Book Spotlight: Acing the Game by Carey PW

Acing the Game
by Carey PW
Date Released: February 10, 2023

About Acing the Game
Is food really the way into a person’s heart?

Shep Lee thought he had it all. A successful restaurant, a loving husband who understood his asexuality, and most of all, the ability to be himself, a popular chef in the small town of Cloverleaf, Montana. That is, until his husband, Elmer Eshler, began pushing Shep more on sex.

Elmer doesn’t understand why he can’t turn his partner on—aren’t they perfect for each other? And Shep loves him, right? Shep, meanwhile, while confident with his body, is and forever will be sex indifferent. Why has Elmer suddenly changed his tune? But he doesn’t want to lose the man he loves so much. What can they do?

Shep convinces Elmer to try a polyamorous relationship. Elmer gets to have Shep and the sex life he’s always wanted. Shep gets a cooking buddy and a chance to experience a relationship and even try sex with a woman as his authentic gender. At first, Shep isn’t sure, but finds himself coming around—this feels safer than opening up the relationship. All three of them will be romantically involved, so that should ease any jealousy, right?

But when Willow Saint, a free-spirited, boisterous, and saucy young woman, comes into their lives, neither are prepared for the emotional and sexual rollercoaster that follows. Enthralled by Willow’s charm and kindness, Elmer and Shep struggle to understand what this means for their own bond. Can they become one happy family? Or will this ruin everything?

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An Excerpt from Acing the Game
“I’m not that good,” I told her. “But I do these drawings sometimes.” 

Willow flipped through them. There were sketches of people who were half masculine and half feminine. A collage of various sexual images surrounding a shadowy figure that knelt down on the ground. One image of a man and a woman embracing each other, their nude figures fading into the body of the other while a third silhouette peered from a pit down below. 

“These are pretty deep,” she remarked. “They’re beautiful.”

“Elmer told me you like to paint, so I figured you might appreciate them.” I enjoyed having someone to share my drawings with. Art had become a way for me to release my anxiety. 

“You do this on Mondays?” she asked, holding up one of them toward the light. 

“Sometimes,” I said. 

“Has Elm seen these?”

“No,” I replied. “He knows I do it. He’s noticed things before, but…I guess I do them mostly for myself. Kind of like a journal.”

She stayed focused on the last image of the man and woman embracing over the third character. “Is this us? You, me, and Elm?”

I nodded.

She pointed at the figure in the pit. “Is that how you feel, Shep?”

I tapped my fingers on the counter and clinched my jaw. “What do you think that person feels?” I asked her. 

Willow took a sip of coffee and thought to herself for a moment. “It doesn’t resemble a polyamorous relationship. It looks like two lovers and a third wheel. We’re bright, and you’re dark. It seems as if you’re fading away.”

“Then, yes, that’s how I feel sometimes,” I admitted. I was scared to tell her, but I also knew that to get closer to Willow, I needed to be vulnerable about my insecurities. And I trusted her. 

She looked up at me with hurt in her eyes. “Oh, Shep. I’m sorry. I didn’t know you felt that.”

“I know you didn’t.” I hated seeing her upset. She was a sweet person. “You don’t have anything to apologize about, Willow. I’ve had a harder time adjusting to this, especially because our relationship is so different than the one with Elm.”

“Oh, but, Shep, you have it all wrong.” She carefully placed the drawings back into the folder. She took my hands. “This whole month, I’ve been yearning for you.”

“You have?” I froze. 

“Yes. Ever since that first night I met you. You’re not in the dark. I haven’t figured out a way to…I don’t know how to explain…to open you up.” She stared into my eyes. 

“But you seem so happy and lovey-dovey with Elm—” I insisted.

“I like sex.” She laughed. “And he’s very horny. But I often wish that I was doing it with you instead. I know you don’t enjoy it, or want to, but I long to make love to you. It would help me feel closer to you. When Elm asked me to move in, it wasn’t because of him. It was because I wanted a chance with you.”

“Do you not like Elm?” I asked. My forehead crinkled as I tried to process everything. 

“Yes.” She sighed. “He’s great. I have a blast with him. But I’m truly enamored with you. Oh, Shep, that drawing…I would do anything to be able to prove to you that it’s not reality.”

“How would you do that?” I didn’t know what to do with her emotions. I’d been too consumed with losing Elmer that I hadn’t noticed all the signs that she had feelings for me. I knew that I didn’t want to hurt her. 

“Please let me make love to you?” she pleaded, squeezing my hands. “At least once. You don’t have to do anything reciprocal if you don’t want to.”

“Uh…I don’t know,” I stammered. Don’t have sex with her. My promise tormented me. Even though Elmer admitted that he had a double standard with it, we hadn’t come to a new agreement. But as I looked at her, she was so beautiful. There was a part of me that wanted to be with her and let myself fall in love.

About Carey PW
Carey PW (they/them) is an author and mental health counselor. Carey is also the author of Grayality (Pride Publishing, 2022).

Carey currently lives in Maine, and identifies as nonbinary, transmasculine (AFAB) and panromantic asexual. Carey has discovered that writing about their lived experiences is a therapeutic outlet for them and hopes that their readers relate to their own personal struggles and triumphs shared through their characters’ narratives. They have also worked as a high school and college writing instructor, earning a B.A. in English Literature, a M.Ed. in English Education, and Ph.D. in Social Foundations of Education all from the University of Georgia. In 2020, Carey earned their second M.Ed. in Counselor Education and works as a licensed clinical professional counselor, LCPC. Carey has lived in Georgia, Beijing, Shanghai, and Montana.

Readers can learn more about Carey from their blog, When they are not writing, Carey is busy training for marathons, parenting their six cats, sharing their culinary talents on social media, and serving on the board for the nonprofit Center for Studies of the Person (CSP).

Carey PW loves to hear from readers. You can find their contact information, website and author biography at

Connect with Carey

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