Story Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrator: Piers Ryman
Length: 7 hours, 47 minutes
Given the ultimatum by his father, Sebastian chose to fight for his dreams — his band and his future career — over his relationship with Jay. But now, living in New York with the man who groomed him, who used him, who now harasses him almost daily, Seb finds himself alone with no one to turn to but his own inner dreams. Noah and Martin, his band mates and best friends, are back in London, and so is Jay. Jay won’t pick up when Seb calls, won’t answer his emails, and while Seb can’t blame him, it doesn’t stop him from trying. From regretting.
Jay is focusing on his career. Signed with West Ham United, Jay is living his dream. He’s going to play football for a living, he’s going to be out on the pitch, working with a team and putting the past behind him. There’s no room for a gay soccer player; besides, he’s too busy with training to think about Seb every second of every day. Not that it stops him.
When West Ham heads to New York for a match, Jay sees it as a sign and makes the decision to see Seb one last time. To say goodbye. To get some closure. If only he could; if only the sight of Seb didn’t make his heart twist into knots. For Seb, Jay’s visit is a second chance at the life he didn’t know he wanted, at having love in his life. If only it were that easy. If only the past would let him go.
Break Through is the second volume in the District Line series, which centers around a would-be rock star and a would-be football star (soccer, for us Americans) who fall into bed, fall in love, and then fall apart. You’re better off having read the first book — and it’s a good book, so it’s worth the read. There are mentions of past abuse and maybe dubious consent issues, but the focus is entirely on Seb and Jay and their romance.
Sebastian is a young man who has had his life planned out for so long he can’t see any other path but the one he’s worked so hard for, suffered so long for. He wants to be a rock star, he wants to play music — good music, his music — with Noah and Martin, and the only way to do that, he thinks, is with his father’s money. Which means, when his father sends him to New York, he goes. When Stephen comes along for the ride, Seb is forced to live with the man who groomed him (though he waited for Seb to be of age before sleeping with him), who now harasses him in an effort to rekindle their sexual relationship. Stephen wants power over Seb, and with Seb doing his best at his father’s business, with no time or interest in Stephen, the older man just can’t help but push harder, even as it pushes Seb away.
Seb used to turn to drinking and sex to get back at his father, to get back at Stephen — to show them both how little they mattered to him. Now, while he’s still drinking, he’s stopped the one-night stands since the only person he wants touching him is someone who isn’t here anymore. But, when push comes to shove and it looks like their chance at love are in opposition to Jay’s dreams, Seb is willing to let go. To back off and walk away for Jay’s sake. Because he wants Jay to be happy. Seb would give up everything for Jay, but he can’t stand the thought of Jay losing anything for Seb.
Jay, too, is focused on his life. He can’t — won’t — do anything to fuck it up. In school, he was on the path to a professional career at 18, but a burst of temper cost him that chance. So, now, older and with so much time lost, he pushes himself harder than ever before. It’s his dream, and his father’s dream, and really, it’s all he knows. And yet … when he has the chance, in New York, to see Seb, he does. He goes AWOL, leaving the hotel the team are supposed to be in all so he can go to Seb. Jay knows, even as he tells himself it’s one last time, one final farewell, that it’s no such thing.
Jay has to find a way balance his dreams against his life, and what it means to be an out gay footballer. And yet, Jay also knows that there’s a chance, if he’s strong enough, to have them both. If he’s willing to face the fans, the flack from his own team, and the shit from every team to play against them, from the press and the coaches and the sponsors … but only if he’s willing to fight for it. To risk everything he’s ever dreamed of, wanted, struggled for, all for the man who left him for his father’s money.
I’ve read all three books in this series and enjoyed them. I also enjoy the audio books narrated by Piers Ryman, but there are some issues with the narration here. The American accents, in this book, are .. well, not good. Tom (an American friend of Jay’s back in London) and the office staff, male or female, all sound very similar in a sort of robot voice. It’s not terrible, but it’s very noticeable. It’s like an English telemarketer and, once I got used to it, it was fine. Fortunately, the secretary doesn’t show up all that often. Unfortunately, Seb’s mother makes an appearance in this book.
She’s a New Yorker with a bit of a Brooklyn accent and, I hate to say it, but she sounds like a stereotypical good-guy/mob flunky, who also doesn’t sound all that female, reading very quickly from a script. It didn’t work at all, for me. Especially in the moments where she is having an emotional heart-to-heart with Seb where there is supposed to be sincerity and hurt and I found it to be more amusing than affecting. Otherwise, Seb and Jay’s voices come across clear and filled with personality, and I had no trouble with telling Noah and Martin apart, or even the football team. It’s just the American voices. I hate to say it, but for book 2, you might want to stick with the ebook.