Anna Martin, Dreamspinner Press

There’s No Sticky Wicket In This Cricket

The best love story is when you fall in love with the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time – Unknown

I absolutely loved Anna Martin’s Tattoos & Teacups. I was looking forward to loving Cricket as well. It didn’t happen quite as easily as I had expected. It was difficult to get in to the story. The first third or so seemed to move very slowly. The reason I gave Cricket four out of five stars is because the rest of the book was quite enjoyable.

Henry Richardson has lived in New York City his whole life. He knows his paternal Grandfather emigrated from England but is unaware of any family still located there. Henry receives an ominous summons to his lawyer’s office in the middle of the day. He finds out that he does, indeed still have family in England. In the form of ninety-one year old Annabell (Nell) Richardson. She is his Great-Grandmother and a very wealthy woman. Henry was named after his father and his grandfather. Nell is his Grandfather’s mother.

Nell knows she is dying. She has moved to an assisted living facility. There remains, however, the matter of Stretton House. It has been the family home for generations. No one has lived there since it was used as a hospital during WWII, but Nell does not want to see it crumble to the ground. She chooses Henry, because he is named after her son, to leave the mansion to prior to her death. She is entrusting that he will restore it to its former glory.

Having been a wedding planner in New York, Henry sees the perfect wedding venue in the mansion and begins restoration. He wants to use as much local labor and as many local suppliers as possible. This is how he meets Ryan Burgess.

Ryan is a local farmer. He supplies many local businesses as well as his sister’s pub with their produce and eggs. He was married at a young age to a high school sweetheart, divorced soon after and hasn’t dated since. His ex-wife told him that he is gay. Ryan doesn’t necessarily believe her and doesn’t explore the possibility.

As Henry & Ryan become close friends, Ryan invites Henry to move in to the remodeled attic of his farmhouse. Ryan lives there alone and Henry is paying to stay at a local bed & breakfast. As work on the mansion progresses, so does the relationship between Henry and Ryan. Anna Martin takes us on a deliciously slow journey of exploration of the feelings the two men are developing. Once they acknowledge the attraction, they agree to take it very slowly since Ryan doesn’t know what will happen to his business if he comes out.

Their journey is like the swan ride at an amusement park. Slowly gliding through the smooth water around them, in and out of the light (although there is no real dark place for them) until it eventually reaches the pre-destined placid ending.

The title Cricket refers to the game cricket. Ryan talks Henry into joining the local cricket team. Although Henry knows nothing about the game, under Ryan’s hands (pun intended), he becomes quite an accomplished player.

There is a small dip in their glide to happiness that I won’t ruin for you, but it makes for a very romantic and grand gesture on Ryan’s part.

There are many layers to this love story. Henry falls in love with Ryan, we expect that. He also falls in love with Stretton House, with Nell. He embraces his new country and village. He falls in love with Ryan’s sister and her family. It seems that every aspect of his new life is not what he expected, but exactly what is right for him.

I kept waiting for the shoe to drop, for the calamity that normally occurs in romance novels. For the mean ex or poorly received coming out that most often leads to a separation of sorts for our MCs so that they can be brought back together in a mass of clinging limbs, clashing tongues and teeth and professions of undying love. It never happened. Ms. Martin’s swan ride was so smooth, it was over before I knew it. That is what makes Cricket a four star read. That’s why we go on the swan ride at the fair, for a relaxing journey with no hidden surprises. A journey that we know will end right where we expect it to. It’s comforting, warm and very welcome. I highly recommend this book.

Reviewed by: Tina

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