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Elaine White's Life in Books

I love reading, and as a writer I like to broaden my scope by reading outside of my comfort zone, so that I can learn more about my craft.

Currently reading

Baron of Blood: 1 (Dawning Era Series)
C. N. Faust
All Our Foolish Schemes: The Creepers Saga Book 2
Raymond Esposito
Fright Radio
Noel Dandes
A Dark Heart (The Elders and Welders Chronicles)
Margaret Foxe
Prince of Hearts: The Elders and Welders Chronicles Bk. 1
Margaret Foxe
Young Love Murder (Young Assassins 1)
April Brookshire
Before the Full Moon Rises: 1 (Chronicles of the Secret Prince)
MJ Bell
Once Upon a Darker Time
M.J. Bell
Guardian of Souls
Lee Appleby
In the Beginning
Abby L. Vandiver
SPOILER ALERT!

Book Review: The Homerun Series, by Sloan Johnson

Book One: Wild Pitch

 

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Book – Wild Pitch (Homerun #1)

Author – Sloan Johnson

Star rating - ★★★★☆ (3.5)

Ease of reading – Easy to read

Cover - Nice

Suitable Title - Yes

Would I read it again – Not sure

 

WARNING: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

Honestly, I waited a long time to read these books, because I hate starting a series, then having to wait forever for the next instalment. But when the opportunity to sign up for an ARc of book 3 came up, I took the opportunity.

I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong - the story is good and the characters are great, but I had a few niggles that stopped it from being as fantastic as I expected it to be.

 

Cons

 

1 - I didn't feel any chemistry between the main characters outside of the bedroom. When they're inside the bedroom, the chemistry is sizzling, but outside of it, all they really do is argue, have misunderstandings that don't really make sense and lack communication skills. Since these two have been bestie's for nearly seven years, it doesn't make sense to me that the physical relationship should be nearly flawless, but the personal side is a disaster.

2 – They're more hands-on and sexualised than I expected, when I began reading it. Knowing they were both in the closet, having waited seven years to be together, I get why they would be eager to race ahead and enjoy what they'd missed out, but it didn't fit with their characters or their history.

3 - I get that Mason kept a really big secret for seven years, but so did Sean and yet, there's no mention of that. I feel like that should have been mentioned, somewhere. Sean never once confessed his feelings, yet this never came up as an issue. I feel like this was as important as Mason never admitting that he was bi, but it is NEVER mentioned, after they get together.

4 - Although Mason has never been with a guy before, he jumps at the chance for a physical relationship with Sean, which I kind of understand. He's been waiting for seven years, but there's not even an ounce of hesitation, no uncertainty and no lack of confidence or knowledge about going through with it. Yes, research and waiting for it can eliminate the 'no knowledge' part, but there should be some internal doubts, concern, hesitation or whatever. Instead, Mason is the one always saying “Yes” and Sean the one putting it off.

5 – When Mason confesses to what's going through his head, because Sean asks him to, suddenly it's wrong. Not only does Sean act like it's wrong, but Mason still believes that he was wrong to speak his mind, weeks later. This is part of the lack of communication I spoke about earlier – neither really takes the time to evaluate or think about what they're doing/saying. They act/speak and then react. They're no consideration or understanding, until it's all blown up.

 

Pros

 

Individually, I love these guys. Mason is quirky and fun, a little more easy-going than Sean, but going through some epiphany about his life. Sean is the serious ball player, with a plan of how his life should be, and he can only really let loose when he's drunk. Both are in the closet, but are tempted to come out, for each other.

The story started interestingly enough, with a Prologue about Mason's wedding day, when Sean tried to stop him from making a mistake. It was sad to see that Mason thought he HAD to get married, but I knew it would only be a matter of time before something happened, to change the way Mason and Sean saw their lives.

There's no mention of how long it's been, between the Prologue and Chapter 1, until much, much later in the story and this was really confusing, for me. I didn't quite know how long had passed or what that might mean for the characters, so it took me a while to settle into the story, after the Prologue.

I love drunk Sean, but I'm a little confused by it. Everyone keeps saying that he's not a heavy drinker, that he can always tell his limit, yet he gets really drunk on two separate occasions. He's a really fun drunk, but it feels like Sean getting drunk is a way for them to avoid talking about things until later.

Mason says “There will be time for us later.” but the whole way through this book, that never materialised.

I was a little worried about the whole 'baseball' theme, because I know nothing about it. Also, I'm in the UK, so some of the terms that are used in US-based books really stump me, but this one was the exception. The baseball was in terms that I could understand (though it took a while to find out what DL meant) and there were no American terms that I had trouble understanding.

 

Overall

 

I think the main problem I had with this book was that, although it had amazing potential, it was just a little rushed. From the set up of the Prologue, I expected it to take until maybe halfway or later, for Sean and Mason to figure out they wanted each other and were willing to take the risk of admitting it. However, this came around the 20% mark and everything after that is them figuring out their relationship.

That would normally be fine, but everything seems to happen really quickly. They jump into their physical relationship, though they wait until after Mason's divorce is through, before actually having sex. And, despite all the misunderstandings, this never hampers their physical relationship and they don't really make a real attempt to talk things through. All the stages of the “romance” aspect of the story are missing for me, leaving it a little flat in places.

 

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Book Two: Curve Ball

 

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Book – Curveball (Homerun #2)

Author – Sloan Johnson

Star rating - ★★★★

Ease of reading – Easy to read

Cover - Nice

Suitable Title - Yes

Would I read it again – Not sure

 

WARNING: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

As the second book in the series, I'm glad that it carried over the lives of the previous couple, in a small way. I also love the new couple: Jason and Cam. I loved that Cam wasn't a player, but a regular guy who had no real interest in sport. It was a refreshing change to the setup of book 1.

However, I do feel almost as if these first two books of the series don't belong in the same series, or at least by the same author. Book 2 has everything that I was missing from book 1, which is a shame, because they both deserved the same level of plot.

 

Cons

 

1 – There were a few typos in this, that confused me. I'm not labelling them, but I am pretty sure there's an instance where one minute it's Cam with pierced nipples and the next it's Jason. That was confusing and stalled my reading, as I went back to take a second look.

2 – the plot, again, stalls in the middle. Around the 50% mark, the relationship and the plot stagnates and begins to lose steam.

3 – about halfway through, the relationship becomes more like “friends with benefits” until around 80% of the book, which is really disappointing. I get the point it's supposed to put across, but the chemistry that makes this couple work disappears during this time.

4 - Reviewers noted that women are portrayed as degrading stereotypes in this series and I have to agree. It's the one thing that lets the characterisation down.

All the women are shown as dumb, naïve, fanciful, chatty and with only an interest in relationships or talking about them, or ogling the men. NONE of the women in this series have expressed any knowledge of their husband/partners work – baseball – or any interest in it, other than ogling players and cheering them on. There was briefly a mention of beer and pizza loving women, who could talk about the game, but they're all off-page and mentioned in passing. The women shown, as actual characters, are all prissy and self-involved WAGS, with nothing better to do than socialise and watch games. None of them are portrayed as strong, independent women, which is a real shame.

 

Pros

 

This book had all the chemistry I wanted to read between Sean and Mason. Jason and Cam, from the minute they meet, are intense, problematic and amazing together. I love them individually AND together, which wasn't something I could say about book one. This couple fit together in ways that I can't put into words.

I remembered the Adam backstory from book 1 and loved that it wasn't only mentioned, but it was explored in subtle and brilliant ways. I really felt Jason's pain and confusion, his hesitation to get into anything serious with Cam, and I could feel his connection with Adam, who wasn't even an on-page character.

Cam was this bundle of feisty fireworks! Him and Mason together were genius and a real hoot. They were so much fun that I giggled and chuckled through most of the book, whenever they shared a scene. Cam has such a great sense of humour and that really comes through.

I also really love the one thing that didn't make sense in book 1 – Cam and Jason have REAL, logical, realistic reactions to the situations and conversations that happen. They're both happy to admit when they've made a fault and try to fix it or degrade themselves for it. And they have heated arguments and always know when to walk away or when to apologise.

 

Overall

 

As a whole, this was much better than book 1, but not without its flaws. While it gave me everything book one had been lacking – chemistry, a more thorough plot and characters that worked well together – there are still issues that make it less than the 5 stars it could have been.

 

Unfortunately, there seems to be a theme for this series:

1 – the ball player is not out of his closet

2 – the relationship/plot falters around halfway

3 – one of the characters has to “leave” for their own sake, for a few days. They have a mini-break up/fallout and then that same person turns round and apologises for something that wasn't technically their fault, though they admit they were wrong to walk away and not stick around to talk it out.

4 - communication between the characters seems to be off and on again, not a constant and not always realistic.

 

Overall, the plot is good and strong, but it's not always followed through with. There are events in this book – and the previous one – that are not explained to my satisfaction. There's one more book to read and I really hope it's all explained/answered in there, because it's a real shame that I end this story feeling like the story is incomplete. It's not an HEA, like book 1, but I don't even feel like it's a solid HFN. Only time will tell if book 3 secures that feeling or not.

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Book Three: Triple Play

 

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Book – Triple Play (Homerun #3)

Author – Sloan Johnson

Star rating - ★★★☆☆

Ease of reading – Easy to read

Cover - Nice

Suitable Title - Yes

Would I read it again – Not sure

 

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

 

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WARNING: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

I'm really not sure what to make of this one. Yes, it was good, but again there were problems that kept it from becoming great. I'm giving it a 3, mostly because of potential for what it has and could have been. Unfortunately, that isn't enough to drag it up to a 4, because there's a lot missing from this plot. That might be because there are 3 MC's that need their POV, but I'm not sure. It read as a longer book than the others, but that might just be because I didn't enjoy it as much.

 

Cons

 

1 – There was no seduction. Not Drew, Eric or Bryce had to TRY to seduce or even flirt with each other. Drew and Bryce had their set up in book 2, but even then there was no hint of seduction. It just happened. They sort of fell into each other and that's not my thing. I much prefer when they have to work at it.

2 – Again, once they started having sex, the story really dipped in plot and excitement, for around 20 or 30%. This seems to be a common theme in this series.

3 – Not much baseball. The others had games or even training to mention, but this one didn't. I understand why, but it was missed.

4 – They jumped into a poly relationship without really talking about it, thinking about it or considering what it might mean. They just considered it a natural and obvious solution, when the suggestion was presented. Before that, things were actually going great.

5 – Eric. It can pretty much be summed up in that one word. He was great through the other two books and I was excited about him getting his own story, but it fell flat for me. He didn't have any romance, just a physical attraction that was sudden and out of the blue.

6 – There are still a lot of unanswered questions, for me. Like, whether Mark was Drew's attacker, as I think he might have been. Whether Cam is still working in the kitchen of the sports centre or if he's actually got his own kitchen, because his life was basically ignored in this story, outside of the cooking show. I assume – and hope – those questions will be answered in the next book.

7 – There was a mention, at the beginning of the story, about how hard Bryce had found it to get over what happened to Adam. But, sadly, this wasn't followed through on. I thought his mental demons would be similar to Jason's and that Drew and Eric would have to help him through that, but there was literally only one mention of it and then it never reappeared. From that moment on, Bryce was the easy-going, in charge member of their trio, acting like he hadn't a problem in the world other than the teen centre, Pot of Gold.

8 – I wasn't thrilled to find out that these were the events hinted at in the Epilogue of book 2. Quite honestly, looking back, I don't think an epilogue was needed for book 2, if it was going to give this massive spoiler away about book 3's plot. I would have been more concerned about Drew, the attack and his survival and the injuries and recovery, if I hadn't already known that he was sitting watching the first cooking episode with the boys, with a cast and a bunch of bruises. I think that epilogue spoiled the surprise of the attack on Drew quite a lot.

 

Pros

 

I loved the detail and authenticity of Drew's injuries, attack and his recovery. As someone who spent a considerable amount of time in hospital, the whole aspect of not wanting company, being grumpy all the time and over-reacting is real. That part was handled really, really well.

Drew and Bryce had some really awesome chemistry in the first 50% of the story. Then, Bryce and Eric had some good chemistry around the 70%-80% mark. Unfortunately, that didn't follow through into Drew, Bryce and Eric having chemistry between all three and it never amounted to Eric and Drew having chemistry together.

I really liked that all the characters from previous stories were back again. Cam and Mason were just as great as before, Jason was just as brilliantly snarky but adorable and I even loved the addition of Cody, who will be an interesting character.

I liked the way Drew's parents accepted the poly relationship, with a little tripdation but enough trust to know that it was Drew's choice.

I also really loved the mental confusion and chaos going through Drew's head, at the start of the story, before he knew he could have Eric and Bryce at the same time.

I thought the inclusion of Pot of Gold was a great idea and it did get a lot of the plot, or at least as much as it deserved. I also loved the way that it progressed the relationship of the trio, and how it shaped what's to come next.

 

Overall

 

There were a few editing issues, as with most unedited Arc's, which made it slightly more disjointed to read than the others. I trust they'll be addressed, so I haven't taken that into account, when rating it.

Overall, I found Eric to be the odd man out. I could feel Drew's connection to Bryce, but never to Eric and I found it odd that he was the one Drew turned to, during his nightmares. Eric's part in all this felt more reaction than attraction, as both he and Drew admitted – in their POV's, but not in conversation – that they'd never had feelings for each other, until they had their first shower together. To me, that's not romance and it's not chemistry, considering how long they'd been room mates before that. I would have liked a hint of something, maybe in the previous book but definitely before that shower, to hint at a romance.

I already see that Cody and this new guy, Nick, will be the pairing for the next book. That could be interesting, because Cody is a good character and Nick seems interesting.

Again, however, there are still unanswered questions that leave me with no doubt that this is NOT the last book in the series. Sadly, as each book varies in how much I enjoy it, I can't tell if it's going to be a hit or a miss. I'll have to read it to find out.

I came away with mixed feelings about this one, so I'm including my run down of the series so far, in this review, for that reason. On one hand, I'm glad that it drifted from the almost identical plot of books 1 and 2 – two guys get together, have doubts, one walks away then comes back, and they have an HFN – but it felt disjointed to me. The plot fell flat in places, felt rushed in others. I think that although the attack on Drew was the catalyst for most of what followed, the recovery time and some of the stuff between him and Eric drifted away from the real plot and complicated the flow of the story.

Good, but not as good as the other two.

 

Series

 

There are real common themes within this series:

  • power bottoms, who have generally never/rarely bottomed before

  • the bottoms want it to hurt, want sex all the time

  • once the sex enters the story, it falters for anywhere from 20-40% of the story

  • the romance/chemistry isn't constant

  • characters have a tendency to overreact and walk away in nearly every book

  • sex solves everything

  • no sense of time – between chapters, sometimes months or years have passed, but we're not told this clearly with a timeline, but have to wait for it to slip into the story/conversation. There are mentions of months or holidays, but it's not always clear how long that it, from where we'd been before.

For me, the strongest book in the series was book 2 “Curveball” because it had the chemistry and emotional connection that the other two were lacking. This book “Triple Play” is the weakest, in my opinion. Though the plot had potential, it just didn't follow through. The chemistry was weak and flat, while the characters only gelled together when they were in a hot and heavy situation.