Dreamspinner has recently released their new Daily Dose: Make a Play.  The Daily Dose a set of short stories and novellas all centering around one theme, in this case, sports. Since you know we love our jocks here, we will be reviewing two groups of Daily Dose stories, one batch today and another next week.  For those that pre-ordered the stories are releasing one at a time throughout the month. Everyone else can buy them one at a time or as a set for a discount.

bane of bostonTitle: Bane of Boston by J.P. Barnaby
Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance

Reviewed by Jay

Three years ago, Jonathan Young, now known as Jack, made the biggest mistake of his life when he caught a foul ball during a Boston Red Sox game.  If  he hadn’t caught the ball, and instead the player had made the catch, the game would have ended and Boston could have won the critical game. Instead the Red Sox lost and Jack became the most reviled man in Boston.  Reporters stalked his home, he lost friends and his boyfriend, he was fired from his job, and basically Jack became a pariah, the infamous Bane of Boston.

Out of desperation, Jack fled to Chicago, a city where he is finally beginning to feel at home.  He still has few friends and he hasn’t dated since his boyfriend dumped him. Jack is just too wary about getting involved, afraid someone will recognize him and the drama will start up again.  But when he meets the handsome Ryan in a sports bar, Jack finds himself drawn to the man and surprises himself when he agrees to go home with Ryan. All Jack wants is a connection with someone again, to put his past behind him for a while and enjoy being with someone else.  Even after one encounter with Ryan, Jack is hopeful that it could lead to more. But when his past comes back to haunt him, things with Ryan may be over before they can really begin.

I really liked this one and think Barnaby does a great job developing a fascinating character in Jack in such a short story. We can really feel for this man who had his life ruined for a simple mistake, something benign to most of the world but incredibly vile to a sports fan. The poor guy is so lonely and miserable it is heart breaking, and I found myself really rooting for him. Barnaby has done her homework and the story is full of details both about baseball and the city of Chicago, which really breathe life into the story. I did think these guys found their spark a bit quickly, and the fact that one was willing to give up something very important after such a short time knowing each other seemed a little hard to believe.  But overall I think this was really well done with great characters, a well developed setting, and a very interesting storyline.

bully for youTitle: Bully for You by Catt Ford
Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance

Reviewed by Jay

After seeing a rodeo on TV and having a few fantasies about those hot cowboy asses, Martin convinces his friends to head to the rodeo when it’s in town.  He can’t wait to check out the cowboys and even has some hopes of meeting one.  Though his friends are too timid, Marti even braves a cowboy bar where the riders are known to hang out after the competition, and there he meets sexy bull rider Jesse.  The men spend a hot night together, but Marti is sure that will be the end of things.  These guys are so different — Jesse is a strong rugged cowboy and Marti is flamboyant and wears glitter and eye liner.  But Jesse definitely seems interested in more, much to Marti’s surprise. But even though he finds himself falling for Jesse, Marti must let himself take a chance that the two of them really can make it work together.

So I was drawn into this one right away by the cover and I love how it so perfectly captures this story.  Marti with his pompadour and rhinestone cowboy hat with Jesse the sexy cowboy. I love a good femme hero and I was drawn into this one by the opposites attract style storyline.  So what worked for me here, in addition to the set up, was that I found Marti to be fiery and brave and determined.  He faces down homophobes and marches right into a bar full of butch men and seems to be willing to reach for what he wants.  So I found myself a little frustrated by the fact that after the initial set up, he sort of falls into this mire of self doubt where he is sure Jesse will never want him because he wears eyeliner and thinks himself too femme.  It seemed a little out of nowhere, especially because Jesse has never said or done anything to suggest he shares those feelings.  There is some mention of being dumped by an ex that left him lacking confidence, but that was years before and just barely glossed over.  Not enough to make me really understand how Marti goes from determined to bag himself a cowboy to seemingly unable to believe a relationship can work.  I found Jesse likable, but we don’t get to know enough about him for me to really be invested. Ford does give us some nice details about bull riding and seems to really know her sport. I enjoyed the descriptions of the riders and the competition (though the convenient older woman in the stands who explains all the rules for them felt a like a bit too much of an info dump).  And honestly, I found Marti’s friends so over-the-top and annoying they made me a bit crazy. I mean these guys are almost 30 and making “ha ha, she said ‘hard'” jokes.

So kind of a mixed bag for me. I liked the set up and I liked Marti, or at least the strong and brave Marti. And I liked the descriptions of the bull riding and the sport.  But the conflict just didn’t make much sense to me and the connection between these guys just fell a little flat.

prize packageTitle: Prize Package by Kyle Adams
Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance

Reviewed by Amy

Prize Package, in my opinion, is a perfect short story.  I love a story that will make me laugh, and this one did, out loud, several times (and not just the LOL that really only makes you smile a little bit).  It’s funny and sweet and sexy, so unless you have a fervent desire to remain bored and depressed, it shouldn’t be missed.

Jason Smith has a contest entry compulsion.  He can’t help himself, and enters so many contests, he doesn’t know nor remember what he’s entered.  When Jason is notified he has won a contest to meet professional wrestler The MeatGrinder, he wonders what he must’ve been thinking, since he has absolutely no interest in wrestling.  Until he realizes that The MeatGrinder is actually Trent Peterson, a boy he had an enormous, undeclared crush on while in college.  So with no desire to meet a wrestler and every desire to see what Trent is up to, he goes to claim his prize.

Trent is used to his fans falling all over him.  Not only does Jason seem less than enthusiastic, he has to bodily force the prizes on the reluctant man.  He should be annoyed, yet he can’t help, instead, to be attracted to the gorgeous, uninhibited, hilarious Jason.  They spend the day together, according to the terms of the prize package, but it seems they may have found the bigger prize with each other.  (Wow.  That was a good line, right?)

The protagonist in this story, Jason Smith, is absolutely delightful.  He’s quirky, he’s funny, and he’s not afraid to go after what he wants.  It would’ve been so easy to turn this story into a typical nerd meets jock story, and this is where I thought it was headed in the beginning.  Until I realized that Jason Smith was going to give Trent a run for his money, at which point I fell in love with this story.  Then, in response to Trent’s offer to teach him the Irish Whip, a wrestling move, Jason says, “Oh, that sounds kinky.  I want my safeword to be peaches.”  At that point, I offered Kyle Adams my first-born child if he’d continue to write stories for me.  Or I did in my mind.  In my mind, I also realized he’d have to be out of his mind to accept my kind offer.

It just has everything.  There are fun times and sexy times, and just enough of an HFN to leave you all happy and content when you finish it.  And did I mention it’s funny?  I know, I know, I’m a whore for the funny.  But seriously, I think you’ll enjoy it, because Kyle Adams has delivered the true prize package in this story.  (No?  Too much?  I’m going to work on that.)

thunderballsTitle: Thunderballs by Andrea Speed
Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance

Reviewed by Crissy

Signing up to try out for and adult dodgeball league came about as the result of curiosity mixed with an herbal supplement that has loopy side effects, but here Luke is in the middle of a high school gymnasium, in a crowd of people he has nothing in common with, ready to leave. That is until the Thunderballs coach walks in. Shane is sex incarnate and even if he’s not gay, Luke just wants to be around him, spend time with him. Making the team was easy, now he has to stay on it if only to be near the beautiful, maybe-gay-maybe-not Coach Shane.

Have you ever seen the movie Dodgeball? Well, so has Luke. It was his only reference into the world of adult dodgeball before try outs.  Thunderballs is absolutely an adorable short. I enjoyed every bit of this little might-be-the-start-of-something-new story. The characters are sweet and interesting. And it’s a quick, fun read. My only complaint is that it’s so short. I would have liked to actually see the men in a relationship. So, yes, I’m crossing my fingers for maybe a little more of Luke and Shane somewhere down the road. Recommended.