Title: Digging for Gold
Author: Sean Michael
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 31k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Sports (Beach Volleyball), Olympics, a bit of BDSM
Rating: Not Feelin’ It
Olympic beach volleyball hopeful Kenn Majors took out his shoulder during a surfing charity event. Now the whole world’s on his back, from his teammate to his father, to get back into shape in time for the Worlds, and then the Olympics. Kenn’s new trainer, Dusty, is just one more change that’s happened since he injured himself, and he’s not sure if he’s coming or going. What’s more, Dusty’s a hot guy who’s also gay.
Will Kenn be able to keep his attraction under control and manage to get his shoulder back to where it needs to be in time to win at the Worlds? Or does the whole situation have disaster written all over it?
I know I said this before, but I suppose I don’t learn my own lessons — I’m putting a moratorium on Sean Michael books. I used to love her writing, but I think my taste has evolved in a different direction. I like a lot of sex in my books, that isn’t it, but in this case I think I’m tired of the kind of sex that she writes, at least in the last few books I’ve read. The dialogue during sex just drives me crazy. That’s not the only reason this book didn’t work for me, and I suppose I wanted to read this book solely because it was about Olympic Beach Volleyball, but ultimately it didn’t work for me at all.
Kenn is a fantastic beach volleyball player, but out with a shoulder injury from surfing. He’s got everyone telling him what a fuckup he’s being, no one more than his coach Steph and his dad, who seems obsessed with him winning gold in London. That’s not to say that he doesn’t want it — he does, more than anything — but getting there means so many changes in his life that he feels totally off course. He’s had to take a semester off college and his partner is getting married and is soon to be a dad. Things are just different. That all changes when his coach hires Dusty, a trainer, to oversee his rehabilitation and get him in gear to start their training for Worlds and ultimately, London.
I think my first disappointment with the story was that there wasn’t any actual beach volleyball, at least not anything about the sport or any on page playing time that wasn’t about his injury for a small scene. If this were another Olympic sport I might have passed it up because of all of the games in summer Olympics, I watch beach volleyball the most, without fail and have really grown to love it.
For the most part, this story worked, it just didn’t offer what I had hoped for. It is solid Sean Michael fare. It is rather short, but not too short for the story. There is rather a lot of sex, a fair bit of which explores BDSM but I wouldn’t call this a BDSM story because that isn’t the focus. There really wasn’t any scenes where the characters go to know each other at all. It was all either about sex or the sport/his injury. Honestly, I never felt like I got Kenn’s character for most of the book because he’s a pushover. It make sense, he follows rules and his coaching and just does what people tell him, but it didn’t give him personality. When that changed, it felt a little too late for me to like him as a character.
In the end, this was unsatisfying for me, but whether you like it or not will probably depend on if you like this author’s work.