Dreamspinner Press, M.J. O'Shea, Small Gems

Small Gems – Stroke! by M.J. O’Shea

The world is a pretty small place according to M.J. O’Shea, as Stroke! shoots holes in the theory that electronic and social media have become the cold and disconnected replacement for interpersonal relationships.

This is the short and so sweet story of two young men competing for a seat on their university’s rowing team. Elijah Lukas is the arrogant sophomore looking to steal Owen Peters’ seat right out from under him. Literally. To say their relationship is antagonist is putting it a bit mildly. Owen loathes the brash and ballsy Elijah, and Elijah doesn’t do much to distract Owen from those feelings.

Davis is the guy Owen vents his frustration to while they play Zombie Killah. Davis is also the guy Owen has developed a huge crush on as they chat with each other across the supposedly impersonal distance of the electronic superhighway. But distance isn’t the only complication in their friendship. The bigger problem in this scenario is that Davis is straight and Owen has never told anyone he’s gay.

Stroke! isn’t a story about the sport of rowing; it really could’ve taken place within any sport or setting. What it is, is a story of synchronicity and the sort of seemingly improbable coincidences that come from uttering a name, then having that name bring something and someone unexpected into existence when you believed it to be impossible. It’s about falling in love with a disembodied voice but then when that voice gains a face and an identity, it changes your perception of the person you thought you knew.

This story made me smile, made me sigh a little, and made me wish it’d been a bit longer—in a good way.

Buy Stroke HERE.

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