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Professional baseball player Harmon “Hawk” Kiel was a rookie sensation with dazzling talent and an arrogant attitude to match. But he’s hit his sophomore slump, and his natural talent seems to have deserted him, along with the confidence of his team and the media’s approval. During the All Star Break he hits rock bottom, gets careless, and sensational pictures of him at gay clubs go viral. All at once he’s outed, and out of a job.
When he’s dealt to the Loggerheads, a worse-than-terrible expansion team in Charleston, South Carolina, he can’t imagine he’ll get a warm reception—nor does he particularly want one. But it’s the only chance at redemption he has.
There he meets Caleb Jackson, a former player who’s part of the Loggerheads organization, someone who tries to be the friend Harmon so desperately needs. But Caleb has a secret too, one more gut-wrenching than anything Harmon can imagine. Together they try to put the past behind them, rediscover their love of the game—and maybe even find the love of their lives.
Force Play is about a guy, Harmon, outed, not on his own terms but because he was careless. It wasn’t planned or thought about, but it happened. While already having a bad season, and actions that make the world to take notice of him in a whole new light, encourage his team’s decision to trade him out.
When I say he’s outed because he was careless, the carelessness was a result of that last straw breaking. Harmon was already unhappy with his play, unhappy with his team, unhappy with his life. Something had to give and after a night of oblivion, it gave in a very painful way.
I appreciated the situation of the story. I liked the baseball aspect, for the most part. I enjoyed Harmon’s new team mates. The thing I had the most difficulty with was his attraction and growing relationship with Caleb. There is a surface attraction right off the bat, but I never felt anything beyond that besides deep friendship. I only saw two men seeking comfort in each other, using each other for different reasons, each with their own demons to vanquish. Their interactions and dialogue felt off in the first half of the book. Not until about 60% did I start to get a good feel for them as a unit. I think most of this was due to a writing style that felt choppy for most of the book, only to even out in the end.
All in all, this was not bad, just not my cup of tea, I think. But I might be a hard grader.