Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrators: Iggy Toma and Kale Williams
Length: 7 hours
Dominic Girard and Mason Maclain have been baseball teammates all through college, with Girard the catcher and Maclain the pitcher. The two have never gotten along, though Maclain doesn’t really get along with anyone. His defenses are so high that he can’t even see over them. His mother died when he was a kid and while his stepfather has financially supported him, Maclain knows he’s an unwanted obligation and his losses seem insurmountable. Girard is the opposite with a close, supportive family and Maclain is so envious it’s hard to be around them.
Maclain also is having difficulty being around Girard because the deepest parts of Maclain want him and with everything else Maclain has to deal with, he has no idea what to do with those feelings except trample them and everyone in his path. But the coach sees tension between the two and wants them to get along for the good of team and soon Girard and Maclain are sharing a room. Behind closed doors, the guys get closer than they ever imagined, but the reality is that neither knows how to act around the other in the light of day. But the pull to be together is too great and the guys have to work on getting right with themselves to be together.
Home Plate follows Bat Boy in Christina Lee’s Easton U Pirates series. Girard and Maclain are introduced in the first book and, if you want to get a feel for their full chemistry, it does start there. Maclain and Girard don’t like each other much and Maclain often pushes his teammates to their limits. Here, we get a much better understanding of Maclain and how he’s really hurt and lonely and his targeted remarks seems like his only defense. His stepfather is the only “family” he has and that relationship is so strained and Maclain aches for a family and a place to belong. His feelings for Girard are confusing to him and deep down he simply feels he’s not worth loving.
Girard has a supportive family and he spends a lot of time with them all working at the family-owned bowling alley. He feels the chemistry and the heat between him and Maclain and he has to take a delicate approach with Maclain. It’s a slow sizzle to get these guys together as they take measured steps toward the other, but they both know what they really want.
The crew from the first book appears again here and it’s always fun to see characters from previous books. I still do have issue with the way these college-level ball players are shown to exist on soda and junk food and never seem to catch much of a workout. And, they all spend a lot of time “blushing” and “flushing.” The ending was a little too off page for my tastes as Maclain finally comes into his own and then there is a gap in time between the last chapter and the epilogue making the ending underwhelming to me.
Iggy Toma and Kale Williams continue to narrate this series. Their voices are similar to the first book and while they don’t offer much in the way of distinct characters, they both do provide smooth, easy to listen to performances. Williams has a rich tone to his voice and the quality of the performances was high. Toma seemed to have more chapters with female voices and my ears don’t consider those characters his strong suit, but he did capture the sharp edge to Maclain’s personality. The tension between Girard and Maclain is evident and overall the two narrators balance each other out and make Home Plate a good story to get lost in.