Release Date: July 10, 2017
Length: Novel (195 pages)
Genre: Contemporary M/M romance
Cover Art: Unknown
Blurb: Trent Derringer grew up trained to be a baseball warrior. Obsessed with the game by the age of six, he escaped the troubled world around him by focusing on bat, glove, and ball. Trent was a knight leading his team into battle — bold, valiant, gallant, and celibate.
Then he met sports reporter Drew Early. Trent’s manager instructed him in rule #1 for dealing with reporters like Drew. “Never give them what they want.” That meant being boring in an interview, but Drew refused to play by Trent’s rules. His looks were distracting, and he was asking all the wrong questions.
Soon, a moment of vulnerability for Trent led to quiet moments together and the understanding that they had one goal in common — having each other. Unfortunately, getting the rest of the world to play by their new rules wasn’t so easy.
All-Stars is a 45,000-word standalone novel with first time gay and hurt / comfort themes. It has steamy scenes and a happily-ever-after ending.
This is another up and coming MLB superstar meets cynical journalist romance. I’m gonna call this one a bunt-single. It got the job done, but it wasn’t pretty. I liked Trent from the beginning even if his intensity probably would have driven him into an early grave. When Drew was first introduced, I thought he came across as a smarmy asshole and it took a long time for me to change my opinion, but I did. There are some really nice scenes interspersed in the book, but the plot never really comes together in a coherent way.
Most of the issues raised are never resolved… not Trent’s issues with his father’s death or his sister and absolutely not Drew’s investigation. I’m being vague about the investigation to avoid spoilers, but I’ll just say this… Any journalist as well-known as Drew chasing a story that big would NEVER stop just because one news outlet decided the story was too hot to handle. They would have pursued it on their own and shopped it to the highest bidder once they had it nailed down. I expected the “bad guys” to blackmail Drew into killing the investigation by threatening to out Trent which would have provided some genuine conflict, but no. The manufactured conflict that does happen is completely irrational on Trent’s part unless he truly believes Drew is the smarmy asshole I thought he was in the beginning. This does not say “twue wuv” to me.
My other major hiccup was how the story dealt with Trent being gay. When they first meet Trent accidentally outs himself and begs Drew to keep his secret, but after that, it’s never dealt with again. They go on dates and Trent is recognized wherever they go, including at a hotel relatively near home but he never seems paranoid about being outed. In the epilogue, the pair is engaged to be married and the topic of being an out professional athlete isn’t even mentioned. It was weird. I get not wanting “the gayness” to be the center of your story, but if you bring it up in the beginning, it has to be dealt with, especially in sports.
The actual baseball in the book is a bit dry. As I said, Trent is an intense guy and that doesn’t come through on the field at least as it’s written. I also had some niggles about Trent’s life as an MLB player. There is no way he’s able to go to bed at 10:30pm every night. Games start at 7pm and last 3 hours, unless they’re playing the Red Sox then it’s even longer. So games end around 10pm so unless they’re sleeping in the clubhouse, they aren’t getting home before 11pm. The book is set in San Antonio (I know that from the blurb. It wasn’t so clear in the book.) which is in the central time zone, so some games start at six to accommodate east coast viewers, but that’s not the norm.
Overall, the book is perfectly readable. The writing is a little bumpy and overwritten in places, but not enough to be distracting. Like I said, it’s a bunt-single, not a home run. Mr. Rhodes has definitely written better baseball romances, but I’ve certainly read a lot worse from other authors.
The cover gets a passing grade. The dark-haired model is overused, but there’s nothing that stands out as good or bad on this one.