The Unforgiving Minute

The Unforgiving Minute

Sarah Granger

Even though I played while I was growing up, I’ve never been a real tennis fan. Something about having objects hurling toward me at great speed put me off the sport. Granger, however, makes tennis sound fun and exciting while game after game are couched in a gentle romance.

Since he was a teen drooling over his contemporary male tennis champions, Ryan Betancourt has had a crush on super-player Josh Andrews. Now one of the newest members of the pro tennis circuit, Ryan is disappointed when Josh and his retinue of father and trainers passes him by without acknowledgement after Ryan says hello. Ryan quickly learns that Josh isn’t stuck up, but is in his pregame zone, getting ready to take on another competitor. It’s only one of many lessons Ryan must lean now that he’s competing in the big leagues.

Fortunately, when he and Josh connect, the sex is everything Ryan always imagined it would be. That Josh and he would fall in love is icing on the cake. But all is not happiness and light in the pro ranks. Chase Mitchell, once Josh’s lover, isn’t going down without a fight both on and off the court. It’s a good thing Ryan and Josh have their personal and public fans like fellow tennis player Elena, cook Tommy, and both Ryan’s and Josh’s parents to cheer them when they win and pick them up, dust them off, and support them when they lose.

Granger’s round-the-world pro tennis tour gives readers the feel of competition as seen through the eyes of a player who loves the game and is at times star-struck. Ryan’s eager, almost puppy-dog appreciation of the players and the venues blinds him on occasion to the snakes in the grass and the landmines everyone in the public eye must skirt to become successful.

Having Ryan’s rose-colored look at the games is preferable to Josh’s more cautious, jaded view. Ryan’s is a half-fan, half-player viewpoint that lets readers in so that we can more intimately enjoy the machinations of what really happens on a pro tour. Ryan is the over-grown kid who’s a joy to be around and who lights up any gathering.

Josh, on the other hand, having had the pressure to perform all his life, is much more subdued and almost unapproachable. While Granger shows readers how Ryan brings Josh out of his shell, Josh isn’t a lovable character. If Ryan hadn’t idolized him during their teen years, it’s doubtful Ryan would have even been attracted other than on a sports level. Why Josh falls for Ryan isn’t explored, which left me wondering if Ryan’s adoration will be enough to keep the guys together.

Ryan and Josh’s story is a simple one that could have easily fallen into the C category of ho-hum if it weren’t for Granger’s wonderful depictions of the world of pro tennis. Her look at Wimbledon through Josh’s eyes lights up the pages just as his whirlwind look at the courts and players up until that point enlivens the story.

Tennis players and would-be players will enjoy a peek at the pro circuit a la Granger.