Rules of Engagement
- Narrated by: Nick J. Russo
- Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 02-03-16
- Language: English
- Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
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.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Morgan A Skye on 15-04-16
5 stars up til the end...
Dustin just got out of an awful marriage to an evil, cheating ex-wife. He’s not looking to get involved with anyone. And a man never crossed his mind.
Brandon is a bi-sexual professor who likes to play pool. He’s had some bad exes but no heavy baggage. When he sees Dustin one night at a bar, he’s immediately attracted and when Dustin sends him some mixed signals, he approaches him for more than a game of pool.
Though Dustin has no idea why a man is suddenly so attractive to him, he acts on his impulses and goes home with Brandon. The two start a brief affair but Dustin leaves after a couple weeks, freaked out about dating a guy.
Brandon gives him space, but doesn’t desert him, and when Dustin thinks he’s got it figured out, he allows himself to get involved with the still very confused Dustin.
I am a big fan of LA Witt and Nick J Russo, so when I saw this in audiobook format, I was psyched!
I vaguely remembered not loving the book when I read it years ago, but I didn’t remember much one way or another.
As I got into the book, I was surprised because – at the beginning – it was hitting all my buttons. Two men, one obviously bi-sexual and the other looking like he was too – that’s a hot button for me. The sex is scorching. Very well written and lots of it. I really like Brandon – he’s confident, sincere, smart, cocky but tender. At first Dustin seemed great, too – open, willing to explore another facet of his personality, interesting… but as the book went on (and it’s a fairly long book) I began to really get mad at Dustin.
First, I DO NOT understand his relationship with his ex wife. How could he have been married to someone literally as psychotic as she was for TEN EFFING YEARS? Then there is the OTT mother and homophobic brother – UGH – they were so, so UGLY and just didn’t seem to fit with either Dustin or his sister or his other brother. Then there’s the a**hole best friend, Dan… so many ugly people in his life that seem out of proportion to the reality that is in Dustin’s head.
Since this is told from Dustin’s POV I wanted a bit more understanding of how he could be the person he is with the baggage he carries.
Then there’s Brandon, who just KEEPS letting Dustin treat him like crap.
Now – here’s a bit of a spoiler - ********
Even at the end, when Dustin has admitted to himself that he loves Brandon, he doesn’t have the guts to tell him. And the story ENDS there! I remember – now- being SO MAD!!
After all the nonsense – and including the fact that he experiments with a man and a woman after he splits with Brandon – I NEEDED some serious redemption to make me like him and the story again.
On the one hand I appreciated the fact that he needed to KNOW if he was gay, bi, whatever – and I can almost concede the need to see other people to verify that – but I wanted more remorse, more guilt, more SOMETHING so that when he gets back together with Brandon it feels good again.
Given the recent hubbub about bi erasure, I was glad to see that not only did Dustin acknowledge his attraction to both sexes, but many times throughout the book it was great to see Brandon extoling the virtues of being bi. I was worried at times that Dustin was simply going to jump on the “gay” wagon despite all those years married to a woman, so though I was upset with how he arrived at the conclusion, I was pleased to see him open to the possibility that there was more than just gay or straight as options.
End of spoiler section.
Given that there’s a book two and book two gives me the ending that I really wanted I can forgive book one for it’s ending. But at the time, I didn’t have book two to fall back on – so I’m advising you now, read book two before you judge book one.
Really, it needs to be read one after the other to fully appreciate their relationship because I was left with a bad taste in my mouth at the end of book one.
Now, for the AUDIO – Nick J Russo absolutely makes this worth the frustration. He is so dang sexy and he’s so good with emotion and pacing that I was immersed in the story and willing to move through even the ugly parts so long as I could listen to him narrating.
So… for the original story I give it a 3 of 5. Nick’s narration a 5 of 5 and Overall a 4 of 5 taking into consideration book 2.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Belen on 23-03-16
Narration is great
Any additional comments?
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.
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 personally with the direction the story took. 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.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful