Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review: Curve Ball by Sloan Johnson

Title: Curve Ball
Series: Homeruns #2
Author: Sloan Johnson
Genre: MM Sports Romance
Published: July 29, 2015

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.

I am a sucker for sports themed stories, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read Cam and Jason’s story, doubly thrilled, actually, ‘cause I am a huge foodie, so Cam was a character I really envied for all of his knowledge in the kitchen. I want his recipes, he was making me hungry while I read.

Seeing the two come together, with their differing issues and personalities alongside all the outside help and interference they received along the way, read very naturally. I could sympathize with Cam’s nervousness, as well as his desire to be his own person and not allow others to take care of him. His self-confidence, really shone through in the moments when he needed to assert himself, so he was a wonderful balance of put together and insecure. It made him more endearing to me, as did watching his friendships with Mason and Lauren grow.

I felt bad for Drew, though, it was clear even from the beginning, how much he cared about Cam and the fact that Cam just didn’t see it. At least they were able to keep their friendship intact despite how much time Cam devoted to Jason and how little he spent with the friend who’d invited him out there to live. I was a little annoyed with Cam about that, just because it seemed very rude.

I loved Jason, but I think what made him loveable to me was his back story, the fact that he’d lost the love of his life while being too scared to ever let anyone know there was someone he loved in the first place. It was clear, from Mark’s actions late in the book, that there were still a lot of issues for players to deal with regarding their sexuality in pro sports, so it was easy to understand how difficult Jason’s choice to come out was, as well as why he waited so long to do it.

This was a wonderful story that grew from attraction, to hook-up, to both guys realizing that they no longer viewed the other as something casual. I like the way that they just sort of moved into each other’s lives, providing something each needed, but hadn’t seemed to realize how much they’d missed not having. It was sweet and touching at times, hot and steamy at others. I loved Cam’s smartass comments and his persistence, the way he took command of Eric’s kitchen and Cam’s as well.

Even the side characters had their own stories and unique personalities and I found myself curious to read the next book and see what’s in store for Drew. I do hope that there is something in store for Eric in the future as well, as he seemed like a genuinely great guy who’d had his heart broken too. All in all, this one gets five dancing hamsters and me anxiously awaiting more.

Curve Ball Excerpt © Sloan Johnson 2015

“If you have something to say to me, just say it.” I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel to keep from shaking Drew. He was one of the youngest guys on the team, and right now, his immaturity showed through brightly. It was about time someone knocked some sense into him, before he wound up earning a bad reputation, both on the field and off. “I won’t apologize, because I haven’t done a damn thing to offend you.”
“Really? I shouldn’t be pissed off that I had no clue you were gay?” Drew seethed, his brown eyes narrow slits as he glared at me. “And I should be totally cool with you loading up my friend in the middle of the night to take him back to your place, right?”
“Yeah, actually you should,” I quipped, twisting the wheel tighter. “Cam is a grown man, and if you truly care about him, you should be fucking ecstatic that he’s getting out there to meet people.”
Drew muttered something to himself as he went back to staring out the window. His shoulders slumped forward and he seemed to shrink in his seat. I knew that look. It wasn’t one worn by a concerned or pissed off friend, it was the look of a man who felt the love of his life slipping away from him.
“How long have you felt this way about him?” I asked. My chest tightened, knowing that I wouldn’t stand between them. Drew and I might not be close, but I liked to think of him as a friend, a brother on the team.
“Doesn’t matter.” The response was so quiet I could barely hear the words. As I pulled up to the stoplight, I placed my hand on Drew’s shoulder, unsurprised when he jerked away.
“It does,” I assured him. “And you have to know I wouldn’t have done anything with him if I’d known.”
“Don’t say that. I’ve known for a long time that he’d never feel for me what I do for him.” I suddenly missed the anger Drew showed earlier. “If the way he looked this morning is any indication, you’re exactly what he needs in his life. And if I put my own feelings aside, you’re more than that. You’re what he’s always wanted.”
That was not how I expected this conversation to go. It started exactly as I’d seen it in my mind, but I hadn’t expected Drew to step aside. Maybe I was wrong in thinking that he was immature and selfish.
“Drew, if you say the word, I’ll back off. I’m not willing to destroy two friendships just for a few nights of fun.”
“The only way I’d ask you to do that is if that’s all this is for you.” I pulled up in front of the grocery store, but neither of us moved to open our doors. “Cam is one of the best guys I know. He’s got a big heart, but sometimes, he’s a little too open with it. If you’re only in this for a couple of hot nights, then yeah you should walk away from him.”
I felt backed into a corner. Sure, I’d thought about what it’d be like to explore something more with Cam, but I wasn’t in a place to do that. It had nothing to do with being on the road most of the year and everything to do with my own inability to be open with those around me. I’d grown accustomed to never letting anyone get too close, and Cam had already seen more than people I’d known for years. There was no way I’d be able to hold back if last night and tonight turned into something more.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” It was the most I could promise him. 

Sloan Johnson is a big city girl trapped in a country girl’s life. While she longs for the hustle and bustle of New York City or Las Vegas, she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit on the deck with her morning coffee, watching the deer and wild turkeys in the fields while surrounded by concrete and glass.

When she was three, her parents received their first call from the principal asking them to pick her up from school. Apparently, if you aren’t enrolled, you can’t attend classes, even in Kindergarten. The next week, she was in preschool and started plotting her first story soon after.

Later in life, her parents needed to do something to help their socially awkward, uncoordinated child come out of her shell and figured there was no better place than a bar on Wednesday nights. It’s a good thing they did because this is where she found her love of reading and writing. Who needs socialization when you can sit alone in your bedroom with a good book?

Now, Sloan is a tattooed mom with a mohawk and two kids. She’s been kicked out of the PTA in two school districts and is no longer asked to help with fundraisers because she’s been known to lose herself with a good book and forget she has somewhere to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment