REVIEW: Curve Ball (Homeruns #2) by Sloan Johnson

25621846[1]Release Date: July 29, 2015

Length: Novel (225 pages)

Genre: Contemporary M/M romance

Cover Art: Cover Me, Darling

Links: Amazon  Goodreads

Blurb:  Jason Klein’s living with the fallout from a decision he knew was the right one at the time. He never told anyone about the love of his life, which left him to mourn alone when he found out the man he gave his heart to had been killed in combat. Now, his heart has had time to heal, but he’s not sure he’s ready to let himself move on. Until he meets Cam Morgan…

Without a job lined up following graduation, Cam Morgan took his best friend up on his offer to move to Milwaukee and stay with him until he could get on his feet. The last thing he wanted to do the day after getting to town was go to a party filled with a bunch of jocks. Sure, they were “professional athletes” but Cam was convinced that bigger bank accounts didn’t make them any more accepting of people like him. He certainly didn’t expect to meet Jason, the Mavericks’ catcher who broke every stereotype he’d had.

What started out as one hot, sweaty night together quickly grows into something deeper. Jason welcomes Cam into his home and his life, but now he has to teach the younger man that it’s not a sign of weakness to let people help you.

Review:

3-Hearts

This book is not nearly as good as the Goodreads/Amazon ratings imply. I didn’t read the first in the series, but selection bias must be at play here. Ever notice that the ratings on a series always go up with each book? It’s selection bias. For books, this means that if you didn’t like the first book in the series, you’re probably not going to read the next one and the people who loved the first one are definitely going to read the next, so the pool of people reading the second book are predisposed to liking it and the folks predisposed to not liking the book are weeded out. Hence the ratings go up. This bias only increases with each book in a series. I never believe the cumulative ratings for any book third or higher in a series, they’re just not reliable. Anyway, on to the review…

An out-and-proud chef falls for a closeted major league catcher and finds family in a baseball team. I thought the characters were good if a little stereotypical. Cam is a twink-ish chef with a crappy family who’s into fashion, grooming and pop music. Jason is a closeted athlete with a dead soldier boyfriend who’s into baseball to the exclusion of everything else. Their insta-lust slides quickly into a relationship that they both try to deny exists until they are in so deep they’d need a backhoe to dig their way out. I had a hard time feeling any connection between them beyond lust. They never seem to get to the point where they can see through their respective masks to the person underneath, which is the fundamental basis of lasting love. The conflicts between the men are a series of big misunderstandings that make this blatantly clear. Sadly, I thought the ending was ham-fisted and a little unsatisfying, not to mention cliffhanger-ish. I get setting up the next book in the series, but every romance deserves to be ended in a way that wraps up the issues between the heroes and feels like an HEA, not a soap opera episode.

Since this is All-Star Week, I’m gonna talk about the baseball a little… I’m a huge baseball geek (Let’s Go, Red Sox!) and found some of the limited amount of baseball in this book is pretty inauthentic. Jason is supposed to be a major league catcher which is by all measures the brainiest of all the positions in the game. A catcher has to know pitching, hitting, fielding, and game strategy. There’s a reason catchers tend to go on to become managers once their playing days are over. As such, catchers have a ton of extra work with meetings, studying video/statistics as well as working with pitchers that no other position player has to do. None of this is reflected in this book. If no one told me Jason was a catcher, I’d have assumed he was anything other than catcher.

I’m giving this one 3-Hearts because it was perfectly readable and at the end of the day I didn’t hate it or even dislike it. If I didn’t have to write a review, I’d have walked away a little disappointed I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to, but I wasn’t wishing I had the hours I spent reading it back either. And for what it’s worth, I’ll probably read the rest of the series eventually because this one wasn’t bad, just flawed, besides I love baseball and M/M romance and combining the two makes me happy.

As for the cover, it’s a good baseball cover and reflects Jason well, right down to the dog tags. Aesthetically, it’s a little dark which was hard to read on my black and white Kindle, but I still liked it a lot.

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