Catcher Jake Fitzgerald is heading toward the end of his baseball career. He has lost a lot of his love for the game and is pretty much just riding out the next two years until he retires. But Jake’s world gets shaken up when he is unexpectedly traded to a new team in Ottawa and he suddenly must not only relocate, but get used to an entirely different team.
Jake has been brought in to help with their pitchers, particularly young sensation Nico Agresta who has the talent, but not always the temperament, to be a star. Both Nico’s father and brother played professional baseball and he feels incredible pressure to live up to their legacy. For Nico, nothing less than perfection will do if he has any hope of making his family proud.
When Nico was younger, Jake was his brother’s teammate and Nico still remembers the summer Jake spent with them. As a teen, Nico fantasized about being with Jake and now as an adult, the attraction is still there. But Nico knows he can never come out — according to his dad there can be no gays in baseball. Despite that, his attraction to Jake continues and soon it is clear Jake feels the same way.
Soon the attraction between them is too much to resist for both of them and Jake and Nico begin an affair that fulfills both of them, in particular Jake’s desire for control and Nico’s for light submission. As professional athletes and with Nico’s family, however, coming out doesn’t seem to be an option. But as the relationship grows from casual to more serious, Nico and Jake have to figure out if they can have the relationship and the future that they want together.
I really enjoyed this baseball romance and think Keira Andrews has done a wonderful job building some great characters in Nico and Jake. It is a sports story, but it is also so much more, and I think even people who aren’t fans of baseball can find so much to enjoy here. While Andrews has the story rooted in the game and the men’s experience as pro athletes, the sports side really serves as a vehicle to showcase their characters and personalities. With Nico, when we watch him pitch, we can feel his anxiety and his drive for perfection. We can see how stressed he is, how his brain is on this constant loop of “must win.” And for Jake, we can see his leadership, the way he watches everything and guides the team and helps the pitchers focus and stay on track (I had no idea what a key role the catcher plays in baseball!) Andrews really uses the game as a way to highlight these men and what is driving them.
In addition to the sports theme, there are a lot of other elements here that I enjoy. We have an age difference between the older, more jaded and weary Jake, and the young Nico who is just getting started in his career and incredibly driven. We also have two men who knew each other years before, not in a sexual way of course, because Nico was too young. But we get that reuniting when they see each other and realize that there is now a real spark. And for Nico in particular, we get a story of being true to yourself, of learning to not worry so much what others may think. Nico is mired in guilt and fear and worry with regard to his family, and it is really rewarding to see him work through his issues and also to see that many of his concerns are unfounded.
I love Andrews’ writing and this was another really great story. Even if you are not a sports fan, there is so much to enjoy here. And if you do like a baseball romance, I think you will find this one to showcase the sport and the feelings behind being an athlete really well. So I definitely loved this one and would certainly recommend it.