Note: This ARC was provided by IndiGo Marketing and Design in exchange for an honest review.
"Tell me how you feel," he whispered.
"Like there's no going back."
And as the words left Nico's kiss-swollen lips, Jake recognized the truth deep in his bones.
A hot veteran catcher who's lost his love for the game and an equally hot rookie pitcher who's out to prove he can be a winner--sounds like the beginning of an intriguing M/M sports romance, right? But Reading the Signs is actually one of the few books that lives up to the whole sports romance sub-genre and turns out to be even more. Author Keira Andrews mentions in her note in the novel that she loves baseball and she doesn't scrimp or gloss over anything sports-related in the story. I could imagine myself sitting in the clubhouse watching the players prep before a game or riding the bench and keeping an eye on the plays being called by Jake Fitzgerald to Nico Agresta. See, I've read many a "sports romance" that didn't really have much to say in terms of the sport featured in the book, serving as nothing more than a backdrop to the romance and sex going on. In the case of Reading the Signs, we get baseball, romance, sex, and all the complications that come with being two star athletes in the closet. And yup, I loved every single bit of this.
The book starts off with Jake Fitzgerald getting trade from San Francisco to Ottawa, and while Canada is where he was born and grew up, he's spent nearly half his life in the elsewhere as a major league ball player. Now thirty-four, Jake just wants to close out his career as quietly as possible, having lost his passion for the game the same time he and his best friend went their separate ways. But he's the veteran that's supposed to be the leader that his younger Capital teammates can look up to and want to emulate. When he's paired with twenty-two-year-old rookie pitcher Nico Agresta, he's surprised to see just how he's grown from the thirteen-year-old younger brother of his teammate to the gorgeous physical specimen that's before him. They create a good partnership, but Nico is still hot-headed and stressed out. When an encounter leads to the realization that they're both gay, Jake insists that nothing more can happen between them. But if they're both reading the signs right, this could be the beginning of something more...
Jake and Nico may both be gay and in the closet but Jake has been with other men over the years while Nico has repressed his sexuality ever since he heard his father's homophobic slurs. They both have issues that they need to face, although thankfully, the age difference wasn't one of them. I say "thankfully" because it could have been an issue but it's been tackled many times over in other books and I'm just glad it wasn't some taboo thing here. They are, however, at different stages in their careers, and while Jake is able to provide Nico with a whole new kind of way to get a handle on the pressure he puts on himself, Nico is also able to bring back that spark to ignite that love for the game that Jake has sorely been lacking. Then there are the family issues that Nico has because he isn't out to his father, siblings, and grandmother, unlike Jake, whose sexuality wasn't a secret to his parents and a select few. The homophobia was handled and resolved in a way I so appreciated and admired because there was an honesty to it that is often lacking.
This story could have taken the same path that other books before it has taken, but Keira Andrews has set it apart by giving it a fair amount of authenticity when it came to baseball and the realities of acceptance when it comes to one's sexuality. The book pleasantly surprised me more than once, and for a voracious a reader as I am, that can often be difficult to do. There's angst and drama, but don't expect this to be a totally heavy read. There's quite a bit of humor that's been thrown into the mix, a lot of which were courtesy of the supporting characters, each of whom played significant roles in the lives of Jake and Nico as separate individuals and later on as a couple. At the end of the day, however, this really was Jake and Nico's story and it was one about overcoming self-doubt, re-discovering love--both for baseball and for a significant other, and the varied forms of acceptance. Reading the Signs is one of my top sports romance reads--whether straight or gay--this year and won't be my last Keira Andrews read. It gets five-plus stars. ♥
Date Read: 08 October 2016
Learn more about Keira Andrews.
Purchase Reading the Signs on Amazon.