Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Line Drive by Sloan Johnson

PJ Nolan just has to get through this year. He’d been hoping for a trade to Milwaukee, where he wouldn’t have to hide the fact that he was gay, but that didn’t pan out. He’s close enough to achieving his goal that he can’t walk away, no matter how hostile the Miami clubhouse had become. That changes when he arrives for the first day of spring training and his teammates think it’s funny to mock the one night that made him feel alive. They didn’t know that it wasn’t a joke to him. Unfortunately, those pictures are all he has left of Nate Kendricks.

Nate knows nothing about baseball, but agrees to a spring training road trip as a way to spend time with his twin brother and get away from their dad’s micromanagement for a while. He’s not thrilled about the prospect of seeing PJ Nolan, the man who’d haunted his dreams since the night of the charity auction, but figures PJ has probably already forgotten their chance encounter. Nate thought their chemistry was undeniable, but after that night, he never heard from PJ again.

Once they reunite, PJ’s certain of one thing: he’s not going to let Nate slip away again. With his priorities constantly changing, PJ needs to find a way to achieve his dreams, both on and off the field. As he gets closer to joining his dad in the record books, he feels Nate slipping away. What will he choose if forced to pick between new love and a lifelong dream?

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Book 6
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Wow. Usually, at this point in a series I’m getting bored and the stories are increasingly formulaic. But book six in this series offers a whole new set of characters, a whole new team, and a new perspective on professional baseball.

I loved PJ as a leading man. A legend, ready to retire, he has one last record to set before he can call it quits on his own terms. He lives a closeted life in his father’s shadow. Things get complicated when he finally meets someone he might actually like and can’t face life in the closet any longer. The pent up fury PJ unleashes on his homophobic teammates is epic, but the repercussions are sobering and thought provoking. Earlier in the series, there were times I felt that the inspirational coming out moments were a little bit too good to be true. In many ways, PJ’s book is darker and probably more realistic.

Nate isn’t quite as memorable for me. He is sweet and cute. If PJ lives in his father’s shadow, Nate lives in his brother’s. Nate might be a bit blurry for me because he seems blurry about his own identity. With his twin playing professional football, Nate works as his PA, which only makes him less noticeable. I liked his developing confidence by the end of the story and there is probably only room for one temperamental star in any relationship – but he really isn’t one of my favourite characters in this series.

This is more the story of the last year of PJ’s career than it is a romance. There is more actual baseball and much more baseball politics than in many books in the series. There are romantic moments and some hot sex, but the is the story of a legend at the end of his career. I loved catching up with characters from earlier books, but because this is about a different team, we don’t see as much of the original characters as we usually do.

I really enjoyed this. It would work as a standalone well and I liked the way it offered a fresh, original plot and added new characters to a fantastic series.

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/M Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

PJ is struggling. He sees how happy his friends are in their open and honest relationship, sees that they are able to focus solely on playing baseball, and despite wanting to finish his career in Miami, the jabs and jokes within his team’s locker room are becoming unbearable. He's coiling tighter and tighter – he's reaching his breaking point. During an auction to help his Milwaukee counterparts, he somehow gets roped in to being auctioned for the "perfect date." Just when PJ thinks things can't get any more awkward, he hears a low octave voice bidding on him and winning the date... What's he to do now? He knows that this is going to cause issues.

Nate is at an action for his brother's friends... he sees PJ up on the stage and recognizes the anxiety that is plastered all over PJ and he realizes that if he wins the bid faster, the faster PJ will get to leave the stage. He doesn't know anything about PJ other than seeing his discomfort. What happens next is almost a series of accidents that creates a situation in which PJ and Nate find themselves coming together in more ways than just attraction.

Despite all of the issues that PJ faces, he doesn't want to leave Miami. It's his team. He wants to have his major accomplishment with the team he always dreamed about. But I think that the relationship between his father and him, the talks and decisions that need to be made, helped me connect with PJ on a better level. Without those interactions, PJ was a hard character for me to connect with. He seemed too selfish.

Nate is somewhat naive. He wants to be with PJ, but doesn't really know what that entails because he's not used to hiding who he is. There are communication issues, biases, ignorance, and stress of the job that get in the way. Overall, this was a sweet story that showed even if you can't walk the exact path you started on, you'll always come out as long as you follow your heart.

This is the sixth book in the series, and I really enjoyed it as we take a move away from the good conditions of the team we know and love, and remember the reality for most gay players in the league.

The build up to why the locker room incident happened is absolutely delicious, and makes the fallout even more harsh. As PJ comes to terms with the fact that Nate has rocked his world, he has to decide whether he should carry on playing in such a hostile environment, and get his record book score, or leave it all behind. That is such a lot of responsibility to place on a new relationship – yet the author brilliantly brings us round the issues, and not the people, so that it manages to be much bigger than just two people, and yet they remain constantly in focus. I think it is always good to be stretched a bit when reading a story – and this combines that with such a lovely, fulfilling romance that I had to just keep reading... until I sadly realised it was the last page. Hopefully we will get the other twin's story sometime and that will bring Nate and PJ back to us.

If you have not yet read this series, then I suggest you get caught up – they are all good in their own right, but together they provide both romance and questions in the world of baseball.

Line Drive is the sixth installment in this series. They can all be read as standalones, but are so much better reading as the author intended.

PJ isn't part of the Milwaukee Mavericks, he plays for Miami. He's always wanted to be in Miami, his dad played there and PJ is so close to hitting the 3000 hit club. PJ and his dad would be the first father and son on the list. The closer PJ gets to that goal, the harder it is to go to work. Not all the teams in the league are as comfortable with a gay player as the Mavericks are. PJ has fought long and hard to keep his personal life his own, but when he participates in a fundraiser that has him in a bachelor auction, pictures of him and his date become public. PJ expects the backlash the team is giving him, but is he willing to walk away from everything for someone he's just met?

I love that Ms. Johnson is showing the other side of the coin in this one, that not all teams are comfortable with gay players. PJ and Nate were very lovable, but I have to admit the elevator scene threw me for a loop. For me, it just didn't fit, but I was able to overlook what I didn't like about it and still love the book.

Sloan Johnson has become one of my go to authors. If you haven't tried anything from her, you should, you really won't be sorry.

Also Available in the Homeruns Series

Book 1
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For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Wild Pitch Blog Tour.

Book 2
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Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Curve Ball Blog Tour.

Book 3
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Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Triple Play Blog Tour.

Book 4
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For reviews & more info, check out our Sweet Spot post.

Book 5
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our Change Up post.

Sloan Johnson is a big city girl trapped in a country girl’s life. While she longs for the hustle and bustle of New York City or Las Vegas, she hasn’t yet figured out how to sit on the deck with her morning coffee, watching the deer and wild turkeys in the fields while surrounded by concrete and glass.

When she was three, her parents received their first call from the principal asking them to pick her up from school. Apparently, if you aren’t enrolled, you can’t attend classes, even in Kindergarten. The next week, she was in preschool and started plotting her first story soon after.

Later in life, her parents needed to do something to help their socially awkward, uncoordinated child come out of her shell and figured there was no better place than a bar on Wednesday nights. It’s a good thing they did because this is where she found her love of reading and writing. Who needs socialization when you can sit alone in your bedroom with a good book?

Now, Sloan is a tattooed mom with a mohawk and two kids. She’s been kicked out of the PTA in two school districts and is no longer asked to help with fundraisers because she’s been known to lose herself with a good book and forget she has somewhere to be.

Connect with Sloan

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Line Drive (Homeruns #6) by Sloan Johnson to read and review.

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