Author: Aidan Wayne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Publication date: May 28, 2019
Length: 193 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
Marcus Economidis is a famous action-movie star renowned for doing his own stunts. But put him back in his Michigan hometown for his latest project and he’s a nervous wreck. Why? Taemin Choi—the taekwondo master who trained Marcus and helped him move beyond debilitating shyness to become the man he is today. Taemin was Marcus’s first crush, and now that he’s grown, their reunion might lead to more than a mentorship.
Marcus’s kindness and confidence impresses Taemin, and the attraction is instant—for both of them. Making time for each other won’t be easy, what with Taemin training to qualify for the Olympics and Marcus working on his latest film. But it all seems worthwhile when they’re together, reacquainting themselves with each other—in the dojang and beyond—and nurturing a romance more satisfying than anything either ever thought possible.
But can their romance withstand the pressures of Marcus’s fame and Taemin’s grueling schedule?
Marcus has returned to his home town in order to film his latest movie. He has made a name for himself as a ruggedly handsome and talented action adventure star who does most of his own stunts thanks to the taekwondo he learned at a young age right there in Chicago. He remembers those years when he was a shy young teen and the instructor who took him under his wing-Taemin Choi. Back then he’d had a major crush on the twenty year old martial arts master and now that he was back home Marcus realized how much he missed Taemin. He decides to look up Taemin and the academy he teaches at and is shocked to realize that even though many years have passed the old feelings for Taemin still linger. But between his filming schedule and Taemin’s duties at the academy as well as his training regimen for the Olympic trials it will be a miracle if the two men can even find time to figure out if the attraction each feels is enough to pursue something more than a rekindled friendship.
Aidan Wayne offers up a sweet slow burning romance in his latest novel, Hitting the Mark. With little angst and a palpable chemistry between the two main characters this story seemed to have all the right elements to make it a delightful friends to lovers novel. While I liked both Taemin and Marcus and how they both took the time to get reacquainted before taking their relationship further, I must admit that the story felt a bit labored, at times. Too often the author would get us right to the cusp of both men wanting to move toward becoming more physically intimate with each other and then have one of them put on the brakes and begin to worry over whether they were moving too fast. If this had happened once or even twice, I think the novel would have delivered the much needed remedy to the sexual tension they both were feeling. However, it happened over and over and interspersed with that theme was way too many moments when Taemin would recall that he had failed to eat and was utterly exhausted due to pushing himself way too hard.
It seemed as though the author was attempting to illustrate how both men wanted to do things the right way and take it slow so that they could savor the little time they had with each other and get to know each other as two adults rather than master and student. I appreciated that but when the stop and go quality of their relationship became tiresome and made the novel feel sluggish and aimless I realized that too much of a good thing can be damaging to the overall pacing of the novel. What did work was the way that Marcus really cared for Taemin and waned to help him achieve his dreams of becoming an Olympic hopeful. Even when he overstepped, the author wrote Marcus so genuinely that you knew he really was sorry he had angered Taemin by being a bit too controlling. This, for me, was the best aspect of the book—the depth and time the author took to develop these two men which made their every emotion and action seem plausible as well as it feeling so very genuine. I thought the character development was really top notch.
Hitting the Mark had some really fine moments and some very likeable characters. If the pacing of the novel had been sped up just a bit this would have been a really great story. Still, for those looking for low angst and a tender romance this novel may very well fit the bill.
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