Title: Crunch Time (Work Out #4)
Author: Andrew Grey
Cover Design: Mara McKennen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Crunch Time
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: Novella 110 pges
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: Warm and pleasant—a comfort romance between a gorgeous dyslexic ex-footballer and a caring, but slightly insecure teacher.
Blurb: When George Higgins agrees to help a soon-to-be-former professional football player rehearse for a guest appearance on a talk show, he doesn’t expect anything to come of it. To his surprise, Darren White shows up on time and actually makes an effort to learn from George. But Darren has definite problems; he can barely read and sounds awful when he speaks. Luckily, George is a teacher and Darren’s motivated. It’s crunch time: the first rehearsal for Talking Sports is looming, and Darren and George will have to work together if they want Darren’s guest appearance—and their budding relationship—to turn into a full-time gig.
Work Out Series
This is the first work I’ve read by the prolific Andrew Grey. Crunch Time is the fourth in the Gym series, with the fifth, Positive Resistance, scheduled for early June. The action in these stories is set in and around the same fitness gym and feature some mutual characters. Although the writing style here is not my personal preference, being straight forward and perhaps a little perfunctory rather than intense, the general easy warmth of the story translates into a simple comfort read.
There are two points of view in this novella and their characters display a lot of opposites between them. George is an educated, able, man, out as gay, but not experienced or confidant about his attractiveness. Darren has hidden his sexuality but while he has buried it emotionally because of his sport, he has clearly some successful sexual experience. However they also have important bonding similarities. Both men have injuries—George’s hip injury from birth has impacted on his life from the beginning while Darren’s recent sports injury has forced his early departure from the game that has dominated his life. Darren is having to face his new life outside sport with a fourth grade reading age, due to his undetected dyslexia. George is clearly an enthusiastic, sympathetic teacher, having overcome his own dyslexia.
George and Darren share the same financial adviser, crude but a heart-of-gold type guy, Lonnie, who asks George to tutor Darren so that he can get a new job as a tv sports presenter. This meeting and subsequent events force huge changes on Darren in particular. I did have some concerns about the timescale of Darren, facing his sexuality, falling in love, coming out to his previously homophobic father and all with, it seemed to me, high speed and minimal angst. He changed from mumbling, immature sports star to thoughtful gay man very quickly. I think when we focused in on his concerns about the new job, the writing was more successful. Moreover, the details about the Sports Talk rehearsal—Darren’s particular problems and George’s solutions—helped to show the growing relationship better than any of their physical encounters. The sex between the characters is very much based on a warm emotional connection which just about saved the encounters for me. Otherwise I found them a little bland and forgettable. It is in this context that George’s confidence in his sexual appeal grows and again it is the connection between the guys that works.
They are likeable characters and it was pleasant hanging out with them while they found their happy ending. I will probably explore some of the earlier Gym series, when I feel the need for an easy going comfort romance.