Title: Out in the End Zone (Out in College #2)
Author: Lane Hayes Narrator: Michael Pauley
Release Date: January 23, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Length: 4 hrs and 58 mins
Reviewed by: Lily G. Blunt
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Evan di Angelo is an upbeat, good-natured goofball who loves his friends and family…and football. A traumatic accident may have ended his hopes of playing professionally, but he’s made the most of his four years on the field at a small Southern California college. He’s learned the hard way to embrace change, take chances and try things outside of his comfort zone…like agreeing to play fake boyfriends for someone else’s senior project.
Mitch Peterson knows that being his authentic self is the path to true happiness. He’s grown from a shy, quiet kid from a broken home to an out-and-proud budding internet sensation bound for grad school. An awesome senior project is the key. It’s unlikely anyone will believe the hunky, straight athlete is Mitch’s new lover, but it’s worth a shot. However, as their tentative friendship blossoms into unexpected attraction, the lines between reality and fiction blur for both men. Evan is forced to face old demons and decide if he has the courage to take the next step and come out in the end zone.
We first met Evan, Mitch, and many of the characters in this story in book 1 (Out in the Deep), so although it’s not entirely necessary to have read/listened to that first, I think it’s a good idea to get some background on these characters and the timeline as the two stories run concurrently.
I like how Lane Hayes creates her various series with a group of characters and in each subsequent story we find out more about one or two of them. In this series, one or both of the main characters are bisexual and are seniors (aged 23) at college. Here it is Evan who explores his previously suppressed bisexuality as he falls for Mitch.
Out in the End Zone is a twist on the fake boyfriends trope. Evan agrees to take part in Mitch’s YouTube/social media project where viewers have to decide whether or not they are in a real relationship. They pretend to be boyfriends for the camera, but behind the scenes they actually fall for each other. As with Derek and Gabe in book 1, Evan struggles with accepting his sexuality and wants to remain in the closet at first. Of course, Lane never makes it easy for the poor guys. Evan has to deal with a female admirer and a friend who is trying to push them together, which in turn threatens to come between Evan and Mitch. Evan also has to build up the courage to come out to his teammates and also his housemate, Derek.
This is an enjoyable, well-written story with some lovely steamy moments. The inevitable ‘break-up’ scene felt a little contrived and I didn’t fully understand Mitch’s thinking here. Other than that, the main characters are well portrayed and very likeable.
Michael Pauley’s narration is good. He created distinct voices to match the characters’ personalities. It was clear who was speaking throughout. The emotions and passion were expressed well and made the steamy scenes even hotter. The pacing and narrative style made for easy and enjoyable listening. I like that the same narrator is used throughout a series to maintain continuity of character voices.