MtSnow reviews ‘The Second Half: A Gay American Football Story by Scott D. Pomfret – New Release, to be published by Lethe Press June 16th, 2016. 289 pgs
Why MtSnow reviewed this story: It’s Reviewer’s Choice week at RGR, and I’ve been on a roll of good books from Lethe Press. I’ve been enjoying the authors that seem to beat to their own drum, and it’s so refreshing to read stories that have a different flow from many of the almost formulaic stories I usually see in this genre. I’m not typically a sports fan, but the combination of college football with a military veteran caught my attention, as I’m also a former Marine.
Note: a copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Division I college football coach Peyton Stone has a secret. It’s not so much that he’s gay. It’s that he’s fallen in love with his older Iraq-War-vet-turned-starting-QB Brady Winter. Willing to deny himself for the sake of the Golden Eagles football team, Peyton focuses helping his team score touchdowns, but when he discovers the attraction is mutual, he jumps in with both feet.
For each, the stakes are high: bowls, limelight, press, and the NFL. But Peyton and Brady find time during the season to carve out their own private and sexy refuge. Only jealous whispers force the head coach to see what he didn’t want to see and he tears the two apart. It’s only when Brady’s war injuries threaten his health that Peyton reluctantly returns to the team — under cover! The two concoct a plan to pass off Peyton as Brady at the bowl game, thereby preserving Brady’s health and perhaps earning a national championship. Will anyone notice the difference? Does anyone really want to? Most of all, can the pair’s sense of honor outlast the deception?
Peyton and Brady. And friends who aren’t really friends. And enemies that really aren’t enemies. This story had action in spades, and I found myself actually pulled in and ENJOYING the play by plays of football. Me! I’d have never thought, but I learned a lot about the game. And the author has a gift for pulling the reader right in and made me feel like I was right there, on the field, with these guys. And Loretta and her scarecrows. And antique shops, golden eagle statues, whiny queens, and college newspaper snoops. Plenty of excitement here.
So so this book surprised the heck out of me. I have many friends that love sports, but I’ve personally never been that interested in them as far as my m/m romances go. Especially football. I can’t explain why, but I actually loved this football story. Maybe it was also the back story of one of the players choosing to go serve in Iraq before going to play college ball. I have a soft spot for military guys in the stories I read, being a former veteran myself.
Well this one wasn’t exactly pretty. Brady, the all-star guy everyone loves, charismatic, always joking, smiling, flirting. He’s the guy everyone wants to be. Except he has a dark side and does some seemingly altruistic things, that actually may have ulterior motives. And they have him showing a very human side. There are hard choices that have to be made in times of war, and the things he has to do, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be put in that position, and have the memories buried so deeply that there’s no one that really knows the ‘real’ him. Except Peyton.
Now Peyton. There’s an Interesting character. ‘Happy Feet’, but not in a good way. A guy that never seems to have staying power, always buckles in the clinch. As they say, those that can’t do, teach. And those that can’t teach, coach. Well that’s Peyton. A failed player that didn’t have that ‘killer instinct’. So, instead he teaches poetry at the college, and was given an assistant coaching position. That he basically, well, doesn’t maybe make the best choices. As his mother says..give him 99 good choices and 1 bad, and he ALWAYS chooses the bad one. Every. Single. Time. To be honest I had a hard time deciding if I even liked him. I did sympathize with him, but spent most of the story wondering if he was ever going to make what ‘I’ considered the right choice. But then, by the conclusion of the story, I even questioned why I thought his choices weren’t the right ones. Because for him, they actually were.
Anyway, this is an excellent story that doesn’t seem to fit the norm of any formula that I’ve seen. The author has a gift with words, and action, and character development. By the end of the story I almost thought it wasn’t quite finished, but then I realized the ending was perfect, because it pointed out what really mattered in life.
Highly recommended read. Even if you don’t think you like sports, most especially football, this one might change your mind. It changed mine. I will look for more from this author most definitely. Great, moving, heartfelt story, without in any way being overly dramatic. Loved it!
9.5 of 10 pots of gold – Equivalent to 4.75 of 5 stars or recommended 95% out of 100%
Where to Purchase/Info links:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Scott Pomfret and Scott Whittier (a.k.a. Scott&Scott) met, fell in love, and now live together in Boston, Massachusetts. They realized the story of their own romance wasn’t the only one out there, so they created Romentics, a line of gay romance novels for all gay men who believe in happily ever after. They are also the co-authors of the Q-Guide to Wine & Cocktails.
Scott D. Pomfret is author of the forthcoming novels The Second Half (Lethe Press June 2016) and The Hunger Man (Ninestar Press June 2016) and recent releases Only Say the Word (Ninestar Press May 2016) and a collection of short stories You Are the One (Ninestar Press April 2016). Past published works include Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir (Arcade 2008), the Romentics-brand gay romance novels (LooseID Press), the Q Guide to Wine and Cocktails, and dozens of short stories published in, among other venues, Post Road, New Orleans Review, Fiction International, and Fourteen Hills. Scott is lucky to be able to write from his tiny Boston apartment and even tinier Provincetown beach shack, which he shares with his partner of fifteen years, Scott Whittier. More information is at http://www.scottpomfret.com.
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER
Lethe Press is an independent publishing house specializing in speculative fiction, books of gay interest, poetry, as well as classic works of the occult & supernatural. Named after the Greek river of memory and forgetfulness, Lethe Press is devoted to ideas that are often neglected or forgotten by mainstream publishers. Founded in 2001 by author Steve Berman, Lethe Press has grown steadily to become one of the larger gay presses. In fact, we are the number one publisher for LGBT speculative fiction having won the Lambda Literary Award for that category not only five times but five times in a row. We know our fantasy, our science-fiction, our horror.