Author: Will Parkinson
Publisher: Dreamspinner (Harmony Ink)
Length: 53,637 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary YA Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Debut Novel, High School, Unrequited Love, Closeted, Best Friends, Straight/Gay Male Friendships, Coming Out, Coming of Age, Art/Artists, Sports, Baseball, Athletes, Abuse, Machiavellian Bad Guy, Evil Teenaged Girls!, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Not Feelin’ It
The day Jackson Kern walks into Taylor Andrews’s classroom is a momentous day in Taylor’s life. He’s had crushes before, sure, but as time goes on, this is starting to look a whole lot more serious. Still, Jackson doesn’t return Taylor’s feelings.
Taylor has his own admirers, though. Kevin Richards is used to getting what he wants, and what he wants right now is Taylor, so when Taylor rejects him, Kevin retaliates. At first Taylor’s entourage rallies around him, but then Kevin takes his deception one step further and Taylor sees his support dwindle, teaching him the valuable lesson about who he can truly consider a friend.
I’m always eager to pick up a baseball book and even though I’ve been interested in several and still plan to review a few of them, it has been a while since I’ve picked up a book from DSP’s young adult imprint. From what I gather in the acknowledgements, this is Will Parkinson’s debut novel. Sometimes it’s a gamble picking books to read by a new author or an author I’ve never read, but that’s another part of reviewing that I like. Reviewing gives me the opportunity to read new authors and it feels like I get to enjoy more of the perks, like finding a surprise that’s worth it. Often, it’s different though and while I like some of those books I also don’t like some of them. I’m afraid to say that this book fell into the latter camp for me. While it wasn’t a total disappointment, I just didn’t connect with the book.
Taylor is a gay sophomore in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin high school. His best friend Benny is straight and the only person alive who knows his secret. They’re best friends and always have been and Benny is a rather special guy that is wise beyond his years, intelligent and loyal. Pitch opens on the day that a new student starts at Taylor’s school. Jackson walks into Taylor’s homeroom, looking nervous and totally sexy and Taylor immediately wants to draw him. What follows over the next year is an intense unrequited love that just doesn’t seem to go away, no matter how hard Taylor tries and Benny cautions. No matter how much Taylor is told that Jackson is disgusted by his little boy crush from Jackson’s cheerleader girlfriend, Taylor just can’t seem to stay away.
It isn’t until he and Benny gain some perspective on their problems during the next summer, camp counseling for abused kids, that Taylor starts to grow up. He still has feelings for Jackson, but he’s less likely now to follow him around like a lost puppy. So when a kid from a neighboring school asks him out during their Halloween dance, Taylor decides to take him up on it. He really starts to like Kevin, but he is prey unknowingly walking into Kevin’s trap. It takes some extremely tough decisions and way too much heartbreak and drama to realize that much of what he thought before wasn’t true, about most of the people he knew.
There are two aspects of this novella that I had a difficult time with. The first are the characters. This, especially, is subjective. Part of what oftentimes makes a young adult novel good are the bad choices of the characters. More often than not young adult stories have a moral and it can walk a fine line in the hands of the author between preachy and poignant. The style of this story went a bit over the top and that just wasn’t something that I was really looking for. For high school students, who I freely admit can be some of the cruelest humans on Earth, many of the actions of these characters went beyond immature and foolhardy. I would have appreciated the characters and their decisions (even the bad ones) more if their actions had been more subtle and less ascribed to their particular archetype. Kevin’s actions in particular required me to suspend disbelief a few times.
As I said before, those decisions and your own feelings about them are more subjective than usual. My other problem with this story was in the writing. I applaud this author for writing and writing and sharing their work. But like many new authors I think that there were some fundamental writing problems that this author needs to work on. Mostly it will just take continued writing, so even though this book wasn’t for me, I sincerely hope that this author keeps up with it. Part of the novice prose problems were dialogue and restraint. In a way, the second has quite a bit to do with the first. This book didn’t fall into too bad of a habit of telling rather than showing, but there is importance in letting the characters express themselves in their own ways instead of being a vehicle to express the author’s view. I’m not talking about preaching about issues or anything like that here. I simply mean the difference between the characters’ observations and personality and the author’s. Almost continually there were times while reading this that I stopped and thought that a character wouldn’t say or think that. The dialogue, in a similar way, oftentimes sounded familiar for all the characters and didn’t seem to represent the individual characters. Restraint is important because readers don’t need all the information. It’s a partnership, you know? The readers picks up on the clues the author leaves and pieces them together and in that way one small action tells you more about the character than a whole page of narration.
Ultimately, this book just wasn’t for me because of the more dramatic plot twists. I have seen a couple of 5-star reviews around so I’ll be interested to see if any other readers/reviewers feel the way I do, or if this turns out to be a reader favorite. I’ve been a part of the more unpopular opinion before!
Posted by Cole in 2 Not Feelin' It, 41-75k, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 1 - Sweet/None, Romance, Sex Freq 1 - None, YA Tags: Abuse, Art, Artists, Athletes, Baseball, Best Friends, Closeted, Coming of Age, Coming Out, Debut Novel, Evil Teenaged Girls!, Harmony Ink Press, High School, Machiavellian Bad Guy, Secrets & Lies, Sports, Straight/Gay Male Friendships, Unrequited Love, Will Parkinson
Title: What There Is
Author: Kate McMurray
Length: 15,318 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Sports, Athletes, Baseball, Brooklyn, NYC, Roommates, Jock/Nerd, Food, Coach, Past Injury
Rating: Pretty Good
Former professional baseball player Justin Piersol needs a new life after a career-ending injury, and his job as a high school baseball coach isn’t exactly fulfilling. Still, things are looking up: he finds the perfect room in an apartment in Brooklyn with Mark, who writes a popular column on sports statistics.
Mark is nerdy and socially awkward and intensely shy, and he immediately develops a terrible crush on Justin, who barely seems to notice him. As they get to know each other, Justin admits he misses playing baseball, that coaching doesn’t scratch the itch. Mark confesses he thought he’d be married by now, that he wants a serious relationship. So they make a pact: Justin will help Mark find a man, and Mark will help Justin find something he loves more than baseball.
They put their plan into action… and then life gets complicated. Mark meets a nice guy named Dave, and Justin is suddenly crazy with jealousy. Justin realizes he wants to let go of the past and focus on the present, but as Mark and Dave become an item, Justin fears he’s too late.
I’ve been excited about this new story from Kate McMurray ever since she visited the blog in June for Kate McMurray Week. It’s another baseball story and though I first thought that it might be a spinoff/sequel, or in some way related to Out in the Field because the main character Mark works at Sports Net, it seems to have no connection.
The premise is a roommates-to-lovers story, when Justin visits Mark about a listing looking for a roommate to share his Brooklyn apartment. They find that though they’re different in a lot of ways — Mark is painfully shy in front of an outgoing and hunky Justin — they also have some things in common. Justin was once a baseball player, a pitcher for the Brooklyn Cyclones, before an injury forced him off of the field and into a coaching job. Mark works for Sports Net, writing about baseball statistics, but he’s never been an athlete himself no matter how much he enjoys the game. But most of all, Mark is just glad that a normal and sane person came in reply to his listing and actually wants to rent the room, no matter the fact that Justin is so hot it might be impossible for Mark to actually have a conversation with him.
After a little while, when the awkwardness of sharing a home with a stranger starts to abate and the two start to get to know one another, they both start to see that they’re unhappy in their lives. Justin is having a hard time coaching those who he knows will go on to have the career that he always wanted and coaching isn’t giving him the same thrill that playing did. Mark really wants to have a relationship and he confesses to Justin that he doesn’t know if he could ever meet someone because he’s so shy. So, the two decide to help the other out — Justin tells Mark that he’ll help him find a guy and Mark tells Justin that he’ll help him find something he’s passionate about, just as he was playing baseball.
Even though this had less baseball in it than I expected, I really quite enjoyed this story. It probably isn’t going to get rave reviews because it’s a short story and I have a feeling that a lot of readers are going to want more from this couple and feel like this story is too short. I don’t really think that’s true. We aren’t presented with a couple here that has issues they have to work through, together and individually, that will take them a long time to process in order to get their HEA. They’re more of a simple couple that takes a small amount of time and a little nudge to see that they could be good together. And that was fine with me, I finished the story enjoying it for what it was and feeling satisfied.
Fans of Kate McMurray will definitely want to read this story. All of the things that I like about her writing were presented here, like her love of Brooklyn and baseball, and I really liked how the food and cooking classes brought them together (food can definitely do that!). It was a nice story, sweet and light, and enough to tide me over for more of her work to come.
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, Authors M-O, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between, up to 15k Tags: Athletes, Baseball, Brooklyn, Coach, Dreamspinner Press, Food, Jocks/Nerds, Kate McMurray, NYC, Past Injury, Roommates, Short Story, Sports
Author: Dawn Kimberly Johnson
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
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.
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.
Posted by Sadonna in 16-40k, 3 So So, Authors J-L, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: 2013 Daily Dose - Make a Play, Athletes, Closeted, Dawn Kimberly Johnson, Dreamspinner Press, Football, HEA, Second Chances, Short Story, Sports
Title: Confessions of a Gay Rugby Player – Part One
Author: Patrick Darcy
Publisher: Wilde City
Length: 12k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 5 – Over and Over
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Series, Charlie Harding Presents, Wilde City Press Erotica Week, Sports, Rugby, Athletes, Irish, Multiple Partners, Clubbing, (Semi) Public Sex, Diverse Partners, Dirty/Raunch Sex, Kink (Felching, Facials, Cumeating, Snowballing, Fighting/Wrestling), NYC
Rating: So So
Star Irish rugby player, Conor Murphy, lives and breathes rugby. He spends his weekends playing rugby, drinking beer, and singing songs with his teammates. There is only one thing he loves more than rugby, and that is hot rugby players. But after the final whistle sounds, the real competition begins: the hunt for the hottest men.
Conor’s muscular body and roguish good looks ensure he can have his pick of the sexiest players. But what happens when this alpha male meets his match on and off the field? Who will come out on top when he meets the horniest rugby players from the USA? Can two alpha males have the night of their lives?
I was a bit unsure about this erotica story as I started reading. I just needed to get in the right mindset. I wasn’t sure about how I felt about Conor, he’s a bit of an asshole. But after reading further into the story it started to not make much difference to me because I could see that the story was playing on the hot/asshole/macho/badboy type, the two alpha men going at each other. Once I figured that out and that it wasn’t about just one asshole guy out looking to screw over whoever, then it was fine with me 🙂
Conor is a Blind Side Flanker (I have no idea what the hell that is, but…) who is on a tour with his rugby team from Ireland at an international gay rugby championship in New York City. Much of the beginning of the story sets out to explain a bit of the game, in particular their semi-final match with the San Francisco team. The SF team are one of the best in the world, but they underestimate what a bunch of crazy fuckers the Irish guys are (which is a story-long sentiment, lol) and the game gets rough and stays that way until the very end. In the game, Conor makes an enemy and they continually one-up the other throughout the game. Tonio is on the SF team and is a kickass player. He’s latino, built and bronze-skinned and he gives it back to Conor as good as Conor gives it to him. So when the tournament is finalized and the teams are all headed to a night of sponsored clubbing (and fucking) by the tournament, Conor knows that he’s going to do whatever he can to find Tonio and see if he can make him his tournament-end conquest. And… it seems that Tonio has been looking for Conor as well.
This was a pretty solid erotica story, or what Patrick Darcy calls “full strength gay erotica” in the author bio. It’s definitely full strength. Take a quick look, if you haven’t yet, at the tags up above and that will give you some insight into the kind of stuff they get into in this story. It’s less about specific kinks and more about the dirty raunch, in both action and dialogue that they get up to. Even more, their sex is just like their competition on the field and they go quite a while trying to best one another in bed, which leads to some pretty hot naked wrestling. But, neither seems to be upset by what happened on the field. What happens during the game seems to be left in the game and the importance of the night is all about fun.
So, assuming that you understand by now that this isn’t romance at all, and you like to read some pretty heavy erotica that’s just a touch raunchy but doesn’t go too far really, then I’d recommend this one to you. It’s rather short, but definitely hot. And if you’re interested and like the first one, you can always continue on with Confessions of a Gay Rugby Player 2, Conor’s exploits in Copenhagen.
Posted by Cole in 3 So So, Authors D-F, Contemporary, Erotica, Heat 5 - Off the Charts!, Sex Freq 5 - Over and Over Again!, up to 15k Tags: Athletes, Charlie Harding Presents, Confessions of a Gay Rugby Player, Dirty/Pig/Raunch, Diverse Pairing, Facials, Felching, Fighting/Wrestling Sex, Gay Bars/Clubs, Irish, Kink, Multiple/Other Partners, NYC, Patrick Darcy, Public Sex, Rugby, Series, Short Story, Sports, Wilde City Press, Wilde City Press Erotica Week
Title: The Unforgiving Minute
Author: Sarah Granger
Length: 72,925 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Tennis, Sports, Athletes, Closeted/Coming Out, Awesome Female Characters!, Past Injury/Trauma, Nasty Exes (and I mean nasty!), Famous, Paparazzi!, Around the World settings, Animals, Meet the Parents, Rich/Poor, HEA, Adorable!, Light & Sweet
Rating: Really Liked It!
Ryan Betancourt has got it made: he’s reached the top tier of the tennis world thanks to a wild-card entry to the US Open. Ryan is meeting players he has idolized for years, including his teenage crush, Josh Andrews. But he isn’t ready for the politics and manipulation that come with life at the top.
Josh Andrews is closeted, private, and difficult to get to know. He’s been playing tennis since he could walk, won his first tournament at five, and was sent to Spain at thirteen to attend a tennis academy. Before a knee injury forced him into a year off, he was ranked the number one player in the world. Now he’s back—and intent on winning.
Josh and Ryan first meet at a tournament in Brisbane. Ryan excitedly greets Josh only to be ignored. Crushed, he realizes the golden boy of tennis isn’t all he seems. Only in the team-building environment of training for the Davis Cup does Josh open up enough for them to grow closer. Their developing relationship is everything Ryan ever wanted, and he is blissfully happy. But inevitably they have to play against each other, and everything changes.
So that’s how I feel now, just having finished this. In the words of Fake Joy Behar Fred Armison, So What? Who Cares? This might not be the perfectly executed book, but it wins on more than one account, most importantly rating high on the Swoon Meter!
It took a late blooming start for Ryan Betancourt to play in the big leagues, against his childhood idols and masters of tennis, but in the past year something clicked for him. His maybe late but now meteoric rise from the Futures and Challengers tournaments won him a wild card place in the US Open, and his new more confident playing gave him the points the enter the top tier of international men’s singles and entrance into the most celebrated top tournaments worldwide. Sincerely optimistic without fault, Ryan starts the season in awe of the his new contemporaries, many who used to grace his teenage walls. One, more than any other, however, has always been his idol. Perfectly poised in tennis and life, Josh Andrews is the wunderkind of tennis on his comeback after a torn ACL and several year absence from the circuit. Meeting his inordinately beautiful and talented hero in real life… well, that’s a big disappointment.
Ryan’s personal life seems to progress with his success at the game, and the more time he spends as a part of the famous and elite players, the more he realizes he deserves to be among them. In correlation, his confidence in his own performance shines. It seems that everyone has undervalued him, but that’s only because his successful rise is climbing faster than their expectations. He soon finds that he has friends and a place among the top tennis world.
Ryan is eternally optimistic, but with that comes a tenacity and perseverance. When he still can’t get his mind off of Josh Andrews, even when everyone else seems to have a conflicting observation about the man, Ryan decides to speak to him himself. Soon after, their paths continue to cross and the two become friends. But what Ryan expected to find in Josh Andrews is rather different than what he finds — a conflicted, somewhat broken man only held together by the determination to win.
The biggest part of what made this book so satisfying was in the creation of Chase MItchell, the antagonist. Granger is pretty crafty in the trajectory of Mitch’s character, though I have to tell you that while I couldn’t have said just what direction the book ultimately took, I didn’t warm up to him at all. (Pardon me while I go off on a tangent you might not understand unless you’ve read the book!) When we first meet him he comes off with just the right amount of cultured charm, which (probably intentionally) slightly rubs the reader. He seems like the kind of guy with ulterior motives, but he’s handsome, charming and doesn’t really display any kind of negative behavior — at least to Ryan. It’s was also pretty clear to me that he had some secrets by his few mentions of Josh to Ryan and the fact that Ryan is never in the same room as both of them. By the time the story is set up to reveal the real Mitch, he goes from confidante and friend to Ryan yet coming betwixt the two of them to the absolutely perfect target and one of the reasons to bring Ryan and Josh together for a final time. And when you finally hear about all of his past deeds and crimes and realize just how despicable of a man he really is, then he’s the perfect antagonist, and a perfect opportunity for Josh to get his comeback. And through Josh, Ryan as well. (Okay, tangent over.)
What originally drew me to this book was the tennis aspect. I took tennis lessons from age 5 to 14 and was pretty good, actually. I never would have gone anywhere — I just don’t have the drive for it and I’m the least competitive person. I like to read about athletes that push themselves because that was never me. This definitely gave me what I wanted, but I was drawn into the story immediately by Ryan, who is an enigmatic narrator. He’s driven yes, but without many of the faults of exceedingly talented athletes — like ego, aggression and other stereotypical Type A behavior. And of course, he’s the underdog. We naturally want to cheer him on.
All I can really say is that analysis aside, this was just a really enjoyable book to read. Part of that is the action, which cut into the drama nicely. Also, that creation of such a satisfying antagonist in Mitch. There’s quite a bit of detail about tennis and some jargon about the game that some reader’s might not quite understand. I found the detail about the whole system much more intriguing, and though I know very little about the real life tennis world to compare, the story came off as authentically set in the real world and not an idealistic one. But mostly, it read like a novel masquerading as a novella, meaning that the reading experience passed by in no time because of my enjoyment of the story and becoming immersed in the characters. There’s no deep analysis of them or a really intricate plot in the narration, but instead a light tone and satisfying finish that made me a fan of Sarah Granger. Now, I need to go back and read her other story published earlier this year — The Long Road Home.
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors G-I, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Adorable!, Animals, Around the World settings, Athletes, Awesome Female Characters, Closeted, Coming Out, Dreamspinner Press, Famous, HEA, Light & Sweet, Meet the Parents, Nasty Exes, Paparazzi!, Physical Injury/Trauma, Rich/Poor, Sarah Granger, Sports, Tennis
Author: ML Rhodes
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 72k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Magic/Witches, Second Chances, Jocks, Nerds/Geeks, The Mob, Mate Bonding (of a different kind, but similar), Lots of Secrets, Sexy to the 999s
Rating: Pretty Good
Emrys Andrews grew up in a quaint New England town in a big, close-knit family. In school he was never a brain or a jock, and he wasn’t in the popular crowd, but he had good friends and was known as an all-around, nice-guy geek. His family, however, wasn’t exactly average. You see, Emrys lived in a town steeped in a rich history of witchcraft—Salem, Massachusetts. And the members of Emry’s family were, you guessed it, honest-to-goodness witches. Still, life had always been pretty great for him except for one little problem. While the rest of his family totally rocked the witch power, Emrys was, let’s say, magickally challenged. Even his family tended to avoid him when he did magick, as most had been victims of his wayward spells.
David Jennings was everything Emrys was not—sexy, popular, athletic, and a perfectly normal non-magick person. In spite of their differences, all it took was one look into David’s twinkling blue eyes and Emrys was a goner. He kept his crush secret, however, because his magick was usually at its worst when he was emotional or his adrenaline was pumping, and around David, he couldn’t control either.
When an unexpected encounter finally throws them together, Emrys discovers he’s not the only one who’s been fantasizing from afar, and sometimes opposites not only attract, they make a perfect chemical, and magickal, bond. As it happens, though, David’s family isn’t average either. They keep secrets. And when those secrets come to light, David’s forced to leave town and never look back. Brokenhearted, Emrys tries to move on without him. Years later, David returns, and comes to Emrys for the kind of help that only a witch can offer. Unfortunately, Emrys’ abilities are still as wretched and unpredictable as ever. But with David’s life on the line, Emrys knows he has to find a way to control his power once and for all to save the man who’s always been his perfect mate.
Wow, it was really nice reading a story from Ms. Rhodes again! It was such a happy surprise for me to see this book come out, and not only was I happy to see a new book, no matter which one it was (really!), I was even more excited that it was a witchy one. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t help but devour every male witch story in m/m that I can find. Maybe it’s because I’m such a Potter lover? Not sure, but when I went into a slump last week and couldn’t figure out what to read, I opened this book.
Emrys is a witch and lives in Salem, Massachusetts. His family dates back to beginnings of the town and though most of the town is now non-magickal and makes light of their history, Emry’s family and a select few others know the truth and hide their secrets well. Emrys loves magick, he just can’t do it very well. He’s the runt of the family in that way — all his siblings are rather adept, as well as his parents.
Emrys has to watch himself well, especially when he’s drunk, or emotional in any way. He tends to just start tingling all over and then who knows what will happen? He’s learned his the hard way over his childhood, but the lessons never seem to stop coming. Drunk at a football game with his friend, Emrys makes a mistake that will set his romantic life in forward motion. When he sees the new kid at the school, who swept in and took the quarterback’s spot to lead their team to the first victory in a long time, making him the hero of their school — he literally swoons. He’s never felt such a powerful attraction. So when the gorgeous quarterback passes by him on the shoulders of his teammates, Emrys just wants to touch him (remember, he’s drunk). And when the power of his attraction seems to draw the other boy’s gaze and brings a smile to his face, his power lets loose, tripping the group and ultimately injuring the boy, David, and taking him out for the rest of the season.
Emry’s feelings don’t change after that. It doesn’t matter how sorry he is, how mortified he is… He ruined everyone’s hopes and hurt David in the process. It’s his secret how it happened though, known only to his sister Morgan who saw it and thankfully, didn’t tell on him to his family. Years later, at their graduation, Emrys notices that David doesn’t seem himself. Of course, he doesn’t know David at all, not really, but he’s watched him from afar their whole high school years and come to know him in a way. David is down, really down and something seems terribly wrong. He’s the last person that Emry’s expects to run into at a party that night (or down the street from one), while trying to fulfill a dare to enter the town’s haunted house. The misuse, or misfiring, of his magic once again makes a scene, but David doesn’t react the way Emrys expects, and their night of getting to know each other once and for all surprises him in more ways than he could ever expect.
He doesn’t expect that David could ever have feelings for a geek like him, nor that David’s life might not be the one of popularity and glory that he sees it as. But the revelations shared between them that night change their lives in unexpected ways.
First off, I’m going to get this out of the way before I even try to have a serious critique of this story — GODDAMN that was hot! ML Rhodes is one of my top authors for writing the sexiest scenes and this didn’t disappoint. Remember that scene in True of Heart in the cave? OMG! Yeah, she can really write the hot stuff. Emrys and David have an immediate connection, on purpose (more on that later), that really comes through sexually.
In many ways, this is just such a feel good read, and that’s something that definitely draws readers. It’s not fluffy, but it is light without sacrificing darker issues or scenes. Part of that comes from the connection between Emrys and David. Of course, we never expect a story to end in anything less than an HEA and we usually know beforehand if that’s the case. So there’s always a sense of security there for a happy ending. More than this, the “mating books” and the reason why I think readers find shifter books so popular is that there is an added layer of security there. We know when we’re reading a classic shifter book that the characters won’t consider hurting the other in any way because they’re feelings are almost magical in power. Of course some readers don’t like that, but that’s what makes that style and type of book more in line with a certain type of fluff, and we often find fluffy books about shifters. This story takes that “mating” type connection and plays with it a little. I won’t describe why because much of the realization of their connection comes to Emrys later in the book. Suffice it to say, the relationship is based on a type of security that the characters are meant for one another on a cosmic scale, and that comes across throughout the story and through their emotional and sexual connection.
I was really happy to see that Ms. Rhodes didn’t rely on any typical format in structuring the story. It is a second chances type story, but their time apart bisects this book almost cleanly in half with a space of three years. That might throw some readers off as they’re rounding the halfway-point, but I didn’t mind. And really, besides the fact that this was ultimately just a cute, sweet, easy story to read, it was really nice to see another work published by this author. I know that readers have been waiting patiently (or some impatiently by now!) for more of the Draegon Lords, but I enjoy pretty much everything this author writes, and it was nice to see an addition of her’s to the writing released in 2012.
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Fantasy, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often Tags: Amber Allure, Athletes, Magic, Mate Bonding, ML Rhodes, Nerds/Geeks, Second Chances, Secrets & Lies, Sexy to the 999's, The Mob