Title: Home Team
Author: Jameson Dash
Cover artist: L. C. Chase
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon buy link: Buy Link Home Team
Genre: Contemporary m/m romance
Length: 82 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Guest review by Orion
Review summary: A sexy, sports-themed romance about second chances.
After fifteen years playing pro hockey, Aaron Buckley screws up, and his mistake and his attitude get him sent down to the minor leagues. His new team is in his old city, where he started his career in hockey, and also where he left his boyfriend behind. His luck hasn’t improved since joining a team of rookies and kids, but he has discovered that Zach—the ex-boyfriend who could never compete with hockey for Aaron’s love—is still in town. Aaron has a second chance to answer the same question: Zach or hockey? But maybe it’s time for a new question.
Jameson Dash’s Home Team is a novella about redemption. The main character Aaron Buckley has been a professional hockey player for several years. As the story opens, he is thirty-six and he is painfully aware that his career is winding down with the aging of his body. He comes across as a man who is not very comfortable in his own skin. We learn this is precisely the case when it is revealed he is a closeted homosexual. Weighed down by his anguish, he drinks too much one fine evening, gets behind the wheel, and plows his car into a telephone pole. He finds himself kicked from the majors down to the minors before his head even stops spinning.
He returns to his hometown where, fifteen years ago, he had a relationship with Zach, a guy who was definitely more at ease with his own sexuality. They broke up, not only because Aaron’s career took him out of town, but because Aaron was unwilling to open his closet door. (In a way, that earlier mistake by Aaron had a more tragic effect on his life than the drunk driving. He lost years that he could have spent with a man he loved very much.) Zach is a sports writer, so it isn’t long after Aaron’s return that they run into each other again. It becomes apparent that their feelings for each other are undiminished, as evidenced by the lustful quickie they have in a locker room.
There are hot sex scenes in this novella, and the other elements of the rekindled relationship between Aaron and Zach are presented in an involving fashion. I liked these guys, I mourned the fact that they lost so many years together, and I found myself rooting for things to work out for them the second time around. But the novella doesn’t just revolve around the relationship of the two men. It also takes time to explore issues involving Aaron’s family, doing so in a way that does not detract in the least from the main story.
If you are one of those readers whose enjoyment of a story can be derailed by the behavior of the main character, this novella may not be for you. Aaron is flawed and spends much of his time fumbling around, trying to find his way, because of the mistakes he’s made. And yes, this does cause pain for Zach, as well as for Aaron. His actions are, at times, very frustrating for the reader. But as far as I am concerned, this is the very thing that makes for engaging fiction. Aaron is human, and because of his flaws and decisions, he struggles in the way every human being on earth struggles, at one point or another. We all hurt someone we love sooner or later, but what really counts is how we make up for the pain we cause, and how we move beyond it.
The only thing that detracted from my complete enjoyment of this novella is the fact that it is written in the present tense. I don’t generally like the use of present tense in fiction because the technique just seems to draw attention to itself. For some reason, the use of present tense seems particularly jarring to me here. That does not stop me from recommending this story. If the use of present tense doesn’t bother you, and if you want complex, well-developed characters, relationships with loads of chemistry, and hot, sexy scenes, you can’t go wrong with Home Team.