Recent Reads: Willow Road and Sporting Chance

For this week’s Recent Reads I have two MM romances that I relished reading. Although I love discovering authors new to me, it’s also a pleasure to read books by writer friends.

Holly Day is the alter-ego of the lovely Ofelia Grand, my ever-patient go-to writing friend when technology frequently defeats me! Holly Day’s stories are released monthly and themed around holidays (as the author name suggests) and I am always impressed by Ofelia/Holly’s inventiveness in finding a story for every occasion, even the most obscure!

I downloaded Willow Road a while back and was looking forward to a bit of space and time to treat myself to this story written for Crossword Puzzle day. Although this is a shifter story about a romance between a wolf shifter and a human in a shifter-dominated community, I found the story very accessible as the invented world was in many ways so similar to reality. The small-town rural setting in winter was so atmospherically described and I found it the perfect backdrop for Zeeb and Jeremiah’s Fated Mates romance.

The story content, of human and marginalized Jeremiah overcoming past trauma and bullying with the help of the new police chief Zeeb’s support, was moving and very romantic. Willow Road is yet another truly lovely story from Holly Day.

During a group social media chat a few days back, the lovely Alexa Milne mentioned that her debut 2014 story Sporting Chance was set in the world of professional rugby in Wales, inspired by the 2013 Six Nations Championship. As, like Alexa, I’m Welsh and a rugby fan, I had to snag this immediately!

I relished the balance of romance and realism in this sports story set in Cardiff with its thoughtful examination of fame and the pressures that can bring to a new relationship when an accidental meeting between rugby star and future Welsh captain Dan Morgan and Iestyn Jones, a dedicated secondary school history teacher, sparks a tentative romance between the two men.

I really enjoyed the depth of characterisation, exploring both men’s insecurities and backstories, while establishing how much they have in common. I was convinced by their burgeoning and often steamy romance, the context aided ably by a vibrant and warm supporting cast of family and friends.

Both men are openly gay and Dan, a public figure who has had a previous long-term boyfriend, is aware that the news of his new relationship will need careful PR handling but feels confident that as long as Iestyn is on board, all will be well.

The tabloid press explodes into this hopeful romance with a recognisable level of intrusion, insensitivity and outright falsehoods to exploit sensationalism and newspaper sales figures. Without giving away any spoilers, I thought that Alexa’s depiction of that overwhelming impact was very realistic and thought-provoking.

I found this such a touching and beautifully written sports romance with great characters. You certainly don’t have to be Welsh or a rugby fan to appreciate Dan and Iestyn’s story in Sporting Chance, which is both endearing and universal.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s