Title: Out in the End Zone
Author: Lane Hayes
Series: Out in College #2
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: 10/8/2018
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance, M/M Bisexual, M/M Sports Romance, M/M Coming Out, M/M YA/NA
Page Count: 200
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Evan di Angelo is an upbeat, good-natured goofball who loves his friends and family… and football. A traumatic accident may have ended his hopes of playing professionally, but he’s made the most of his four years on the field at a small Southern California college. He’s learned the hard way to embrace change, take chances and try things outside of his comfort zone…like agreeing to play fake boyfriends for someone else’s senior project.
Mitch Peterson knows that being his authentic self is the path to true happiness. He’s grown from a shy, quiet kid from a broken home to an out and proud budding internet sensation bound for grad school. An awesome senior project is the key. It’s unlikely anyone will believe the hunky, straight athlete is Mitch’s new lover, but it’s worth a shot. However, as their tentative friendship blossoms into unexpected attraction, the lines between reality and fiction blur for both men. Evan is forced to face old demons and decide if he has the courage to take the next step and come out in the end zone.
Sometimes I seek out action, other times heartbreak, and then there’s the days I want schmoopy- sweet and swoony romance that’s real enough to make an impact but not laden with angst that leaves me clutching my chest or in tears. That’s precisely where Out in the End Zone falls. The second release from Miss Hayes’s Out in College series, this standalone features a collegiate football player and a cheerleader. For those who did read the first of the series, it’s secondary characters Mitch and Evan’s chance to share their story. While there are some plot points tying the series together, I appreciated the marked differences between the two books- distinct character challenges, romance paths, and a bit of a different vibe running throughout, but leaving me equally satisfied and happy at the end.
I found Evan’s story slightly sad, but mostly uplifting and I loved that Out in the End Zone wasn’t the “typical” out-for-you college romance. I enjoyed seeing Evan work through his feelings for Mitch and repeatedly take charge and account for his feelings rather than hiding from or patently denying them. There was a strength of character in this book that definitely set it apart from others in the trope. With the story told from Evan’s point-of-view, there’s less focus on Mitch, but I found his quiet strength relatable and thought he complimented Evan well, and I loved their easy banter. The romance between the young men had a sweet, quiet vibe with some intense physical chemistry sprinkled in, but moved in a balanced pace. Overall, I found Out in the End Zone to be an enjoyable, easy read with a solid story arc despite being a little on the shorter side.