Friday, July 12, 2019

Out in the Field by Lane Hayes Release Blitz

Max Maldonado loves baseball. He knows playing first base at a private college probably won’t get him to the big leagues, but he doesn’t mind. He loves the game and his teammates. If he has to stay in the closet until he graduates, that’s okay. Baseball comes first. Relationships are complicated anyway. And after his recent messy breakup, Max prefers to keep things simple.

Phoenix Bell is a fabulous theater geek. He’s excited about his recent transfer to a new school with an elite liberal arts program. Life has been on hold for a while, but this opportunity feels like the fresh start he was hoping for when he moved to California. And the chance reunion with the hot closeted jock is an unexpected surprise. The two men have nothing in common and their timing couldn’t be worse. However, when their unconventional alliance blossoms into friendship and perhaps something more, it may be time to make some hard decisions. And perhaps risk it all... out in the field.

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Book 4
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~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

We were quiet for a moment. We shared his drink in silence as occasional bits of conversation and laughter from the party drifted our way. We were far enough from the action that the excess noise didn’t penetrate our cocoon. Just a couple of strangers in the dark again, minus the club music and lights and unrealistic hopes from the first time. I didn’t know about Phoenix, but this felt cathartic somehow. Like a fresh start.

“What else is going on? You look sad. It’s not me, is it?” I asked with a comedic expression.

He chuckled. “No. This is nice. I just—I tend to get a little blue on the night of the final performance. The anticlimactic feeling sucks, but it’s the nature of the beast. The cycle of slowly learning lines and getting to know your castmates is followed by long rehearsals where everything starts to gel. The excitement builds before the shows and everyone gets better and better and then… boom! It’s over. All that momentum and all the joy that comes from being part of something special disappears overnight. I’m gonna wake up in the morning back at square one.”

“That’s depressing.”

“Thus the vodka.” Phoenix raised his cup and took a sip. He set it between us before flashing a lopsided smile my way. “It’s just part of the process. I’ve been doing some version of this for years. You’d think I’d be better at transitioning from high to low.”

“Hmm. It’s kinda the same in baseball. When we start in January, most of the guys are out of shape and out of sync. We have to get used to a new crew and figure out how to work together. By the time our season ends in May, we’re a well-oiled machine. I’m not always sad when it’s over. Sometimes I really need the break. But by June, I miss it. The best thing to do is to stay in the game as much as possible. Play, watch, read stats. There’s probably a theater equivalent.”

“Sure. It’s called ‘get a new part.’ I’m already memorizing the script for the spring production at the Arts Center. They’re doing Chicago. God, I love that show. So many juicy roles. ‘And all that jazz,’” he sang that last line, then took another drink and handed his cup to me for no particular reason.

I widened my legs and propped my elbows on my knees. His gaze dipped briefly to my crotch before he licked his lips and glanced away.

“Who do you want to be?” I asked. “I mean… in the play.”

“In a perfect world, I’d be Roxie. But… I have a dick, so I’ll have to audition for Billy and pretend not to be crushed when they give me the role of prison guard or mafia henchman number two.”

“Why can’t you be Billy?” I asked before draining the vodka cocktail.

“I don’t have the right look. You’d actually be a perfect Billy. Have you ever thought about acting?”

“Me?” I pointed at my chest incredulously. “Fuck, no.”

“Why so adamant? It’s fun.”

“Theater stuff just isn’t my thing. I play baseball.”

“You can’t do both?”

“Nope. Not me. And I’m not interested anyway.”

He sighed dramatically. “Well… you were a good fantasy while you lasted.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked with a faux scowl.

“Just what you think it means. I know close to nothing about you except that you’re a decent kisser and—”

“Decent?” Now the scowl was real.

“Okay, better than decent. You were amazing. A real-life Prince Charming. But we can be friends now and—”

“I don’t want to be your friend,” I intercepted.

“Why not?”

“’Cause I like you.”

“That makes no sense.”

“Yeah, it does. I—” I hesitated for half a second before crashing my mouth over his.

And damn, kissing Phoenix was better than I remembered. I caressed his jaw tenderly before tilting my head to deepen the connection. I didn’t want to overwhelm him, but damn, it took everything I had not to put my hands all over him. I licked the corner of his mouth and groaned. He tasted sweet—like cherries or something. That had to be his lip gloss, I mused before driving my tongue inside.

Phoenix didn’t seem to mind. He moaned when I cupped his neck and tilted my head slightly to soften the connection. I flicked my tongue at the corner of his mouth before biting his bottom lip and pulling away. The kiss was sweet but much too short. And yeah, I was incredibly impressed with my restraint, but I couldn’t afford to start something we’d both regret later. Phoenix wasn’t a stranger anymore. He was a fellow student who knew my biggest secret. I should have been more concerned with resetting boundaries and moving on. But it didn’t feel that simple.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the fourth in the series, and whilst you could read this as a standalone, you would miss the couple's first encounter (although it is described here too), and some of Max's back story. They are all excellent and interlink, so I would recommend them all to you.

Max is nearing the end of his college baseball career, and just wants his sexuality to stay under the radar a bit longer. Meeting Phoenix again puts a serious dent in that plan, although Nix agrees to be a no drama, on the quiet bedfellow. Whilst this may seem the ideal solution, Max recognises pretty quickly his feelings for Nix are serious, and sways from the rules by seeing him out of their apartments too. A few near misses have him panicked, but at the same time, Nix is important.

Whilst I think his fears were well explained, I was also a little surprised at the strength of them, given that his BFF/ex-lover/flatmate Christian had come out and was not suffering any backlash. And had been accepted by Max's parents too. So his fears were truly in his head, even though no evidence of problems really existed – Micah in the team may make comments, but even they did not seem to be overly serious.

I loved the interactions between the two guys – how they slipped into a warm and loving relationship, irrespective of what they labelled it. Nix is so comfortable in his skin and so patient with Max, it was just what he needed to come to his decision to be out, and to do it for himself, but with the promise of a much happier personal life.

This is a lovely series, and Max's story has added to it. Thank you, Lane Hayes.

This is a fun, sweet new adult read. It’s the story of the relationship between a college baseball star and the self-professed theatre geek he meets on a night out. Max is a closeted, singularly focused jock and Phoenix is... fabulous. It’s not a terribly original storyline but the characters are well drawn and I really enjoyed the connection between Max and Phoenix.

This is Max’s story and it took me a while to warm to him. His closeted fear doesn’t make him a great friend or love interest and it doesn’t completely make sense at this stage in the series with so many out and proud athletes around him. I loved Phoenix from the start, but we don’t get as much of Phoenix as we do Max. I like Max’s journey, his adulting and the way he grows into a decent person, but I would have liked a little bit more Phoenix to balance the story.

Like the rest of the series, this is a sexy, easy story. Pretty boys in Southern California make for great summer reads and this book is definitely a lazy beach and cocktail read. I’ve enjoyed this series from the start. The books are well written without being overly challenging or complicated.

3.5 stars

Out in the Field is the fourth installment in the Out in College series. These books can be read as standalones without issue but there is character/storyline overlap that plays out better if the series is read in order.

Max (who is still closeted) broke up with his boyfriend in the last book. His best friend, Christian, came out and is now somewhat of a celebrity on campus. Max doesn't think he'll receive the same acceptance, so he continues to live his double life. Max sees a free-spirited Phoenix, dressed as a fairy, dancing in the rain and can't do anything but stop and watch. Phoenix is clearly comfortable with his sexuality and doesn't care who sees, which Max envies.

Coming face to face with Phoenix, Max remembers spending a fantastic night dancing and kissing but never calling the next day. Can Phoenix be the one that got away and Max is getting his second chance? Will Phoenix go back into the closet and hide their relationship for Max?

Mmm… where to start with this one. I am a huge fan of this series and the angst and emotion it has. For me this one just fell short. The angst and the coming out was pretty noneventful but I needed more. I thrive on the angst, but it just wasn't there between these two characters. It was an easy, quick read that does hit the feels in some spots.

3.5 Stars

Out in the Field is the fourth installment in the Out in College series. It can be read independently of its series without too much confusion. However, I strongly recommend the series is read in order. The characters overlap, as do their struggles. The emotional payout/connection to the characters would be stronger if read in order.

Christian's ex/BFF/roomie, Max has dropped Sky and is now looking to move on with his life. Even after Christian came out (last book), Max is still uncertain about being open with his family and the team, fearing how they will treat him afterward. The driving force of the novel is keeping his sexuality a secret.

Phoenix, I believe we saw a brief glimpse of him during the last novel. Only now he is on campus, haunting Max's thoughts, making the guy fantasize of a future he's unsure he can handle. Phoenix is out and proud, not wishing to be locked back in the closet with another jock, like his boyfriends in the past.

I've enjoyed this series immensely. But for some reason, I didn't connect with this novel. I wasn't hooked. Perhaps my mood. The others in the series were a bit more angsty, the conflict presented earlier, which made the pages fly by as I wanted to know what happened next.

Out in the Field is heavy on interactions between Max and Nix – that's not a bad thing. As I was reading, it was obvious they were going to get together and stay together, without any interference. Max would come out for himself and for Nix, just by his inner monologue.

So that was my issue in a nutshell. It was light and breezy, a quick read, but with little to no conflict. The only angst/conflict didn't present itself until after the 80% mark, and it only lasted for less than five pages. All that fear over coming out was for naught, while with books in the past, there was a payout for all that buildup.

If you're looking for a few hours of escapism, where nothing is stressful, where the romance is easy and light, this novel is perfect for you. Sometimes, that's exactly what is needed to recharge.

I do believe Out in the Field fit flawlessly with the series as a whole. I just never connected with Max or Nix – that's on me. Where the portions I wished were a bit faster were drawn out, and the portions I wished were explored more were rushed.

Highly recommend this series to fans of MM romance, especially those who enjoy college-aged guys in sports, struggling to come out to their peers and family.

Also Available in the Out in College Series

Book 1
Audiobook Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Audible  ~  iTunes

Ebook Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Out in the Deep Release Blitz and the Out in the Deep Audiobook Release Blitz.

Book 2
Audiobook Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Audible  ~  iTunes

Ebook Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Out in the End Zone Audiobook Release Blitz.

Book 3
Audiobook Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Audible  ~  iTunes

Ebook Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Out in the Offense Blog Tour and the Out in the Offense Audiobook Release Blitz.

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Out in the Field (Out in College #4) by Lane Hayes to read and review for this tour.

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