Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Curve Ball by Sloan Johnson

Curve Ball (Homeruns #2)
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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.


Cam Morgan has spent the last few years not only putting himself through culinary school but also surrounding himself with people that accept him.  Something he had little of while growing up.  After working so hard to build himself up, it's no surprise that he's a bit leery of hanging out with his best friend's major league baseball teammates.  Sure, the hosts of the party may be the first out gay couple in MLB history but that one example can't override the years of bullying endured at the hands of the high school baseball team. 

Jason Klein has made baseball his life.  When he's not playing ball, he's hanging out at home.  Being an older (hey, thirty is older compared to those early twenty somethings!) player has its  perks.  The biggest being that no one bothers him when he decides to forgo the bar scene and no one questions when he's never seen picking up one of the hundreds of girls trying to hit on the players.  Jason isn't quite in the closet.  The fact of the matter is, he lost his boyfriend in Afghanistan 7 years ago and he's been grieving ever since.  He won't be holding any press conferences to announces his sexual orientation, but he certainly won't actively hide who he is if he ever pursues a relationship again.  Which is why, when Cam shows up at his friend's birthday cookout, Jason doesn't hesitate to engage him a private conversation and offer to drive him home. 

That one night turns into another and then another and then another.  Before too long Cam is basically living at Jason's apartment.   Every moment that Jason isn't playing baseball and Cam isn't juggling his growing catering business along with his interim job feeding the players before and after games, is spent with each other.  But as their relationship grows, Cam becomes more skittish. Not surprising for the guy who believes he has to take care of himself  because no one (other than his BFF) has stuck around long enough to do that for him.  The more their relationship grows the more Cam is ready to bolt.  Jason will have to balance Cam's desire for space with the need to show Cam that sometimes it's okay to take the risk to trust someone with your heart.    

There was so much I enjoyed about this story.   I loved how Cam and Jason first met.   Even though Jason is going out of his way to show a romantic interest, Cam is completely oblivious.  Or maybe cautious and distrustful are better descriptors.  You'd think the bottle of wine and two glasses would be a dead giveaway.  But not for someone that has more than a little bit of justified prejudice against ball players (his best friend being the exception).  The way their relationship grew was fast but completely believable.  Jason's calm and reserved demeanor was perfectly matched with Cam's defensive and slightly bitchy attitude.  The banter between Cam and Mason (former player and the starting pitcher's husband) and a couple of the players' wives/girlfriends was highly entertaining.  It was fun to see them pull the reluctant Cam into their group and slowly teach him that it's okay to make attachments.   

I don't think anyone (least of all Bel and Shel) will be surprised at how much I enjoyed this story.  I mean, it contained two of my favorite romance elements - baseball and two heroes!  Not to mention that cover - it's utter perfection!  Oh, and the story contained a date scene (can't tell you more since it would be spoiler-y) that I will totally be stealing for me and the Executive Officer.  Then there is the fact that it was written by Sloan Johnson, who is quickly becoming an auto-buy author for me.  So yeah, Curve Ball had my name written all over it.  

Are you looking for a wonderfully sweet baseball romance?  A story about two absolutely hot and adorable heroes surrounded by hot baseball players?  Then Curve Ball isn't just for me.  It's for you too.


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