Offside

Title:  Offside
Author: Ryan Loveless
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M, sports
Length: Novel, 200 PDF pages
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Summary Review: I wish the romance was as good as the games.

 

THE BLURB

Adam Dumas is Major League Soccer’s only openly gay player. When he is transferred to St. Louis, his new teammates don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat. It doesn’t help that Adam sees “the Gateway to the West” as a step down from his high-profile position in LA—an attitude Adam has no problem sharing with his new housemate and fellow center forward, Colin Evets.

 Colin is Adam’s only friend on the team, but when Adam misinterprets Colin’s Midwestern charm for something more, he could end up ruining both their friendship and their careers. As Adam struggles to make a better impression, Colin tries to decide if the person he’s been showing the world is who he wants to be with Adam. The pressure to win influences decisions both on the field and off as Adam and Colin discover how making the wrong move can be very right.

THE REVIEW

I love sports, so when I saw this book about a romance between two Major League Soccer players I couldn’t resist even though I don’t know as much about soccer as I do about baseball, basketball or even hockey. This is the first book I’ve read by Ryan Loveless who is a relatively new author and there was a lot to like about Offside although it had a few problems. But first ..

Our hero Adam Dumas was transferred from the LA Galaxy in mid season, after being with the team as a top ranked player for 13 years. His new team, the St Louis Gateway was almost last in the standings, which was quite different from LA Galaxy; St Louis was the only team that had expressed an interest in him because they obviously needed a player with his skills.  Not only was it a blow to Adam’s pride to be transferred with no warning from the only team he had ever played for except for short stints in Europe, he felt betrayed by the owner whom he regarded as a surrogate father. Now he was being moved for a paltry sum so that the team could sign a much hyped younger player the owner wanted. When Adam arrived in St. Louis he wasn’t in the mood to play nice, and he told Colin Evets the player who put out the welcome mat when he met him at the airport, that he would not be staying with St. Louis but would be packing his bags at the end of the season. Not an auspicious start and definitely not the way to make friends with his new teammate.

The first day with the Gateway was a day that Adam wouldn’t soon forget as he was the victim of a hazing on the field during practice, and was also insulted by a few of the guys because of his sexual orientation. He had come out 5 years ago and was currently the only gay major league player still in the game, and his new team members weren’t happy about having him in the locker room. To make matters worse Adam assumed that Colin was gay because he was “touchy feely” with him and when Colin invited him out to dinner he thought it was a date and attempted to kiss him when the ‘date’ was over, only to be rejected. Could things get worse than they already were? The coach hated him, his teammates resented him, the one person on the team in whom he had a romantic interest was straight, and the fans wanted a piece of him. 

First, the positives: The author, Ryan Loveless, did a lot of research about the game and it showed –  the plays, on-field strategies, and the games themselves appeared to be authentic. The players’ reactions to a new member of the team who was suddenly dumped on them in the middle of the season which caused changes in player positions was also genuine, in addition to all the petty squabbles and anger against Adam because of his sexual orientation. The reaction of some of the Gateway fans was typical and the live action at both home and away games was real.

However, I didn’t ‘get’ the romance between Adam and Colin as they seemed mismatched. I realize that “opposites attract” is a favourite coupling in M/M or any romance sub genre for that matter, but here it was quite a stretch. Adam’s character is very sophisticated and Colin’s is a lot younger than his real age of 24 years. In addition to being immature, naive and unsophisticated Colin dressed like a country bumpkin even though he had been in the Majors for years, he acted like a teenager, sent out mixed signals and had corny lines like this: “Do you have a thing for me?” He had never had sex except one try with a girl that wasn’t successful. He was confused and couldn’t figure out his sexual orientation so he hadn’t had sex with a man either and thought that his disinterest in sex was because he was a Christian and focused all his energies on soccer to the exclusion of everything else. He seemed too innocent to be true and many episodes in the book bore out his lack of even the most basic sexual smarts and knowledge. Adam on the other hand was completely different, LA worldliness and poise in some ways, yet he made the stupidest mistakes. On one occasion when he was supposed to be showing Colin New York night life after an “away” game, the highlight of the night was him getting a lap dance in a club and he came in his very expensive pants  –  of course Colin freaked out and left for home. 

Initially there didn’t seem to be any chemistry between Adam and Colin although Adam was attracted to him, but I couldn’t figure out why. Was it because Colin’s innocence was a challenge? Adam had had many other relationships but they all petered out. A few of his encounters were with straight men who used him, and he had sworn off  closeted or straight men. He said about one former teammate  “he was so deep in the closet that he woke up every morning choking on mothballs.” So why, after his past experiences, was he hot for Colin who was presumably straight? Also, Adam seemed to be too concerned about such things like whether there were products in Colin’s hair, talking to Colin about a skin care regimen and thinking of getting him to take care of his skin because “that youthful look wasn’t going to last without help.”  What was that all about?  In addition, there were lots of  “mentions” about the men’s attire and that seemed way too ‘girly’ in a book about sports.

There is a lot more to this story and even a few funny lines. Although Colin and Adam didn’t resonate with me as lovers until almost three quarters through the story, in the end I think the author redeemed herself somewhat after a few missteps, by having a catastrophe befall Colin which brought the team together, and Adam was at last able to shine as a good guy in the eyes of his teammates and his lover. However there was no tension or conflict between Adam and Colin other than a few minor squabbles, and I think conflict is necessary in most love stories to make them real and interesting.

To summarize, when I read Offside a few days ago I was more interested in the sports aspect and was really enthusiastic about the story. The second time I read it I noticed a number of glaring inconsistencies about the characterizations and the relationship, some of which weren’t resolved, however if you’re a sports fan you will enjoy Offside.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

33 comments

  • I haven´t read anything about this author so I come back to read this entry when I saw the giveaway 🙂 A pity that their romance doesn´t seem to shine as much as the sports part 🙁
    Thank you for your review 😎

    Reply
  • I’m not into soccer, not at all, but I had throw my :my2cents: in here courtesy of actual events.
    Lately, a well – known German soccer trainer remarked about the amount of homosexuals in his sport, initiating a number of comments that went from “In a soccer training camp, you’ll want to sleep with your back to the wall” to a very crude one from a famous former German player. Apparently, even in Germany where people generally pride themselves about their openmindedness concerning homosexuals, soccer is one of the bastions of homophobia.
    In my opinion, this shows that it’s about time someone wrote a positive gay soccer player. I’ll buy this book, if only to show my support.

    Reply
    • Feliz

      I can’t believe the attitude against gay soccer players in Germany. Are there more of them than in any other sport?

      I think you’ll enjoy Offside. I would have rated it 4 stars except for a few concerns with the characterizations and the romance. However, as I said in the review, the author managed to make the romance realistic at the end.

      Reply
    • Hi Ryan
      Thanks for stopping by. I love your characters but Michaels was the best. Maybe he could get divorced and then we would have another M/M story with him as the protagonist. We need more sports oriented stories in this sub genre. As Lacey said, we both think of him as gay anyway. 😀

      Reply
      • I’ll present the idea to Michaels, but right now he’s pretty attached to his wife, who is awesome and likes it when he kisses boys. 🙂

        I’m glad you liked the characters. They’re all pretty special to me. If I do another story, it may be from Colin’s POV.

        Reply
        • That’s too bad about Michaels. 🙁 I saw in the book that his wife did like him kissing boys but a menage wouldn’t work for M/M fans. LOL

          If Colin is all we can get I’ll take him because this way I get to see the guys again, including Michaels. If you change your mind about him let us know. No pressure 😀

          Reply
          • Hey now! As a Midwest girl, I’m pretty fond of Colin. He thinks his plaid and baggy pants are quite fashionable–as does the rest of the Midwest! *displays my closet* I’ve been in NYC for years and you can bet I’ve still got all that and wear it proudly! Re-reading the review, I noticed you thought Adam was too focused on appearance and Colin wasn’t focused enough on his. Did you notice that?

            Actually stopping in to drop off a link to the release party I did earlier this week.

            http://dreamspinnerpress.com/blog/tag/offside/

            The contests are closed now, but topics include a look at the real-life places around St. Louis mentioned in the book, a tribute to a pair of amazing MLS players, a tribute to goalies, resources for combating homophobia in soccer, and other fun things.

            Reply
            • I noticed you thought Adam was too focused on appearance and Colin wasn’t focused enough on his. Did you notice that?

              What I was saying was there was no middle ground. LOL Adam dressed in the height of fashion and Colin dressed as if he was going to the farmers’ market in his plaids. I was in St. Louis once years ago and I can’t say that I noticed the plaids and loose jeans, but maybe it was the places I visited. 🙂 If I recall correctly, Colin was not from the midwest – he was from another state (Colorado – maybe – I can’t remember) so since he’s not a native of the state he should have some fashion sense. I’ve seen those soccer players on television after the games and they don’t look like Colin. LOL

              Thanks for the link. BTW Offside will be a “free” book on the site next week so that should garner additional promo.

              Give Michaels my love. 🙂

              Reply
  • Well, it’s true that you can’t get behind the last defender on the opponent’s side, but that’s only if you’re not in possession of the ball. Since Adam already had the ball, he could pass his opponents without being called offside (he’s actually supposed to so he can score) – it’s only if he didn’t have the ball or was passed the ball when he was already behind the last opponent that he would have gotten a penalty.

    By the way, I agree with you – I love my baseball stories, too.

    Reply
    • Hi Lacey

      Well, it’s true that you can’t get behind the last defender on the opponent’s side, but that’s only if you’re not in possession of the ball.

      I forgot that part of the rule. LOL Sounds like you’re an expert on the game – maybe Ryan Loveless should have consulted you. 🙂

      It’s too bad that Michaels was already married. I would have loved to read an M/M story about him. He’s hot and when he and Adam kissed – WOW. He should have been the other protagonist. 😀

      Reply
      • Haha, not an expert; I just played in high school.

        I agree! I absolutely loved him. I really wish he was gay and would get his own story. Oh well, in my mind he does. 😀

        Reply
  • I definitely agree with what you’ve said. There were some really cute parts, but I did have a few issues with it.

    Oh, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the author got the offsides rule wrong during that one game – it bugged me, and I thought it was sort of ironic since it’s the title of the book 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Lacey

      Thanks for commenting. It was an okay story and as you said there were some humorous moments. I loved the ones with the other team members – Doyle was so totally straight – unbelievable! The player I liked best was Michaels, the goalie, who I thought was really funny, and Logan when he got over his snit.

      Re the offside rule, I’m not sure if you’re talking about the game with Crew when Adam could have been called offside when two of the players from the opposing team dropped back trying to catch him offside? I think that the rule is there must be at least 2 players between the opposing player and goal line to prevent breakaway goals or he could be called offside. However I’m not an expert on soccer. Baseball – now that’s my game. LOL

      Reply
    • Oy vey. Three soccer books, countless YouTube videos explaining the offside rule, Wikipedia entries, and televised games with announcers saying, “He’s offside!” and drawing computerized lines showcasing the player out front w/ the ball, plus an actual soccer playing beta and I *still* got it wrong??

      Why am I not at all surprised by this? 😮

      Well, I chose the title as metaphor for the relationship, and with all the frustration and confusion the rule brings, sounds like I got that right!

      Next time (if there is one), I may seek you out! 😀

      Reply
      • Haha, yes I can definitely see how the rule is confusing. Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and the soccer games were really exciting!

        Now, I just think Michaels should come out like Wave said and get a boy of his own. 😉

        Reply
  • “Also, Adam seemed to be too concerned about such things like whether there were products in Colin’s hair, talking to Colin about a skin care regimen and thinking of getting him to take care of his skin because “that youthful look wasn’t going to last without help.” What was that all about? In addition, there were lots of “mentions” about the men’s attire and that seemed way too ‘girly’ in a book about sports.”

    I think this is probably meant to be the David Beckham effect! Cos when you are that beautiful……. 🙂

    I love the idea of a football novel, Liverpool :bravo: supporter here, but Adam sounds a pain. I think I’ll check the extract out and take it from there. Thanks Wave.

    Reply
    • Hi Raine
      I guess I’m accustomed to reading about guys who are not too bothered about skin care unless they are models or David Beckham. LOL. I know men have to take care of themselves just like women but in between the sweats and stinky socks maybe it was a bit off putting. 🙂

      I liked Adam but I just felt that there was something off about the pairing until almost the end – however, what do I know? 🙂

      Reply
  • I love books with sports in it (although I found out how little I knew about cricket from reading Something about Trevor) and I’m pretty familiar with the game of soccer (soccer mom). This doesn’t sound like it’s the greatest book, but I’ll probably end up reading it eventually.

    Reply
    • Sara
      If you’re a soccer mom you will like the amount of sports in the book, so you should try it. The romance ended on a high note so it’s all good. 🙂

      Reply
  • This sounds exactly like a Kradam story I read awhile back. I liked it when it was posted, so I will give this version a try too. Yeah, sports!

    Reply
  • I’m not a soccer fan either. 🙂 I did read a short by this author yesterday that I loved so I will definitely check out more of her work, but perhaps I’ll wait/look for a different book than this one.

    Reply
    • Tam
      The writing was fine, I just didn’t buy into the romance until the end of the book. However if you like her stuff despite not being a fan of the game you might still enjoy Offside.

      I’m going to pick her ‘short’ Off the Page which seems very interesting.

      Reply
    • Larissa
      You have to get with sports. LOL I’m such a sports fan that the first time I read this book this was all I was paying attention to. Then I read it a second time and was disappoointed with the romance but it turned out okay – not the best romance but okay.

      Reply

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