Beat the Backlist Series Review | All for the Game

The Foxhole CourtThe Raven KingThe King's Men

About Book One:

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

All For the Game Trilogy
Kinda Contemporary LGBT, Maybe

January 13, 2013


2017 Birdie Award Winner

What the ever lovin hell did I just read??!

That was the most convoluted, insane, mess of a trilogy I’ve read in my life.  Take the wildest craziest soap opera you’ve ever watched and turn up the dial by 100 and you have All For the Game.  If you notice, up there for genre, I seem to be flip flopping on whether or not this should be classified as contemporary and here’s why:

There’s nothing realistic about this supposedly contemporary story in any way at all!  Not only is the sport made up, which whatever, but even the plot is so far-fetched you can’t even call it contemporary unless you’re lying to yourself.  Can a book be contemporary and fantasy?  Can we call it ‘Fantastical Contemporary’??

I read a review of The Foxhole Court, book 1, on Goodreads and the author titled it the “Book of No”.  She basically called out all the crap that was absolutely unbelievable and she was RIGHT.  The entire trilogy is completely absurd.

Normally I would have ripped it apart!  I should have hated it!

I didn’t.

I don’t want to admit it, because the plot really was atrocious, but I actually pretty much loved it.  Trying to put into word what I love about a book I know has one of the worst plots is a really hard thing to do.  For you, I’m going to try…

I’ve had a lot of time to think about why I was so hooked and how, despite all my complaints, I’m still going to give this trilogy 5 stars overall.  I thought about it while I was reading them, and I’ve obsessed for a day after finishing.  What I think it comes down to is the cast.  All of the characters in the story were really well outlined, with each of their own unique backstories and characteristics.  They also maintained those personalities through the whole story.  Never, not once, did any of them act outside their outline.  That’s an amazing feat, I think.  It’s easy to tweak a character’s response to push the story in a direction, and it didn’t happen.  (Maybe because the plot was insane.)

In addition, they’re not the best of the best.  They’re the best of the worst.  Coach Wymack put the Foxes together because, not only were they good at Exy (the made-up sport I mentioned), but because they all needed second chances at life.  The cast ranges from mobster’s kids, to brutalized foster kids, to kids with addiction.  They’re all brought together to form a team of delinquents Wymack hopes to help heal, emotionally.  It’s even said once in the book, their reality is not a normal person’s reality.  They wouldn’t rely on calling a police officer if they’re feeling threatened, they eliminate the threat on their own because that’s what they’ve always had to do.  This was also a negative while reading, because I wondered how any of us (me as the reader, and them as characters) would get past all the hurt they cause each other, physical and emotional.  That antagonism is also a big part of what kept me reading.  Somehow, despite all the horrible choices made, the author made me love them.

And finally, the relationships were probably the biggest draw.  There is a romance in the story, and even though I doubt I’ve done the best job convincing anyone to read this manic book, I’m still not going to talk too much about it.  The synopsis for book one doesn’t give anything away so I won’t either.  It’s in there, and it was… aggressive but beautiful.  It kind of reminded me of Dan and Vadim from Special Forces in how they’re both love stories that are brutal, but passionate.  It was my favorite character relationship,  probably not surprising, however it wasn’t the only great relationship.  A lot of the others I was interested in weren’t romantic at all, and they were just as intense.

What it all boils down to is, if you haven’t figured it out yet, the plot is not the strength of the All For the Game trilogy.  If you’re going to dive into this one, right off the bat you need to know, plot=suckage.  I rolled my eyes so many times I think I gave myself a sprain.  Despite that, I couldn’t put any of the books down.  I read them back to back, and stayed up till all hours of the night because I needed to read one more chapter.  And then one more.  And then one more.

I’ve always said I’m a character driven reader.  If I can connect with the characters, I can overlook a shaky plot.  Reading this trilogy really cemented it in my head.  When I reread these books, and I know I will, it’ll be because I missed The Foxes.

He was their family.  They were his.  They were worth every cut and bruise and scream.


About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

11 Responses

  1. I totally agree with you about the plot and the characters. I remember when I started the first book I pretty much disliked all of the characters (they’re all so destructive! And violent! And mean to each other!), but then by the end of the third they were as near and dear to my heart as they were to Neal’s. And it’s amazing how the romance develops over the course of the books. It doesn’t even seem possible in book one, but by the end of book three they had me clutching my heart. These books are definitely wild and imperfect but I think you nailed why they’re so enjoyable in your review!


      1. I also had known who the romance was going to be between, and I remember seeing excerpts from the third book while I was still on the first and being like….How???? These books are so wild, like, they’re a bunch of college kids, all of whom have intimate experience with murder (among other issues), playing an extremely violent sport, getting into scraps with the FBI…and somehow it’s so good.


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