Title: Reading the Signs
Author: Keira Andrews
Publisher: KA Books
Length: 294 Pages
At a Glance: Despite my dislike of baseball, I absolutely loved this book!
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: This hot-headed rookie needs discipline–on and off the field.
Pitcher Nico Agresta is desperate to live up to his family’s baseball legacy. Since he was a teenager crushing on his big brother’s teammate, he’s known he can’t act on his desires. His father’s made it clear there should be no queers on the field, but if Nico can win Rookie of the Year like his dad and brother did, maybe he can prove he’s worthy after all.
At 34, veteran catcher Jake Fitzgerald just wants to finish out his contract and retire. His team doesn’t have a prayer of making the playoffs, but who needs the stress? Jake lost his passion for the game–and life–after driving away the man he loved, and he swore he’d never risk his heart again.Then he’s traded to a team that wants a vet behind the plate to tame their new star pitcher.
Jake is shocked to find the gangly kid he once knew has grown into a gorgeous young man. But tightly wound Nico’s having trouble controlling his temper in his quest for perfection, and Jake needs to teach him patience and restraint on the mound.When their push and pull explodes into the bedroom, Nico and Jake will both learn how much they’ll risk for love.
This gay sports romance features men who have been repressing their feelings far too long, light BDSM, an age difference, sweaty locker rooms, and a happy ending.
Review: I’ll be honest in saying I could give a fig about baseball. In fact, I try to avoid viewing it on my television at all costs (I know it’s Un-American of me, as I am informed by the large group of rabid SF fans I am SURROUNDED by day in and out). That being said, even despite my dislike of baseball, I absolutely loved this book.
I’ll admit there was a lot of terminology that I didn’t quite understand, but managed to sort of piece together regarding the sport aspect of this book. Really, in the end, I found it no different than when I am reading a historical or a book which takes place in another county and uses terms I’m not familiar with, so it didn’t detract from the general story for me.
In true Kiera Andrews fashion, the characters—every single one—is well written and complex, with secondary characters that are dimensional and add to the value of the story. Jake and Nico are realistic in thoughts and actions once you understand their backgrounds and personalities.
Nico is a mess. He is all emotion and feelings when it comes to his love for baseball; he is hot-headed, confused and naïve in a lot of ways. His family clearly sucks at communication, and he carries a crap-ton of baggage and misplaced blame. Coming from a legacy family in baseball (both his Dad and brother were/are major leaguers who got Rookie of the Year, and rock the sport) only adds to his stress. Because of his guilty feelings, he forces himself to try to be a perfectionist in the sport, to be better than his Dad and Brother; the amount of pressure he puts on himself causes both mental and physical trauma.
Then there is Jake, with his jaded view of the sport. After a crushing loss of friendship with his best friend, his love for the sport diminished. Add to that, that he has lived in the closet (for the most part), barely making emotional connections because of his career, and his body is starting to feel the effects the sport has had on it (apparently, it is not common for a six-five man to play catcher because of the squatting and stuff—see I learned things in this book!!!) has all added up to him being there in body, but the sheer joy the sport brought him long ago faded, and he is counting down to retirement. He is even-keeled and dominant, but not in a bossy way. His level head and ability to maintain patience and listen give him the ability to guide a young Nico during his rookie season into better controlling his emotions.
The story is a romance with a light-BDSM aspect to their relationship, and it all just worked. Both characters needed certain elements the other gave. The scenes are raw and messy, but also sweet. I really appreciated the chemistry was in all aspects of their relationship—the physical intimacy and the emotional one they provided for each other was clearly present through the entire book, on and off the field, and in the bedroom, making those scenes all the better.
There is plenty of angst, but it’s realistic, from the initial attraction to the confusion on where to go once the line has been crossed; then, how to pursue a relationship while remaining in the closet, and the ever-present obstacle for many—family. The fact there was communication between both MCs also was a pleasant change. So often a book’s angst is based on lack of communication, and if both parties had just talked it could have been resolved. But in this one, Jake and Nico communicate fairly well; it takes time for them to get the words out, or admit to their feelings, but it does happen. Their obstacles come from the feelings and situations created by their pasts. Their relationship heals them both in different ways; the angst was more from their pasts and not a lack of communication in the present.
The ending was somewhat predictable, and I kind of had a guess it would go down the way it did mid-way through the book, as it is a pretty commonly used ending—especially when you have the veteran player and rookie aspect. So, though the ending was well written, it was a little bit of a let down in the last couple of chapters just because I didn’t feel anything new was brought to the table on wrapping up their HEA.
Even with my minor niggle about the ending, I can honestly say I was immensely taken with this story. The baseball aspect was written well enough that I was able to follow fairly easily, even not knowing much about the sport. I almost was intrigued enough to watch a game just to see it (almost, not enough to actually do it, mind you), which is more than any other book about baseball has done for me.
If you are a fan of age-gap, veteran-rookie, light-BDSM and just a well-written story about two men who are imperfect, but perfect for one another, I totally recommend this one!
You can buy Reading the Signs here: