Wild Pitch & Curve Ball (Homeruns, Bks 1 & 2) by Sloan Johnson ~ Book Review by Queue

HomerunsTitle: Wild Pitch & Curve Ball (Homeruns, Bks 1 & 2)

Author: Sloan Johnson

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Cover Me

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 06/06/2015

Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)

Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance

Blurb:

Wild Pitch: There’s never been any question in Sean Tucker’s mind that he’d do whatever it took to make it to the major leagues and be one of the best pitchers of his time. The day he acknowledged to himself that he was gay was also the day he vowed to stay in the closet in order to chase his dreams. The problem is, he never counted on Mason Atley.

Sean showed rookie short stop Mason Atley the ropes, both on the field and off. The two forged a friendship which continued as both of them moved through the ranks of the farm system and into the majors. Unfortunately, there’s always been one secret Mason never felt he could share with Sean. Until now.

For seven years, Sean lived with the fact that he loved a man who would never reciprocate. When Mason admits that he’s always known he’s bisexual but has never allowed himself to pursue a relationship with a man, will Sean be able to put aside his reservations about starting a relationship with the friend he’d always assumed was straight? And more importantly, will they be able to find a way to stay together when their careers keep them apart more than they can be together?

Curve Ball: Jason Klein’s living with the fallout from a decision he knew was the right one at the time. He never told anyone about the love of his life, which left him to mourn alone when he found out the man he gave his heart to had been killed in combat. Now, his heart has had time to heal, but he’s not sure he’s ready to let himself move on. Until he meets Cam Morgan…

Without a job lined up following graduation, Cam Morgan took his best friend up on his offer to move to Milwaukee and stay with him until he could get on his feet. The last thing he wanted to do the day after getting to town was go to a party filled with a bunch of jocks. Sure, they were “professional athletes” but Cam was convinced that bigger bank accounts didn’t make them any more accepting of people like him. He certainly didn’t expect to meet Jason, the Mavericks’ catcher who broke every stereotype he’d had.

What started out as one hot, sweaty night together quickly grows into something deeper. Jason welcomes Cam into his home and his life, but now he has to teach the younger man that it’s not a sign of weakness to let people help you.

My View:

Right off the bat (pun intended) I’d like to disclose I am not a sports fan and usually don’t read sports related books. I’m not even sure how these two ended up in my queue. But they did and, for the most part, I’m glad they did, even if I did have vastly different opinions of the two books.

Most of the time the first book of the series is the best and subsequent offerings, while still good, just aren’t as enjoyable. It was the opposite here. I wasn’t overly impressed with book one but thoroughly loved the second.

Book one stars Sean Tucker and Mason Atley professional baseball players. Sean and Mason have been friends for years and during that time Sean has nursed a crush on Mason. A crush he thought was unrequited, especially when Mason gets married. Things change when, following his separation, Mason admits he’s bisexual and has feelings for Sean.

The sex scenes between Sean and Mason were hot and erotic, but I didn’t feel any emotions between them, especially in the beginning. It seemed more like it was just a couple fuckbuddies doing it, not guys who had been harboring secret crushes on each other.

In fact that was one of my biggest issues with Wild Pitch, that I never really bought into Sean and Mason’s relationship. I was never swept away in their romance and for a good part of the book I didn’t really care. If I hadn’t been reading this one for review I might’ve given up on it. It wasn’t one I couldn’t put down for sure.

I also hated Mason’s ex-wife and by that I mean I hated the character and how she was written. She was just one more unrealistic total bitch of a woman seen so many times in m/m novels. Why is it so hard to create a complex, realistic woman in this genre? I did like that she found a little bit of redemption toward the end.

Overall this book was just mediocre.

Curve Ball on the other hand was a blast of a read that had me hooked from beginning to end.

The main characters here are Jason Klein and Cam Morgan. Jason is a baseball player but Cam is a recently graduated chef. I think it helped having only one pro ball player in the story, unlike in book one, so the focus wasn’t as heavy on the sport, which for me made the story drag.

Jason and Cam are both unique characters with a strong connection right from the get-go. Cam and Jason have sex right away, but immediately their bond is about more than just passionate screwing.

“It’s okay, Cam. If you let me in, I won’t hurt you.” The gentle promise nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Yeah, it nearly brought tears to my eyes too and I hate crying.

The sex between Cam and Morgan wasn’t just hot, it was also sweet, romantic and emotional. I didn’t skim the scenes like I have lately with other books, I was totally into the story.

I also enjoyed the frank way Jason and Cam talked to each other, especially in bed. There wasn’t any purple prose here, just realistic dialogue I could imagine men actually using.

“I want to fuck you,” he pleaded, his voice a hoarse whisper.

Usually when words like this are used in bed it becomes part of dirty talk, but here it was sweet and romantic. I commend how the author used the words to be both sweet and dirty at different times.

I felt the following interaction was especially realistic and not something I see that often in m/m unless it’s showing the men as immature.

“But I was a rather big dick to you last night.”

I snorted. “Not last night, you weren’t.”

Jason groaned. “God that was bad. But hey, I suppose it’s better than you implying I have a little dick.”

Yes, grown men do actually talk like that. Unfortunately when that type of conversation is in books it’s usually seen as juvenile. Another kudos to Johnson for nailing these guys.

There were several conflicts that arise between Jason and Cam and they all felt realistic. Jason is worried about coming out, despite the fact that two pro ball players have already done so. Cam has insecurity issues and doesn’t want to feel like he has to be taken care of.

I can’t say too much about the resolution of the story without giving away some surprises, but it was totally perfect.

If you’re tempted to read these two books I’d recommend skipping the first one and going right to Curve Ball. If you’re a completist and insist on reading book one and don’t like it, I’d say push through so you get to book two, the far better of the two.

I’d give this one five stars.

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Links

Wild Pitch & Curve Ball (Homeruns, Bks 1 & 2) on Goodreads

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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