Title: A Shot at Forgiveness
Author: Cardeno C.
Publisher: The Romance Authors
Release Date: June 6th 2015
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Erotic Romance
Page Count: 2nd edition, 70 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Sometimes to find love, you must first learn forgiveness.
A dozen years, two thousand miles, and a law degree after high school, Rafi Steiner continues to harbor resentment toward Isaac Jones, his childhood bully turned NBA star. When Isaac appears at Rafi’s favorite restaurant acting like a long-lost friend, Rafi bluntly dismisses him.
But Isaac is tenacious and he has his heart set on the grown-up version of the boy he always wanted and never forgot. The way Isaac sees it, he and Rafi are perfect for each other, if only he could sink the most important shot of his life: his one shot at forgiveness.RE
I’ve re-read this classic Cardeno short story 4 times. There is something about this story that keeps pulling me in. Last night I finally realized what it was: memory.
What do I mean you didn’t ask but I’m still going to tell you? I don’t remember much of my childhood. Probably 80% is a total blank. Not because of trauma or bad times or anything like that, it’s just as though my brain said, “Hey, we have to remember all these books, music and movies…so there’s no more room for Granpa!”
It also seems sometimes like the 20% I remember is….skewed a bit. I’ll bring up an incident to someone from that past and they’ll look at me funny and tell me that while, yes, that happened, it didn’t happen quite that way. Because memory is different for everyone. This is why eyewitness testimony is so easily discounted.
In this story you have Rafi, who is now a successful attorney in Emile City who grew up with Isaac who is now a famous NBA star. But what Rafi remembers about Isaac is how he bullied and tormented him through their high school years.
I hated him. Unequivocally, absolutely, and in every way possible. He was responsible for making my teen years a living hell— if not single-handedly, then at the very least, he held the starring role. Or, in terms he would have understood, he was the quarterback, the pitcher, the forward, the… fuck it, he led the “hey, faggot, nice hair” brigade. Not that it was always about my hair. Sometimes it was my clothes . Other times it was the way I walked or the way I talked. I lived in anticipation of the day he’d come up with some way to taunt me for breathing. Ass. Hole.
But Isaac remembers it differently. Not that Rafi was all wrong…just his memory is a little skewed.
“What happened?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
I took in a fortifying breath. “Between high school and now. You used to hate me and now you’re… What happened?”
He snapped his head up and locked his gaze on mine. “I never hated you, Rafi.”
“Please!” I scoffed. “I was there, remember? Do you want me to remind you about all the things you used to say to me, all the things you used to do to me?”
He shook his head, looking positively pained at the memory. “I hated myself back then. I took it out on you because I blamed you for all these feelings I had. I couldn’t make them stop, couldn’t make them go away, and I figured it was all your fault because they were focused on you. I was focused on you. Then we graduated and I moved away, but the feelings were still there, so I realized I was gay, with or without you in the picture.”
So now a dozen years later Isaac has stopped running from the one thing he needs to have a life and finds Rafi so he can have his shot at forgiveness and finally get the man he’d always loved and wanted.
It’s a sweet story that still has a few niggles here and there, like the stalking, inappropriate breaking and entering, and condomless sex after one night together…but something in it calls to me, draws me back again and again, and it doesn’t hurt that the sex is HOT.