Thursday, March 24, 2016

Love on the Pitch by Neil Plakcy

Warren Updegrove’s best “friend with benefits” is Thom Lodge, a geeky grad student who tutored him in math when he was a struggling undergrad on the football team. After playing in the NFL for a year, Warren is released from the team and returns to South Florida, where he drinks too much and loses his pro conditioning. When he meets former Olympian Victor Ragazzo and joins Victor’s gay rugby team, he falls hard.

But will Victor’s baggage bring down their budding relationship? Will Thom ever step off the sidelines and declare his love for Warren--or watch his BFF ruin his life with a jerk?

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Book 4
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3 stars.
5 stars for all of the cast but Victor.

Love On the Pitch was a quick, enjoyable read narrated by a clueless, lovable jock. I read the book from page one until the end in one sitting in a few short hours. I was entertained, finding the pacing swift, the characters engaging, the between-the-sheets action hot for the most part, and the storyline more than slightly frustrating.

Warren is a bit down on himself after not meeting his lifetime goal. While he did make it into the NFL, he didn't succeed in being anything but a bench warmer for an entire season before he was removed from the team. Lost, he goes back to his center – his best friend with benefits, where he tries to find a slice of life to call his own.

Always being on a football team, Warren was missing that connection he'd only feel being a part of something greater. In walks Victor, a man offering the chance to play Rugby. He meets a teammate who is in need of a dedicated employee, which is another opportunity to be a part of another team.

Warren, Thom, and the entire side cast of characters were fun, quirky, and a joy to read. Even the oddball clients at the gym were developed. However, Victor was the blankest, most apathetic character. The ex had more passion and drive than Victor did (I'd read this man in a heartbeat). I'm not stating this because of a bias – Erica loves Thom more than Victor. Victor is a housing inspector, a rugby player, and an ex-luge runner. That's all I know of him, which means that's all Warren knows of him too. Yet I knew why Warren's female client was exercising, and about the time she spent with her son, but nothing of the love interest. At least I knew how many languages Warren's boss spoke – and he was a pretty cool character too. I knew too much about sports equipment by the end of the novel, but nothing of Victor's interests.

I enjoyed being inside Warren's head, but some things just didn't add up. The entire book is written to create an unlikely triangle. Warren, his BFF with benefits – Thom – and Victor. Through the narrator, the author tells us how much chemistry Warren has with Victor, but it's not written on the pages. Warren is stuck on how hot they are together, when Victor was nothing but apathetic the entire time. Just going through the motions, and I wasn't sure why Victor was doing it at all, to be honest.

Yes, they have sexy time. The second time, Victor says how he doesn't want to rush and how he's going to take all night... 5 minutes later Warren is leaving. I felt nothing but apathy between the pair, so that ruined the triangle of the story for me. Warren would literally only get a single text from Victor a week, but would think about how he's falling in love with the man. Falling in love with what exactly? You have to know the person to find something to love in them. What conversations? "You still coming to practice on Saturday?" repeat weekly.

In the quest to build a triangle, forcing the readers to want one love interest over the other, it was to the point I didn't trust Warren's intelligence.

I know I sound nitpicky, and I wish I didn't, because most of Love on the Pitch was beyond entertaining. As I said, I loved Warren for the most part. But as a reader, I need to respect the narrator, and it was to the point I wasn't able to do so because of how the storyline was written. Basically, I felt like the true lovers were shortchanged – the evolution of their love was overshadowed by a third party who didn't want to be there himself. I was good with the Frat doggie pile, so it's not a monogamy issue with me. I wish there was some resolution too, maybe an epilogue showing the couple together and some aftermath of the breakup with the other. But the book just... ends.

Do I recommend this book and series: Yes, my problem with Victor aside, it was an engaging, entertaining read. MM romance readers will lap this book up like cream.

Would I read more by this author: Yes. I hope the third of the triangle gets the next book in the series.

This is a good book, which combines a number of interesting strands to give the reader plenty to think about. It was rather fun to have a somewhat clueless lead in Warren, and I have a feeling that his behaviour and thoughts were much more likely to be real than many of the jocks we read about in sports romances, whether straight or gay. It did an excellent job of getting us into his head, and his heart – I just wanted him to listen to my advice ... but he got there in the end!

Pretty much all the characters added something to the story, with the exception of Victor. He was just a car wreck of a character, and whilst I am sure he was meant to be, he could have added more to the “What should Warren do” question, by being more of an option in the reader's mind. I think the randomness of the types of encounter and the constant horniness were more realistic than many books too, and were both hot and somehow cute because of that. The whole business side of things was well written and I am guessing there will be many of us who are itching to find such a fun, unstructured, yet successful organisation to employ us.

If you want to read a sports romance with a difference, this is where you should start.

Also Available in the Love on… Series

Book 1
Buy Links

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Loose Id

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Loose Id

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
Loose Id

For reviews & more info, check out our Love on the Web post.

Neil Plakcy is the author of the “Love on” M/M romance series set on South Beach, and the Have Body, Will Guard adventure romance series, both published by Loose Id.

He is an assistant professor of English at Broward College in South Florida, and has been a construction manager, a computer game producer, and a web developer – all experiences he uses in his fiction. His research includes a great deal of time spent on South Beach talking to good-looking younger men.

Connect with Neil

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Love on the Pitch (Love on… #4) by Neil Plakcy to read and review.

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