Posts Tagged ‘sports’

Reviewed by Carissa

Burning Ashes by H. Lewis-Foster eBookTITLE: Burning Ashes
AUTHOR: H. Lewis-Foster
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 200 pages
BLURB: Intelligent and confident, Australian cricketer Nat Seddon is one of the world’s best bowlers. He’s openly gay, but keeps his private life to himself, everything under control. But on the last day of his team’s “Ashes” tour of England, he meets Scott Alverley, England’s promising new batsman. Nat tries not to be attracted to Scott, but he can’t help finding the privileged young man handsome and endearing. Nat is tempted by a little end of tour fun, but finds himself playing agony uncle to a virgin. Instead of going home to bask on a beach, he spends a wet week in the north of England with Scott. Try as he might to resist, he can’t help falling hopelessly in love.

The hectic sporting calendar is a persistent obstacle to their growing romance; Nat and Scott are rarely even on the same continent. They make the most of the time when they can be together, but the months apart take a toll on Scott, professionally and personally. The possible solutions are nearly unthinkable, but if they are willing to make sacrifices that will change their lives forever, they might hold on to the love they found in the Ashes.

REVIEW:

“Cricket is a strange and beautiful game.  A match can last for five hours or five days, and the rules are near incomprehensible to those who have never played the game.  This sport of gentlemen evokes heated passions around the world and none more so than when England play Australia.  One of the oldest and keenest rivalries in sport, when the two countries do battle, the contest is known as the Ashes.”

When Scott and Nat meet over the cricket pitch, both men are struck by an attraction that is both worrisome and unexpected.  Not that it would stop Nat from bowling out Scott, whose first time at bat for the English national team ends with crash of Nat’s ball colliding with his wicket.  Attraction turns to quite a bit more when, over a friendly drink and rather botched attempt at seduction, Scott invites Nat to spend a week with him at his family’s house near the Lake District.  But with several oceans–and a longtime sporting rivalry–between them, can the love they’ve come to share stand the test of time and trials, or will it all turn to burning ashes?

Before I read this book I knew three things about the game of cricket.  The first is that it’s called cricket. Second, that the little sticky things that the bowler is trying to hit is called a wicket. And thirdly, that it is the most incomprehensible game I have ever tried to watch.  My anglophile obsession has carried me into many a deep dark corner of English life, but not even a nice cup of tea or my love of England was able to make that game watchable.  But like the anglo-addict I am, I was drawn into reading this book by the lovely cover and the idea of a sporting Romeo/Juliet style love story.

What I found within the story, though, led me to believe that the cover was probably the best part of the whole book.

I just had a very hard time believing that these two, who have only known each other less than a week, fall hopelessly and madly in love–and stay in almost constant loving bliss for the entire book.  I am no stranger to the idea of insta-love, and while sometimes annoying in its unreality, it can be executed in such a way as to make the reader feel the heat, the connection between the two main characters.  Not here.  There was about as much chemistry between them as a cup of table salt in a jug of warm water.  Handy for clearing out slugs or soothing a cough, but not a lot to inspire the more intense of feelings.  It had the potential–in so many different scenes, in so many different ways–but like table salt, something was preventing the full-on flash, bang, pow of chemical combustion.  It wasn’t till almost two-thirds through the book that I even began to feel anything between the two, and by then, I just couldn’t bring myself to care.  Too much was skipped over in the first section of the book.  Not enough time trying to build them up as a couple, and the lack of on-the-page romantic interaction–and yes, sex is part of that–just killed any hope for a believable romance.

This was not helped by the near teenage-level of angst and emotion that these two exhibited.  I was thrown, quite a bit, by how the stoic Nat–who at the beginning would not wince, less he show weakness–spent a good portion of the book near tears.  I’m all for being in touch with your emotions, but I prefer that they are your emotions that you’re in touch with–not a hormonal teenager’s.  Almost every twist, problem, or disaster was met by almost uncontrollable emotional-overload.  And when they finally do start to act like adults, there doesn’t seem to be much of a catalyst for it.  So either they were capable of it the whole time, or they just woke up one day and decided that almost breaking down in tears at the slightest provocation was not helping anyone.

Strangely enough, I think quite a few of the problems could have been solved if the author had stuck to a shorter timeline for the plot.  With a story that covers almost six years it felt like you would barely get comfortable in a scene before you were jerked out and thrown three months in the future.  If we had been given a novel that stayed with the characters long enough, in one setting, I don’t think it would have felt like we were being shown a highlights reel–instead of the real story.  Also, the amount of time spent in info-dumping, be it back-story or important conversations, may have been needed to move along the plot by giving large bursts of information, but it was too much.  It felt like I was reading a briefing on the characters, and not learning about who they actually were.

About two-thirds of the way through, it did pick up.  I was starting to get a feel for the real people that these characters were playing for the majority of the story, but by then it was too late to save the book, for me.  I really did want to like this book, and there were moments–when catching a bit of banter between Nat and Scott, or some of the players–that I felt it was on the cusp of something, but it could never quite push itself over the line.

Carissa rates it – 2_5

BUY LINKS:  Dreamspinner Press

==================================
Carissa is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: CARISSA’S REVIEWS
=====
====================

Reviewed by Jen B.

18592013TITLE: My Hero
AUTHOR: Max Vos
PUBLISHER: Self-published
LENGTH: 189 Pages
BLURB: When he was sixteen years old, Rich Miller saved a young man from drowning at his local pool. Little did he know that years later, as a senior in college and Olympic diving hopeful, Rich would meet up once again with Johnny Milloway, now a big football player – and when Rich says big, he really means ‘bear’. The shy jock remembers his savior, and the two men become friends.

Johnny isn’t put off by the fact that Rich is gay. In fact, the more time he spends with Rich, the more curious he becomes. Johnny wants to know all kinds of things – what it’s like to kiss a guy, for instance. Only it doesn’t stop there…

Rich finds it difficult to believe that this relationship can go anywhere. Johnny is straight, and Rich isn’t prepared to deal with the heartache he knows will come his way in the future. He has enough on his plate as it is – the Worlds are just around the corner, his father would rather watch a football game than spend time watching his son dive…. What he doesn’t count on is Johnny, who can be very determined. And having Johnny in his life proves to be a catalyst for some pretty earth-shattering changes.

REVIEW:

This was a really sweet story. Johnny and Rich become really good friends once they meet again in college. Johnny is this big football guy and just a big softy teddy bear who pays no attention to Rich being gay, but instead focuses on how Rich saved his life years before. He makes it clear from the start to all of his friends that anyone going after Rich will have to go through him.

Rich is a star athlete himself with hopes of making the Olympic diving team. Johnny and Rich team up working out and just generally enjoying their friendship. That is, until one day when Johnny’s curiosity gets the better of him and he asks Rich to show him what it’s like to be with another guy. Afraid to ruin their friendship, Rich hesitates, though not for very long. This story starts out very sweet and innocent, but when they make their sex date, that all changes.

I loved everything Rich did to make Johnny’s first time a wonderful and memorable experience. He was such a sweetheart, and Johnny matched him well in that department. There is a scene with powdered donuts that had me drooling and wishing I had some of my own donuts at home.

Things go fairly well for Johnny and Rich until Johnny starts questioning himself and whether he is actually gay or not. This leads to some almost irreparable bad decisions, and, unfortunately, this is where I felt myself questioning things and finding certain actions hard to believe. But thankfully, that doesn’t last long.

Johnny’s family is fantastic, especially his feisty cousin. In addition to being supportive of both Rich and their son not only being gay, but being together, they are instrumental in bringing Rich and his father back in touch.

Overall, this was just a very enjoyable feel-good story. I absolutely loved watching Johnny learn things about himself and how Rich never pushed him into any of it but just let it happen, guiding him along the way. The writing is smooth, and the story moves along at a nice pace. I’ll definitely be reading more of Max’s stories.

Jen rates it – four-stars_0

BUY LINKS: Amazon :: All Romance eBooks

==================================
Jen B. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: JENNIFER B’S REVIEWS
=====================================================