double play coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Orion Coulter knows he has been pushing away his Vikings teammates, but he is dealing with a grief he doesn’t know how to handle. Orion’s best friend and brother-in-law, Cary, has ALS and he is declining fast. Orion has no idea how to cope with the idea of a world without Cary in it, and so he has skipped spring training to be with him. But Cary needs some space to process things too and so he encourages Orion to use a vacation rental in France that he booked for him and his wife, but can no longer use. Orion finds himself surprised at how soothing life is in the tiny town where he is able to slow down and take things one day at a time.

Hervé’s life has pretty much gone off the rails. He was a drug addict and an arrogant asshole, surrounding himself with other pretty but horrible people who made him feel just a bit better about himself. Hervé also made a mess of things with his boyfriend and his best friend, and the men rightfully want nothing to do with him. Hervé embarrassed himself with his bad behavior the last time he saw them and knows Pietro and Thierry both hate him, and he doesn’t blame them. But not long ago, Hervé had a moment of reckoning as he collapsed on the red carpet, hit his head, and almost died. During treatment, his doctors learned Hervé has narcolepsy, causing him to fall asleep at random times, as well as to lose control of his body and be unable to move. With his life in chaos, Hervé is spending time in a village in France, trying to get used to his condition and find a way to be a better person than he has been.

When Orion and Hervé meet, there seems to be an opportunity for a friendship — or maybe even more. That is until Hervé and Orion recognize each other and realize that the men Hervé so wronged, Pietro and Thierry, are Orion’s good friends and teammates. Hervé knows that the men will never forgive him, nor does he think he deserves it. But he is working on himself, working on being the man he wants to be and having a future that makes him happy, rather than the miserable, horrible man he used to be. And Orion sees that in Hervé, can tell that Hervé is not the man he once was and that there is a chance that there could really be something between them. But even if the men can move forward from the terrible past, there is still Cary’s diagnosis looming and Orion will have to face the reality of his best friend’s death. However, with Hervé by his side, the loss may just be easier to handle.

Double Play is third and final book in E.M. Lindsey’s Hit and Run series. The books come full circle as we see the return of Hervé, a man who is very much the villain in the first story, Switch-Hitter. I was really curious about this one as Hervé is definitely not a sympathetic character in any way in the first book and I wondered how Lindsey would build his redemption arc. And I think the author takes an interesting approach in that Hervé fully acknowledges not only his bad behavior, but also that he is not owed forgiveness by those he hurt. He is actively trying to be a better person, to build for himself a future where he is someone he can be proud of, and to find a way to happiness going forward. But he also knows that he cannot put the burden of expecting forgiveness on those he hurt and that if the men never speak to him again and want nothing to do with him, he will have to accept that. I think it was nice to see that acknowledgement that forgiveness is not something he is owed in this situation, but instead he has to find a way to be better for himself, not so others will absolve him. I think the redemption journey works well, as we learn more about Hervé’s past and how he learned to put up those walls. But we also see how much he has changed and how he is such a different person than before and has moved forward in a positive way.

Much of the book takes place in France as the men end up in the same small village and get to know one another. There is just a lovely sense of place as they live these quiet lives and both men are trying to sort themselves out. They give comfort to one another and a sense of friendship that helps the other move forward. And this is especially important for Orion, as he faces Cary’s impending death. This story does deal quite directly with the death of a loved one, so be aware if this is a sensitive subject for you. Lindsey handles it so well, even as it is devastating. But I liked the way that the story plays with these themes of moving forward, of living your life every day, and of being the person you want to be right now because you never know what is to come.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between the men, but the relationship does seem to jump forward quickly and kind of took me off guard. At one point, I felt like the men had this nice friendship and attraction building, and the next minute they are in love, and I never really saw that transition happening. They just felt suddenly from here to there and it felt a little too abrupt for me.

Overall, I think this is a great ending to the series. I love the way the books tie together and bring the storyline and the characters back around. As always in their books, Lindsey really develops the characters of these men so well and I enjoyed their journey a lot.

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