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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Match Maker by Alan Chin



Match Maker by Alan Chin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (300 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

In the four years since being forced off the professional tour for being gay, Daniel Bottega has taught tennis at a second-rate country club. He found a sanctuary to hide from an unkind world, while his lover, Jared Stoderling, fought a losing battle with alcohol addiction to cope with his disappointment of not playing on the pro circuit.

Now Daniel has another chance at the tour by coaching tennis prodigy Connor Lin to a Grand Slam championship win. He shares his chance with Jared by convincing him to return to the pro circuit as Connor’s doubles partner.

Competing on the world tour is challenging enough, but Daniel and Jared also face major media attention, political fallout from the pro association, and a shocking amount of hate that threatens Connor’s career in tennis, Jared’s love for Daniel, and Daniel’s very life.

A second chance may end up being life changing. Daniel and Jared were run out of professional tennis when their romantic relationship was exposed in a very public way. Now Daniel has a second chance at coaching when a young prodigy asks for his help. Connor’s career isn’t the only one on the line as Jared returns from retirement to the sport he craves. Time has passed but not enough as the same prejudice rears its head and threatens not just their careers but their lives.

Although Match Maker has moments of drama and intensity, at the heart this is a tennis driven story. The sport is the main focus of the story as the characters are all devoted to their passion. While it’s not necessary to appreciate tennis to enjoy the story, it helps a great deal since there is quite a bit of information offered. The plot revolves around Jared and Connor as they prepare for and play on the pro tennis circuit with Daniel as their coach. The story is told through Daniel’s perspective and often ignores weighty issues such as relationship problems between Jared and Daniel, instead focusing on the sport itself.

There is a romantic element towards the end of the story after a hate crime has been committed that forces Jared and Daniel to reevaluate their lives. This brings the most romance and emotional intensity the book sees, because otherwise this reads like an interesting look at fictional professional tennis players and the various people/issues surrounding them. That’s not bad and indeed the author has written an interesting sports themed story that highlights the discrimination in sports. The level of detail and information offered is impressive but never overwhelming and carefully crafted to keep the reader interested without being bored.

The main theme of the story is undoubtedly tennis with a secondary romance towards the end but it still manages to work in the themes of love, forgiveness, respect, self esteem, and above all hope and perseverance. Some of the issues are resolved very quickly, almost too quickly, while the focus on tennis mutes the overall emotional impact of the events included. However for readers who love sports themed stories, this will really shine.

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