Author: Anna Martin
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Buy Link:
Genre: contemporary mm romance
Length: 280 pages
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Andrea
Review Summary: A relaxing, slow-burn romance which has very little to do with cricket.
New York native Henry Richardson needs a change. His boyfriend just dumped him, and his business has fallen victim to the economy. But is jumping on a plane after a surprise phone call taking things too far?
The promise of a new opportunity drags Henry away from the city to a tiny village in the English countryside and an enormous manor house his great-grandmother wants to bequeath him. As an experienced wedding planner, he sees the potential in renovating the dilapidated building and using it for events. All he needs is to find some local businesses to provide the essentials.
That’s how Henry meets Ryan Burgess, the shy but hardworking owner of an organic farm. The spark between them sizzles slowly while work on the house continues, but Ryan is deeply in the closet and unwilling to take the last step. They finally find something that clicks in cricket, something that Henry, a former amateur baseball player, is surprisingly good at. For him, cricket helps bridge the gap between England and New York—but unless Ryan can find something to span the divide between his sexuality and his fear, their relationship doesn’t stand a chance.
Henry is summoned to England to inherit a house from a great-grandmother he doesn’t know he has. He’s in a transitional period anyway, so it’s a good time to get out of New York and explore his options. The house hidden in the countryside is actually on an estate and the house is beyond anything he imagined. It’s a gorgeous manor. Unfortunately, it’s in a terrible state of disrepair. Henry instantly sees the potential of the home as both a historical monument as well as a wedding venue, but the restoration is going to be a challenge. With the help of his great-grandmother and a few friends living in the small village, he decides to take it on.
One of his first contacts within the village is a local organic farmer named Ryan. The only term coming to mind when I think of Ryan is “good ol’ boy” and I mean that is only the most positive of ways. He is everyone’s friend, he’s always willing to help, he’s a great guy, and he’s humble. After a rocky start, Ryan befriends Henry and decides to help him make the necessary connections to get the project off the ground.
Ryan quickly becomes Henry’s new best friend. They’re both having less than platonic urges, but decide to keep their distance until Ryan is ready for more. Ryan being attracted to Henry isn’t a surprise to him, but entering into a relationship with Henry forces Ryan to reevaluate himself. They live in a closely knit community where keeping secrets is next to impossible. Ryan has to be certain he wants to do this because any change in their relationship is going to become public knowledge very quickly. Henry understands what Ryan is working through and lets him set the pace, even if it is glacial.
Ryan and Henry have what I can only call a slow-burn romance. I wouldn’t say that Ryan is in the closet, at least in the beginning. I’m not even sure Ryan realizes there is a closet at first. It’s more like he has never tried to define himself. He knows he wants to fall in love, have kids, and then happily go about his simple life with his family. He has always assumed the person he fell in love with would be female.
The best aspect of the book, by far, is the characters. They are so genuine and believable. I felt as though I could head over to the English countryside and find them happily going about their lives. They’re good people, and I truly enjoyed getting to know them. Cricket is a well-written, angst-free, romance. I’ve mentioned a couple times that Henry and Ryan have a slow-burn romance moving at glacial speed. The biggest issue I see is that the slow pace may become boring for some readers. You definitely have to be in the mood for calm, comfortable, and heartwarming when you pick up this book. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re going to enjoy Cricket.