line drive coverRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

 

James “Scooter” Harney is a Major League Baseball pitcher in Denver. He had a rough childhood and ended up in prison, but his skills at baseball were enough to turn his life around. Now, James is a pro athlete, rich, famous, and owning a string of businesses he keeps as investments. If deep down he is jealous of his best friend Pietro’s new relationship, well, James knows he is not the kind of guy meant for a connection like that.

One day, James drives by a bookstore for sale in town and, on somewhat of a whim, he decides to buy it. James isn’t sure what makes this store so appealing; after his time in jail, James finds books bring up some bad memories. But something about the store calls to James and he makes an offer. He also meets a teenage boy named Phoenix who lets James know the old bookstore was a special place and he better not mess it up. As James befriends Phoenix, he learns more about Phoenix’s dad and the two eventually meet. It’s rocky, as James can’t stop himself from offering some advice to Ridley about how he is smothering Phoenix, but once they get past that, the attraction between the men flares.

Ridley had hopes of his own baseball career, and it looked like things may be on the way until an injury sidelined him. Ridley is coming off a divorce and has primary custody of Phoenix, but it is not easy raising a teen, particularly since his ex-wife travels a lot. Ridley knows that he is overprotective over Phoenix. Having a transgender son who also has cerebral palsy and seizures means that Ridley wants to protect Phoenix from anything that could hurt him or anyone that is mean to him. But he knows he is also smothering his son and causing conflict between them. Ridley doesn’t take too kindly to James’ unsolicited advice, but they are able to move past it when he realizes that James really cares about Phoenix.

Befriending James rekindles that spark that Ridley has long been ignoring — the attraction to men that has always been there, but he’s never had the nerve to act upon. When Ridley gives in to his desire for James, the two men are completely into one another. But Ridley is just coming to terms with his bisexuality, not to mention having the responsibility of being a mostly single parent of a teenager. He can’t imagine someone as rich, gorgeous, and famous as James would possibly want to be with a high school baseball coach long term. And James knows he is a bad bet, someone with a rocky past who isn’t cut out for relationships. Neither man thinks it can work, but neither can stay away from the other either. Now, James and Ridley have to decide if they are willing to take a chance on love and have the future they have always wanted together.

Line Drive is the second book in E.M. Lindsey’s Hit and Run series and I just loved this one. It is sexy and romantic and sweet, with such great characters and a well-developed relationship. The story works as a standalone, though Pietro from Switch-Hitter is a prominent side character as James’ best friend. But you can easily jump in here no problem.

I enjoyed the set up here with James first meeting Phoenix and getting to know the teen before he meets Ridley. It gives us a chance to see James interacting as a regular person, rather than the famous baseball star, as well as for him to bond with Phoenix outside of his relationship with Ridley. Of course, James can’t help but jump in to give Ridley some unsolicited advice, which doesn’t get the men off on the best foot, but a friendship ends up building out of that. As Ridley comes to acknowledge his bisexuality, the two begin a sexual relationship and they are quite steamy together. Ridley is new to being with men, but he is confident and eager and they make a great pair. The real hurdle here is that neither man thinks he is worth enough for the other, so they try to keep things light and casual. But the connection is strong and the men fall hard and they each need to accept that they are worthy of the love and companionship being offered. I loved the way Lindsey combines the heat and the tenderness and they are just such an appealing couple.

I also enjoyed Phoenix and appreciated how Lindsey explores his character as a teen who is both transgender and disabled. Phoenix is strong and confident and doesn’t take any crap, but Ridley is so worried that he tends toward the overprotective. He wants to pre-empt any hurt that may come Phoenix’s way, but this means he is stifling his son and it causes conflict between them. I think the story gives enough focus on Ridley and Phoenix’s relationship to round out the plot, without distracting from Ridley and James together.

This series focuses on professional baseball players, and we do see James play a bit, as well as hear about his life as a pro-athlete. I think there is just enough time spent on the sports side to ground James as a MLB player, but not so much that if you aren’t a sports fan you will find yourself overloaded.

I am really enjoying this series and we continue to meet side characters who I think will make for great stories of their own. At the end, we learn who is coming up for the next book, and I’ll admit it is quite a surprise. I am really eager to see how it all plays out.

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