© Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved Readers & Writers Ink Reviews
By Deirdre Martin, Julia London, Annette Blair and Geri Buckley
Contemporary romance short stories
This is an anthology showcasing four award-winning authors. The central theme is sports. Each of the four stories takes a sport, throwing hot players at sexy women and letting the results smoke.
Lucky Charm by Julia London takes a pitcher in a slump and combines him with a smart-mouthed sports commentator. When Parker Price, a very highly paid pitcher, puts himself at the mercy of Kelly O'Shea, she lambastes him, using the things he tells her in confidence for laughs. But they are attracted to each other. Neither is willing to forego that impulse. They discover that they like each other. But Kelly's audition tape for ESPN has lots of slams at Parker. When the network decides to hire her, they use cuts from the tape as teasers. Parker feels betrayed.
Lucky Charm is hot. The sex is steamy. But Ms. London's humor comes across as more malicious than funny. She solves the problem of misunderstanding with an epiphany by her male character.
In Dierdre Martin's Same Rink, Next Year, the casual sex relationship between concierge Tierney O'Connor and hockey goalie David Hewson has been ongoing for three years. Each year, David's team comes to Chicago, plays and beats the home team. Then Tierney and David retire to his room for a night of burning, mind-blowing sex. That's it. No talk. No commitment. Just satisfaction. But their agenda is thrown off by the worst snowstorm in Chicago's history. They are trapped in the hotel with diminishing supplies and increasing panic on the part of the other hotel guests. Being kept together for several days, they discover that there is a lot more to their attraction than the wonderful physical.
Same Rink, Next Year combines an interesting situation, a lava-hot relationship and very quirky, believeable humor. Ms. Martin takes advantage of a limited word count to let her characters grow their own way and develop exactly the way this reader wanted them to. The mix of hotel clients and a new hotel manager spices the story perfectly.
Annette Blair's You Can't Steal First puts Quin Murdock on a special train to spring training run by Boston's top base runner and base stealer, Tiago Santiago. There is a lot going on in the train of which the average fan is not aware. This includes the relationship between Quin and Tiago going back to kindergarten. Misunderstanding, bad communication and a protective father have kept Quin away from Tiago since the prom night when they gave each other their virginity.
You Can't Steal First puts the character aboard a wonderful train that puts the Orient Express to shame for luxury. The gradually revealed secrets that both Quin and Tiago have makes for the kind of reading that is like opening a well-wrapped, perfect Christmas present. The sexual tension is increased rather than satisfied by their time in bed. The revelations make the ending inevitable and happy.
Geri Buckley opens Can't Catch This with Lindy Hamilton in some excellent box seats for a stadium football game. The season tickets are the only things she took away from her relationship with her two-timing ex-boyfriend. Opening game gets her and her nephew Casey together with Josh Weldon. To make things interesting, aforesaid ex is also there. Refusing Josh's offer to take care of the matter, Lindy gives the ex a very definite sign-off. While Josh starts as a stranger with very sexy hands, he and Lindy get together quickly.
Can't Catch This is the story of two unlikely lovers who find enough in common both in and out of the bedroom to make a terrific, permanent relationship. Ms. Buckley plays her characters with style and humor. She is a master of the unexpected twist.
While all four stories have happy endings, the last three will bring a catch to your throat. They are fun and funny. All four authors can write sex scenes that ought to make the book spontaneously combust. This anthology is the perfect introduction for those who do not know the authors and an excellent read for those who do.
-- Reviewed by Steven Lopata
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