Games To Play After Dark has the minerals, and delivers a potent high wire act for the entire story. So much so that I had to put the book down, look around my immediate surroundings and hope no one would interrupt me as I tried to finish it. The speed at which Ms. Borden tells this story is almost as impressive as the story itself. I even love the author photo which says something like, “We’re doing this photo thing? Really, ok, whatever.”
We meet Kate the moment of relationship inception. There is not a wasted second and Kate is at once nervous and excited to meet Colin, who is in it just to get Kate to bed. I get it, really, meeting people sometimes does that. However, there is the rest of the story to tell. Kate describes her maniac wedding, and the presents that wait for them in their new place.
Then the story toggles back to her youth, which is very reminiscent of Denise in The Corrections, but Kate is better. I know, that is bullshit, you are calling it on me right now, but it is not, and I love Denise. Kate struggles under a nasty father who does everything you expect a man to do to his daughter, and then some. It’s a slow boil, and I cannot imagine how this book got published because the moment we meet Kate and Colin, we are torn off to the past. It’s great, but really, these days, unless the story you are telling is A to B to C and seat-of-the-pants hot, you will not get a contract. Unless, of course, the book is so fucking good that editors have to publish it.
Kate is immediately likeable and despicable at the same time. I knew she had one foot out the door when it came to relationships, and Colin never saw it coming. Women get just as bored men, and Kate not only gets bored with Colin she also gets fed up with her own life. She almost isn’t prepared for parenthood, or being an adult. Like she is insulted by the burden of responsibility.
Kate’s most damning trait is how she goes from hero to zero in a matter of one or two chapters. She starts to mistreat her children not because they deserve it, but she is just fed up with the day to day grind. Raising kids is very challenging. Kids are selfish and only care about themselves. Colin is no help to Kate, and there are a few moments that will ring true to anyone who has fought with their spouse about the trivialities of life. First it is a pair of gloves, and Colin’s pizza greed both stick out like a bloody nose during a rehearsal dinner.
All of this to say that Kate is drowning. She works with battered women, in a story line that is nothing more than a throwaway, because what’s going on in her life is far more exciting than anything that could ever happen outside the house. Colin becomes a detached cliché and does it with Casper like fury, leaving Kate alone with her own demons, which she can’t shake, and doesn’t want to even if she could. The suffering here is pungent and inescapable.
Games To Play After Dark is a tsunami on marriage, but it reads like a thriller. Except nobody saves the day at the end.