by Carol Lynne, contemporary (2007)
Total-e-bound, £2.99, ISBN 978-1-906328-12-2
Unlike the previous book in the Campus Cravings series, Side-Lined actually takes place in a campus and has a college professor doing the doggy with his student. This one takes place four years after the end of Coach. The adopted son in Coach, Max Henley, is now in college. His football dreams are on the ice due to a car accident two years ago that also claimed the life of his boyfriend and left Max all blue and guilt-ridden. He has a thing for Professor Alec Demakis who is, appropriately enough, his Greek mythology course instructor. When Alec asks Max to come help him sort out some material for his upcoming lectures, this is Max's chance to grab opportunity hard with both hands, so to speak. Will Max's emo blues come between the love that blossoms between two cardboard characters?
This is a short story, but the author makes the story seem even more underwritten by continuing to feature Justin and Luc from the previous story here, thus making Alec and Max come off even more like cardboard characters solely in need of character development. Ms Lynne is also starting to show a cringe-inducing sentimental side here, with Alec suddenly being made "vulnerable" and causing Max to puff up like an overprotective Catherine Anderson hero. In a way, it is as if Ms Lynne has come to a full circle: her earlier books are like trainwreck parodies of Catherine Anderson's novels but now, she's in danger of writing stories that could easily be slash fiction of Catherine Anderson's stories.
Side-Lined is an underwhelming and underwritten tale. Ms Lynne continues to keep her writing more tightly focused with less laughable off-tangent ramblings. She's far from being a great writer at this point, but she is improving after the most amusing trainwrecks that are her earlier books for Ellora's Cave. Therefore, it is a disappointment that despite the improvement made in her craft, this story remains a forgettable and underdeveloped story.
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