Author: Wade Kelly
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
What is a sexy soccer stud supposed to do when “following family tradition” falls 180 degrees opposite his closeted ideal?
From birth, Chris Jackson has been schooled on how to land a cheerleader. After all, his father married one, and his father’s father before him. Heck, even his older brother married a stereotypical cheerleader the summer before Chris went off to college. For two years, Chris dodges invasive questions about relationships by blaming his lack of female companionship on grueling practices and heavy course loads. But his lack of interest in girls should’ve given his family a clue. It isn’t until Chris mentions meeting a boy that his father’s synapses short-circuit.
Alonzo Martin is anything but a buxom blond. From his black hair, combat boots, and trench coat to his nail polish and guyliner, the mysterious introvert isn’t easily persuaded to date. Alonzo’s insecurities keep Chris at arm’s length, but Alonzo’s painful past might meet its match in the charismatic jock’s winning smile and sense of humor.
When opposites attract, only cheerleaders and gummy bears can help overcome fear and family tradition.
Chris Jackson is a bright and happy college student and the captain of his soccer team. But he’s aware in no uncertain terms that his father expects him to carry on the family tradition of marrying a cheerleader. That becomes problematic when Chris falls for troubled Alonzo Martin, a goth guy that seems to have no friends but who shows up to watch all Chris’s soccer practices and games.
Approaching Alonzo is also problematic initially as Chris discovers. Apparently Alonzo has had some severe problems in his past and as we and Chris discover more about these their relationship develops.
While the basic set-up for this was well done and most of the storytelling engaging there were a few points that were just too far-fetched or discordant to be believable. For me the worst was the father’s obsession with the whole cheerleader thing. It felt artificial and just too unbelievable to serve as the plot device that the author was going for.
Chris’s being brilliant (as well as being a star athlete) was nice but his logophilia (word loving) seemed a bit under-served with some of the best words reserved for other characters. “Specifications” has never struck me as a ten-penny word and “sesquipedalian” felt like it was trying too hard. I think that given the nature of the story a few more “fundamental points might have been made if Chris were an acknowledged ass-man. And some were just throwaways. “Ocular Trajectory” was used too early and as part of the narrative rather than in dialogue.
Also the symbolic “Black Trench Coat” wasn’t the best device in my opinion. Given the Columbine connotations a “Black Hoodie” might have been much more effective. But again, that observation might just be the “back seat writer” in me.
On the up-side the characters were sympathetic and likeable though I felt like the best friend Doug might have been handled better. I did especially like the chocolate milk apology.
One tends to paint a mental picture and “get into” a story as one reads but if the author uses the wrong word or creates a cognitive dissonance one can be “pulled out” of that state. I was really enjoying story but a few clinkers along the way damaged the overall experience.
One, was the metaphor involving a catalytic converter being set to idle. As far as I know catalytic converters aren’t set at all and the rest of the metaphor was about gears so I’m guessing that what was intended was a transmission metaphor. Given that we’d been preconditioned to expect word precision, this one was kind of jarring. Likewise Chris’s rejoinder when learning about Alonzo being from Nebraska… “I bet the Mountains are gorgeous.” kinda threw me. I’m guessing that there MAY be some mountains (or at least foothills) in the extreme western parts of Nebraska but I’ve always though of Nebraska as one of the plains states and pretty flat.
But enough of picking nits. If one can overlook these minor annoyances, the basic story-line is sweet and the boys are the kind that any romantic would root for. A wounded character is almost by default a sympathetic one and discovering the nature and extent of Alfonzo’s (or Lonnie’s) wounds made him endearing and it seemed natural that Chris would be attracted.
The development of couples as friends was also something nice to read about that is all too uncommon in m/m fiction.
By all means, check this out.