Skipper Keith has few things in this world. His rec soccer league and his own home are two things in his life he treats as precious. Richie Scroggins, Skip’s best friend and teammate, is by far the most important.
When Fall Ball ends, Richie makes a confession to Skip—a confession that ends in the best and most important kiss of Skip’s life. Their first weekend together is magical, but they begin to realize they can only have what they have within the confines of Skip’s house and only on the weekends. Richie’s father and stepmother are asshats to say the least, and there’s no telling what his stepbrothers would do if they knew he was falling for his best friend. For Skip, it’s the rec league. They’re the only family he has and if he loses them for being gay, he needs to have Richie.
As the months of weekends goes by, Skip and Richie become restless to bring their relationship to light, but between Gentleman Caller flirting with Skip at work, Skip getting sick, and Richie’s family’s business getting robbed, making their relationship public is put on hold more than once. With so much pulling them apart, Skip makes a big leap and hopes that when he does, he won’t lose everything he loves.
Amy Lane does this every year. She writes a Christmas story that makes me all warm and fuzzy… then it makes me crave another book for side characters in the story. Winter Ball is a mix of holiday happy feelings with a fairy tale twist. It’s rec league soccer meets Cinderella—only in the best way of course. As it goes, this book is not an angst fest. As a matter of fact, it’s all feel good and warm. Not to say that Skip and Richie don’t have their problems, because it’ws obvious they do, but the problems didn’t rip my heart out.
Skip is our prince of this tale. Now, his life has not been all hearts and flowers. He’s a bit broken when the story begins. He has no family and had a crappy childhood. The one thing in this world he wants is a family and holidays. The kid loves to decorate his own home for holidays—something he never had growing up. I love Skip. When it comes to broken characters who make their lives into something strong and powerful, Skipper Keith is the poster boy. He’s a rock but not without his insecurities. I’m not gonna call Richie a princess, because he’s not. He’s all man in a tough situation in the middle of a family that treats him like crap. The kicker is that Richie wants nothing more than his father’s approval and love and is denied that at every turn. It’s all he wants until he has Skip, anyway. I love Richie’s growth and eventual confidence in this story. He’s warm and caring and sweet. He wants to keep his family together, but he also wants his own life. His conflict, although he is not the POV character in this story, is at the forefront of many scenes.
The theme of family and choosing those to be in one’s family is prominent in this story. Skip’s life and family in contrast with Richie’s is definitive. But the way they build a family around them, especially Skip, without realizing it is what this book is about.
Everything about this story is perfect—from the rec league to Skip’s job, from the bumpy road to the amazing cast of characters. I love it. And I want more. I’ve already put in my request for Mason and Jefferson. I’m crossing my fingers that it comes to life soon. I highly, highly recommend Amy Lane’s Winter Ball.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.