Title: Force Play
Author: Elle Brownlee
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: November 9, 2015
Reviewed by: Gigi
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Professional baseball player Harmon “Hawk” Kiel was a rookie sensation with dazzling talent and an arrogant attitude to match. But he’s hit his sophomore slump, and his natural talent seems to have deserted him, along with the confidence of his team and the media’s approval. During the All Star Break he hits rock bottom, gets careless, and sensational pictures of him at gay clubs go viral. All at once he’s outed, and out of a job.
When he’s dealt to the Loggerheads, a worse-than-terrible expansion team in Charleston, South Carolina, he can’t imagine he’ll get a warm reception—nor does he particularly want one. But it’s the only chance at redemption he has.
There he meets Caleb Jackson, a former player who’s part of the Loggerheads organization, someone who tries to be the friend Harmon so desperately needs. But Caleb has a secret too, one more gut-wrenching than anything Harmon can imagine. Together they try to put the past behind them, rediscover their love of the game—and maybe even find the love of their lives.
Harmon Kiel has already washed out of professional baseball in his second year. He was a top draft pick in his first year and given a very generous salary. His game is now off, his stats falling, his over bearing father disappointed. To add insult to injury, he is outed by cellphone pictures of him in a gay bar. His team just won’t have him anymore so he is traded to the last ranking team in the league, the Loggerheads.
Calab Jackson is a sub-par catcher and self-appointed cheerleader for the Loggerheads. He is a good, decent man who wants his fellow players to succeed, even if it means he doesn’t get to play. He takes an instant liking to Kiel, who he dubs “Heck” which replaces his “Hawk” nickname. He works at bringing Kiel into the family unit that is the Loggerheads organization and helps him perfect is new position as center-fielder (he was a career third baseman). He also sees Kiel’s unhealthy view of being a gay man and works on showing him that it is something to be embraced and enjoyed.
Calab and Kiel start a slow-burn sexual relationship that quickly turns emotional for Calab. He takes baby steps with Kiel who has never had a relationship with a man, preferring dark ally blowjobs with no names exchanged.
I really enjoyed the way Caleb handled the skittish Kiel, basically treating him like a virgin and slowly awakening his passion. It was hot and sexy as hell! Kiel is quite a hard nut to crack, but Calab doesn’t give up.
While I really did enjoy this story and absolutely loved all the baseball scenes, it was a bit disjointed at times. Kind of like the way you are reading and all of a sudden need to go back a few pages because something is “off” and you want to read what you missed. But you didn’t miss anything. This happened several times for me. For example, Kiel is frustrated about his new position in center field and fighting it, but then, BOOM, he loves it and is excelling. The transition wasn’t seamless and I felt we missed part of the story. They also jumped very quickly from a casual sexual relationship to “dating” as Calab calls it. Again, I didn’t buy it and wondered if I missed something.
The good thing about those little quirks were that they didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of this book. I read it in one sitting, staying up until 3AM because I just had to know what happened next. I don’t do that very often, so it is a good gauge as to how much I like a book.
Great baseball action, hot sex and lovely emotions make this a highly recommended book. It was my first book by Elle Browlee and it most certainly won’t be my last!