Review: Pleasure Games by Jessica Clare

pleasure gamesReviewed by Janell

This is another novella in the Games series, and the most recently published (come on, Book 6!). It’s also part of the Invitation to Eden series, which is written by multiple authors and centers around a private island in the Caribbean with an exotic hotel. It’s probably populated by billionaires and sex clubs, I don’t know.

The “show” in this story is called Pleasures of Eden, and it’s a dating show like The Bachelor. Juno is an artisan glassblower who has a stall at a Renaissance faire. I’m going to stop right here and tell you that Juno’s job was my favorite part of this story. I liked to hear her bemoan the costs of silica and metal oxides, explain how she wore pants and no makeup and put her hair up because she was close to a furnace all day, get inspired by the world around her. It’s just such a cool-sounding job.

Anyway, Juno needs money because rent is going up. Her friend convinces her to audition for a dating show. Isn’t it always the friend’s fault? The show has a minimum payout for filming the first episode, so Juno goes along for the money and the vacation.

It turns out that the bachelor is Heathcliff Forester, the billionaire who broke her heart about eight years ago. I’m going to stop again and say that reunited lovers stories are just not my thing. At all. Also, his name is Heathcliff, for real, and he’s a brooding bachelor. He does not have a sex dungeon, though. (The hotel has one, but he doesn’t use it.)

So, I admit defeat. This is the first Jessica Clare book that I didn’t enjoy. It’s not her, it’s me. (Or it’s the Eden premise that she had to write around.) I read this while my kindergartener competed in a chess tournament all day. I wanted the gooey goodness that the other Games books have, but this had to fit in the Eden setting, and Heathcliff was too boring to make me forget that I was hanging out at a chess tournament.

Like all Games books, this was told from only one point of view. We know all about Juno, the introverted artist who chose her career over love. We’re told that, back in college, she loved Heathcliff, the outgoing football player. But on the island? He’s kind of a boring enigmatic rich guy. I felt like he spoke Billionaire — making pronouncements, expecting people to worship him, acting suavely distant, yet ruthlessly pursuing the woman. I don’t read billionaire books (except for Jessica Clare’s! I’m so conflicted!) because I feel like that’s their schtick and it’s not for me.

Some people could totally dig Heathcliff’s machinations to get Juno back, though. He set up the whole show for her! He always only ever wanted Juno! It’s all a facade! Soylent green is people! Ahem. He wants her, she hates him, but she can’t resist a man in a hot tub.

There’s some nice descriptions of Juno’s outfits, and her friend is really good at braiding hair. I liked that. I wish I had so much hair that it could be braided to look like a conch shell.

Rating: D

Click to purchase: Amazon

Pleasure Games
by Jessica Clare
Release Date: December 6, 2014

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