Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Changing on the Fly: A Charity Anthology
AUTHORS: Cherylanne Corneille, Avon Gale, Heather Lire, V. L. Locey, Mary Smith, and Samantha Wayland
LENGTH: 368 Pages
RELEASE DATE: October 12, 2016
Changing on the Fly is a celebration of romance, featuring six M/M stories about hockey players falling in love on – and off – the ice. All proceeds from the anthology will be donated to a charity that supports inclusiveness in athletics.
The anthology will be available starting in October, 2016, for a limited time only.
It includes the following stories:
Even Strength by Cherylanne Corneille
Next Season by Avon Gale
Going Home by Heather Lire
On Broadway by V.L. Locey
The Brother and the Retired Player by Mary Smith
Take a Shot by Samantha Wayland
On the whole I have to say that I enjoyed this anthology. All the different hockey players exhibited a love for the game that I found matched my own, and each love story was well matched in tone and style. And the writing was really good across the board. A few low points, but not for lack of story telling, and the high points really made up for them.
Also, I must say I was thrilled with the inclusion of not just one, but several players of color. I can only hope that this is a trend that makes it into more novel length stories, because it is not something that we see all that often. Mores the pity.
I can’t say I have very many reservations about recommending this anthology, and since all the proceeds will be going to an charity that supports inclusivity in athletics, you are not only getting some good hockey stories, but helping out as well. The individual reviews and ratings are below, but I’m giving this anthology 4 stars and recommending you pick it up if you’ve got the chance.
Even Strength by Cherylanne Corneille — 4 stars
Nate Ward, living the dream he has had ever since he was a kid, has just made it into his first season of professional hockey. But that doesn’t mean it is all smooth sailing. He rarely gets to see his boyfriend, his body is one big giant mess of bruises from intense practices and games, and, oh yeah, being the first openly gay professional hockey player means he can’t get away from the rabid reporters and less than complimentary suggestions about what he can go do to himself by other players. With so much on the line, both on and off the ice, Nate’s just gonna have to keep his eye on the puck and hope that he doesn’t end up on the wrong end of the boards.
This was a really good start to this anthology. I liked Nate from the beginning, and while we don’t get a lot of page time with Tristan, his boyfriend, the struggles they go thru gave a needed depth to this story. I was worried for a bit that it was gonna go in a direction I wouldn’t be too fond of, but luckily it didn’t and we ended up with a very satisfying ending. I am also curious how Fowler’s whole story ends up, so I wouldn’t mind another foray into this world if the author ever decided to write one. Overall, I liked it quite a bit and hope that the rest of the anthology can keep up the pace set in this first story.
Next Season by Avon Gale — 4.5 stars
Nick Miles and Everett Sparrow are both getting traded. Everett is taking it a bit harder than Nick, though, what with having to leave a team that is bound for the playoffs (and maybe even a cup win) for a team that will be lucky to not land at the bottom of the heap. But while the Philadelphia Foxes are not the Buffalo Knights, they are not bad people or players. Given enough time, they might just be able to pull of a winning season…next year, at least. This year they’ll just have to learn to play together and see what happens. Much like Nick and Everett themselves, whose shared living accommodations and gradually growing attraction, might lead to some beautiful playing…and some hot off the ice action.
Well it is no surprise that I got along great with this short by Avon Gale. Gale can write up some damn good hockey (and some damn hot hockey players) so I really wasn’t expecting anything less than what I got. I really loved the slow and gradual working out of Nick and Everett’s relationship in this. It came out feeling very natural, and by the end of the story I had no problem buying their (supposed) happy ending. The low-key, let things happen naturally, thing really works for me, and while I love love scenes, this way always feel more real.
The hockey, and the players were also a lot of fun. I love how Gale writes her hockey players. They always seem like people I would love to hang out with. But they also act like serious athletes, which I appreciate. Also, as weird as it may be, I kinda love it when the story does not automatically end up in a cup win for whatever team the MCs are on. Just because our teams don’t get the cup doesn’t mean we fans love them any less. It is nice sometimes to see that the love of the sport is not predicated on how many wins a team can pull out. Not that winning is bad, just not everything.
Going Home by Heather Lire — 2 stars
Blake Griffith is headed back home to Las Vegas. Unfortunately. Not that he is sad to have gotten the coaching job for the newest member of the national hockey league, but Las Vegas isn’t exactly a fount of happy memories. Least of all the last ones he had of Micah Morales. But Vegas is city full of people (most of them not even staying longer than a week) so what are the chances that Blake will run into his first crush? Pretty good if his luck holds out the way it’s been going.
This was certainly short, but I honestly can’t say that it was much of a story. It was the beginning of a story, I’ll grant you that, but there was no ending. It just stopped. And I know the author left a note saying she planned to make Blake and Micah’s tale into a full story at a later date, but I don’t really go into anthologies wanting excerpts. I want stories. Complete ones, even if they are short. If she had instead just told the story of how they fell apart I would have been a lot more satisfied. At least then I would get some kind of ending even if I didn’t get closure. I certainly like what was written, and hell I might even pick up the complete thing at some point, but I can’t deny that what we got here was a bit disappointing.
On Broadway by V.L. Locey — 4 stars
Riley Zeally has it all. Fame, fortune, a job playing pro hockey on one of the best teams in the NHL. Seems like he should be pretty damn satisfied with life. But he’s not. Not that he doesn’t enjoy all those really nice things, but having to live in a closet (and having to live alone because of that closet) means that he is left feeling like something is missing from his life. Little does he know that that something is a long-haird homeless man who plays hockey like no one Riley has ever seen.
Despite the fact that you should probably not actually use this story as a model for how to handle taking home random dudes from off the street, I had a lot of fun reading this. Rocket’s prickliness was just the thing to spice up this short story. And I really loved the non-judgy language and tone this took about Rocket’s situation. His life is hardly ideal, but I liked that it wasn’t used to bash him further. Not a lot of hockey in this one, but I can’t say I minded too much. The characters were interesting enough that I didn’t even really notice.
The Brother and the Retired Player by Mary Smith — 3 stars
After years of taking care of his brother, Kian has decided, at the ripe old age of 41, that it was about time that he start living his life for himself. His brother is an adult now, and can take care of most of the things that come with being a professional hockey player, and that should leave Kian plenty of time to find a job that didn’t revolve around someone else’s needs. It also gives him the chance to maybe find someone to fill his nighttime hours with, as well. And the newly retired Tim Gibbs seems to be very agreeable to the offer.
Not bad, but something about the style of storytelling in this one just didn’t do it for me. A bit too much telling for my tastes. And for all that Kian was fond of telling us that he was 41 years old, there were some reactions that felt too juvenile for someone of that age. I also had a hard time remembering who was who when it came to the three K-named characters. They were all way too similar, and even though there are not very many characters in this story, I kept mixing them up. I did like that both these characters were either no longer playing hockey, or were only tangentially connected to the sport. Breaking away from the traditional hockey-player/hockey-player pairing meant that it kept my attention even though I got frustrated with other aspects of the storytelling.
Taking a Shot by Samantha Wayland — 4 stars
Tim Robineau and Chris Kimball have been friends, roommates, and teammates for a while. But it isn’t until Chris goes down in the middle of a game with what could end up being a career ending injury that Tim starts to see something between them that he never noticed before. And Chris, who has been in love with his best friend for ages, might just get a shot at the one thing he never dared to hope to have.
Even though I only got about halfway thru this last story before I was hit with a migraine which made it hard to focus on what was going on on page, I enjoyed this last contribution to the anthology. I think it was a great way to end it, and I found Chris and Tim quite believable as a pair of friends fumbling their way thru an attraction that has been building for years. Everything in this story (well, except the injury which made me seriously wince in sympathy) was pretty low key, but it was enjoyable none the less.