Book Reviews

Crossing the Touchline (Auckland Med. 1) by Jay Hogan at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Athletes/Coaches / Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 23-April-2019

Book Blurb

What if you’ve worked your whole life for a dream, to play rugby for the most successful sports team on the planet, the New Zealand All Blacks?

 

What if that dream is so close you can smell it?

 

What if you meet someone?

 

What if you fall in love?

 

What if your dream will cost the man who’s stolen your heart?

 

And what if the dream changes?

 

Reuben Taylor has a choice to make.

 

Cameron Wano is that choice.

 

 

A Perchance to Dream title.

 

Book Review

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

Making choices and deciding what is most important in life, is never easy. But for people like Reuben, who can only achieve his dream of playing rugby for the All Blacks if he gives up a huge part of who he is, the choice becomes a dilemma. And it is one that has the potential of destroying any future happiness: either he plays rugby and can’t have love, or he can have a loving partner and forget playing rugby for the best team in the world. The predicament he faces has always been there under the surface, but it becomes real when he meets Cameron. Suddenly the “road not taken” is a man, not a theoretical situation. Reuben can either continue to pretend to be someone he is not and achieve his lifelong goal, or he can stop pretending, come out, and risk not playing for the All Blacks, no matter what their official, politically correct position may be. It’s a heart-wrenching situation and one that demands a maturity Reuben has to work hard to gain – and I was with him every step of the way.

Reuben has worked hard to be where he is, in touching distance of a contract with the All Blacks. He grew up on “a tired farm in financially strapped, back-of-fucking-nowhere, rural Whakamaru” as he puts it, and has sacrificed any type of personal life just to get to where he is. But it is not enough, he wants it all. With an all-consuming dream like that it is easy to lose perspective, but Reuben does not really understand what he is missing, not on an emotional level, until he meets Cameron. The attraction is instant and despite the fact that Cameron is nothing like what Reuben believes he likes in a man, Reuben can’t ignore the magnetism that sizzles between them from the moment they have their first conversation.

Cameron is a nurse and about as out and proud as you can get. He has his parents’ support all the way and he feels secure in who he is. He would never consider a relationship with anyone who is not honest about who he is, mainly due to a truly bad experience with a closeted man. Cameron also “doesn’t do” crushes – but when he runs into Reuben more than once, temptation rears its head. And there is little chance of just avoiding any future encounters since Cameron’s younger brother, one of his fiercest defenders, is a member of the team that Reuben has signed up with while waiting for the All Blacks contract. Cameron has a choice to make between remaining true to his principles and giving in to his feelings – and it’s not an easy one to make.

Set in Auckland, New Zealand, this story is as much about the cultural pressure to conform, especially for top athletes, as it is about coming of age and knowing what is most important for two men who are about as unlikely a pairing as they come. Their relationship is as much founded in friendship as it is in romance, and with everything that people throw at them, it is a foundation they sorely need. There is one interesting facet of Reuben’s life that deserves mentioning: as much as he wants to play for the All Blacks, his disgusting bigot of a father wants it more. For Reuben, finding out which part of his motivation is truly his own is a major factor in his ultimate decision and it makes everything even more complicated.

If you like multilayered characters who have to face realistic challenges to their love, if rugby and all the “manly” posturing that goes with it is your thing, and if you’re looking for a captivating read that deals with internal and external pressures on gay top athletes and their partners, then you will probably like this novel as much as I do. It had me glued to the pages and heaving a huge sigh of relief at the hard-earned happy ending.

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 302 pages/119311 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 23-April-2019
Price $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback, $17.99 bundle
Buy Link https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/crossing-the-touchline-by-jay-hogan-10402-b