Reviewed by Vicki (Tori)
SERIES: The Brick Yard #1
AUTHOR: Carol Lynne
PUBLISHER: Pride Publishing
LENGTH: 261 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 9th, 2017
For Lucky Gunn, the hardest fight of his life happens outside the cage. On the south side of Chicago sits an old gym called The Brick Yard. Ten years ago, on a bitterly cold day, Lucky Gunn wandered into The Brick Yard dressed in a threadbare jacket, looking for refuge. He hadn’t expected the owner, Tony Brick, to welcome him with a job and a place to sleep when Lucky’s abusive and drug addicted mother made it too dangerous to return home.
Dray was a gay man living in a world of straight fighters. When his secret was exposed to the media, he dropped out, giving Lucky a piece of advice: if you want to make it as a MMA fighter, bury the part of yourself that won’t be accepted. Lucky discovered the cage was the perfect place to keep his demons at bay, but when he learns his trainer and mentor, Brick, is suffering from end-stage cancer, he begins to spiral out of control.
After eight years, Dray returns to help Lucky and Brick deal with the devastating news. With Dray so close, Lucky’s old desires return, and Dray teaches him more than how to fight. Torn between his career and the passion he feels for Dray, Lucky’s past demons resurface in full force, threatening his sanity and his budding relationship with Dray. Despite leaving the cage years earlier, Dray finds himself in the battle of his life with the only man he’s ever loved. Will he stand and fight, or walk away like he did years earlier?
Oh the angst…. This is a rough story, about a really fucked up man, but with the help of a good man, he is redeemed.
Lucky’s lucky day, was the day Brick invited him in to The Brick Yard, and offered him a job and a safe place to sleep. Brick, who owns the gym, begins to train Lucky to eventually be an MMA fighter. It’s a long hard road, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. Lucky has been abused by his drug addict mother and her string of asshole boyfriends, to the point that he needs the pain and the fight. He’s emotionally damaged, and trusts no one, except for Brick. And maybe Mac, the owner of the diner next to The Brick Yard. He was beginning to trust Dray, an fighter several years older than him, who Lucky has a bit of a crush on, but Dray heads to Kansas after being outed by his shithead boyfriend. So Lucky settles in to train with Brick, lets go of his attraction to men, and gets his need for pain in the ring and cage.
Dray is also a mess. He too was saved by Brick, and had a promising career, until he falls in love with the wrong man. He gets outed, and leaves, heading to Kansas to become a tattoo artist. After telling Lucky, a young fighter, to hide his attraction to men. He follows Lucky’s career through the videos that Brick sends him, and sees the pain Lucky is in. But he has vowed to keep away. Until it all goes bad.
Brick begins to show signs of illness, and Lucky pushes him to get help. Unfortunately their worst fears come true. Brick is terminally ill. His last wish is for Dray to come home and run the gym with Lucky.
I’ll stop there! There’s obviously more to it, you’ll have to read it to find out what happens!
So I read this book several years ago, in its original incarnation, The Brick Yard. I loved it. The story of Lucky and Dray, is dark and angsty, but shows that with the right support and love, even fucked up men like Lucky can recover. I’m not a big fan of MMA fighting, or boxing, I don’t care for the violence, and reading about it is hard. But the story of these two men is so incredible, that I got past my dislike of the topic. Now this book has been changed. The ending has been re-written, and it’s been set up for a sequel. I have very mixed feelings about this. I loved the way the story originally ended. It was the ending of the story of Lucky and Dray, all is settled, and you can imagine in your own head how things went for them. There was an epilogue, and a couple of extra stories, but that was it. With this new version, the ending drags on, the extra bits and the end have been rewritten, expanded and included in the story. It very clearly is to set up one of the characters, a man named Jax, who Lucky and Dray helped out, to get his own book. I like Jax just fine, and I have no problem with him getting his own story, but I’m not sure this was the way to do it. The new ending of this book totally diluted the story of Lucky and Dray, and added needless pages to a completed book. Too much time jumps by, and it didn’t work for me.
I was at a strong five hearts for this book, until I read the redone ending. Up until then I loved the story of these two men and their struggle to survive and thrive. I loved Brick, and Flint, and Mac, and Jax…. I hated Lucky’s mom, I hurt for him. I loved how Dray fights for Lucky when he won’t fight for himself. I loved the sex, I loved the connection between the two men. I loved the relationship between Brick and Lucky. And Brick and Dray. Everything about it was excellent. Until the ending. That brought it down for me, I hate to say. It didn’t ruin the story for me, I still think this is Carol Lynne’s best book, and I still love Lucky and Dray. But… I would have prefered the original ending, then add the additional stuff to a new book for Jax. But that’s just my thoughts!
I still very much recommend this book. If you like angst, this is one for you. If you like stories about hard men, with fucked up childhoods, fighting to survive, this one is for you. If you like MMA fighters, this one is for you. Oh, and tattoos. There are tattoos!