Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Casey Sprague has a job he adores as a wedding planner and a wonderful committed relationship with a man he loves deeply, Nate Rule. Casey knows the man he loves is a man of many passions, and while Casey may take the top spot in Nate’s life, baseball comes in a very close second. Casey has never shared Nate’s love of baseball, primarily due to his name and a certain much quoted poem about the Mudville Nine. Casey has long come to terms with the irony that while Casey may plan others weddings, he will not be planning his own. Nate has a thing about getting married and Casey has come to accept that won’t be in their future, after all relationships are all about compromise and Nate has accepted Casey’s feelings towards baseball. Or so Casey thought.
When Casey loses a strip poker bet to Nate, his forfeit is to spend the day watching Nate’s team play a day of tournament games, all in the name of charity. But Nate has an ulterior motive for getting Casey to the game and as the day wears on and the games continue, surprises await both Nate and Casey, ones that will have lasting impact on them and their relationship.
This is the reason why I love Willa Okati. She has the ability to write long, angst filled stories of complicated men and their journey to love, slightly dark and full of heartbreak. And then Okati can write a story like Mighty Casey. I loved Mighty Casey. I finished it (it’s not long) and turned around and read it again. Why? Because it’s joyous, it’s fun, and it’s so full of life and the best things about being in a loving committed relationship, that’s why. When I picked it up, I thought cute premise and couldn’t wait to see what Willa Okati did with it. But oh, what a mighty swing and home run the author accomplished here (yes, expect baseball metaphors to follow).
First off the bat is Okati’s characters. I loved each and every one, not just the main characters of Casey and Nate, but the rest of the team like Mimi (a star in her own right) and Kenneth, and the various players from the other teams. Casey and Nate’s each are such realistic characters. They talk and feel like a couple who has been together for years and find themselves even more deeply in love after having made the necessary adjustments and compromises a long term relationship requires. You can feel the mutual respect and love that flows between them. Not once was there a missed ball by the author in terms of their personalities and the depth of their commitment. Obviously, Okati knows a thing or two about relationships and that knowledge underlies every scene and dialog between them. Just a perfect pitch every time. And the rest of the team? As I already mentioned, you couldn’t ask for a better line up, especially Mimi. Oh, she made a place in my heart right from the start. Sparkly, outsized personality, she is everywhere in the story, running in the outfield, making all the necessary plays that Nate asks from her (and not all of them include the game). Trust me, this is an all star line up.
Second at bat is the plot. At first glance, just a normal romcom situation (think minor league) but Okati takes it and elevates it into the owner’s box seats and beyond. She gives us one day in the life of Casey and Nate, but a very important one. She starts it off as the alarm goes off and carries us through to the end of the day and the last of the charity tournaments games. I won’t give away any spoilers but as Casey sits and watches Nate’s team progress through day, winning game after game, we see, through his interaction with Nate, Nate’s team, and the other players from competing teams, just how well these two are matched. We see the joy and contentment they find with each other, the sizzle and desire that bubbles just under the surface, and the manner in which they can still surprise each other after all the years together. You will find yourself laughing out loud, pleased as can be, as the day and the tournament unfolds before you. And to fully bring you to the edge of your seat in anticipation, Okati makes sure you (and Casey) know that Nate has something special planned for the end of the day. I thought I had it figured out, but the author gave me another little surprise here too that I loved. Great job, great game plan, perfect follow through, and another runner is on the base.
Third at bat? The heat between Casey and Nate. They love each other and are so familiar with each other’s bodies and sexual desires. In one funny and hot scene after another, Casey and Nate have little sexy interludes between games that speak of their love, their desire and their knowledge of each other. It is a great way to demonstrate the authenticity of their relationship and heat up the story at the same time. Now all these bases are loaded.
And here comes the home run to bring everyone over home plate and win the game. That would be the Epilogue. It’s the final resolution and it finishes off the story with all the glee, all the triumph, and gratification that comes from seeing a perfect game and acknowledging just how special they are. That is Mighty Casey all together. A perfect game of a novella. I cannot recommend this story enough. Grab it up, along with some Caramel Poppernutter Crunch, and settle in for a pleasure filled day of baseball and love.
Cover Artist: Mina Carter. It’s a fun cover but the models are far too young for the men in the story. Surely there are older models out there that could fit the bill and make the cover more in tune with the story. Plus where is the Poppernutter Crunch? Sigh.
Published May 28th 2013 by Loose-ID