by Carol Lynne, contemporary (2007)
Total-e-bound, £2.99, ISBN 978-1-906328-15-3
Nobody's getting fired in Carol Lynne's Sacking The Quarterback, the title is supposed to be a double entendre. Get it? The third book in the author's gay romance series Campus Cravings is, predictably enough, about the quarterback getting sacked by his coach.
The quarterback in question is Koby McIntire who is thrilled when the new coach - and his favorite football player - Julian Malono believes that Koby has the potential to become a professional football player. Poor Koby's parents are divorced and he doesn't get much support and encouragement from either of them. His mother married a religious fundamentalist type a while ago and needless to say, poor Koby doesn't have a good relationship with his stepfather since he came out. Julian tells Koby that they need to spend some time together to work on Koby's "upper body". Yeah right. At any rate, they are busy working over Koby's body when oh no, some minor soap opera moments will crop up to create some ripples in the relationship. In case you're wondering, Julian is only 24 so the age difference between him and Koby isn't big enough to be creepy.
Now, don't laugh, people, but Carol Lynne does something here that I rarely ever encounter in a typical gay romance: she builds up the relationship between Julian and Koby. Yes, these two don't immediately start licking each other's armpits or whatever, they talk and Julian starts to realize that he feels as if he's coming alive in Koby's presence. Ms Lynne also builds up Koby's background pretty well for a story of this short length. At the very least, Koby feels pretty real as an unhappy kid who can't fit in and finds a measure of happiness only when he's on the field and the crowd is calling out his name.
The author's muddling little soap opera moments to fill the story once the two lovebirds have had fun playing whack-the-salami are a little on the silly side, I find, and there are many moments in the whole post-first shag bliss of Koby and Julian that make me cringe in how saccharine sweet they can be. But on the whole, I like this story. It isn't perfect, but Ms Lynne has done enough things right here to make it one of the more enjoyable gay romance short stories that I've come across lately.
Now, how about a story featuring two geeky types? Those test tubes in the lab can be put to good use.
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