In Your Court, by Reece Pine (novella)
Series/Collection: World of Love
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 18, 2017
Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars
With a shot at happiness in sight, it’s no time to drop the ball.
A back condition ruined Ray’s basketball ambitions, but he wants one last opportunity to play before hanging up his sneakers. While volunteering as a coach at a special needs school in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, he meets Singaporean Xin, who works matching wealthy corporations with compatible charities. Xin helps the American navigate the local customs in order to see the smile Xin fell for at first sight, but Ray makes sure no one sees how hard it is for him to keep upright, let alone keep enjoying Vietnam and playing the sport he loves.
When Ray’s back pain becomes too great to hide, Xin accommodates him in Ho Chi Minh and in Singapore—and in bed. Ray wants to imagine a future for them but fears he’s damaged goods, and Xin’s obligations in Asia aren’t easily forgotten. Ray won’t be another charity of Xin’s, especially when Xin also needs someone by his side. Their romance will be cut as short as Ray’s basketball dreams unless he can close the Pacific-sized distance between them.
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
POC/Person of Color
In Your Court was a complete waste of my time and I wish I hadn’t bothered finishing it.
Even though the book was written in the first person, I felt zero connection with Ray. His thoughts were long-winded and bounced all over the place. The author favored long, unusually complex sentences and I found myself needing to reread entire paragraphs to get its meaning. I did wonder if this style was deliberate, to evoke Ray’s wide-eyed wonder during his first foray outside the United States, but whatever the reason, it made for a very tedious read.
Sadly, I was also unable to connect with Xin, Ray’s handsome and sophisticated Singaporean-Aussie love interest. I didn’t think they had much chemistry – as much as Ray loved Vietnam, he seemed very “fish out of water” and it showed when he interacted with the suave businessman. Ray was also doing his best to hide some pretty severe chronic pain, so that just added to the awkwardness. The fact that Xin never caught on to Ray’s discomfort after spending every waking (and sleeping) minute with him really bugged me as well. If you’re really into someone, or at least attracted to them, I feel like you’d totally notice when that person is in burning agony much of the time – especially if you bunked with them!
Speaking of bunking together, even though the two didn’t hook up till later in the book, I really could have done without it – again, I just wasn’t feeling any connection or even attraction between them. I actually skipped through the sex scenes, something I confess I never do. But even outside of bed, there was a distinct lack of action or well, plot. Nothing much happened during Ray’s time in Vietnam and his stopover in Singapore, and their happy ending was a real stretch for me. Quite literally, I was in disbelief when I finished the book.
I won’t lie, being from that region, I was looking forward to some Southeast Asian representation (my dad’s family is Singaporean). But I have to say, I was disappointed early on when Xin cited Bahasa Melayu and Malaysian as among the languages he spoke. Bahasa Melayu, or Malay is spoken in both Malaysia and Singapore. So saying he spoke both Malay and Malaysian? Is sort of like saying he speaks English and American. It’s really just English isn’t it, because American isn’t a language. Similarly, Malaysian is a nationality, not a language.
Furthermore, Xin also said he spoke Singlish – which made me roll my eyes. Singlish, or Singaporean English, is the patois spoken in Singapore and is a mix of the locally spoken languages and English. Malaysians have a similar patois and quite aptly call it Manglish. It’s a legit thing but the thing is, saying you speak Singlish is perhaps a bit like saying you speak African American Vernacular English (AAVE or Ebonics). Sure, many people speak it, or at least codeswitch when appropriate, but to say you speak it just sounds… weird at best and pretentious at worst. I don’t actually know anyone who would list American, English, and AAVE as their languages. In short, I was not particularly impressed by Xin, or this book in general.
Overall, it truly was a tiresome and disappointing read.
Reece is an own-voices writer of queer romance. In addition to upcoming publications with Dreamspinner Press and Less Than Three Press, she plans to release several further works in 2017, including novellas and novels featuring characters identifying with various genders and orientations.
Currently based in Australia, Reece has lived in the UK, Vietnam, and Japan. She very happily translates bits and bobs from Japanese to English, and enjoys digitally painting photorealistic portraits whenever she’s not obsessively writing romance (with which her black and white cat kindly assists).
You can purchase In your Court at:
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.