Review: Fair Catch (Players of L.A. #2) by Leigh Carman
One night of passion.
They never expected to see each other again.
They were wrong.
Tobias Bennett is a quiet and unassuming man who teaches yoga and enjoys parkour. Though he is proud to be gay, an abusive relationship with a domineering man has left Tobias wary of romance, and he keeps to himself in his tidy Los Angeles apartment.
Pro football player Sullivan Archer is Tobias’s complete opposite: loud, brash, fond of the spotlight… and deep in the closet. When a hamstring injury sends Van to Tobias as part of his therapy, neither of them is expecting to come face-to-face with his one-night stand. Now they’re stuck together throughout Van’s healing process, and the close proximity will force them to deal with some hard truths. For Tobias, it’s realizing his hookup is a celebrity. For Van, it means accepting that he likes Tobias more than he wanted. They’ll both have to acknowledge that if they choose to pursue a relationship, their lives will change in big ways.
Told in dual first person POV, Fair Catch is a new adult romance (I use that term in the loosest of terms) between 22 year old yoga instructor, parkour enthusiast, genius techie and millionaire 5' 6" Tobias "Toby" Bennett and 25 year old Superbowl winning, best NFL wide receiver in the league, 6' 6" alpha male Sullivan "Van" Archer.
That's a lot of hats these main characters wear. Usually when I read a story that give their MC holds many titles, it's used as the depth and characteristics that story lacks.
So is the case with Fair Catch. It was the equivalent of reading about paper thin types play acting a romance. I'm not a fan of those.
Also this story doesn't have trigger warnings, so let me get those out the way: domestic abuse, gay bashing, attempted rape and domestic violence.
The story starts out roughly, Toby (the smaller, beautiful owner of crystalline eyes) is herded into an office but a club owner (best friend of Van) for closeted Van Archer's pick of ass for the night. Toby was celibate and allegedly wary of others since his last relationship, one with a controlling abusive older, larger lawyer. So what does young Toby do when grabbed and told to go into the room? Why he drops to his knees and hooks up with the intimidating stranger's friend. Makes sense.
This monumental hookup is mentioned in the blurb, however, there is no description of this life changing scene, just exaltation of why the MC is so beautiful and smaller, there's a foot difference in height, don't you know?
The story jumps around to Van winning the Superbowl but getting an owwie. Then we jump to a yoga class with Toby as the teach. And it continues to jump all around to make for a bumpy transitions, declarations of not doing an action and then doing it either before or a few paragraphs down the line. The disjointed brand of story telling continues throughout. And the thing is, though weeks and months pass, the main characters basically spend a handful of days together, with no meaningful events written and shown to the reader.
Oh, there is sex. Repetitive sex that I could write the script for you: big hulking guy manhandles the little guy, calls him "beautiful" two finger probe into the "little hole", condom, lube, insert dick, thrust, "mine", cums and falls on top. Rinse and repeat.
Fair Catch was swimming around the 2.5 mark until the repeated attempted rapes plot line. Actually it's right around when the unnecessary villain/ex-boyfriend with the extremely weak blackmail twist was thrown in. After that, the story went onto an over the top tangent with a lot of bruises, tears, possessive behavior and and stereotypes.
The best things about the novel is the concept and the readability. It's very simple to read and you can quickly zip through.
The negatives outweigh the positives however.
The writing style - Too telling, contradictory and relies on stereotypical characters to make the story "interesting" and for added drama. The telling is so heavy, an example is that a character would need to look in the mirror to tell the reader they were horny and describe to you, instead of just writing it and letting the reader figure it out on their own. To say the book needed a through edit, content wise, is not wrong. There are too many examples of this writing style where it fails to showcase the character. More descriptive and time were spent on the superficial things rather than letting the character have a hint of depth. And key scenes that could have actually used a thorough description were ignored.
All of the character could instantly know what the other characters were thinking, been through, etc. Maybe clairvoyant is an unofficial hat to add to the list of jobs they all have.
The stereotypes - I really was not a fan of the way Leo, Toby's best friend was written. He was nothing more that a loud color wearing, cock hound who went into hysterics at a drop of a hat.
The abuse/domestic violence - I am always on the side of an abuse victim. However they react is their right. This book minimizes abuse (also again the characters can just tell what happened to each other):
"My last boyfriend. He was... not nice."
"What do you mean?" Then Leo gasps, gripping his shirt over his chest. "Oh My God, Toby. Did he hit you?"
"Not exactly. Well, sort of. I don't know, Leo. It was abusive, I know, but it all built up over such a long period of time, I didn't realize what was going on until it was too late."
Toby can't tell if he was abused? It was just last year when he described being raped and beaten. Or the fact Toby stated he felt worse for his friend being called homophobic slurs than suffering through actual physical abuse and being raped. Both are horrible, let me be clear, but they are not equal.
And in case the past rape wasn't used enough, the attempted rape plot device was added... TWICE!
To create dramatic effect? The last one made no sense, nor did it add to anything other than it gave the alpha hero a shot to flex his muscles and allegedly save the day. The thing is Van wasn't there the first time the attempted rape card was brought to the table and he didn't seem as cut about it afterwards.
Van - I know he's supposed to read like a good guy. But the way he was written was not as effective, He realized his true self as being a gay man by not wearing sweats and sneakers but rather tailored, designer clothes. Seriously? Or how about the fact he knows about Toby's abused past but didn't care when he got mad at his lover and started to go apeshit on him? Or manhandling Toby in the heat of sexy times so soon after Toby gets beaten again.
If an abuse victim closes himself off from others, why would Van be the one to break their celibacy on? Nothing was shown to support that. The reader is told they're horny for one another, told they're soul mates, told they love each other...but nothing is shown.
This book has the potential to appeal to certain readers, if you rather not learn main characters' life stories, just want a beginning and middle and end with some sex thrown in and a lot of drama, then Fair Catch might be the book for you.
I'm sure this is my last Leigh Carman I'll read.
Find on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!