Book: Fast Balls
Series: Balls to the Wall #5
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publication date: July 12, 2017
Length: 153 pages
Reviewed by Michael
Can two men with skewed self-images see their true reflections in each other’s eyes?
Jerry Wallender—firefighter, surfer, and occasional nude model—knows he’s no rocket scientist. So why does he keep choosing intellectual guys who make him feel dumber? He worked his buns off to overcome his reading disability and pass the firefighter’s test, and he loves everything about the job. Well, except for Mick Cassidy, the big, blond, hunky homophobe who harasses Jerry for being gay. But Jerry is smart enough to realize it’s not hate driving Mick, but the pain of a very unhappy upbringing.
Mick Cassidy, Firefighter Assist and Search Team, fights fires, but he can’t fight his attraction to the kindest, most generous—and sexiest—guy he’s ever met. Does that make him gay? If it does, he just might get himself killed by his gay-hating preacher father—and take Jerry down with him.
Jerry is an out and proud firefighter, working for a firehouse in Laguna Beach. Mack works with him, but, because of his upbringing (more on that a little later on), he acts like a bigoted jerk most of the time, even going so far as to get into a fist fight with one of Jerry’s friends that resulted in physical injury to Mack.
Of the two characters, I actually found Mack to be more interesting. His public persona is that of a bigoted jerk, spouting of hate-filled rhetoric as often as possible. His internal monologue tells a different story. He finds Jerry physically attractive and begins to question why. These questions are in direct conflict with everything he has been taught by his father, a “preacher” of what seems more like a cult than a church. He's inexperienced with women as well as men as a direct result of his upbringing. His father has definite ideas about what Mack should be doing with his life, going to far as to choose his potential future bride.
Jerry and Mack end up being forced to work together on a special project for children, and the ice between them begins to thaw. Without giving away any spoilers, the book builds from there.
Watching Jerry and Mack develop a relationship was fun. Mack is clearly out of his depth when it comes to everything from dating to sex. He has a very child-like perspective of both, which isn’t surprising when you consider he was raised by a religious zealot.
The writing is simple and straight forward. I think, however, I could have done without the single word monologues mid-paragraph, which make the characters come off as somewhat child-like. Those had a tendency to pull me out of the scene.
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