read my review. And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
Title: Truth or Darren
Series: Games We Play, Book 2
Author: DJ Jamison
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Tropes: Enemies to lovers, sister’s ex-boyfriend, small town
Themes: Finding love, finding your self-confidence and figuring out where you belong in the world. Community as family.
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Release Date: August 11, 2022
Publisher: Must Love Books LLC
Truth or…whoa, that’s not how this dare works!
Blurb: What happens when my big mouth writes a check it can’t cash while taunting my ex’s brother in a game of Truth or Dare? I end up with his tongue in my mouth. In my very straight, totally uninterested mouth.
While I don’t feel anything.
Nothing at all.
In fact, I barely noticed.
So, why can’t I stop thinking about it?
Truth or Darren features a troublemaker with good intentions, a guy who’s none too impressed with his sister’s ex, and an animosity that flares hotter than either of them could ever imagine–but which the townspeople of Granville, Nebraska, are all too happy to speculate about. It is a standalone story but book 2 in a series. It does not end on a cliffhanger.
Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited
Darren caught my uneasy expression and smirked. “Oh, I’ve got the perfect dare.”
“I dare you to kiss a guy. And not just some peck. You have to mean it. Emulate Dawson over there and give it a hundred precent.”
“That’s the dare?”
I glanced around the group. “Any guy?”
His wide mouth quirked, eyes sparking with challenge and amusement. He thought he’d cornered me. Clearly, he didn’t know I was bi. I hadn’t come out until last year at Hayworth, and I hadn’t seen Darren in two years at least. “Yep. Any guy.”
His grin slipped. “What?”
“I mean, you said any guy. You said you’re not scared of anything. And I know you’re not homophobic, right? You wouldn’t give me a dare like that because you think it’s a big deal to kiss a guy, right?”
Darren scoffed. “Pfft. What? No. I mean, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I can’t speak for what you might think of it.”
“Okay, then. I’ll take the dare and kiss you. Unless you’re gonna run scared when you’re in the hot seat?”
“Oh boy,” someone muttered behind me.
“This should be good,” someone else said with a small snicker.
Their comments washed over me as I stared down Darren. I’d come over here reluctantly, but his antagonism was exactly what I needed. I’d been brimming with rage for days, frustrated as my future plans were vaporized without warning, and Darren Rafferty made the perfect target.
He glared. “I don’t run from anything. Besides, it’s not like you’ve got the guts to kiss me.”
I barked a laugh. “You picked the wrong day to fuck with me.”
“Like I said, you don’t have the—”
I grabbed a fistful of his shirt and jerked him close, then slammed my mouth onto his. Darren stumbled into me, his hands clutching my waist as he caught his balance. His hard body pressed against mine, and heat lanced through me. Jesus, he was hot. I hated him, but he was so fucking gorgeous I couldn’t help but enjoy the kiss.
He gasped, startled, and I swept my tongue into his mouth. Darren had goaded me into this—and I was going to make the most of it. He tasted like Jack Daniel’s, which sent a flicker of guilt through me. He’d clearly been drinking. But he’d been clear-eyed when he’d challenged me, and I couldn’t seem to detach from his delectable mouth.
His tongue curled around mine, and my eyes rolled back in my head. I gripped his hair tighter, having no idea when I’d lifted my hands to touch him, and tried to maintain control of the kiss—but it was too late. Darren was in the driver’s seat now, and he relentlessly devoured my mouth, making me take everything he wanted to give as he kissed me back.
Wait a second. He was kissing me back.
What the fuck?
Shocked out of my lusty stupor, I jerked back. Darren’s eyes were wide and dark, a little intense as he stared at me. We were both breathing hard.
I was aware of the crowd of people watching us, all of them silent, as if waiting for all hell to break loose.
“Well,” he said, sounding surprisingly calm, “I guess I underestimated how far you’d go to prove me wrong.”
“No,” I said with a shit-eating grin. “You just failed to realize that daring me to kiss a guy is no dare at all.” I leaned in close and whispered. “I like men, Darren.”
He gaped. “Wh-what?”
“I’m bi, and you’re a dumbass,” I said. “I guess you didn’t get the memo.”
I enjoyed the blurb so I was all for reading and reviewing the book. I had no idea this was part of a series. The book is a true standalone. If you want to read the series, go for it, or if you want to read one novel, that can be done as well.
First off, the writing is excellent. The author creates a great world in the Midwest of the USA, with a small-town setting and real-life characters. The dialogue is true to each scene, and true to the character.
As for the stars of the novel, I must say I enjoyed both. Linc has been hit hard with losing his college funding after his rich parents invested badly and lost the family fortune. He’s forced to get a job and drive a crotchety car named Matilda. The poor guy is humiliated. He doesn’t think of himself as a snob, but maybe there’s something hiding within that makes him think unconsciously that he is a bit better than his peers, even though he tries hard to fit in.
Darren is the scene stealer. He’s portrayed as an irresponsible, cocky ladies’ man at the start of the novel, but that’s quickly doused when the author gives us a glimpse of the real Darren. He’s an accepting guy who embraces people from all walks of life, and a hard worker at a local garage.
There’s also a wonderful cast of secondary characters who flesh out the small-town feel of the novel. They do a great job of adding to the plot instead of detracting from it.
I really enjoyed the lessons learned by both characters and their arcs. The author did a great job of giving Linc and Darren the experiences they needed to grow as individuals since they are new adults trying to become full-fledged adults.
There are plenty of steamy scenes between the two lovers. But also many heart-to-heart conversations that allow their budding relationship to grow.
I must say I enjoyed this novel and recommend you give it a read. She really nails young men fighting to become men.
DJ Jamison writes romances about everyday life and extraordinary love featuring a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, one snake, and a sadistic cat named Birdie.
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