Chance to be King

Title: Chance to be King
Author: Sue Brown
Publisher: Dramspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary m/m romance
Length: 217 pages/43596 words
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary review: This story about an actor meeting his love on vacation under unusual circumstances was pleasant, but in many ways a predictable and forgettable read for me.

***This review contains what might be considered spoilers***

Blurb: After working for over two years without a break, action movie actor Eric Pawlowski desperately needs a vacation. He hires a remote cottage by a lake, for a few weeks of relaxing, walking his dogs and ignoring the world. Instead he nearly runs over Thomas, the most gorgeous man he’s ever met, and gets involved in a chain of events that threaten Eric’s life. The one thing he is sure of, this vacation is going to be anything but relaxing.

Review:

Eric Pawlowski is a Hollywood action movie actor, and while he is pretty well known, according to him he is not an A-list celebrity. He is burned out and rents a cottage at Silver Lake hoping to spend some stress-free time off with his two dogs without anybody recognizing him here. While trying to get to the cottage, exhausted Eric meets Thomas Clay by almost running him over. Thomas basically shows him the way to the cottage and takes care of him since Eric is almost asleep on his feet. Eric is awake enough to feel instant attraction to Thomas though. It turns out that Thomas lives near by and the attraction is mutual. They go on a first date the next day and, while they have a strange encounter which makes Eric wonder about Thomas’ reaction, they have a very fun time later during the date. Eric’s hopes for a stress-free vacation are not to come true, however. One night his dog wakes him up just on time to get out of the cottage because it is on fire. This brings to light that Thomas is the owner of the cottage and essentially Eric’s landlord. Thomas takes Eric to stay with him, takes care of him again, some hurt/comfort to follow which I think some readers may find pleasant and they basically hit the sheets. The police get involved because there is a question to the origins of the fire and the target, giving Eric a chance to help Thomas back.

There is an easy flow to the story, which I liked. I thought the interaction between Thomas and Eric was both fun and funny right from the moment they first met, and I definitely thought they had an easy, playful chemistry. I liked that Thomas shared the revelations from his past with Eric quickly enough so it was not made to become a Big Misunderstanding.

I do not think I liked how mystery/suspense element of the story was handled, however. In short there was only one suspect to do the evil deed and that person turned out to be the one who did it. It was just too predictable for me and then on top of that, the ending was more than predictable as well. I was turning the pages on my Kindle thinking, “okay, when is this going to happen?” and there it was — it happened.

While I liked the guys, at the same time I never felt that I got to know Eric as much as I wanted. He seemed like a very nice, sweet guy, but all that I learned about him is that he is a Hollywood actor who needed a break, that he is attracted to Thomas right away and is ready to do anything to help him out. Thomas at least had some character depth and arc; we are told how his past shaped who he is now — although we are mostly told instead of shown that — and at the end we see how he changed somewhat and for the better. I liked that, but Eric to me was just a pawn, if that makes sense? I am not asking that characters always drive the plot — I like exciting, twisty plots as much as the next reader — however I at least want to see a mixture of both (characters and plot) driving the story. I felt like Eric was just doing things because the author needed him to do them, not because it was part of who he was. I felt this with Thomas a bit as well, but to a lesser degree. As I mentioned before, with Thomas we are at least told and shown somewhat that a lot of what he does is because of what happened in his past.

And a question which is still bugging me is this: what does the title have to do with the story? I even did what I never do until I am finished with a review: I went to Amazon to read reviews there with the hope that other readers had this figured out. Nope, in fact one reader seemed to have the same question. I suppose I can venture a guess and suggest that the events of the story gave Thomas and/or Eric the chance to be the kings of their own destiny, but if this is what author had in mind, this metaphor feels to me to be quite far fetched.

Recommended as a pleasant way to spend a long lunch break or train commute and never come back to it again.

12 comments

  • Thanks for the review. This is the same author that did “Nothing Ever Happens”? Im gonna add this one to my pile of TBR’s.

  • I normally really enjoy Sue Brown’s books so I bought this before I read any reviews on it. While the writing is good (as usual), the insta love and Eric seeming to know Thomas’s every motivation and thought process, even though they knew each other barely 2 weeks, was a bit much. I can’t figure out what the title has to do with anything either.

    Definitely not her best work.

    • Hi Laura, oh oh yes I did not want to add more but yes Eric’s analysis of Thomas and him explaining all the motivations to the dude was wierd for me. I was thinking eh and you know this how exactly?

  • Sirius,

    I reviewed this for another site and my review was the same: “predictable.” The mystery/suspense thing was not suspenseful and I had a hard time believing that Thomas did not recognize Eric, famous Hollywood movie star. Like you said, good for an afternoon read, but forgettable. Not Sue’s best work IMO.

  • Having read a huge amount of tedious dross recently, I actually no longer take for granted things like interesting characters, pacing, language and form. 🙁

    Consequently I would probably rate this one of Sue Brown’s higher, as if I like the characters I’m less concerned about plot, and I did quite enjoy these guys. Though like you I would like to know about the title. I googled it to see if it was a direct quote, but just got the Macbeth reference, which I think would be pushing it!

    I think her work is getting better too, as I really, really liked Nothing Ever Happens.

    Thanks Sirius

    • Hi Raine, I do not know about you, but personally I often find rating to be the hardest part of the review. I mean obviously there are no hard and fast rules, and I try to grade each book individually, but sometimes one can’t help but compare. I often grade by what I think of as “growing pains” standards of the genre in my mind, meaning that a lot of books which I give three stars I would not have given that in mainstream historical fiction or fantasy, or mystery or any other genre I read. I just would not. But since the genre is young and growing, I just feel as being a little more forgiving than I would have been in any other genre. Not ignoring what I consider to be weak book of course, but often when in doubt I will grade a little higher rather than lower, round up so to speak. However at the same time I have encountered what I think of as pure gems in mm/ gay romance/gay fiction and when I encounter the story which is pleasant enough now, I cannot help but think that for me this is far from what I consider a gold standard in this genre and I just cannot do it. I enjoyed these guys enough, but I felt they lacked depth and plot while pleasant was not enough for me to be something to remember. I am glad you liked it though. I did like it too as one time read.

      • I really agree with you about rating, I have to confess to disturbed sleep over some books. I have 2 like that at the moment 😕

        I agree with you really about this book, but compared to stuff I’ve read recently this was Shakespeare’s little sister.

        I am a lousy chooser of books without reviews 🙄

        • I am sure you are exaggerating about you being a lousy chooser of the books :), but I agree that for me too reviews are often very helpful. I often like to choose the books for review that I already read and liked OR I definitely go for the authors I know and love and while it is possible their work will dissapoint me too, it is less likely. But sometimes I do feel adventurous and eh sometimes it brings good results, be it reading for fun or just for reviewing, but like yesterday I read the story which I bought because I was feeling adventurous and which in all honesty I could not grade more than one star in my mind and I seriously doubt I will ever choose that book to review here, you know? . Eh sorry for going off topic Raine 🙂 I hope you will figure out what to do with these two books. I mean if I chose the book I disliked, I figured I owe it to the readers to share what did not work, if they have same reservations it may save them money.

          Oy, I do like to ramble indeed, sorry again 🙂

          So yes absolutely I have read much worse books than this one.

      • I have to get to this book, everybody loves it 🙂 I bought it after Buda’s review, but not read yet.

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