Reviewed by JustJen
Title: The Brick Yard
Author: Carol Lynne
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 173 Pages
Publisher: Totally Bound
Release Date: October 3, 2014
Available at: Totally Bound and Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: For Lucky Gunn, the hardest fight of his life happens outside the cage.
On the south side of Chicago sits an old gym called The Brick Yard.
Ten years ago, on a bitterly cold day, Lucky Gunn wandered into The Brick Yard dressed in a threadbare jacket, looking for refuge. He hadn’t expected the owner, Tony Brick, to welcome him with a job and a place to sleep when Lucky’s abusive and drug addict mother made it too dangerous to return home.
Dray was a gay man living in a world of straight fighters. When his secret was exposed to the media, he dropped out giving Lucky a piece of advice, if you want to make it as a MMA fighter, bury the part of yourself that won’t be accepted.
Lucky discovered the cage was the perfect place to keep his demons at bay, but when he learns his trainer and mentor, Brick, is suffering from end-stage cancer, he begins to spiral out of control. After eight years, Dray returns to help Lucky and Brick deal with the devastating news.
With Dray so close, Lucky’s old desires return, and Dray teaches him more than how to fight. Torn between his career and the passion he feels for Dray, Lucky’s past demons resurface in full force, threatening his sanity and his budding relationship with Dray.
Despite leaving the cage years earlier, Dray finds himself in the battle of his life with the only man he’s ever loved. Will he stand and fight or walk away like he did years earlier?
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of terminal illness and child abuse.
This is, by far, my favorite book by this Ms. Lynne to date. I had a good feeling about it from the blurb, and I was not disappointed.
The Brick Yard is a gym run by a man who takes less fortunate young guys under his wing, giving them second chances. He provides them with a place to stay, giving them small jobs to pay them for. He also trains MMA fighters. Dray was one of the earlier guys Brick took in. He had a promising career as one of the top fighters. When Dray was outed at the height of his MMA career, believing he could not be successful in the UFC without the support of his fans and believing there was no way he would have that support as a gay fighter, he quit and left town.
Meanwhile, at this same time, Lucky was a young guy Brick took in who was down on his luck. His mother was a drug addict, now incarcerated, and he didn’t know his father. He suffered a lot of abuse from his mom and her drug dealer boyfriends. To say he was a bit screwed up is putting it lightly. His mom really did a number on him, to the point where he was self-harming to punish himself.
Fast forward a few years and Lucky is the up and coming fighter. Following the advise Dray gave him all those years before, he stays deep in the closet. Dray and Lucky are brought back together when Brick asks Dray to mentor Lucky about his fighting. They learn Brick is suffering from cancer and what ensues is one of the main heartbreaking parts of this story.
This story is chock full of emotions as the guys give in to their feelings and desires. They fight for what the want with what they think is best, both with regards to fighting and with dealing with the inevitable loss of Brick. I loved the struggles these men faced. There were underlying issues concerning Lucky’s self-harming and dealing with the aftermath of his youth, all of which were really well done. Both men have to deal with the different reasons they fight, what losing that means to them and what is really important.
I loved how these guys turned their lives around to make things work and was happy to see them carry on Brick’s legacy of paying it forward to the youth. This was just beautifully written, and I was turning pages very quickly and really didn’t want to see this end. While there are a lot of heartbreaking and emotional issues discussed, getting to the end is well worth it.
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*