A literary conundrum. I has one.
I love a good love story. I don’t typically like most books marketed as “romances” though. Most of them are just FAR too fantasy-based for me. I am a stark realist…except when I like dystopian teen fiction. Damnit, Katniss.
I don’t HAVE to have an Alpha male in a story to love it (although I won’t rule one out). I have a not-so-secret crush on most sensitive man-types (in no small part, I’m sure, to all the M*A*S*H I watched as a kid…Alan Alda ruined me for bad boys). It’s probably why I love almost everything Aaron Sorkin produces. He writes super-intelligent, sexy, sensitive men. Some of them ARE pretty Alpha, though.
I should also mention that I don’t particularly like to watch sports. Not on television. Not usually live. I do enjoy sports-themed movies, especially ones about baseball. (Case in point: MONEYBALL. A baseball movie written by Aaron Sorkin.)
So, all of these conundrums are likely why I love everything I’ve ever read by Liz Crowe. At this point the book count is hitting double digits. Um, since May. Serious booknerdgirl love.
People who haven’t heard of Liz (and, people, come on…it’s time to fix that) ask me “So, what does she write?” And, I’ve had to hem and haw a bit because she doesn’t really fit into any genre perfectly. Not so much HEA (Happily Ever After) but WHA (What Happens After). This doesn’t mean her characters don’t find happiness. They do. It’s just REALLY, REALLY realistic happiness. The kind that doesn’t end with anyone riding off into the sunset together. You know…like real people…except with FAR more interesting histories and storytelling.
So, I’m calling it now. Liz writes Fiction.
Which leads me to my next conundrum. When I describe MAN ON, I have to pause to try to peg it. Let’s start with the official “blurb”.
Bad boy of European football, Nicolas Garza is about to hit American shores with a vengeance. Signed by the Detroit Black Jack Gentlemen as lynch pin for their expansion club, Nicco only half believes he’s making the right move. But with a past full of ghosts and rotten behavior chasing him from his homeland, he has no real choice.
Parker Rollings is a college soccer superstar, but his parents’ plans for their only son do not include professional athletics. When the Black Jacks approach him to finalize their roster, Parker leaps at the chance to keep playing, leaving behind medical school, stability and his first and only college sweetheart.
Nicco and Parker face off as bitter rivals for a coveted starting spot at midfield and are forced to channel their negative energy into something positive for the sake of the group—and themselves.
All eyes are on the fledgling team in its debut season. It’s crucial that the Black Jacks prove all the doubters wrong. They must make a good showing in the league and with new fans. But player drama, club dynamics, and misplaced priorities may tear it apart before it even begins.
Nicco has been a mess of casual sex and bad boy behavior. He has been around the block and the worst-kept secret in international soccer is that he plays for “both teams”. Herein lies the problem. Gay and bi-sexual men aren’t embraced in professional sports. Soccer is gaining popularity by the minute in the USA, but gay men typically haven’t been out on professional sports teams. This taboo is fading slowly, but it’s not without controversy.
Parker is as Midwestern and white bread as they come. Always the perfect son and boyfriend and soccer star, he doesn’t rock the boat or disappoint anyone if he can help it. After throwing away his parents’ dreams of med school, a picket fence, a gorgeous wife, and 2.5 kids to play professional soccer, he just can’t come to terms with himself.
Nicco and Parker will collide on the field and in real life, both trying to figure out how to be themselves in a world that isn’t sure what to make of them.
STEWART REALTY fans rejoice! We get a few glimpses of Jack and Sara. Rafe (now a coach for The Black Jack Gentlemen) and Maureen play very prominently into the storyline. Rafe is so adorably Alpha AND sensitive. More conundrums…sorry.
MAN ON is about a lot of things, but at its heart, it’s a very human story. Despite the fact that some will paint MAN ON as a story about gay men (who happen to have sex), that’s just one kernel of the tale. It’s about the usual ups and downs and hard questions and choices that accompany coming to terms with learning to love another human being.
And despite my previous descriptors of WHA, this story has SERIOUS HEA mojo. A toe curling, happily human story whose real life counterparts are playing out on professional soccer pitches, football fields, and baseball diamonds as we speak.
Cue Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ SAME LOVE.
Find Liz Crowe and MAN ON on the interwebz: