by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Love Match, Book 2 (2010-2012) by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by Rukis.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, February 2018, trade paperback, $19.95 (316 pages), e-books $9.99.
This is book 2 of Gold’s Love Match trilogy. Book 1, titled just Love Match, was published last year in January 2017, and the final volume will presumably be published in early 2019.
Gold’s Love Match trilogy is a loose follow-up to his five “Dev and Lee” novels, set in his Forester University world; but its theme is tennis instead of football. Young (14 years old) Rochi “Rocky” N’Guwe, a black-backed jackal from the African nation of Lunda, is brought to the States with his mother in 2008 on a scholarship from the Palm Gables Tennis Center, a leading tennis college. During the two years of Book 1, Rocky matures, realizes his homosexuality, and develops a romance with his best friend, Marquize Alhazhari, a cheetah from Madiyah. He is horrified to discover that his younger sister Ori, to whom he is devoted and who has been left behind in Lunda, is being betrothed by their aunt in an arranged marriage. Rocky tries to earn enough money to bring Ori to Palm Gables. At the end of Book 1, Rocky and Marquize leave the Palm Gables Center and are thrust into the world of professional tennis.
And that’s about all that I can say about Book 2 without giving away major spoilers. There is a six-page Prologue set in the present (2015), during a climactic game between Rocky and his ongoing rival Braden Longacre, before getting into the main story. It establishes that both will get into tennis’ top ranks. But for the three years of Book 2, 2010 to 2012 – well, nothing much happens.
The story is narrated by Rocky N’Guwe, and it’s about him growing up from 16 to 18 years old in the environment of professional tennis. His friendship/gay romance with Marquize ebbs and flows. Rocky’s mother, who at first is always present as his chaperone and coach, leaves him to the care of a professional tennis coach while she concentrates on getting Ori into the States. He briefly crosses paths with Braden Longacre. Rocky, under his coach’s care, travels to tennis tournaments in several cities and develops new friendships among the other tennis players. In his free time on his own, he explores gay bars and clubs.