REVIEWED by Caroline
TITLE: Dirty Games
AUTHOR: Barbara Elsborg
PUBLISHER: Self Published
LENGTH: 108,000 words
RELEASE DATE: March 30, 2017
The last thing Linton needs when he arrives home after three months in the States, is to find his beautiful flat is a squat, complete with his younger brother Dirk, who’s lying in Linton’s bed with a couple who’ve paid him for sex. Dirk isn’t even supposed to have a key. But after Linton throws Dirk out, life slams in hard and if his brother is to have any hope of a future, Linton has to play dirty. Or at least pretend to. What he hasn’t factored in is having to play the game to the bitter end.
Film star Thorne Morrisey has everything. Good looks, charm, seductive magnetism and a voice that could charm a snake from its basket. He can also be a real shit and yet people still love him – though he’d rather not have the love of his ex. Owen’s a suicidal wreck after Thorne dumped him in a very public and humiliating way and Owen’s wealthy brother has his own reasons for wanting revenge on Thorne. Max’s weapon of choice is his employee, Linton.
Linton and Thorne are on a collision course and in for the game of their lives. But who’s playing who?
The very first thing you will notice when you pick up Dirty Games is how confusing the blurb is. This confusion continues for at least the first 30% of the story as we are introduced to a lot of characters who are all relevant to the game that is about to be orchestrated in the name of revenge.
So first of all we have Linton who has just spent the last three months in the States getting over his cheating lover who left him for a woman. Linton has a problem with love; with the meaning of it, with saying it and definitely with feeling it and he has sworn off bisexual men forever. His return to the UK does not go as planned. His brother, an addict, has turned his flat into a squat, the ex-lover is still sniffing around and his old friend Owen with whom he shares a traumatic past has tried to kill himself. Owen proves to be Linton’s biggest problem – between the guilt from their past and the fact that he works for Owen’s brother Max he finds himself agreeing to set up the man who is responsible for Owen’s broken heart.
Thorne is a rising star in the film world and until recently was set to marry the love of his life Owen. When things between them end they end badly and Owen is unable to cope, mainly due to his past. Thorne isn’t an easy character to like; he has a nasty temper and when cornered or hurt he lashes out with the cruellest of words. Thorne has major issues with trusting people so it was surprising to see how quickly he trusts Linton when he first meets him even if their first meeting turns out to be a fluke.
Linton and Thorne are polar opposites in many things but very similar in others. One of their similarities is the way they protect their brothers and I really liked this side of them both. Linton’s brother Dirk is a mess and some of that must be blamed on his childhood. Thorne’s brother is autistic and is possibly the only person in the world not to suffer the wrath of his brother’s acidic tongue. I also enjoyed the fact that Linton never gave Thorne an inch and didn’t bow down to his requests too easily.
The stalling in being honest with each other was a little frustrating after a while. Linton had ample opportunities to be honest with Thorne but didn’t take one of them which just made it worse for both of them in the end. I never warmed to Max and although I was glad to see Owen and Linton talk at the end I don’t feel it redeemed his behaviour.