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After ten years as an active duty Marine, Captain Eric Ramos is rejoining civilian life. His first job is chauffeuring, assisting, and generally keeping track of NBA young gun Tyler Haley. Tyler’s had a rough few months, and his team owner is convinced he needs some hand-holding if he’s going to keep delivering wins for the St. Louis Fire Foxes.
Instead of the arrogant, over-privileged athlete Eric expected, Tyler is a big, blond, lonely twenty-three-year-old who needs more than just an employee to keep him in line. While taking care of Tyler, Eric changes from employee to friend, to something more. And when Eric realizes that something is burning the kid up from the inside out, he’s determined to find a way to help him before Tyler’s carefully constructed façade turns to ash.
Tyler is a very, very young star basketball player who was recruited out of HIGH SCHOOL to play pro ball. He’s scared. He’s conflicted. He’s also gay.
Eric was hired because he’s gay. Tyler’s manager wants Tyler safe and so far all the staff either uses Tyler for his connections, his money, or his access to sex. Eric is seen as being immune to all that based on his past history and his indifference to the female form.
Eric is immediately attracted, both physically and emotionally to Tyler. He sees Tyler as a kid brother at first: needy, shy, naïve, innocent. When Eric begins to suspect Tyler might swing his way he’s conflicted about those feelings. He doesn’t want to take advantage of the guy but he’s also developed some serious feelings for him that go more than skin deep.
Tyler has had some super-bad experiences in h is past that make his life rituals important, and one night the team loses it’s winning streak, forcing Tyler to do something he hates, but feels is necessary to bring the team back to winning. It’s superstitious and awful, and it almost breaks him.
Luckily Eric is there to pick up the pieces and together they finally admit their attraction and begin to act upon it.
If you had asked me to rate this story at about the 50% mark I’d have given it 5 hearts, easily. It is so amazingly engaging. Dawn Douglas has created the perfect innocent paired with the toughest Alpha male and the sexual tension between them was both believable and hot. The separation between them was authentic and you questioned Tyler’s sexuality right along with Eric throughout most of the book. (Is he gay and closeted? Is he in denial? is he gay for Eric?… it was hard to tell!) The basketball stuff was a little unbelievable, but interesting and acted as a nice background for the romance to develop against.
I absolutely detested Tyler’s past (as I was supposed to) and felt wretched for how it affected him. I so wanted Eric to help him move through his fear and pain and know what real love is.
Without spoiling things for you, they do get together… in the last few paragraphs of the book. All that sexual tension is released with a few groping sessions and lots of tears and no resolution, let me say it again, absolutely NO resolution. Eric does not get to help Tyler get through this, we can hope he might one day, but we are left without only hope.
The book/story just ends. POW.
I was flummoxed! Then pissed!
The story was so, so good and then it just ended… like the bell rang and the author had to turn her paper in at the end of class.
Since I was listening to the audio book I had to check to make sure I had the full story and that there wasn’t some technical error.
What I found was that, no, this is the entirety of the story, but that the ebook had this included as an epilogue/author’s note:
“I LOVE short stories. Not that novels aren’t wonderful, but there’s something special about being able to say everything you need to in a limited number of pages. And my favorite short story, bar none, is Frank R. Stockton’s The Lady, or the Tiger?
If you ask me when I’m irritated with my husband, stuck in traffic, or generally having a bad day, I’m pretty sure a tiger came out of the door to the right at the end of the story. When I’m in a better mood, a lady came out of the door, and the hero rode off into the sunset with his prize. I like the fact that the ambiguity of a short story leaves room for imagination.
In this novella, Tyler has some very serious history to address. Instead of turning what I had always intended to be a novella into a novel and exploring psychological issues that are far above my pay grade, leaving these particular characters with some ambiguity, with a happily for now, felt like the right thing to do.
That said, I’m the author, right? I created them, which means I’m allowed to suspend reality if I want to…
So in my mind, the real end to Tyler and Ram’s story goes something like this:
Tyler and Ram both found excellent counselors. The Fire Foxes won four successive NBA Championships. Tyler came out. The universe said, “Huh,” and moved on with life. Ram got his master’s degree from Wash U, went into politics, and changed the world. They got married, adopted baseball crazy twin boys, and were frequent guests on “Real Time with Bill Mahr.” And they lived happily ever after for the rest of their days.
So, yeah. The author tells us that since this is her story she can end it however she wants and that in her mind the couple ends up with a HEA but she doesn’t owe her audience the actual WRITING of the HEA.
Without this author’s note, I would barely call it a HFN (Happy for now).
Needless to say, this did not sit well with me and it definitely affected my rating of the book.
I had really loved this story up until the (NOT) ending and was so, so disappointed at where it left off.
Randy Fuller is not my favorite narrator, but he does a fairly nice job with the narration. I enjoyed his voice choice for Eric, but felt that Tyler sounded a bit too old and not enough different from Eric.
All in all I can’t really recommend this book or audiobook because I wouldn’t want to inflict the frustration I felt on anyone else.
I give it a 2.5 of 5 hearts simply because Randy did a nice job and the writing was good up until the end, but the overall story/enjoyment really wasn’t there and I wouldn’t recommend it at all.