Title: The Last Day of Summer
Author: JF Smith
Publisher: Self published
Amazon: Buy Link The Last Day Of Summer
Genre: contemporary gay romance
Length: 495 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: Charming romance and journey of self discovery set in the world of baseball.
Rett’s done some running away in his life, from family and from boyfriends, and he’s not above doing it again. His current boyfriend wants to take their relationship to the next level, which makes Rett hesitant and doubtful. Luckily, a job offer in a new town solves his problem for him, giving him the perfect excuse to run away yet again from the uncomfortable feeling of someone trying to get close to him, even if it means picking up after seven years of school and starting over.
Most guys would kill for his new job, and Rett’s certainly desperate for the paycheck. But the irony of the new position isn’t lost on him — he’s never cared a whole lot for sports, and even far less about the world of professional sports, which is right where he’s landed. Then he finds out he’s not the only one that’s new to pro sports, and he gets closer and closer to one of the players as they try to make sense of the whole crazy thing together. And things seem good!
But when his family, whom he had long since left behind, shows back up with a family crisis, his life starts to unwind and Rett allows everything around him to painfully self-destruct. It’s only then that he realizes he’s got to get back up, stand his ground, and teach himself the one thing he never truly learned growing up.
He’s got to stop running away and finally learn what it really means to be a man.
I have waited for the next novel from this writer ever since I read (and reread and reviewed) Latakia. I am always delighted to find a self published book that I would enjoy and this author has consistently produced work that I have enjoyed very much so far. I have actually reviewed all his previous works here, but this story is kind of a sequel to Falling Off the Face of the Earth, so I suppose it counts as series :-). Cory from that story is not a teenager anymore, he is a young man and a talented baseball player who made it to a fictitious team in the Major Leagues .
Just so you know, I know very little about baseball and understand even less of it :). I am in a very similar situation as Everett (Rett) who is the narrator in this book when he hands a job as a physical therapist with the same team where Cory is starting with.
As the blurb tells you this is a journey of self discovery and growing up for Rett as much as it is about his romance with Cory. I would say that Rett grows and changes more than Cory does, but Cory was also a wonderful character who in my opinion also had t0 learn a few things, like what are the most important things for him in life. I think it is truly amazing how this author manages to write such down to earth love stories and it does not matter how unusual (or glamorous) the setting is. Every time Rett and Cory were together on page, even when they were just hitting the ball (or throwing ball, or is it the same thing?), I wanted to sigh happily.
Those readers who have read Falling Off the Face of the Earth would be quite pleased to meet not just Cory, but also see some other characters from that book make small appearances. I have to admit though, I thought one of the plot turns involving one those characters was unnecessary and weird. I thought that the same thing could have happened to Cory and Rett because of their insecurities rather than adding the artificial “icing on the cake”. But I was not too annoyed because it was clear that the conflict happened because of who these guys were and that annoying plot turn to me was just unnecessary little extra.
All of you baseball lovers may ask me if there is actual baseball in this book? Considering the fact that the story is first and foremost a story of the building relationship and story of growing up for Rett, I would say that there was plenty of baseball at least as a very well detailed setting, if nothing more. Opinions may differ on that of course.
I thought the author cleverly avoided an information dump about baseball by having Cory and some other players explain the very basics to Rett first, however when he shows a couple of practices and a game or two, my eyes began to glaze over a little bit. Again, please note that it is hard for me to determine whether enough of sport was shown for someone who loves it. I can tell you that it was much more than in some other books that claimed to be sport romances, but this is not the treatise on baseball. The author brings up a lot of different baseball related information which I have no idea whether it was correct or not, but he managed to get me interested at least in some of it.
Now there is a of course a fantasy element in the story of an ordinary guy falling in love with a young star of the MLB. I liked how the writer tried to ground it in as much reality as he possibly could. We already met Cory in the previous book as a very likeable but ordinary teenager who was going through a rough time, but also had a lot of support from his friends and family. Cory just did not feel as a “celebrity” to me and when he makes an ultimate romantic declaration I completely bought it (of course love is more important than being a celebrity baseball talent :-))
And if you think that this is one of those stories of the player coming out to the world, think again.