Book Review – Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon

A Boys on the Brink novella
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Pages: 73
Characters: Davey/Adam
POV: 1st
Genre: Contemporary, YA

One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?

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I was pulled into this story immediately and sat up late reading it in one sitting. I thought the author did a great job in showing Davey’s inner struggle to be true to himself while feeling like a social outcast, and managing his panic attacks. At several times through I story I wanted to be able to tell him that his football skills weren’t the only reason his team valued and respected him. I thought telling the story in 1st person from Davey’s point of view reflected his nervousness, with the way he rambled and constantly second guessed himself. I loved the way he took solace in chemistry as it remains constant.

Davey and Adam’s growing friendship and relationship made me a very happy reader. I was on the edge of my seat hoping that although Davey couldn’t find the courage to come out, he’d do it in order to stand up for Adam.

Adam is such a sweet guy, and him and Davey geeking together was very sweet. I could feel their connection and totally bought into the fact they were soul mates. An added bonus for me reading this story was the British setting, and the fact both of them are Whovians.

I loved the supporting cast. Davey’s family are supportive, and friendly and it’s obvious they care and love him. His interactions with his sister are very typical of siblings. I liked the contrast between them and Adam’s dad with the family vibe, although I liked him too.

I’d recommend Defensive Play to readers who enjoy a sweet, feel good, romance with likeable characters who need to find the courage to be true to themselves in order to get their happy ending. 5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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