Hello! This is Leigh Carman, author of Match Point, a M/M, enemies to lovers romance from the incredible people at Dreamspinner Press. This is my first traditionally published novel, but I’ve self published many books as Heather C Leigh, mostly M/F and one M/M as part of a rockstar series.
Match Point is a sports romance. And really, who doesn’t love a good sports romance? Especially in the M/M genre. You have sweat, muscles, men pushing their bodies past their limits to be the best. Competition fills the pages—sometimes friendly, sometimes not so much—along with mental and physical talent beyond most peoples’ capabilities. Throw in a little love-hate and you’ve got the perfect storm, in my opinion, for a roller coaster ride of emotions that will take you to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Why, as readers, do we love the battle of competition? Why do we love the snarky jabs and hateful insults slung back and forth between main characters? Maybe it’s because some sports can be strikingly similar to foreplay. Or maybe it’s the lobbing of harsh words combined with bodies smashing together in the spirit of the game. Ether way, our adrenaline flows, our hearts beat faster, and we find ourselves hunched over our e-readers, desperate to find out what happens next.
Or maybe it’s just me.
I had always been bewildered by that old clichéd fantasy men have regarding women. It’s always the same—a couple of sorority girls have a sleepover and begin pillow fighting. Why is this so hot? My favorite explanation is summed up by this quote from Seinfeld, answered by Jerry when Elaine asks that very question. “Because men think if women are grabbing and clawing at each other, there’s a chance they might somehow kiss.” And there it is in a nutshell. What I’ve discovered is that I have my own version of this pillow-fighting, ponytail-pulling, catfight fantasy. A version not between two scantily clad co-eds, but rather two slick and sweaty men in peak physical form.
Imagine a UFC octagon, the brightly lit stage with towering black chain link trapping the men like caged animals. They pace, they stare at their adversary, and they look for strengths and weaknesses. Then, they advance and the fight begins. Blow after blow, ducking and landing punches. Muscular legs kicking out, swiping their opponent to the mat. This is where it gets interesting. Grappling. Two fit men climbing all over each other, grabbing whatever they can hold on to, trying to will the other into submission—such a wonderful sexual term, don’t you think? Submission. At this point, my beautiful vision skews from reality. Once the victor pins the other man beneath him, they begin kissing. Groping, hands reaching and bodies grinding together, both desperately turned on and hungry for each other.
Sigh. I’ll really have to write that scene someday.
In Match Point, Finn and Dex never quite reach the slippery, sliding make out on the ground stage, but they do bicker a lot, and yes, a few punches might be thrown here and there with a tiny bit of manhandling. But I’ll still hold on to that gorgeous vision in the cage. A girl can dream, right?
I hope you love my guys, they’re snarky, quick to cut the other verbally, and totally in denial about how much they want each other. Tension flies. Physical and sexual—which, as I explained, are not all that different from each other.
Thanks for having me! Enjoy an excerpt from Match Point.
“Get it. Get it. Hurry, hurry!”
I scramble for the ball while Coach yells out encouragements—or possibly reprimands. I can never be sure which. Either way I’m on top of my game today. I hustle to the net, get under the ball, and bump it with my wrists, arcing it high for Dex.
Dex waits for it to come down and lifts it using his fingertips. As the ball goes in the air, I take a running jump, curve my body so it doesn’t touch any part of the net, and smack the ball over our opponent’s head. It hits the sand.
“Yes,” Dex shouts and holds up a hand for me to high-five. Grinning, I reach out and slap my hand into his. Dex holds on to it for a brief moment. The contact is quick—less than a second—but the heat that sears through my palm leaves a lasting impression. It’s time to switch sides and it’s my turn to serve. Dex puts his hands behind his back and gives me the signal to hit it left with no spin. I toss the ball up and hit it over the net.
Beautiful. Our opponent drops to his knees and makes the save, but he can’t get to his position quickly enough to reach the ball his partner perfectly sets for him. Dex cheers and pumps his fist in the air. I grin at his enthusiasm. Watching Dexter Savage have the time of his life is mesmerizing. It infuses me with an energy I’ve never felt before. I no longer see Dex as just another charming guy. He has me spellbound and hanging on his every word.
“Nice whiff, dickhead,” I call out when he misses a dig and comes up with a mouthful of sand.
I can’t have him thinking I like him or something.
Dex laughs and spits out the sand. “Shut up, Callahan.”
By the end of the day, we should be exhausted, but we’re riding high on winning the New Orleans Open, and on the thirty-minute ride back to the hotel on the river, we both get our second wind. Dex is literally bouncing around. He’s so full of energy, he’s making me dizzy.
“Come on, Finn. Let’s go out to celebrate. This is New Orleans, The Big Easy. There’s sin on every corner and a ton of awesome clubs here.”
I roll my eyes. “I doubt your idea of an awesome club is the same as mine, Savage.”
“What?” Dex squints at me. Then his eyes widen almost comically. “Oooooohhh. You don’t think I can handle a gay club?” A slow, snarky grin spreads across his handsome face, and my breath hitches.
I shake off my dirty thoughts to get back to the subject at hand. “No. I don’t. God. I can’t even think about you going into a gay club without laughing.”
Or getting hard and groaning.
“Hmph.” Dex levels his intense hazel eyes at me and quirks one eyebrow in challenge.
“Yes, Finn,” he sings gleefully.
Dex chuckles and nods his head. “Oh yes. Pull out your sparkly top, baby, because we’re hitting the gay clubs tonight.”
“Fuck you, Savage. I don’t own a sparkly top.”
Dex gives me a disgusted look. “What kind of gay man are you?”
“Not a very good one, I guess.”
One who crushes on his straight teammate, that’s what kind of gay man I am. A stupid one.
After five minutes of back and forth, I finally get Dex to let go of the idea of cruising gay clubs tonight, but only on the promise that I’ll take him to one when we get back to LA. I’m hoping he’ll forget by then, because seeing his gorgeous ass shaking on a dance floor while hot, sweaty guys grind on him? I’d implode before the night was over.
We change and grab a cab, and Dex directs the driver to head toward Bourbon Street. “Really, Dex? Bourbon Street? Can’t we go somewhere a little less—”
“Less fun? No, Callahan, we can’t. You’re having fun if it kills me. Tonight I’m officially removing the stick from your ass….” Dex twists his head and shoots me a scorching look that has my dick throbbing painfully in my shorts. “Even if I have to pin you down to yank it out.”
I swallow, and my mouth suddenly disconnects from my brain as every drop of blood in my body turns to lava and collects in my groin.
“Whatever, Savage,” I mumble, turn to the window, and shift my hips so Dex can’t see my now fully hard cock.
Dex laughs and shoves my shoulder. Does he not know what he’s doing to me? I sneak a glance at my teammate. He’s looking out his own window, eyes glittering, smile as wide as a kid on Christmas morning.
No. He has no clue. He’s truly excited to go out and have fun. In fact he’s practically bursting out of his skin, he’s so wound up. But then, Dexter Savage always was the life of the party. He’s comfortable in his own skin. It’s what makes him so attractive. Well, besides the tousled, just out of bed hair, the perfectly straight nose and full mouth, and the body to die for. But his outgoing personality was what had me crushing on him in college—and the reason I hated his guts. I watched him every day at practice as he charmed everyone around us, and knew he would never be available to me.
“Here it is.” Dex throws some money at the cab driver and leaps out of the car. I take a look at my surroundings and thump my head on the glass. We’re on a street thick with pedestrians clutching hurricane glasses and sipping through long straws as they mingle in the crowd. Neon signs line the business fronts on both sides of the cab, each promising a different kind of debauchery inside.
Dex leans down and sticks his head in the backseat. “What are you waiting for, Callahan? Let’s get this party started.”
Ugh. Tonight is going to be pure torture.
Two stubborn men.
One is a rude jerk. The other, the life of the party.
It was hate at first sight.
Pro beach volleyball players Finn Callahan and Dexter Savage have been rivals since college. While Finn always comes out on top on the court, Dexter’s carefree and fun-loving personality earns him scores of adoring men and women. And as much as Finn fights to deny it, there’s another reason for the tension he feels when Dex is around. Hate wasn’t the only thing he felt when he first laid eyes on his opponent.
When they’re forced to team up, the two men must bury their differences—on and off the court—if either of them is going to succeed professionally.
Match Point Buy Links
Review by Cat Clontz
Professional volleyball players and men who have known each other for years but have never gotten along – could the premise get any better? Dexter has never understood Finn’s animosity toward him, but he’s not about to sit back and take it. Whatever Finn dishes out, he gets back in spades. Constantly facing off against each other with their respective teammates, there are ample opportunities for drama.
I loved the way this story went. I empathized with Finn for having to grieve in solitude because his fiancé didn’t want to go public about his orientation. I empathized with Dex for feeling alone in a world of luxury. When the two are placed together and must overcome their animosity, I couldn’t wait for the sparks to fly, and I wasn’t disappointed! Dex’s waffling about his sexuality was annoying due to the consequences of his youth, but when he gets over himself, things head off into luscious wonder.
Solid plot with curious and interesting subplots, Match Point skips along merrily. The main characters are full-bodied and I enjoyed the dialogue. Peripheral characters are few, and those that there were fell a little flat for me, coming across as two dimensional and not adding anything particularly to the story as a whole. That said, the chemistry is supernova hot and I adored the way the characters grew over the course of the book. The ending is sweet, and I am happy to report that Match Point is a four and a half star winner!
Meet Leigh Carman
Leigh Carman is the pen name for the M/M romances written by bestselling Contemporary romance writer, Heather C. Leigh. She lives outside Atlanta with her husband, 2 kids, and French bulldog. She is leaving explicit directions in her will for her friends to discreetly scatter her ashes around Fenway Park. Then they are to sit back, watch a game with a beer and a Fenway frank and have a wicked good time.