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.
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.