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Morgan Harcourt;Laylah Hunter;Thea Hayworth;Gryvon
Play It Again, Charlie - R. Cooper 3.5 stars

The great:
Play It Again, Charlie is the ultimate slow burn/UST read, it is character driven, has some great dialogue and Charlie and Will are such a sweet couple! Charlie is a shell of a man, going through the moves, held prisoner to a myriad of demands and responsibilities: to an injury that forced him to leave the police force, to the demands of his extended family, and to his new teaching job. He’s so...downtrodden and in constant pain. Then there is Will, the golden boy who has just moved into the apartment across the way, a fey, twinkish mystery-man hairdresser; his interest in and pursuit of Charlie unwavering and relentless. He doesn’t know what to make of Charlie and we feel that Will is not used to being confused, of having to do the pursuing. We can feel his yearning (realized by his attraction to Charlie) for the transition from party boy to deeper relationship.

I really fell for Will. What I like best about him is that he searches for what lies behind the wall Charlie has put up to the world and he eventually sees the real man, the man that Charlie doesn’t even know he is. Will loves to play and he sweetly draws Charlie into letting go to play along with him. When they finally knock knees the relief is so palpable, so erotic, they’re achingly ready for it and believe me the reader is more than ready for it too. The flirting, courting, and sexual innuendos really serve to ramp things up. The author takes you along on Charlie and Will’s slow dance, shaping it with references to old black and white films that Will loves and is constantly referencing. We get an intimate view of two men figuring out how to come together. This sets up a strong voyeuristic feel -- like we’re right in the room watching the action unfold.

The not so great:
The author’s writing style works to undermine this gentle romance -- a case of clumsy delivery interfering with a great concept. I found myself gritting my teeth sometimes at the extremely slow-moving storyline -- storytelling so drawn out and at times redundant that it borders on tedious. The attention wanders, never a good thing. Even though I love Will and I love Will and Charlie together (ached for them!), a reader shouldn’t have to work this hard. A good editor could have helped to streamline this and really make it sing!

If you’re a patient reader and like careful character development and a sweet romance that could come out of an old black and white film (save the delicious man on man action), read this one. You will certainly want to make Charlie and Will’s acquaintance but just remember that it will be a long and bumpy ride.