Failing a Bluff Check (Single Gamers Society #1) by CD Rachels


First in a new series following a group of single gamers.  Failing a Bluff Check is Johnny and Firass' story, with fake boyfriends, first kisses, best friend's brother and board games.  

From the blurb:

My best friend’s brother has to pretend to be my boyfriend—how could this possibly backfire? 

When I need a date for my cousin Omar’s wedding, I don’t even think of asking my best friend’s brother. Johnny Shiba—my hot as sin, teenage gay awakening—has been gone for years. But now he’s moved back in with his brother and me, and, no, he hasn’t gotten less hot.

Being in close quarters with him, my decade-long crush only burns brighter. We can’t cross that line because I could never betray my bestie—not that Johnny has any interest in me.
When he agrees to be my fake boyfriend for a weekend, it’s just a friend thing, right? And when we meet my career idol and he adores our fake relationship, Johnny helps me cement the charade. Kissing, holding each other, and telling me how attractive he finds me are all parts of the bluff.

Our heated moments and intimate touches could never mean anything. And if we roll in the sheets for fun, surely that’s all part of the lying game. I can hold my real feelings at bay, keep my best friend happy, and prevent career humiliation—I have to.
Strategy and card games have always been easy for me. But this might be one bluff check I won’t be able to pass for long.

Failing a Bluff Check is a male/male adult romantic-comedy featuring beach life, drum kits, slow dances, drinking on boats, and yes, fake dating between rounds of board games. Roll the dice with book 1 of the Single Gamer’s Society. These queer nerds are looking for love, and bluff or fold, they play to win.

Sheena's Review: 

This is the first of a new series, with an all-new cast of characters whose stories I am really looking forward to reading. This is Firass and Johnny's story, and it's a tale of a first crush and kiss, best friend's brother, with a touch of jock/nerd too. The whole thing is delightful and sweet and more than a little hot in places too.

When Johnny saves Firass from bullies in school, Firass' crush on Johnny intensifies and they share Firass' first kiss. Cut to a few years later and Johnny is back in town after his music career didn't pan out the way he'd hoped, he's back living with his brother and Firass, and they reconnect. What follows is just too sweet. These two together are everything good, but more than once I wanted them to just talk to each other and sort it out. The fake dating turns very real for these two who do truly belong together, and it was fun (if a little frustrating at times) to share their story. I liked both men, and I really liked the cast of surrounding characters from Firass' Aunts, to the Single Gamers Society, to Johnny's parents who have half adopted Firass already.

I really enjoyed this, it's low angst and sweet and I really look forward to the other Single Gamers getting their own story too.

KjnRose's review:

This is the first book in the Single Gamer's Society series and I am so looking forward to the next one. This is a low angst, best friends brother, fake boyfriend read about Firass and Johnny.

I loved this book a lot.

Lilly's review:

I enjoyed this story, I loved seeing Firass and Johnny getting to know one another as adults, becoming close as friends before shifting to lovers. The attraction and chemistry between them is strong but it takes time for them to get on the same page emotionally (Despite both of them having deep feelings for one another).

Firass has valid concerns about Johnny leaving one day to go back on the road so he's hesitant about confessing the depths of his feelings to him. Not to mention dealing with his best friend, who still seems to be super hostile towards his own brother, which adds another layer of complications.

I loved the representation we get in Failing a Bluff Check. Firass is Bengali, and Johnny is Japanese! It was really nice to see both leading characters being men of colour, Asian specifically. The Muslim representation was also lovely. Out and proud queer Muslim people who have very accepting families exist. Every Muslim is different, and it's nice to see Muslim characters just existing like any other in gay romances.

Overall, I really enjoyed Failing a Bluff Check! I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, I need Natie to get his happy ever after.

Heather's Review:

CD Rachels has come into his own in this new series!  This book feels like it was a passion project and the characters really come to life!  I loved how both Firass and Johnny's emotions and state of mind mirror each other, and how they self-sabotage the relationship... until they don't,,,

I loved the book from beginning to end - the second chance, best friend's brother, fake dating trope was definitely well executed.  This book felt real and reading it felt like a glimpse into their world.  I am truly looking forward to the next installment of the Single Gamers Society!

Failing a Bluff Check is currently available as an e-book and paperback and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited Subscription