Review: The Quarterback by Mackenzie Blair

Matt Lancaster is the star quarterback at Bodine College, a small Southern Division II school with an ultra-conservative Dean of Athletics. Matt is also very much in the closet, and he thinks he’s kept his secret well hidden. Until his best friends take him to a happy endings massage parlor and request a male masseuse for him.

In walks Trevor Kim, a gorgeous, pierced, tattooed fellow Bodine student who does massages—without happy endings—to pay for school after his family kicked him out for being gay. Trevor takes one look at Matt and breaks all his own rules about mixing business with pleasure.

Matt needs to keep his scholarship, win the National Championship, and survive his asshole father. Instead, he falls in love. Trevor needs to accept that the football god is meant to end up with him rather than a perky cheerleader. It’s time for a happy ending for both of them.

Debut author Mackenzie Blair lured me with that irresistible blurb.

Sports romance with a Southern MC set in the South? *pancake eyes*
Interracial romance with a pierced MC? *woozy*

I may have strained something trying to get to the request button, though to be honest, I was thinking that piercing was... ah... someplace else. 😳


The Quarterback is a coming out, first love sports romance set at a small college in Alabama (I say it's based on Baylor but don't quote me). Matt is the quarterback and a damn good one for Division II. The football isn't too heavy if sports aren't your thing. There were enough team dynamics to satisfy my craving, though. Matt is in his senior year, still a virgin, because closet and he's had a bit of a crush on "bad boy" Trevor since freshman year. His teammates take him to a massage parlor outside of town and arrange for a happy ending because he's a little... pent up. Lo and behold, guess who the masseuse is?

Trevor is out and it cost him dearly to get there so he's not looking to go back in, but by the same token, he's no idiot. He realizes he's in Alabama where he could get bashed and hazed as often as he could get a blizzard at DQ. He's not advertising but he's not hiding either. He's definitely noticed Matt Lancaster. Who hasn't? He's the golden boy star quarterback of a team that's on its way to a national championship. Of course he's drooled over him along with 95% of the rest of the student body, but he never EVER thought he'd have a chance with him.

Some of his teammates might be cool, but there were enough who wouldn't want to play with him, at least not right away.

The Southern aspects of The Quarterback were strong. Not that I'm the foremost authority on all things Southern or anything. I do believe things are improving regarding acceptance but I still see too many who have been disowned by their family for being gay on a too frequent basis. People are still far too likely to use religion to justify their bigotry. Many are still prone to get seriously bent out of shape at even banal questions regarding their sexuality. Blair is obviously familiar with how steeped repression and bigotry are in Southern culture. Her understanding of Southern hospitality as well as other Southern customs were also evident in this story. I like when authors get the South right and Blair struck a good balance between the good and the needs improvement.

Trevor and Matt and their cuteness drew me in early on. Their attraction for one another is clear. They enjoy spending time together and are crazy hot for each other. I particularly enjoyed Trevor's ingenuity regarding his study buddy scheme. Every virgin needs a sex study buddy.


The sex is hot and their progression of sexual adventures wasn't rushed. That spanking scene took the cake! Jaysus, Mary & Joseph! πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯ #TeamSpanking

The things that I liked less are hard to define and maybe it's just me being hypersensitive but I'll try to explain my feels. There seemed to be a sort of undercurrent of gay shaming? There's something transgressive about the prose especially the oblique references to "certain kinds" of gay that bothered me. It comes across as derogatory and bled into Matt's characterization which I found inconsistent. I know he's on a learning curve for gay culture. I don't expect him to do and say everything right. I'm willing to give latitude, but there were things he said or did that aligned with that naivetΓ© then out of nowhere he'd spout off something about twinks or the Castro that left me squinting.

It wasn't just Matt, though. There were also many inappropriate comments from the female secondary characters and an even greater number of remarks that I found awkward and/or juvenile by any number of characters. Oftentimes I found myself thinking this story was trying too hard to be funny or sexy or showcase its knowledge of gay culture and in so doing it stymied my enjoyment. I think the objective was cheekiness or sassiness that usually missed the mark which made the writing style amateurish on the whole and left me thinking some finesse and polish would've mitigated that.

However, I don't want to leave the impression that I disliked these characters. Some of them I liked, some were eccentric and most added something substantive to the narrative. Some even surprised me in refreshing ways. It's clear their friends and some of their family mean the world to Matt and Trevor and how they interact with them gave them depth as characters.

I also liked that Matt and Trevor's relationship has its ups and downs. Given the fact that this is Matt's first relationship there was an authenticity about him being somewhat clueless that resonated. I liked that he made mistakes, learned from them and stepped up when he was in the wrong. What I didn't like was his tendency to yell and lose his temper.

He and Trevor do get their HEA and maybe it was a little too easy but I'm ok with that. I am a card carrying sap after all. So I would recommend this to sports or coming of age romance fans and those who like virgin MCs in their romance.

A review copy was provided by Netgalley.


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