Title: Rules of Engagement (Rules of Engagement #1)
Author: L.A. Witt and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Buy link: Amazon.com
Release Date: March 2nd 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
Dustin Walker has no idea that avoiding the search for Mrs. Right could send him into the arms and bed of Mr. Right Now. According to Dustin’s mother, he should be out looking for his next wife so he won’t be the divorced black sheep of the family. Instead, he passes his free time at a local bar and pool hall, where he meets someone who’s everything his ex-wife wasn’t: funny, caring, faithful… and male.
Is Brandon Stewart just Dustin’s way of getting over a bitter divorce? Can Dustin really care for him, or is it simply that Brandon is the complete opposite of his ex-wife? Dustin keeps their affair as quiet as possible, because if it continues, he knows he’ll eventually have to come out to his homophobic family or walk out on the man he’s trying not to love.
Nick J. Russo has a smooth voice, a cool style, and the ability to make panties burst afire when he starts on L.A. Witt’s steamy sex scenes – all of which lends itself to a wildly entertaining listening experience.
Dustin Walker just got out of a ten year marriage to a manipulative, habitually chronic cheating harridan who was basically hand picked by his true harpy of a mother. When he goes to the local bar and pool hall he ends up meeting Brandon Stewart, who’s proudly bisexual.
Dustin and Brandon get together and Brandon is everything that Dustin’s ex-wife isn’t. They get along great, the sex is phenomenal, and they really click. But being with a man is a complete mind blower for Dustin, who isn’t sure what this means: is he now gay? Is he bisexual or straight but gay only for Brandon? Then there’s the worry of what his family will do once they find out Dustin is in a relationship with a man.
Clearly, I was attracted to Brandon, but that attraction to him—to a man—came out of left field, and it unsettled me. If anything, it was just strange to be reconsidering my sexuality at this age. It was one thing to be confused and bumbling through all of the idiosyncrasies of sexuality at fifteen; it was another thing entirely to be looking down the barrel of thirty and going through all of that bullshit again.
Told entirely from Dustin’s POV, I would have really loved to have gotten inside Brandon’s head. I also would have really liked the chance to get to know the characters better, instead of spending most of the time in bed…don’t get me wrong, the sex scenes are hot and plentiful, but I wanted a little more meat to the story. I know, I know – what the hell, right? I love sex scenes! But there really were too many here for me.
This was an interesting and entertaining book for the first 60%. It has a really compelling premise and I was really keen to explore the bisexuality angle. Though I had some issues with Dustin not standing up for himself with his mother and, again, the constant sex scenes got a little old (I seriously can’t even believe I just wrote that sentence!), even with all that I was enjoying it overall…then it all went to hell for me. Cue rage explosion.
Suffice it to say I am more than disappointed with the direction the story took. I’m going to put some points under a spoiler tag – because I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s good time and not everyone will have the issues I have with what happens.
- The fact that Dustin whines constantly throughout the entire story about “am I straight” “am I gay” “am I bi” was repetitive, then boring, and, ultimately, frustrating – YOU LIKE BOYS AND GIRLS – that’s the definition of Bisexual, dumbass – get it through your head and get on with it!
The way, once Dustin is outed to his mother (and then his family) by his supposed friend and bitch of an ex-wife, he treats Brandon is appalling.
“It’s not serious, Bill. It’s nothing.” Brandon fidgeted next to me.
He’s dismissive of their relationship, and Brandon, and I was cheering when Brandon dumps his ass.
Then, in order to try to prove something to himself Dustin goes out and has sex with first a woman, and then a man. While the sex with the woman was off-page, the sex with the man is told in great detail and ruined what romantic feelings I had left for the story.
Dustin finally realizes after these two encounters that the empty feeling inside means he’s really in love with Brandon and goes to him.
To top off my serious disappointment in the direction of the story there is a very short, very unsatisfying HFN ending. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what happened with Dustin’s family, and how they dealt with being a couple…but – nada.
Bottom line: for those who like an angstier story with lots of sex, a HFN and excellent narration, you should check it out – otherwise I would recommend giving this one a pass.