Stroke to His Cox by JL Merrow
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, M/M, GLBT
Length: 25 pages
As coxswain of a Cambridge college rowing team, pint-sized Dave Tanaka has eight strapping athletes hanging on his every word, their strength at his command. Leading his crew to win their oars might be easier if Dave didn’t have to hide his crush on Archie, the stroke rower – but as they prepare for their final race, Dave doesn’t suspect that Archie is in the same boat as him in more ways than one!
Every now and then one finds a little gem, with a great deal packed into a small space. JL Merrow gives us that with Stroke to His Cox. The coffee-snort inducing title begins weaving the sport of rowing into Dave and Archie's personal life from the very start.
Merrow gets quite a lot of the technicalities of rowing in very naturally, and many terms definitely lend themselves to a sly second meaning. Dave, the coxswain, or cox, has to keep from showing his desire for big, handsome Archie, whose position, stroke, puts them face to face every time they go out on the river. Even for those of us who know nothing of the sport, she makes us feel the breezes and see the veins standing out on the rowers' forearms. She also makes us feel Dave's anxiety over being the tiny one among giants—he commands them but won't risk people comparing his legs to theirs.
The race is very exciting; though the explanation of what they are trying to accomplish slows the pace of the story for a moment, it's essential because otherwise only the knowledgeable would understand what's going on, it's a game of overtaking rather than straight out speed. It's easy to imagine the desire coming off both men as a little jet engine pushing them down the river with every stroke, they both want to impress but neither is sure of the other's interest.
When they do come together, it's very sweet, so much is said in a few words.
"I'm the cox. You're supposed to watch me.”They have a lot to celebrate; touchy Dave and solid Archie are going to be a wonderful pair, and that gives us reason to celebrate too. 5 marbles
“None of them watch you like I do.”