Title: Winner Takes All
Author: Jenny Urban and Elizabeth Silver
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella (107 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Dominic Taylor and Matt Harris have been friendly rivals – with occasional benefits – for a few years. With the downturn in the economy, though, Matt’s business is struggling. Dom, whose company is doing well, offers Matt a bet that could help save Matt’s company. But the terms of the bet would literally put Matt’s ass on the line and change the dynamic of their friendship.
As the deadline approaches, they graduate from making out to making love, raising the stakes as they each come to terms with what they really want, and what really matters.
No matter who wins, there will be no going back for either one of them. Because the winner takes all
Matt’s construction business was on the brink, battered by the economy, and he knew that it would be almost impossible to save it, a stunning reversal from just 2 years ago when the industry was booming and he was making money like there was no tomorrow. Now all the contracts had dried up. His major concern was his employees who would be without jobs and a viable future, since many of his competitors were in a similar situation. Financially he was comfortable because he had some savings and investments, but worrying about his employees kept him up at nights. Dom had been in business for 10 years. His company, Red Rock, was over performing and his problem was finding a large enough pool of qualified people to fill skilled positions, especially with the new contract they had just won.
Their friendship spanned 7 years and in addition to being best friends and business rivals they had sex whenever they were drunk, although Matt insisted that he was straight and kept pointing to all the non existent women he bedded, but they both knew that he was lying to himself. They would go to sports bars every week, watch their favourite teams lose at basketball, and after the game they ended up in bed where the ‘playing’ escalated every time they were together. Initially it was a game for Dom, but lately his emotions were involved, something which he never anticipated would happen.
When Dom realized how bad things were for Matt’s company he made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. If Matt wanted to save his employees’ jobs Red Rock would put in a takeover bid in one month and the employees would get a job guarantee when the company changed hands. A match made in heaven! The one month grace period would give Matt some immediate breathing room to try and stabilize his company. Even though it would kill him to lose the company he had built from scratch Matt would do anything to save his employees’ jobs. In the meantime he would have an incentive to double his efforts to try and save Harris Development, and if he was able to make sufficient progress in that direction he might be able to convince his shareholders not to sell. Of course, with these two guys nothing was sacred and this potential takeover was no different. As a side bet Dom upped the ante and inserted a bonus condition that if Matt were unsuccessful in saving his company his ass would be Dom’s to do with as he wished for one whole week; if he won, Dom would be his bitch instead.
To say that Matt didn’t like the bet would be putting it mildly. His reaction –
“Dude, I’m not gay. I don’t need you to be my bitch when I can find one with breasts.”
Dom’s response was even more graphic
“We jerk each other off on a regular basis, and you let me suck your cock,” he said, drawing out the words. “Rather enthusiastically, even, and you didn’t seem to mind my lack of tits then. You’re not as straight as you think you are, Matt. Consider this the perfect opportunity to work out what you want without strings attached. And if you don’t want my cock in your ass, then it’s an added incentive to get your shit together.”
Even when they were trying to be serious they couldn’t help being funny.
At one point, in response to a suggestion about Dom teaching his blowjob tricks, this was the exchange –
“Who else would you teach to blow me? I’m not sure I want you pimping out my dick to all the newbies in the greater Dallas area.”
“Asshole.” Dom snickered. “I was thinking I could teach you a few tricks that you’d practice on me. What do you say?”
Eventually Matt accepted the bet because that’s how everything always ended up between them – competitiveness was the name of the game and each wager was “winner take all.”
One of the main reasons I loved this book was the funny dialogue and ‘one-up-manship throughout as Dom and Matt tried to finesse each other all the time, but Matt was playing a losing hand and he knew it. Recently, whenever they gave each other hand jobs Matt could no longer pretend that he only enjoyed sex with Dom because he was drunk – the “straight” claim was not valid any more as he was craving Dom’s brand of sex and couldn’t get enough, and when he realized how much he wanted Dom sexually he didn’t seem to mourn the women that he would no longer have in his life.
The characters were strong and fed off each other and they were both complex in terms of their business issues and a friendship that had survived 7 years. They obviously loved to be together and the business rivalry ramped up their competitive nature. If I had one complaint about this book it would be about the amount of sex. For such a short book I thought that the high jinks in bed could have been less and the story would have been just as enjoyable or probably more so, since to me the story seemed a tad unbalanced with the guys either mostly on their way to bed, planning what they would do once they got there, or actually having sex. However, that could be just me because I like a lot of plot in my stories. Despite this one “flaw” that you might love, the book was very well written and the characters were three dimensional, likable and extremely funny.
If you’re looking for a fun book with a plot, (it did actually have a good one) lots of torrid sex scenes, and two well drawn characters, I highly recommend Winner Takes All.
This is the first book that I have read by this writing partnership and I will definitely check out their upcoming releases. The writing style is entertaining and the prose and dialogue are crisp, funny and fresh, especially when the guys are in bed as they seem to be inspired when they’re having sex . 🙂