Marcus Economidis may be a famous action movie hero, but he still harbors a childhood crush. As a shy and gawky teen, Marcus idolized his lithe, powerful, and kind taekwondo master, Taemin Choi. As a grown man, Marcus wonders if he could reconnect with Master Choi, and maybe build a friendship, if nothing else. With his new movie filming on location near his Michigan home town, Marcus takes the chance to catch up with Taemin.
Taemin is uber busy, running his school, volunteering, and training for a slot on the Olympic team. His dedicated and caring staff tease that Taemin would forget to eat unless he’s reminded—and it’s not a joke. Taemin’s grueling schedule has cost him more than a few missed meals and sleep-deprived days. Marcus turning up is a pleasant surprise, and both men find they have an instant connection. Bigger and brawnier, Marcus offers to spar with Taemin, and is promptly set straight with regard to his skills, but it’s done with humor and compassion. Meanwhile, the passion begins to grow between them. Taemin has been alone a long time, while Marcus hasn’t ever had a serious relationship. They are moving toward this, as much as Marcus’ filming schedule and Taemin’s training/work schedules will allow.
I liked this interracial romance, especially all the sporty bits, which form strong themes of discipline, honor, and community. Marcus and Taemin are tentative in building their relationship, hesitant to upset the rekindled friendship, and not eager to take over each other’s lives. Taemin is a quiet man, and Marcus knows his celebrity will upset their peaceful times, but they both are so lonely, and they find such comfort in one another. There are some side characters of note, including a female taekwondo instructor who mothers Taemin, and cherishes Marcus’ good opinion. Also, Marcus’s assistant is a great sounding board, especially when Marcus and Taemin have struggles.
It’s inevitable that both Marcus and Taemin will struggle with time management and self care. This leads to some low-level clashes that (eventually) promote healthy conversation and emotional growth. Taemin’s Olympic dreams come at a steep price, and I loved how Marcus was there for Taemin exactly when he was needed. It’s a tender story, with a little bit of quiet sexytimes. I think people who like interracial or sports romances will really enjoy this one.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.