Series: an anthology
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Novel (Anthology) 270 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (September 25th 2013)
Heat Level: Moderate to Explicit, depending on the story
Heart Rating: 3-4 hearts, depending on the story
Blurb: Baseball – America’s favorite pastime – provides a field wide open for romance. A Home Field Advantage may not help when Toby must choose between the team he’s loved all his life and the man he could love for the rest of it. In 1927, Skip hides his sexuality to protect his career until he meets One Man to Remember. Ruben and Alan fell victim to a Wild Pitch, leaving them struggling with heartache and guilt, and now they’ve met again. And on One Last Road Trip, Jake retires and leaves baseball behind, hoping to reconnect with Mikko and get a second chance at love.
Home Field Advantage by Shae Connor
Toby MacMillan, grandson of Atlanta Braves owner Ray MacMillan, lives for baseball and loves his team. When he meets new team member Caleb Browning, an innocent welcome-to-the-big-leagues dinner leads to a not-so-innocent night together. Toby quickly calls things off, afraid of the ramifications of their tryst, but the two men develop a friendship that soon becomes more. After Caleb takes a fastball to the head, their budding romance hits the news—and Toby’s grandfather hits the roof. When Ray MacMillan demands Toby deny the relationship, Toby must choose between the team he’s loved all his life and the man he could love for the rest of it.
One Man to Remember by Kate McMurray
its 1927, and in New York City, Babe Ruth and the Yankees’ unstoppable batting lineup, Murderers’ Row, is all anyone can talk about. Across town, the Giants’ rookie infielder Skip Littlefield racks up hits, creating a streak to rival the Babe’s. Worried his secrets could get out, he avoids the spotlight, but he catches the attention of lauded sports reporter Walter Selby, a notorious dandy whose sexuality is an open secret. Skip reluctantly agrees to an interview, and mutual attraction is sparked. Skip can only hope the more charismatic stars will draw attention away from his romance with Walt. Otherwise, his career and everything he loves is at stake.
Wild Pitch by Marguerite Labbe
Ruben Martell fell in love with Alan Hartner during their years playing baseball. They stepped over the foul line once, but the encounter left them struggling with heartache and guilt, turning away from each other to focus on their families. Now retired from the majors, they run a batting cage together and coach rival Little League teams as they juggle fatherhood and being single again. Though Ruben has never given up hope that Alan might look at him as more than a friend, Alan seems determined to keep things the way they’ve always been. But long-buried feelings and desires have a way of resurfacing, and Ruben can’t wait forever.
One Last Road Trip by Kerry Freeman
With the last game of his Major League Baseball career behind him, Jake Wilson hits the road. Years have passed, but he never got over the romance he shared with Mikko Niemi back in college. Finally, he’s ready to do something about it. He starts with some crucial visits to his ex-wife in New Mexico, his son in Oklahoma, and his daughter in Tennessee. But his true destination is Mikko’s home in Georgia, where he’s hoping to get a second chance at love.
Review: Four short stories about the struggle to be gay in the major leagues, whether it is as a player or someone more behind the scenes. Each of these men has a story to tell, as a couple or as an individual. The common thread? Baseball!
One Man to Remember by Kate McMurray ~ This story has a historical romance aspect to it as it’s set in the 1920’s when being gay could still get you arrested. As well the ML frequent speakeasies as prohibition is still enforced and them being, a couple is majorly overlooking in such establishments. When the team owners begin to notice that their star player, Skip Littlefield, is spending too much time with the sports writer, Walter Selby, a known homosexual. They quickly demand he end the ‘friendship’. Will the budding affair survive prying eyes until the season is over?
Home Field Advantage by Shae Connor ~ Go braves! Toby MacMillan is the grandson of Ray MacMillan, current owner of the Atlanta Braves. He loves this team and his job running day-to-day affairs of the team and the players. When he meets the newest recruit, Caleb Browning, sparks fly immediately. The two share a very steamy, very passionate night that ends with Toby pushing Caleb away. He knows that neither of them can afford to pursue a relationship, there is no way they can be public, and his grandfather would disown him. After an accident leaves Caleb in the hospital their secret is exposed. Will Toby cave to his grandfather’s demands that he deny the man he loves? Or will he risk everything to be with Caleb?
One Last Road Trip by Kerry Freeman ~ Jake Wilson met the love of his life in college, when his pro baseball career was just starting. After a painful break up he met and married his wife, and fathered two beautiful children. He doesn’t regret his marriage, career or kids. What he does regret is losing the man he loved, Mikko. Jake is bisexual, and has finally shared this secret with his family. Now divorced and with his kids blessing, he takes a road trip to find the one that got away. Mikko is less than welcoming, but Jake lays it all on the line, leaving Mikko and going back home. Mikko has to decide if it’s worth the risk to allow Jake back into his life. Will Jake lose his love a second time around?
Wild Pitch by Marguerite Labbe ~ Ruben Martell has been in love with Alan Hartner for decades. They are both bisexual men that married woman and have families, but always harbored something special for each other. Now that they no longer have wives, Ruben is more determined than ever to have a relationship with Alan. But Alan is just as determined to keep things in the friends zone. A shared passion and desire soon have them delving back into familiar territory. Can they find a balance between friendship, family and love for each other?
I hate baseball. It’s like watching paint dry! But this anthology of short stories based within the sport left me breathless. Each story is different and unique. All the men share an almost common goal of keeping their sexuality a secret. And in the end they will all have to decide if that secret is more important than the happiness they deserve. Sex, steam, passion, and baseball. That is what Playing Ball is all about!