Monday, February 16, 2015

Outing the Quarterback - Reviewed by Trix

By: Tara Lain
Long Pass Chronicles #1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press

Will Ashford lives in two closets. He meets his wealthy father’s goals as both the quarterback for the famous SCU football team and a business major, but secretly he attends art school and longs to live as a painter. And he's gay. But if he can win the coveted Milton Scholarship for art, he’ll be able to break from his father at the end of his senior year.

In a painting master class, Will meets his divergent opposite, Noah Zajack. A scarred orphan who’s slept on park benches and eaten from trash cans, Noah carefully plans his life and multiple jobs so he has money and time to go to art school. Will's problems seem like nothing compared to Noah's. Noah wants the scholarship too and may have a way to get it since the teacher of his class has designs on him, a plan Will isn't happy about.

When a gossipmonger with a popular YouTube channel finds evidence that Will is gay, the quarterback’s closet doors begin to crumble. Hounded by the press and harassed by other players, Will has to choose. Stay in the closet and keep his family’s wealth, or let the doors fall off and walk out with nothing. Nothing but Noah.

Trix’s Review:
3.75 stars

I'm a big fan of Tara Lain and sports-themed m/m, so I was eager to read this one. OUTING THE QUARTERBACK marks several departures for Lain, some of which I enjoyed more than others. Several of her other books are set in the art world, but this is her first to deal with sports. While she is clearly most comfortable with the art class sequences, the football vignettes are believable, and I enjoyed the contrast between the two environments. Her two leads are definitely different from the instantly lovable guys who tend to populate her stories. Will's compulsion to stay closeted leads him to a spiraling series of lies, as well as the tendency to commit iffy behavior and then cover it up with money. While Noah is more sympathetic thanks to his honesty and his tormented past, his annoyance at Will's behavior causes him to act prickly and cold towards him, occasionally lashing out. As the characters warmed to each other, I eventually warmed to them, but it did take time.

One change saddened me, however. One of my favorite things about Lain's books is her penchant for creating multifaceted female characters, from SPELL CAT's Lavender to DECEPTIVE ATTRACTION's Angel to Mary Beth from HEARTS AND FLOUR. Anyone who reads m/m regularly will know that this is a rare and welcome thing in the genre. So, I was heartbroken to see that Will's girlfriend, Tiffany, is a one-dimensional, exceptionally bitchy gold-digger with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. While her annoying presence heightens the urgency of Will's situation, I can't help but wonder what the book would have been like if Tiffany had resembled one of Lain's more admirable women. Luckily, there is a wonderful female character in Evangeline, sister of Will's teammate and best friend Jamal, who agrees to be Will's "beard" for some very specific reasons of her own. In fact,Jamal's whole family was a highlight of the story for me, which makes me very excited about the Jamal-centric sequel, CANNING THE CENTER.

While the final third of the book suffers from some iffy copy-editing, the diverging plot lines come together in a satisfying way. I was glad to read OUTING THE QUARTERBACK, though there are several other books I'd recommend first to a Tara Lain newbie. I am curious to see how the series will progress, and I applaud Lain for stepping out of her comfort zone.

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