Book Reviews

Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 20-June-2013

Book Blurb

Varro Dacien spends his life riding toward the next adventure. Brian Christie, his best friend and touchstone, the one person who’s always truly seen him, plays sidekick on these madcap adventures and subsequent trips to the hospital until he can’t take it anymore. While Brian can see Varro, Varro has never caught on that he’s breaking his best friend’s heart.

Without Varro, Brian builds himself a life that’s all about just getting by, doing his best to ignore the hole in his heart and his life. Without Brian to balance him, Varro pushes harder and takes more risks to reach that ultimate high. His job racing high-octane bikes on suicide-level courses makes it easy to get that rush… until it’s no longer enough and Varro realizes it’s not the race, but who’s waiting at the finish line that truly matters. Now he just has to convince Brian to be there.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2013 Daily Dose package "Make a Play".

Book Review

If it is true that those who know us best can hurt us most, it is definitely true that those whom we love have even greater potential to devastate us. This story is an excellent example of how a great love can destroy years of someone's life, take away their chance at happiness, and almost kill them (physically and emotionally). And even though it may seem, at first glance, that it is only Varro who does the destroying, Brian has a few things to answer for as well. As ever, it isn’t only one guy's fault when things go wrong.

Brian is an introvert, his internal life is more relevant for him than what happens around him. He pretty much lives in his brain and heart, he's quiet, deeply passionate, and a loyal friend. He meets Varro when he is nine, admires his courage to no end, and supports him for years. Until he understands that Varro is never going to give him what he wants. That, at least, is what he thinks. He has no reason to assume otherwise, since Varro is a daredevil of the first degree and always leads their adventures. But, and this is a humungous but, he never talks to Varro about it either. He just assumes he knows the guy, therefore he knows this part of him as well. It breaks his heart, but he needs stability where he believes Varro doesn’t, so he goes away to get it. 

Varro is a total extrovert, anchored in the physical world. He is courageous to the point of endangering his life, all about the physical dare and challenge, and as passionate as Brian – in his own way. But he expresses himself differently, has different priorities, and is blind (for a long time) to the emotions between them having changed from those of a nine- and ten-year-old to much more adult versions of love. It kills him that Brian doesn't talk to him, he hates being apart, but it takes him a long, long time to figure out why that is. Once he does? Hold onto your hats!

This is a story about misunderstandings that are as deep as two people's characters and happen because they are so different they have no way of bridging the gap. It is a description of the long, painful road to a true understanding of someone who is each main character's polar opposite, and even though they have known each other for years, they cannot possibly get the other guy; I think it is because they each assumed they knew the other man, just like a nine-year-old will assume he knows and understands the boy next door intuitively. Problem is, that no longer works when they are adults and matters of the heart are involved. This is a painful, even harrowing story with enough drama and angst for three books, but ultimately, it is very rewarding as well.

If you like complicated characters and relationships, if you enjoy seeing the heroes suffer deeply before they get their happy end, and if you're looking for a read that might make you pull out your hair with aggravation, then you will probably like this novella. I have to say as painful as it was to read the first part, once I began to understand what was really going on, I was able to really enjoy it. These two men, with all their flaws, just made this story come alive for me and it will definitely stay with me for quite a while.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and audio
Length Novella, 86 pages/19958 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 01-June-2013
Price $3.99 ebook, $6.95 audiobook
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