REVIEW: The Eskimo Slugger (Austin Trilogy #3) by Brad Boney

23111957[1]Release Date: Sept 29, 2014

Length: Novel (230 pages)

Genre: Historical M/M romance (1980s)

Cover Art: Paul Richmond

Links: Dreamspinner  Amazon  Goodreads

Blurb:  It’s the summer of 1983, and Trent Days is Major League Baseball’s rookie sensation. Born in Alaska to an Inupiat mother, the press have dubbed him the Eskimo Slugger, but a midseason collision at home plate temporarily halts his meteoric rise to the top.

Sent back to Austin to recuperate, Trent visits his favorite record store, Inner Sanctum, where he meets amiable law student Brendan Baxter. A skip in the vinyl of New Order’s “Blue Monday” drives Trent back to Brendan, and their romance takes them into uncharted territory.

As Trent’s feelings move from casual to serious, he’s faced with an impossible dilemma. Does he abandon any hope of a future with Brendan and return to the shadows and secrets of professional sports? Or does he embrace the possibility of real love and leave baseball behind him forever? As he struggles with his decision, Trent embarks on a journey of self-discovery—to figure out who he really is and what matters most.

Review:

5-Hearts

I’ve saved the best for last. This book distilled into one sentence–the end is only the beginning. Standing on its own, this is a solid 4-Heart book, no question. Combined with the other two books in the series, this book is a 9.5 on a scale of five. Please, I’m BEGGING you… Read The Nothingness of Ben and The Return before you open The Eskimo Slugger. Trust me when I say, reading them in order creates a synergy that makes the whole so much more than the sum of all the amazing parts.  While the events in this book chronologically happen first, Quincy would remind us that time isn’t necessarily linear, so The Eskimo Slugger can be and is both prologue and epilogue to the rest of the series.

This is probably the hardest review I’ve ever had to write because I really don’t want to give anything away. It’s the early eighties and Brandon is a law student and works in a record store to put himself through school while Trent is the MLB poster boy of the year and a rookie-sensation. It’s just the beginning of the AIDS crisis, even a minor gay character on television was a HUGE deal and being out of the closet was something that only really happened in big cities. Whether it’s fate or just serendipity, Trent and Brandon find one another and they are almost immediately placed at a crossroads. The choices they make over these three weeks will change everything, no matter what they choose.

If you do read the books in order, (Please do. I begged you, remember?) you will go into the story already knowing how it ends, which makes every word, every minute that much sweeter. Brad Boney is as much an orchestra conductor as a writer spinning the themes of all three books around you like a symphony coming to a beautiful and masterful crescendo that will leave you breathless and emotionally spent.  It is so good, I’m waxing poetic.

While the baseball is more background than part of the story, it defines Trent, at least in the beginning. How do you risk losing the thing you think defines you when it could mean squandering a God-given talent? The answer depends on whether you can see what truly makes you who you are. Sometimes you just have to sit and wait until the muddy water clears to see the answer that’s been right in front of you the whole time.

The Eskimo Slugger has a typical Paul Richmond cover… and it fits the book to a T. I just wish the three books in the series had a unified cover scheme that reflected the complexity and the beauty that Brad Boney has created.

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