Barton Lock accepts a personal invitation for a much needed night away at the exclusive Hotel Beaudelaire. He never expected to run into his baseball teammate, Evan Boswell. He also never expected for the hotel matchmaker to pair them up together. Evan is a well known ladies man and Bart has spent way too many nights sharing a room with Evan and seeing his conquests up close and personal.
Evan just needs a relaxing night to play before he has to head back to the minor leagues. He came to explore his attraction to men in a fun, no strings attached atmosphere. But, finding out that he has been paired up with Bart is a game changer. Evan is used to Bart calling the shots on the baseball field and has been waiting for Bart to take a chance on him. Bart is too stunned to believe that Evan is really interested in men or that the younger Evan would be interested in him. All of their signals get crossed when Bart thinks that Evan is trying to seduce Bart to keep him from retiring. If only Bart could see that Evan wants him to call the shots off the field as well.
Winterball is part of the Den of Sin series. The stories are written by various authors and each story stands alone, although some have overlapping characters. Winterball can be read on its own. The stories all take place in the Hotel Beaudelaire and in some ways the hotel becomes a character on its own. The hotel caters exclusively to the needs of guests and guests can choose their pleasure from a matchmaker, to the threesome (or more) floor, to the open guest room reservations to name a few.
While looking for his match, Bart finds his teammate Evan. The guys have been playing baseball together for two years, as Bart is the catcher to Evan’s pitcher (it’s obvious there is a joke there somewhere) and they have developed a working relationship that Evan thrives on. Even sharing a room as teammates, they know very little about each other, even simple things like where Bart lives in the off season. Evan knows Bart is gay, but neither has caught on that they are attracted to each other.
Overall, I’m not sure what to ultimately make of parts of this story. A big portion of the story is Bart wanting to retire from baseball. Bart is older than Evan, we are told that often, but we are never told how old he actually is. The guys have several misunderstandings in a short amount of time. When they do get together, it’s Evan’s first time with a man, and it’s very claiming with not a lot of emotion shown behind it. They pull off a HFN but it’s not clear what kind of relationship they evolve to. Are they having a real emotional relationship or just a dominant sexual relationship that they both crave?
This particular story and these particular characters just left me in a neutral place overall. I enjoyed the idea of the hotel and the friends to lovers aspect. If you follow the series, it is a new addition to the intrigue going on at the Hotel Beaudelaire.