Title: Out in the Field
Series: Out in College #4
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Release Date: July 11
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
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SynopsisMax Maldonado loves baseball. He knows playing first base at a private college probably won’t get him to the big leagues, but he doesn’t mind. He loves the game and his teammates. If he has to stay in the closet until he graduates, that’s okay. Baseball comes first. Relationships are complicated anyway. And after his recent messy breakup, Max prefers to keep things simple.
Phoenix Bell is a fabulous theater geek. He’s excited about his recent transfer to a new school with an elite liberal arts program. Life has been on hold for a while, but this opportunity feels like the fresh start he was hoping for when he moved to California. And the chance reunion with the hot closeted jock is an unexpected surprise. The two men have nothing in common and their timing couldn’t be worse. However, when their unconventional alliance blossoms into friendship and perhaps something more, it may be time to make some hard decisions. And perhaps risk it all…out in the field.
I have been looking forward to Max's story, I knew we'd get it and we did! I have to say two things, first this was my favorite of the series so far, and second I love a good second-chance-romance and that is what we have here.
If you have read OUT IN THE OFFENSE, you'll remember Max he was Christian's best friend and also his first everything. He was also in a relationship with Sky (whom I really didn't like) at the time. All three of the men were keeping their sexual preference a secret so no one knows that Max is gay. Max also meets Phoenix in that story as well but once again he was with Sky so even though there was a definite attraction on both sides nothing could really be done about it, there was also the fact that they lived in different parts of California.
In this story Lane Hayes takes us on a journey of Second Chances, what if the guy you had met a few months ago and still thought about happened to bump into you at school one day, a school you knew he didn't attend when you met? Would you take fate by the horns and run with it or would you run away because of your fears?
Phoenix is an openly gay man and he doesn't care who knows about it, he wears eyeliner and lip gloss, he is part of the drama club, oh and he has a thing for athletes even though he doesn't like sports. Max is in the closet, so deep I don't think he can see the little bit of light that comes through the bottom of the door. Max has so many fears about being outed and not being accepted that he has only had two relationships, one with Christian for five years and the other was an open relationship with Sky, his worst fear is that his teammates will find out and won't want him on the team anymore and baseball is his life.
This story was well written and had me at the very first page. I am a big baseball fan, in fact my son plays for his college, so I really enjoyed watching Max show Phoenix the ins and outs of the sport as they got closer. OUT IN THE FIELD is the fourth book in the series but each of these books can be read as a standalone, I would recommend reading OUT IN THE OFFENSE first just so you can see how Max and Phoenix met and get a better understanding of Max's relationship with both Christian and Sky.
We were quiet for a moment. We shared his drink in silence as occasional bits of conversation and laughter from the party drifted our way. We were far enough from the action that the excess noise didn’t penetrate our cocoon. Just a couple of strangers in the dark again, minus the club music and lights and unrealistic hopes from the first time. I didn’t know about Phoenix, but this felt cathartic somehow. Like a fresh start.
“What else is going on? You look sad. It’s not me, is it?” I asked with a comedic expression.
He chuckled. “No. This is nice. I just—I tend to get a little blue on the night of the final performance. The anticlimactic feeling sucks, but it’s the nature of the beast. The cycle of slowly learning lines and getting to know your castmates is followed by long rehearsals where everything starts to gel. The excitement builds before the shows and everyone gets better and better and then…boom! It’s over. All that momentum and all the joy that comes from being part of something special disappears overnight. I’m gonna wake up in the morning back at square one.”
“Thus the vodka.” Phoenix raised his cup and took a sip. He set it between us before flashing a lopsided smile my way. “It’s just part of the process. I’ve been doing some version of this for years. You’d think I’d be better at transitioning from high to low.”
“Hmm. It’s kinda the same in baseball. When we start in January, most of the guys are out of shape and out of sync. We have to get used to a new crew and figure out how to work together. By the time our season ends in May, we’re a well-oiled machine. I’m not always sad when it’s over. Sometimes I really need the break. But by June, I miss it. The best thing to do is to stay in the game as much as possible. Play, watch, read stats. There’s probably a theater equivalent.”
“Sure. It’s called ‘get a new part.’ I’m already memorizing the script for the spring production at the Arts Center. They’re doing Chicago. God, I love that show. So many juicy roles. ‘And all that jazz,’ ” he sang that last line, then took another drink and handed his cup to me for no particular reason.
I widened my legs and propped my elbows on my knees. His gaze dipped briefly to my crotch before he licked his lips and glanced away.
“Who do you want to be?” I asked. “I mean…in the play.”
“In a perfect world, I’d be Roxie. But…I have a dick, so I’ll have to audition for Billy and pretend not to be crushed when they give me the role of prison guard or mafia henchman number two.”
“Why can’t you be Billy?” I asked before draining the vodka cocktail.
“I don’t have the right look. You’d actually be a perfect Billy. Have you ever thought about acting?”
“Me?” I pointed at my chest incredulously. “Fuck, no.”
“Why so adamant? It’s fun.”
“Theater stuff just isn’t my thing. I play baseball.”
“You can’t do both?”
“Nope. Not me. And I’m not interested anyway.”
He sighed dramatically. “Well…you were a good fantasy while you lasted.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked with a faux scowl.
“Just what you think it means. I know close to nothing about you except that you’re a decent kisser and—”
“Decent?” Now the scowl was real.
“Okay, better than decent. You were amazing. A real-life Prince Charming. But we can be friends now and—”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” I intercepted.
“ ’Cause I like you.”
“That makes no sense.”
“Yeah, it does. I—” I hesitated for half a second before crashing my mouth over his.
And damn, kissing Phoenix was better than I remembered. I caressed his jaw tenderly before tilting my head to deepen the connection. I didn’t want to overwhelm him, but damn, it took everything I had not to put my hands all over him. I licked the corner of his mouth and groaned. He tasted sweet—like cherries or something. That had to be his lip gloss, I mused before driving my tongue inside.
Phoenix didn’t seem to mind. He moaned when I cupped his neck and tilted my head slightly to soften the connection. I flicked my tongue at the corner of his mouth before biting his bottom lip and pulling away. The kiss was sweet but much too short. And yeah, I was incredibly impressed with my restraint, but I couldn’t afford to start something we’d both regret later. Phoenix wasn’t a stranger anymore. He was a fellow student who knew my biggest secret. I should have been more concerned with resetting boundaries and moving on. But it didn’t feel that simple.
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