Title: Slackline
Author: Sarah Black
Cover artist: Anne Cane
Publisher: Dreamspinner press
Amazon: N/A
Genre: Contemporary M/M romance
Length: 53 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: This short story captured the events in both characters’ lives which have the power to change them for the better and completely satisfied me.


When Bobby Kincaid is walking the slackline – a narrow, flat webbed rope stretched between two anchor points – he offers a silent gift of beauty to the air and sky. Making peace with the world is one reason he’s drawn to the seastacks off Scotland’s Orkney Islands. Colin Rose, the Olympic skier who pushed Bobby away after a horrific accident two years earlier, is another. But Bobby and Colin will each need to heal before they can return to that space between earth and heaven where they both can fly.


I do realize that I am beginning to sound like a parrot when I am reviewing Sarah Black’s works, but I cannot help myself. I do love them so and this story is no exception. I do suggest that to make an informed decision you should seek out more critical reviews, because I have not read a story by her that I did not like yet. Yes, I have said this very thing in the past, but again I cannot help myself—I am amazed at how much she can show us within so few pages.

Bobby and Colin are such likeable pair and this story captures the moment in their lives which in the longer work would be a prelude to happy ending I guess. Something happens and that something makes them eventually realize what they really want from life. Bobby is at his most vulnerable during the events in this story and I could not help but sympathize and relate to him all the way through. I also thought that she captured Bobby’s love and connection to nature in such a beautiful way. Oh and I learned about new sport, which I never heard about prior to reading this story. 🙂 I enjoyed Colin as well, somebody who went through similar circumstances that Bobby is going through during the story. I liked that he managed to survive and start a new life and I really liked how much he cared for Bobby. I also really liked them together even though an emotional connection — not sex — plays central role in the story. There is definitely an intimacy there, just not very explicit one, and it will be a spoiler to explain why they do not do much during the story 🙂

And I cannot help but share some of the beauty which is what her writing is for me:

“Slacklining, he explained to the birds, should be a silent gift of beauty. It should be offered up to the air and the sky, with no witnesses, no sponsors, no sounds other than a quiet thank you for the day and the bounce in the line, and the ability of his body to move through the yoga routine called Salute to the Sun. He suspected that gifts of beauty such as his, offered up with a clean heart would somehow alter the karmic load of pain that was dragging civilization to its knees”

And how can I not love a story which has a Harry Potter reference in it? 🙂 It was so unexpected and so very funny to me.

You may ask why 4.5 stars then and not 5? I wanted to hear more about Colin’s reasons for what happened between them prior to the events of the story taking place. Do not get me wrong, there is an explanation and it did not feel fake or contrived to me by all means, but it did feel just a little bit weak. It was not a huge issue for me by all means of course, but I was wondering about it.

Highly recommended.



  • Very nice review; I loved this book. Like all of Sarah’s stories, really. BTW, thank you very much for trying to avoid spoilers – I wish more reviewers took as much care. Of course this is just my personal opinion.

    I thought Bobby’s thoughts were a delightful mixture of insight and idiocy *g*; your quote above clearly falls into the first category.

    But I admit I worry about him a little: unlike Jesse in Sucker-Punch he doesn’t seem to have learnt his lesson just yet…

    • Thanks so much Liade, I know we always try hard to avoid spoilers, but I can say that for me sometimes it is just not possible. Especially when there is an issue that bothered me, you try as hard as possible to hint at it, but sometimes I find that to say – oh it bothered me a lot, but I cannot say what it was is a cop out and disservice to the readers.

      Oh yes, I do not think that Bobby quite learned his lesson yet too, unfortunately. And I love it – ‘delightful mixture of insight and idiocy’, so true IMO.

      OOOOO, who is Jesse and what is Sucker-Punch? Is this another work by this author and the one I have not read yet? Must go look now 🙂

  • Ah, Sirius, you are preaching to the converted – I stopped being objective about Sarah’s writing long time ago. 😀

    That said, while I liked and enjoyed the story, I didn’t like how things turned out with Bobby’s job. It obviously meant a lot to him and, whenever (any) author makes a choice like this, it makes me feel like one person had to sacrifice something to be with the other. That, of course, is entirely my problem, but I can’t help it. So, I wanted to know or, at least, get a hint how they will reconcile their relationship in Scotland with Bobby’s obvious need for independence and, yes, I agree on Colin’s reasons.

    Of course, like in your case, these are minor complaints. Sarah’s writing itself is sufficient payoff. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside every time. 🙂

    • Hi LadyM, thanks so much for the commenting. I saw situation with Bobby’s job (which I agree meant a lot to him) as being beyond his control, it is not like he could magically get better and appear there. For that reason I really did not see it as sacrifice on Bobby’s part. However even if it was, I would have had no problem with it, as long as Bobby chose that sacrifice. Remembering our recent discussion (and I am not trying to return to it, I only want to explain one of my triggering reactions better), what I tend react badly to is manipulation and a constant pressure on other person, taking the free will away from him. That may cause me hate the character just because of one action, so much I despise that. The character may be Albus Dumbledore, or prince Alexan from Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. I am not quite there yet with the character we discussed on your review, but it was close enough. Anyway, to go back to Bobby, to me relationship is always if not about sacrifices, because that would be too much drama for rl, but definitely often enough about mutual compromises. I mean, if they want to continue the relationship, somebody has to do something about geographic location and if it not Bobby than it should be Collin, no? So I am fine with people choosing their priorities and deciding that being with somebody means more for them than continue working at their job. I totally respect that you had a problem with it though, again, just trying to explain how I see it. Oh and I actually did not see Bobby as somebody who will want not working, I think he will start looking for new job as soon as he is capable. Please forgive my ramblings LadyM. Besides writing the reviews these comments is actually something that I love and I REALLY love discussing the book with the commenter you know? I am always truly grateful to anybody who comments on my reviews, whether they want to discuss the book or not, but I just love discussion very much 🙂

  • Thanks for the review, I had missed this one but will check it out. I LOVE Sarahs work, I reread her stories all the time.
    And “Tuareg” just screams “SEQUEL”!!!! 😀

    • Rdafan, if you love Sarah’s works, I am pretty sure you will enjoy this one too. Tuareg does scream sequel I completely agree, but I want sequel mostly because I want to read more of Bazu’s story. I am not sure if Leon and Ibrahim need one. Thank you for commenting.

      • Oh, most definitely Leon and Ibrahim need another story, maybe across the desert in a caravan…Bazu can come along 😀 to keep things stirred up..

  • Yes I’m totally converted to Sarah Black’s work. I often struggle to enjoy short stories or novellas, but she is one of the very few writers for me who not only have control of that form but enhance it.

    I’ve just reread Tuareg which was pure pleasure and now I’ve got this to enjoy. 🙂

    Thanks Sirius.

    • I totally agree with you Raine, I think her shorter stories and novellas are wonderful and she is one of the few writers who can write shorter form well. IMO of course.


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