The Last Day of Summer by JF Smith

lastDayOfSummerTitle: The Last Day of Summer
Author: JF Smith
Cover artist:
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.

Blurb:

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.

Review:

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.

Highly recommended.

18 comments

    • Hey rdafan, sorry missed your response. Are you sure that this one is available in paperback as well? I could not find the link on Amazon to paperback version.

      Reply
  • I have to say, I really loved seeing James (and the fact that now everyone calls him “Jimmy” which I enjoyed) and the old crew through Rett’s eyes, which gave it a nice twist, especially since Rett is intimidated by Jimmy. I agree the little plot turn was a bit weird although I enjoyed how the author otherwise approached these issues, especially Rett’s surprise at Cory’s understanding of what happened (trying not to spoil, here). The new supporting characters were also so likable. Great review!

    Reply
  • Darn you, Sirius! :grumble: You know I already have WAY too many books to read, and now I HAVE to read this one too! You made it sound irresistible, especially since I loved Latakia and have been wanting to read more by this author. 😆

    Reply
    • Val, if you start with Latakia, well… I loved it, but please persevere through the first two three chapters, in case you did not like the beginning. And I actually think his writing keeps improving, so while Latakia is probably my favorite story, I think this one has better writing.

      Reply
  • Sirius,
    Thank you for a thorough review. I am a huge fan of JF Smith and fully intend to read this book. Currently I am in the middle of Falling Off the Face of the Earth, and enjoying it immensely. Thanks again.

    Val, to put in my 2 cents on reading recs, I would read Latakia first, JF’s first major work, then read Falling…, the prequel to the current book being reviewed.

    Reply
  • Sirius

    This sounds really good. You know how much I love baseball and I’m tempted to get this book just for that reason alone, to see if the author knows anything about the game, but 500 pages is really daunting with the number of books I have on my TBR. 😀

    Reply
    • You absolutely should get it Wave, 500 pages is nothing ;), but then you can tell me if I can use it as baseball self learning book too 😉

      Reply
    • Wave

      Be forewarned from someone who also loves baseball there are errors in this book that may drive you nuts. What is very strange is it seems like this author did a lot of research but assumed some things incorrectly or conducted incomplete research. 😕

      I wish the author had even a casual baseball fan proof this book. I can ignore the fact someone is drafted straight into the majors but I can’t ignore having a starting pitcher who starts three times a week pitching complete games! Also, half of all baseball games are on the road. The book treats road trips as an ocassional thing.

      I won’t list them all but it was enough to mar the enjoyment of this book for me 🙁

      Reply
      • Now this would drive me batshit crazy. Why would someone write a book set in the baseball world who knows nothing about the game? This is ridiculous!! Anyone with even the slightest knowledge about baseball knows that a starting pitcher can’t pitch more than 1 start every 4 or 5 games or he’ll blow out his arm within a few weeks if he gets that far; and pitching complete games???

        Obviously this person must not be male because most boys play baseball and know the rules of the game. The author should have received expert advice before writing the book or done the required research.

        Did you say the hero was drafted straight into the Majors? Again, unheard of in baseball. You may get into Triple A if you’re really really good, but I’ve never heard of someone drafted straight into the Majors.

        Thanks for the heads up Aquina. I won’t be reading this because it would only make me angry at the lack of research where cursory searches would have provided the correct information. The author is lucky I didn’t review this book or I would definitely have downgraded it for the crappy baseball research. No offence Sirius, you did tell me that you knew nothing about baseball so you would never have picked up these errors.

        Rant over.

        Reply
        • Hi Aquina and Wave. It really dissappoints me to hear that the author did not do his research properly – regardless of whether I know the subject or not, I really dislike when it happens. I think that the author should always write the book as if the audience who does know the subject will pick up the book and not expect that he can pull a fast one over the readers like me who knows absolutely nothing about the subject. I still love a human story here very much, but I am definitely dissappointed.

          Aquina, just out of curiosity were you saying that the author did his research in some areas of baseball, or were these mistakes that you mentioned just the tip of the aisberg?

          Reply
          • Sorry I’m late to this. I have a newborn and my downtime on the web is limited. 🙂

            The strange thing is this author went into a lot of detail explaining some of the details of baseball correctly but missed fundamentals. Like explaining the infield fly rule which is confusing to even the most die hard fan but missing the glaring items that would be obvious to even a casual fan. It was such a strange experience to read. Clearly some research was done but my guess is the author incorrectly filled in the blanks with poor assumptions.

            Wave – the only way I slightly forgave the straight to the majors was because the MC played 4 years in college and a Google check showed a straight to the majors has happened at least twice – many many years ago.

            Glad I could save you the trouble. 😀

            Reply
  • I know what you mean, Sirius. I know very little about baseball. But, what you say here:

    he managed to get me interested at least in some of it.

    sounds like some good writing if the author can get someone who is not a baseball fan curious and engaged in the story.

    I’ve never read anything by this author. What would you recommend that I start with? This book or something else?

    Reply

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