Ok…I have a confession. I live within a half hour of the Potomac River. On a certain stretch of road—a parkway, there is a place where you can pull off the road and view the river. It just happens that across the river is Georgetown University…and they might have a rowing team or two…and I might drive the parkway in spring and late summer hoping to get just a glimpse of said rowing team. Cause, you know they, ahem, never wear shirts—the heat and all.
So, as a rowing fan from way back, imagine my delight when I found out I was to review Stroke to his Cox by J.L. Merrow. Bonus point number one: a story about rowing. Bonus point number two: A damn good author.
Stroke to His Cox is just a bare snippet of a story about a rowing team going for its prized oars. Getting one’s oars is winning the race and this team is set to do just that. Their coxswain, or Cox, is the smallest in the division—a plus as the Cox is the only man on the team that does not row. Rather he steers and calls out the order of rowing instructions to the team.
Our Cox, (and yes the pun was absolutely lovely) Dave not only happens to be small but is also Asian to boot. Having grown up in the Isle of Wight as the music teacher’s son, he was also the only non-white in his school. As a result, he is a bit shy about revealing to his pacesetter, Archie, that he likes him just a wee little bit. In fact, Dave is very aware that he is not only short in stature but also different from most of the other guys, and this only adds to his inclination toward keeping to himself. The story takes us though the race and the results as well as the moment when Dave must decide whether or not to take a chance on telling Archie just how he feels.
Here is the beauty of an excellent author such as J.L. Merrow. In the space of just a few pages, we not only have a delightful story with a bit of fast paced action and a thrilling chase, but we also are able to indulge in characters that have an undeniable spark, smart dialogue, and winning personalities. All this in the space of just a few pages and you are suddenly thrust head long into the minds and hearts of characters you definitely want to read more about.
Stroke to His Cox by J.L. Merrow is a funny, fast-paced and delightful story of rowing, teamwork, and beginning love. A sweet short story that comes highly recommended to you and a great start to jock week!
P.S. Dreamspinner Press has donated a copy of Stroke to his Cox to our Jock Week Giveaway so be sure to stop by to enter.