Short stories from the DSP 2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play (PART 4)

The Daily Dose from Dreamspinner Press is a collection of themed short stories  released every day in June. The 2013 theme is sport.

Nothing fires the blood like a little friendly competition. Anything from a meeting of the minds to full-body contact, these men are making a play. There are no losers in the game of love.

The stories in this review include:

  • Pouring a Brick by Tray Ellis
  • Out of Left Field by Raine Norman
  • Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes
  • Ice Heart by Kay Ellis
  • Late-Innings Home Run by Stella K Jefferson
  • Love’s Cabers Tossed by Ari McKay

Pouring a Brick (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Pouring a Brick by Tray Ellis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

High-energy Spence joins a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school looking for adventure. Will is already a calm, advanced practitioner of the gentle art when they meet, and he takes the new student under his wing. After training for a tournament, Spence realizes that relaxing into the flow works great for channeling his energy at competitions and for life in general, but when it comes to taking a chance on Will, pushing the boundaries may be the only way to take their friendship to the next level.

So what did I think?

An interesting spin on the sport theme using the world of jiu-jitsu. There is a slow building of relationship even though Spence and Will are attracted to each other pretty much from the beginning.

The story tells of the mental state required to perform well at jiu-jitsu, the control and relaxation required to better your opponent. Spence is new to the sport and pretty tense but very focused on learning the skills required. Under Will’s instruction and with his support, he starts to relax and to see changes in his ability which also roll over into his view on life.

From initially thinking that Will wouldn’t be into him and he was best just focusing on making friends and getting better at the sport, he finally makes his move. It was great to see Spence as the one making the move on Will rather than the other way around.

There is a little sex in the story but it must be the most non-explicit sex scene I have ever read. You can figure out what is happening without anything really being described other than a bit of touching but this seems to suit these characters.

3 Stars

Out of Left Field (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Out of Left Field by Raine Norman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Concierge Jake Wentworth rues the day he got involved with Mikey, his coworker and cheating ex-lover. Already in a foul mood, a rude guest further puts him off his game. Jake realizes there is more to Billy Smith than his first impression when they accidentally meet while jogging the next morning. When they hit it off over coffee and sightseeing, Jake worries his battered heart will be in for more pain, but Billy is determined to make something more of their relationship.

So what did I think?

I really enjoyed this story. Sure, it seemed totally unrealistic but I was reading for a bit of escapism anyway!

The comments below are spoilerish

It seemed unrealistic that Jake wouldn’t have discovered who Billy was before the big reveal, but I love this type of plot. Insta-love and the ‘everyday’ guy falling for the celeb without knowing who he is. Add that the celebrity is willing to come out for the guy and all boxes are ticked.

I also liked the attention to detail with the English and American spellings such as ‘ass’ versus ‘arse’ and a couple of expressions that were used in the conversation.

A sweet and enjoyable short story.

4 Stars

Heart of the Race (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Varro Dacien spends his life riding toward the next adventure. Brian Christie, his best friend and touchstone, the one person who’s always truly seen him, plays sidekick on these madcap adventures and subsequent trips to the hospital until he can’t take it anymore. While Brian can see Varro, Varro has never caught on that he’s breaking his best friend’s heart.

Without Varro, Brian builds himself a life that’s all about just getting by, doing his best to ignore the hole in his heart and his life. Without Brian to balance him, Varro pushes harder and takes more risks to reach that ultimate high. His job racing high-octane bikes on suicide-level courses makes it easy to get that rush… until it’s no longer enough and Varro realizes it’s not the race, but who’s waiting at the finish line that truly matters. Now he just has to convince Brian to be there.

So what did I think?

Something in this story just worked perfectly for me! Maybe it was the hot and gorgeous, motorcycle rider Varro with his need for speed? Maybe it was the wonderful Brian, an all round nice guy and so secretly in love with his best friend? Maybe it was Mrs Dacien, opening her heart, home and family to take the young Brian in? Maybe it was because of the lovely happy ending? Maybe it was just because Mary Calmes writes a fabulous sex scene! Regardless of the reason, loved it!

5 Stars

Ice Heart (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Ice Heart by Kay Ellis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Jack Holloway loves two things: Aaron Stone and hockey. Unfortunately, he refuses to acknowledge the first and lets his temper rule the second. He’s turned his life into a list of “can’ts.” He can’t talk with his parents, can’t hold down a job, can’t stay out of trouble, and can’t let go of his reputation as a tough guy on the ice—even if it might cost him his career. Most of all, he can’t admit he has fallen in love with another man. If Jack doesn’t knock that chip off his shoulder, he’s going to lose it all. If he can accept himself and Aaron and stop hiding, he might be able to finally win something bigger than a timeout in the penalty box.

So what did I think?

For a short story, this was an enjoyable gay-for-you, a quick look into a major turning point in the life of Jack.

An encounter with his best friend Aaron starts Jack questioning his true feelings. But of course he tries to deny how much Aaron means to him. Toss in Jack’s fighting on the ice and his inability to hold down a job and there are dramas galore for Jack.

The main thing going for this story was the last scene where Jack tells Aaron that he is the man he wants. I don’t think this is a spoiler cause we all knew they were going to get together anyway! 🙂

3 Stars

Late-Inning Home Run (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Late-Inning Home Run by Stella K. Jefferson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blurb…

Widower Jay Parker hasn’t seen his high school boyfriend, Craig Myers, in thirty-five years—not that they ever used the word “boyfriend.” When Craig turns up at a baseball game where Jay’s seventeen-year-old son is playing, Jay discovers the old attraction is still alive. It feels natural to invite Craig home to catch up, but reigniting their flame isn’t easy for anyone involved.

So what did I think?

Pretty short but doesn’t feel rushed. It is great to see a story that is focused on older characters. It’s a nice set-up too.

Jay and Craig had been together in high school but gone their separate ways. One married (for love) and had a family and the other had a long-term relationship with a man. They are both now alone, Jay losing his wife in an accident and Craig losing his partner of decades to cancer. Now 35 years later, Jay and Craig meet up again.

I loved the way Jay doesn’t classify himself – love is love – he loved Craig and he loved his wife. I loved the way Craig had a committed relationship. I liked the way these older men were able to have a really hot sexual encounter and they just seemed to click, almost like they were meant to be. I liked the handling of Jay’s son’s response to seeing his Dad kissing another man.

All-in-all I really enjoyed this story and would have actually liked to see a longer book, further exploring this concept of love the second time around.
4 Stars

Love's Cabers Tossed (2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play)Love’s Cabers Tossed by Ari McKay

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb…

At the Coastal Carolina Highland Games, baker Martin Fletcher receives an unexpected visitor in the form of Fergus, Lyall McLannan’s escaped sheltie. When Fergus accidentally causes Martin to sprain his ankle, Lyall comes to the rescue, helping Martin run his booth at the Games. Unfortunately, Lyall doesn’t know a thing about baking, but he manages to avoid both disaster and Martin’s wrath by attracting patrons with his and Fergus’s showmanship.

Martin accepts Lyall’s invitation to stay in his RV during the fair, getting to know the lawyer-turned-Highlander he’s watched from afar. Martin is captivated by Lyall’s charm… and the tantalizing view of him in a kilt. Entranced by Martin’s dedication to his work and love for Fergus, Lyall sets out to woo him with starlight and bagpipe music, because he’s discovered opposites can attract and love can be found in the most unexpected circumstances.

So what did I think?

This story had so much promise – an interesting location, a unique sport, very individual characters and a cute dog – but somehow just didn’t do it for me as much as I thought it would.

Lyall is big and strong and wonderfully protective of the smaller and more serious Martin. Martin is shy but Lyall brings out something in him which allows him to come out of his shell. However, I struggled to feel the connection between the two, most likely because I didn’t overly warm to Lyall in a romantic sense. I thought he was kind and caring but something about him called out ‘old man’ to me – I think it was the way he spoke and language used (such as calling Martin ‘laddie’). I know he was Scottish but way he spoke reminded me of an old man and therefore I had trouble picturing him with Martin. Other readers may not have this problem.

And I still don’t fully understand the sport of caber tossing. Guess I will check out Google!
3 Stars

Buy a book from the series from Amazon. (Select the 2013 Daily Dose: Make a Play link)

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