Title: Playing for Keeps
Author: Shiloh Walker
Copyright: January 2009
Genre: Erotic Contemporary eBook
Reason for Reading: I heart Walker’s contemps
Content warnings: Menage, anal sex, and read Ramblings section for full spoilers
Plot by seton: Nurse Dana has been getting her freak on with Photog Mason and Doctor Jacob. She has been dating Mason for a year. She has known Jacob all her life and they’ve always been on-and-off-again lovers. The situation was never suppose to last. Then something unexpected happens and its no longer fun and games.
Ramblings: First of all, the dog doesn’t die in this novella. There isnt a dog or even a cat in this story, actually.
Before the movie Marley & Me opened last Christmas, vandals went all over L.A. disclosing the ending of the famous book, now turned into a movie. Now, vandalism is never right but maybe the punks who did this were being more than their usual trollish selves this time. Many people cant stand to see a beloved pet die in a story. I know many friends who have told me that they will never, ever see this movie for this very reason.
So, what’s my point? My point is that I wish someone had disclosed what Playing for Keeps was all about. It starts out as one thing – a menage story in which Dana’s connection w/ Jacob is much more intense and deeper than hers with Mason – and I think I know where this is going and then it sharply veers off course into this terrain that I dont ever want to go into. . . .
(Okay, just so everyone understands specifically what I am talking about, I am now going into DETAILS so warning if you dont want to be spoiled.)
Jacob’s condom broke during one scene and Dana becomes pregnant. Dana gets rid of Mason. Jacob and Dana are happy about the pregnancy and are in love. Then in the course of her work, Nurse Dana is exposed to a child with Fifth’s disease which could be deadly to her fetus. And it is. I am crying buckets by this point and I fear that I am going to run out of the tissue box and might have to resort to toilet paper.
I am also uncomfortable and have now been taken out of the story.
Because I now realize from the inevitable way the story is told that the miscarriage part is probably from Real Life, either the author’s or someone very, very close to her and my mind starts to wonder and wander. This isn’t a tearjerker moment as part of a enervating read that a master manipulator like Mary Balogh or Lorraine Heath can provide. No, this is Reality and I was not surprised by the Author’s Note at the end that confirms it. Just very, very sad. Oh, and I cried reading the Author’s Note too. 🙂
In any kind of creative field, a person’s life experiences leave traces into their work like invisible fingerprints. I can understand any author feeling compelled to incorporate some momentous event in her life into one of her stories. I am sure that I have read many books where the author fully incorporated and transformed the event organically into the story. If so, kudos to them. But when they dont, I notice and I dont like that uncomfortable feeling I get when the author is just too close to the event and the romance becomes . . . something else. A roman a clef?
After I have slept on it, I have decided to give this a B because I think SW is a good writer. Trying to put the hankies away and think analytically, I think there were too many ingredients for such a short story. I would have preferred it if all the parts with Mason was removed since he was so thinly drawn. I never saw the connection between him and Dana. They supposedly have been dating for a year. He supposedly made her laugh but I never got to see that. Then with Mason gone (good riddance!), stuff like the too short last chapter which read like an epilogue could have been expanded. Still, it was a happy ending and best of all, no doggie death.