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Tag Archives: 2013 Daily Dose – Make a Play

AudibleLGTitle: Audible
Author: Dawn Kimberly Johnson
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 18,765 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, 2013 Daily Dose – Make a Play, Sports, Athletes, Football, Closeted, Media Intrusion, Second Chances, HEA
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

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Three years ago, cameraman Powell Perdue and quarterback Talbot Wojewódka called it quits, citing irreconcilable differences. Powell wanted to live honestly, while Talbot felt he couldn’t and still succeed in professional football. One knee surgery and a trade later, Talbot finds himself back in town and quarterbacking for the Raptors, a struggling expansion team. Powell’s also back, working as a cameraman for KJOC-TV, following two years in Amsterdam and a second failed relationship.

When an interview meant as a publicity play throws them into each other’s path, they’re forced to face a love that never quite died and wounds that never fully healed. For any hope at a win, they’ll have to change up the game. Talbot must brave walking through his closet door and into Powell’s arms, and Powell must risk his heart one more time by standing his ground and giving Talbot a second chance.

REVIEW

This is a fictional account of what it might be like if an active playing in the NFL were to become the first “out” player in the league.

Talbot Wojewódka is an NFL quarterback who has been traded to the team from his hometown.  He’s working his way back from a serious knee injury and hoping for a few more good years in the league to secure his retirement.  He hasn’t planned well and he’s been the victim of blackmail as he has tried to stay in the closet during his career.  His one real relationship with Powell Perdue, his high school/college boyfriend ended when he realized he wasn’t being fair to Powell.  Bot hasn’t had an easy life with his family either and is truly and desperately lonely.  He tries to make friends with his new teammates and then gets thrown for a loop when the local TV station decides to send Powell and a female reporter to profile him for the team.  He’s completely caught off guard by seeing Powell again for the first time since their breakup and the same old feelings surface.

Enter the twin children of the football team’s owner: Melicent, a beautiful straight woman who has designs on Bot and Melvin, a gay man who after struggling with his sexuality for years is making a success out of being a sports reporter.  Melvin immediately recognizes Bot as a closeted player and while he’s pretty harsh with him, it’s something that Bot needs to hear and Melvin shocks Bot into coming clean about his past with Powell.  Melvin ends up being a hero of sorts in this story – to himself and others.

Things don’t really go very well when Powell and his work crew end up at the same bar where Bot and Melvin are having a heart to heart.  Bot makes a move on Powell and ends up a bit the worse for wear.  Both men are torn up about their past breakup and while they obviously still have the same feelings, nothing else has changed.  They don’t see each other again until the season opening game and an on field incident throws them together in a dangerous situation that has far ranging repercussions.

I wanted to like this story more.  I’ve enjoyed the other stories I’ve read by this author, but I felt like there was a little bit too much in this story for the word count.  For some reason, I found all the convoluted family relationships intertwined with the story of Bot and Powell distracting.  The football team owner’s ex-wife being Powell’s boss at the TV station, Melvin and Melicent at the radio station and working for the team respectively, and then ultimately Gingham, the owner himself all are wrapped up in this story with their own issues.  I really would have liked more interaction between Powell and Bot in the present.  While it’s not my favorite story by this author, it’s still an enjoyable read and I hope one day it’s not just a fantasy.


ThunderballsLGTitle: Thunderballs
Author: Andrea Speed
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 5,323 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Daily Dose — Make a Play, Short Story, Sports, Dodgeball, Flirting, Meet Cute
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

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Luke Diaz signs up for an adult dodgeball league out of morbid curiosity and a love for a crazy movie. After all, sports aren’t his thing. Then attraction to the team captain, Shane Kinrade, keeps him from ducking out of tryouts, and Luke discovers he’s actually rather good at hitting where he aims. Along with his newfound ability, Luke considers the charming team captain to be right up his alley and luckily, Shane shares his interest.

REVIEW

This is a super short story that is really a setup for a possible relationship. If you’re expecting a romance, then you’ll be disappointed. In this story, Luke has gotten roped into trying out for an adult dodgeball league. He shows up for the tryouts, but he decides he might not try too hard to actually make the team – that is until he sees the coach, Shane Kinrade. Shane might just make this silly idea worthwhile. He makes the team and he decides if he gets to ogle Shane then that’s OK with him. He doesn’t even really care whether or not Shane is gay or not, but he’s hoping maybe he is. At the first practice they have some fun and it turns out Shane IS gay. They get together after the practice and learn that they have a lot in common. This could be the start of something good.

I’m a big fan of this writer. Her Infected series is easily one of my favorites. I really liked Luke’s voice in this story. It’s told from his POV and he is a typical snarky, sarcastic Andrea Speed character. This is a nice setup for a story, but I felt like that was all we got – the setup. I would have liked to see more with these guys. We don’t even get a kiss out of this one.


ContactSportLGTitle: Contact Sport
Author: Anna Butler
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 6,761 words, 30 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Daily Dose – Make a Play, Bisexual, Bittersweet, Jocks/Nerds, Light & Sweet, Sports, Short Story
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Nikyta

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Jamie Connor is a charming and sexy star college hockey player. He’s not the sort of man to be dazzled by someone who speaks in long mathematical formulas and worries about strategic thinking. At least, he wasn’t that sort of man until the college dean agrees to a scrimmage match with the nerds of the Blaine Strategic Institute, and Matt Blaine, son of the founder, captains the other side. In a sport where full body checks are a legitimate play, Jamie’s taken by surprise at just how much the King of Cool wants the King of Geeks.

REVIEW

This was an adorable, slightly funny story about Jamie, a star college hockey player, who has to play against a bunch of nerds at the request of the college Dean. Ranting about the ridiculousness of the situation, Jamie expects to wipe the floor with the geeks and be done with it. What he doesn’t expect is to meet the prettiest man he’s ever seen, the captain of the geeks team, Matt. It’s love at first sight for Jamie but not only is Matt gorgeous but he’s also a very talented hockey player, who shatters all Jamie’s stereotypical assumptions.

I had a lot of fun with this short story. When you meet Jamie, he’s very arrogant and confident and speaks in a very stereotypical way. However, it isn’t long before all those stereotypes get thrown out the window. In fact, I’d say this whole story revolves around destroying the stereotypes surrounding jocks and geeks because not only is Matt, the ‘geek’, he’s gorgeous too but Jamie, the ‘jock’, is extremely smart and Mathematically focused. I found the Math talk so amusing, I couldn’t help but smile and chuckle during Jamie’s running dialogues! I loved that Jamie was so focused on being able to kill Matt’s team in the rink and then realized Matt’s team had a lot of skill. I loved that there was an immediate connection between Jamie and Matt. They’re very cute and hot together!

This one had a lot of potential, though. I was really enjoying it and the way that Jamie was affected by Matt. However, while I really liked the story, I felt like it was incomplete. The pacing and the actions of both Jamie and Matt were entertaining and fun but then the story just ends with Matt walking away leaving it very open. Not really a promise of tomorrow, no definite plans to meet up again, just a hopeful, maybe see you in the Library. I felt like it was at odds with the rest of the short story and the way that Jamie was acting towards Matt and his almost obsessive attention. Although we don’t get to know much of Matt as a character, it was clear that Matt was obviously affected by Jamie, too, which made the ending baffling for me. In general, this story could have been much longer, more fleshed out but even just a little bit more to the ending would have made this an HFN instead of the bittersweet ending it feels like.

Overall, I really liked the story and if this had been much longer, I’d have loved it. The abrupt, almost bittersweet ending dimmed my enjoyment, though. There are so many layers to Matt and Jamie we didn’t get to see (especially the part where they start a relationship) that this story could have been much longer and ultimately better. I really hope there’s a sequel to come because I’d love to see more of Matt and Jamie and get a proper ending to their journey.


KingsMateLGTitle: The King’s Mate
Author: Ashavan Doyon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 14,706 words, 64 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Daily Dose – Make a Play, Light & Sweet, May/Dec, Secret Admirer, Short Story, Sports (Chess), Unrequited Love
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

*****This review contains slight spoilers!*****

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Russell Pine goes to the café every morning to enjoy his time chatting with Sam Tesh, the café owner, a friend made over the past twenty years. So when Sam asks a favor, Russ reluctantly agrees to play in a chess tournament. But the contest isn’t the real challenge: Russ finds himself the focus of a secret courtship in words and pictures left for him to discover each morning, leading him to the question: In a café full of young and beautiful minds, who is looking at the graying chessmaster?

REVIEW

This was one of those stories that touched my heart. While not perfect, I fell in love with Russell, his troubles and how Chess played a role in it all. The fact that he has issues with Chess but willingly helps a longtime friend generate interest in his café by playing in a tournament was heartbreaking for me because it was obvious how much Russell hated it. The story is short but it revolves around Russell, his secret admirer and the possibility of moving on.

I loved the progression of this story because it has a slow feel to it. There isn’t much depth to any of the characters, though we get to know Russell just enough to connect with him (at least I did) but Sam, the café owner, and Justin, Sam’s son, are still enigmas. I found Justin so cute and I loved the way that Russell handled his ‘secret admirer’ but most of all, this was just such a cute story I couldn’t help but smile while reading it.

As I mentioned, though, it’s not perfect. In fact, some of the dialogue felt stiff, which made some scenes seem awkward. There isn’t much background to the characters so I was left confused and wondering  what they were talking about sometimes. Such as, how Russell helped Sam regarding Justin, what happened to Justin and why he was healing. There were just so many questions left over in the end, that I wasn’t completely satisfied with it.

In the end, I loved the characters and the fledgling relationship that they start. The secret admirer aspect was done well, IMO, because it was sweet without it getting out of control. If the story had been longer with more fleshed out characters, this could have been a phenomenal read. As it is, it was adorable but left me wanting more.


BullyForYouLGTitle: Bully for You
Author: Catt Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 22,732 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Western Rom Com Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Daily Dose – Make a Play, Bullriding, Femme Men, Twinks, Opposites Attract, Washington DC, Funny Guys, Best Friends
Rating: Really Liked It

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What could be hunkier than a cowboy? Not much, according to Martin Du Bois. He convinces two friends that a visit to the rodeo is every gay man’s wet dream, and so the three of them gaily (and I do mean gaily) set off to watch cowboy asses in action.

A visit to a bar after the event gets Martin closer to the action than he ever thought possible, and he meets Jesse Cumberland, the man who caught his eye in the ring and made his rhinestones sparkle. Instant attraction leads to a one-night stand that gets under Martin’s insouciant skin and causes him to rethink his determination not to get involved emotionally. When Jesse invites Martin to his ranch, the visit is almost derailed by Martin’s realization that they lead very different lives. As a flaming city queer, he sees no way to fit with the solid, athletic Jesse. It’s up to Jesse to see if he can change Martin’s mind.

REVIEW

You know… I’ve read probably 1/3 of the Dreamspinner 2013 Daily Dose stories so far and this is by far my favorite of them. It’s the longest story of the bunch, but that really doesn’t have much to do with it, other than the fact that it followed the story to it’s natural end, which was satisfying. No, the characters and their dialogue are what makes this story so great. It’s not perfect, but this story has a lot of personality and charm, and that carries it a long way!

“Marti” (Martin Du Bois, LOL, I love that pun — sounds like a gay stripper name), is the the ringleader of an incredibly fabulous trio of guys. He’s getting close to the BIG 3-0, which is devastating, of course, to his twinkdom. Who is he really? What will happen to him as he makes the transition to a real grown up, now wanting more than the dick hunting that he and his two best friends are famous for.

Marti is thinking on those issues as he carries on with his friends. Marti finally convinces his friends that the tight asses in the rodeo are worth it to come with him to a bull riding event in their city of D.C. He’s never seen anything like it in his life, but the men down there riding those bulls are swoon-worthy. It doesn’t matter to him and Curt and Dale that they don’t understand the sport at all, they’re making a scene just like they always do, loudly arguing the assets of the riders.

Marti is the only one brave enough to enter the cowboy bar after the event where all the riders congregated to drink and celebrate their wins. Refusing Curt and Dale’s emphatic statements that he was an idiot going in there with all those straight guys, Martin wants to take his chances that at least one of those guys have to be gay. And he’s looking for that diamond in the rough. And he finds him — a star of the rodeo circuit named Jesse — when the man comes to his defense (though he can mostly take care of himself) from a really drunk rider making derogatory comments and lewd suggestions.

Their meeting leads to a fabulous whirlwind affair, but when real feelings start to evolve, can Marti reconcile his city life with a man who lives on a Virginia ranch? Even if he has to ride a horse?!?!

This story was really a delight to read. It’s funny from page one, where we get to know Martin, Curt and Dale so well just by their dialogue. They’re super flamboyant and their energy builds and builds between the three of them until they’re almost trying to out-camp the others. They’re like so many friends that I know and the dialogue is dirty and soo real life. It’s also pretty brave of Catt Ford to write such a trio of so obviously femme characters because it’s a touchy subject with some readers, who want to see more flamboyant, feminine characters… but not too feminine. Of course, that would be politically incorrect… But honestly, I like when fictional characters seem so real and lets face it, it may be perfectly stereotypical to have such a campy gay male character, but that doesn’t mean that Martin and his friends aren’t genuine and totally life-like. The story, in no way, suggests that all gay men are camping it up around the world, LOL. And really, this is one of the main parts of this story — the dichotomy between the über-flaming gay guy and the horribly termed “straight acting” dudes, who are super macho because they ride bulls for a living 🙂 We’re presented with two gay archetypes that over the course of the story shed their skins to show that who they are is different from the image they might present to the world. In Jesse’s case, this is natural because of his job. In reality, he’s quite forward about his gay sexuality and doesn’t have any hangups about his sexuality. Martin, on the other hand, very purposefully wears that skin. He hides behind it because it’s much easier to not be taken seriously when he’s not sure he can live up to having a real life. Part of that is his mid-life transition. He may only be turning thirty, but to him that’s old age. For so long Martin has identified as a twink, which made it easier to find men. Not being taken seriously means that he doesn’t have to commit. Seeing the mask come off of Martin behind closed doors made him so real. Watching Jesse slowly obliterate his distorted self-image and help him build it back up through a solid relationship was touching. They shown to us as opposites, which make their initial interactions interesting and funny. But really, their opposing qualities go much deeper. Seeing them work around those issues made my interest in the characters change to a love for them as a couple.

My only complaint was the ending. It is a satisfying ending in the sense that I felt as if the story needed to end where it did. Still, that didn’t completely change my wish that I knew more about the direction these two were heading, especially with Marti. They’re on shaky HEA ground and a little past a solid HFN.

Honestly, I wasn’t really that interested in this story. I didn’t request it for review until a few days after I’d gotten all the other stories from the Daily Doses that TAR had requested. But I’m so glad that I finally did. It’s turned out to be my favorite and once again shown me what a great author Catt Ford is.


RidingtheBoardLGTitle: Riding the Board
Author: Cate Ashwood
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 11,397 words, 46 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: 2013 Daily Dose – Make a Play, Enemies to Lovers, Hostile Work Environment, Light & Sweet, Short Story, Sports
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

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Blake Emmerich arrives at practice, already apprehensive, to meet his new synchronized diving partner. When he sees Nick Freeman, Blake doesn’t feel confident about their chances. The day begins with Nick pushing Blake off the ten meter and ends with their coach cuffing them together to force them to deal with each other like the adults they’re supposed to be. Synchronized diving is about trust—how can you trust someone you can’t stand, no matter how hot you think they are?

REVIEW

The blurb does a great job of explaining the story so I don’t feel like I need to reiterate it. I will say this right now: I LOVED this book. As someone who was a diver for about a decade, I adore books that feature my favorite sport and regardless of how short this one was, I couldn’t help but enjoy it immensely.

It was easy to connect with the characters because I knew exactly what they were talking about when it came to their feelings towards the water. I loved that there was this instant tension between Nick and Blake. Their ability to antagonize each other made this a fun read but I also found the fact they couldn’t stand each other amusing. I felt bad for Blake at first because of what happened to his partner but I also liked that Nick had this side to him that others didn’t see. While that might be a bit clichéd, I still adored it. I found some of their banter hilarious but I also thought they were really sexy and hot together!

The only way this story could have gotten better is if it had been longer, novella or novel length, so that we could have gotten a fuller story about these boys and their journey beyond where it ended. Seeing them compete in meets and to see if they’re new found relationships allows them to dominate those competitions would have been great. In the book, there’s a mention of the second Nationals and experiencing whether they do good during that time would have been ideal, IMO, especially considering how Nick doesn’t talk to other people during competitions, it’d have been interesting to see how Blake takes that during such a critical time or whether Nick makes an exception for Blake.

All in all, this was a great story for me. The writing and the pacing were great and it fit my mood exactly — from the hatred in the beginning to the connection they eventually develop. I sincerely wish it had been longer because I can see Blake and Nick’s journey definitely going farther than it is right now! God, I do hope there’s more of them to come!