Title: Winter Ball
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
At a Glance: I could do schmoopy Amy Lane every single day.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Through a miserable adolescence and a lonely adulthood, Skipper Keith has dreamed of nothing but family. The closest he gets is the rec league soccer team he coaches after work—and his star player and best friend, Richie Scoggins.
One brisk night in late October, a postpractice convo in Richie’s car turns into a sexual encounter neither of them expected—nor want to forget. Soon Skip and Richie are living for the weekends and their winter league soccer games—and the games they enjoy off the field. Through broken noses, holiday decorating, and the killer flu, they learn more about each other than they ever dreamed possible. Every new discovery takes them further beyond the boundaries of the soccer field and into the infinite possibilities of the best relationship of Skipper’s life.
Skipper can’t dream of a better family than Richie—but Richie’s got real family entanglements he can’t shake off. Skipper needs to convince Richie to stay with him beyond winter ball so the relationship they started on the field might become their happy future in real life!
Review: Christopher “Skipper” Keith has a decent life. He likes his job Ok. He LOVES his rec league soccer team. And, he really digs hanging out with his best friend Richie, who he started in the league with six years ago. Skip earned his nickname when he accidentally fell into coaching the team and it stuck. As it turns out, he’s an excellent coach, so the name fits him completely. Skip wants more than just a decent life, though…he wants a family. He wants something or someone to come home to. He wants to know he belongs somewhere, and that he’d be missed if he was gone.
Richie Scoggins also loves the rec league team he plays on with Skipper. His workdays are filled with working at his father’s scrap yard, and being bullied by his step-brothers. No. Fun. At all. His own father makes him pay an outrageous amount of rent to live in his above-garage apartment. To say his home life is unsatisfying would be putting it mildly. He can’t imagine a better way to fill his free time than hanging out with Skipper and the guys, doing basically the only thing that makes him happy.
Gah. What can I say about Skip and Richie?? These guys are fantastic. SO perfect together. They just get each other. And, even more than that, they need each other. Amy Lane couldn’t have written them any better. They are naïve, sweet, honest, and real. I loved the conversation in the car that started it all – how it just never clicked that girls didn’t do it for them, and they were both, “Yeah! Right?” So good. They learned about sex together – they had to have a LOT of sex, because learning – and made each other feel, really for the first time in their lives, that they mattered, really mattered. Skip doesn’t feel lonely when he’s with Richie, and Richie feels safe when he’s with Skip. I loved that they weren’t afraid to be vulnerable with each other. They really are amazing together.
Skip is so dedicated to making a home, because he so desperately needs that solid foundation; when he and Richie become involved romantically, it makes his dream even bigger. In fact, it’s no longer a dream but a reality that Richie shares with him. Them decorating Skip’s house together, and sharing those intimate moments there, is perfection. They’re just two guys figuring shit out, and it works on every level.
I’m a big wimp, so “angst and pain Amy Lane” is always a rough ride for me. Awesome – but rough. I could do schmoopy Amy Lane every single day, though. Winter Ball is romantic and sweet, and funny and touching. I loved these guys and their journey so much. And the supporting cast was fabulous as well! I adored Skip’s co-worker and friend, Carpenter, whose family was also great. And, I absolutely loooved Mason Hayes, AKA “Gentleman Caller.” Ha! I’m so hoping that we’ll get to see more of him (and of Richie and Skip and Carpenter, of course) in the future! Another solid, enjoyable read from one of my favorite authors!
You can buy Winter Ball here: