Reviewed by Sid Love

TITLE: The King’s Mate
AUTHOR: Ashavan Doyon
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
BLURB: 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 chess-master?


2013 Daily Dose: Make A Play anthology introduced us to some new authors and Ashavan Doyon is one of them. “The King’s Mate” was his debut with a bang!

Russell Pine has been a regular customer in Sam’s café and after knowing each other for twenty years, they have grown to be friends by helping each other out through thick and thin.

In order to bring in more customers, Sam comes up with an idea to set up a chess tournament in the café. He is well aware that Russell excels in the game and so he asks him to be a contender. The game, however, is a painful reminder of someone important from Russell’s past, and even though he is sure how it would affect him, he decides to take the challenge for his friend’s sake.

As the tournament begins, mysterious notes begin to turn up for him – notes that contain his hand-sketched face and a word to describe him. Neither Sam nor his son, Justin, could say for sure who has been leaving them behind. There’s no trace left behind to even clue Russell into knowing who his secret admirer is … nothing, except a distinct smell of that man’s cologne and Russell is sure he has smelt that on someone before…

Nope, I am not spoiling the mystery at all. Though it doesn’t take a high-functioning brain to put two and two together and realize who it might be, even before it is revealed. The hints are all there.

This is a short, sweet story that has every emotion packed into it. I found two of my favorite things in here – Romance and Drama – and I was content. The notes that I mentioned before are really sweet and I am sure if I get notes like that I’d be dreamy all day! Hell, everyone would be, so why wouldn’t they affect Russell?

The moments that Russell and his admirer spend with each other are blissful and easy for a reader to enjoy. Russell’s past is heartbreaking, but seeing him as he moves on with this person, I understood this was his destiny. To be honest, I feel proud that fate gives him a second chance to love and that he allows it. I have a big smile on my face, just because he is happy.

And yes, there is a happy ending! But that’s obvious, eh?

Doyon’s writing style left a good impression on me, but the plotting is what I have complaints against. The beginning tested my patience as characters and facts were thrown in without explanation. The need for keeping the mystery of Russell’s past is understandable, but a café owner planning a chess tournament had me mulling over why he would want to do that. It created unneeded confusion. Had it been revealed already, I opine the story would have flowed much smoother. Another thing that bothered me was that the characters trailed off while speaking quite a lot, especially the admirer. I get that it was to show his lack of confidence or something but it does make one curious what had been left to say. I also did feel that the “I love you” comes too sudden in their relationship, but that I can forego given the fact that it is a short story. The author has still managed to tell such a sweet story in a few words and that is commendable.

Give it a try. It keeps you engaged for a couple of hours and the time spent will ensure a delightful read!

Sid’s Rating: 535px-3-5_stars-svg [3.75 STARS]

BUY LINK: Dreamspinner Press  ||  Book Store


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