Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beautiful Game by Kate Christie

Book:  Beautiful Game
Author:  Kate Christie
Publisher:  Bella Books

As a reviewer, books find their way into my blog via a scattershot approach- sometimes, I wander through my personal e-book shelves and pull out a story that seems to be calling to me in a somewhat breathy, seductive voice. 

Hey baby, wanna do me again?  I’ll make it worth your while . . . .

Ahem.  (cough, cough)  

Sometimes, authors ask me to review their book, so I do my best to oblige them. 

Why thank you, I’d be delighted to read your book and give it the full treatment . . . .

Other times, I browse the e-book shelves of any number of publishers looking for a new author with a strong voice or an established author with something new to say.

Ooh!  Ooh!  This one looks good . . . .

And, very occasionally, a book finds its way into the blog because I buy it, not to review and share, but as a simple, guilty pleasure for me and me alone.

Mineminemineminemineminemine . . . .

And that’s how this review came to be.  I bought Kate Christie’s Beautiful Game because it sounded fun, and I’m in a post Women’s World Cup soccer frenzy.  This one was supposed to be just for me.

But then it had to go and be fantastic, make me warm and happy inside, and refuse to let me go until I had finished the last sentence and hugged my Kindle to my chest with all the strength in my little blogging body.

Beautiful Game follows a year in the life of Cam Wallace, a soccer player on a partial scholarship at San Diego University.  She’s an out and proud athlete, and loving life as a gay co-ed. However, a chance meeting with the chronically unfriendly school tennis phenom, Jess Maxwell, begins an unexpected yet tentative friendship.  Of course, Jess surprises Cam time and again by reaching out.  This is fine with Cam, she has a definite crush on Jess and her long, strong legs, but reads her signals clearly – close, but only so close.  Their friendship slowly deepens, and on a few occasions appears to skirt the edge of mutual attraction.  But, it can only get so far.  Jess doesn’t share much of her past with Cam, and Cam senses something powerful is lurking just outside her reach.  But, Cam finally has to admit that she’s in love with Jess, and the push and pull can’t go on forever.  At last she confronts Jess with the truth, and comes face-to-face with the secrets and the strengths behind all the walls. 

So many things made Beautiful Game a satisfying book.

Patience is a virtue, and I love the pace and the patience of the story, not just between the two main characters, but also by the author not to rush the story.  Cam is a patient woman, and Jess needs patience – by allowing the trust to grow slowly and steadily through the book, the relationship feels honest and real.  And, the push and pull Jess exhibits also feels real – two steps forward, one step back, one step forward, and one step to the left. 

I also appreciate that Cam is more than a gay athlete lusting after another gay athlete.  She has friends, some she genuinely likes and some she merely tolerates.  She actually practices and plays a sport, and feels angry and hurt when people are disrespectful.  She studies, goes to classes, and writes papers.  She has a summer job in another state, and she drives a beater Tercel.  She has a soccer tan.  And, in spite of the reputation as a playgirl that everyone wants her to have, she is respectful of boundaries.  In other words, she is a fully developed character - as a reader you really get to know her, and thus appreciate the journey you share with her.

How utterly refreshing!

I also have to say that I like how I didn’t guess why Jess is the way she is.  I suspect, other readers will figure it out long before I did, but for me it was unexpected.  That makes the showdown (for lack of a better term) between Cam and Jess more powerful and moving.  It also provides a brilliant moment where we learn how strong Jess is, and how far she’s come just to get to this conversation with Cam.

Beautiful Game is a complete story from start-to-finish - no overused plot devices, no convenient characters, and nothing left undone. 

And the girl gets the girl, which always makes my squishy, romantic little heart go pitapat.

I don’t know why some books make a bigger impression than others; I just know that they do.  It could be sunspots, a sudden change in my fiber to protein ratio, or a surge of this hormone or that.  To me, Beautiful Game is a beautiful story.  

I really did hug my Kindle lustily when I finished it.

This one is just too good to keep to myself.  That's why I’m giving this spirited little book a 5.1 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale, and making a note to pick up Kate Chrisite’s first two books the next time I whip out the ol' plastic. 

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for a fun and enticing review!(I really hope your Kindle returned the favor)

    jeanne

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  2. Hi, Jeanne - rest assured, Kindle and I have a healthy, balanced relationship - it provides me with endless entertainment and unconditional love and I keep its battery charged and its belly full of wonderful lesbian literature. Perhaps a tad unconventional, but it works for us. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I loved her first book "Solstice." I've read it multiple times. I enjoyed "Leaving L.A" as well, but felt like it was missing something. I was eagerly anticipating "Beautiful Game" and dove into it as soon as I got my hands on it (or, my Kobo, rather). I sort of got lost in all the soccer talk (a lesbian who doesn't care for sports, blasphemy!), decided it wasn't for me, and stopped in the middle, but now, after reading your review, I'm wondering if I jumped the gun a little. I might have to give the book another read. The slow build you mentioned is something this author does well. I enjoyed that in her other books also.

    By the way, this is my first time on your site. I sort of stumbled on here by way of google (the best way to lose time online) and just realized I've been reading your reviews for the past hour or so. Definitely one of the better lesbian fiction review sites out there. I found your reviews to be both informative and entertaining.

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  4. HERETIC!!! Just joking . . . imagine my surprise when I learned that not all lesbians liked sports! Seriously, one of the things I have learned is that every person connects to books and authors for different reasons. That is totally cool, and in all honesty, probably for the greater good. I hope you like the book, but understand if you can't get into the flow. Sometimes that just happens, but when you connect . . . SHAZAM!

    Thanks for stopping by The Rainbow Reader, it means a lot that after you stumbled into it, you stayed around to see what was under the hood, kicked the tires, and checked the mileage. You have absolutely made my day with your kind words.

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