Cricket

Cricket - Anna  Martin A Hearts On Fire Review3.75 STARS--Slow and steady wins the race?This question I asked myself over and over while reading Anna Martin’s “Cricket”. In this day and age where a good chunk of MM reigns insta-love and PWP supreme, can a slow burner champion to tell an excellent tale? There are complaints from both sides: A) No one wants to read slow romances where you have to wait for the romance to build give me monster cocks waiting to plow the next willing bum. Hurry up and bend over!OrB) Those fast paced romances are too intense. No one would really meet and get married the same day. Impossible. Anyone knows a solid relationship takes time to build. Hello reality table of one.I ride the fence with this argument and have felt that way many a book. Sometimes the quiet stories leave a deep punch to the gut. Sometimes those wild, steamy reads can cause third degree burns. I enjoy both and can appreciate either tone especially when written well.“Cricket” is actually a good book. It didn't quietly sucker punch me though. I had minor issues (I’ll get to them later). Overall, Anna Martin delivered a mostly solid read: interesting enough main characters, really great secondary characters, a beautiful background of Cheddar, Somerset, England and a good story.Should it be read? Of course! By everyone? No. I think this book would be better appreciated by those who want a drama-free, angst-free, kink-free (there’s sex but 100% vanilla), quietly sweet read where you get as much background as you do an actual romance. Also you must actually like your romance at a snail’s pace. Is the payoff worth it? At the end, I really dug Henry and Ryan’s relationship. So if you can stand this, you will get enjoyment from this read. I have read this author’s work before, “Tattoos & Teacups” which I hate to compare to because they are totally separate stories but the quiet, slow burn tone is what I enjoyed in that book. And I did again in this book, though I think T&T is a better read.Henry is 29, an unemployed NYC wedding/event planner who just inherited an estate from a sick great grandmother. The catch? The estate is in England; his great grandmother is still alive and has some rules that come along with Stretton House. Henry relocates because he’s leaving some bad times back in the states, so what would a look hurt. In England he finds a regal yet feisty great grandmother whom he has never met, a lovely young lawyer Shenal and the quiet little town of Cheddar. Henry decides to retry his business with the use of the Stretton House. His modus operandi? Get the local businesses to help his business as a way to ingratiate his Yank/gay/Jewish/outsider self and drum up business. One of the businesses he seeks out is the local organic farmer and its hunky owner, Ryan, also the same age. Ryan is friendly, unassuming and willing to help. And as the two men become closer, Henry develops feelings towards the farmer who is still in the closet, has never been with a man (it’s been years since his divorce from his wife) and has the Grindr app but hasn’t put it to good use. Henry is not looking for a trip back in the closet. He has rules and anything with Ryan would break them. But there’s something about Ryan that pulls him. And both men become closer friends, talking and learning one another’s secrets (don’t worry there aren’t many or any that are shocking). They gently fall in love while just living their normal lives. I even had a few chuckles at parts which is a step in the right direction. No annoying exes, no fights, no unexplainable MANTEARS (there were brief appearances but they are excused) and no bitchy female characters! The main relationship builds with a strong foundation. But though I enjoyed this story mostly, I have some quibbles.Minor issues:- A pet peeve of mine happened, switching main character’s features. Ryan was introduced as having brown eyes, then later in the story it is an icy blue and in the last third they went back to brown. Which one is it? Maybe this was an issue with my copy?- I nodded off. You saw I mentioned earlier I ride the fence with pacing preferences…well this one was slow and all the tea references and quiet rambles put me in a cozy mood. I napped while reading. But when I woke up, I still wanted to read the story. - The hunky ginger contractor that Henry developed a quiet lust for–nothing came back with that. He’s introduced, we get a scene or two of Henry’s thoughts on the man and then he disappeared. What’s up with that? Was he gay or not?- Also the biggest ‘struggle’ was Ryan’s "coming out" to the town, etc. There were no reactions added from basically anyone other than family and friends. What I enjoyed: - Ryan and Henry. I enjoyed their friendship into couple. Each hug, small smooch, touching, embraces and all the non-sexual advances they made towards one another – it was nice. - The average/smaller than average cock. Henry’s the owner of one and it was a nice touch I thought. Not everyone is packing in the man meat department. So in the numerous reads of gargantuan pricks, a normal one makes an appearance. It was also nice.- Cricket . The sport (or any sport for that matter) is not my favorite. My hobby of choice is reading (go figure) so these sports romances can get bogged down with sports terms and I usually gloss over it unless cute players are mentioned. So happy “Cricket” wasn’t a super heavy sports romance. In fact it’s just a romance where the main characters participate in a recreational cricket league, team, band, set, school whatever they are called.- Secondary characters – TWO THUMBS UP BABY! I loved Shenal, the 23 year old Indian lawyer she was cool and not a stereotype. The vicar was cool too. (And I actually wouldn’t have minded a little more of those two romance – I was rooting for them the entire time) And Mrs. Nell Richardson, what a dear old lady who acted her age (with definite spunk) and didn’t play the fool to make the story progress (I hate when the elderly/kids are used out of context)Good story, a sweet but not diabetic read with a soft surprise towards the end. I bought Ryan and Henry’s coupledom which usually is the key factor for any romance for me. Back to my original question, does slow and steady win the race? Mostly with a few minor hiccups.