Crossing the Touchline (Auckland Med #2)

Title: Crossing the Touchline (Auckland Med Series Book 2)
Author: Jay Hogan
Publisher: Southern Lights Publishing
Release Date: December 15, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Sports
Page Count: 302
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read book blurb here

I love rugby so I was absolutely hyped to read this story of a young Kiwi rugby player striving to make the legendary All Blacks while struggling to figure out how to handle his attraction to his teammate's brother, all the while adamantly staying in the closet. Reuben Taylor is a young talented player with a lot on his plate. His father is a homophobic hard@ss who runs roughshod over his sons Reuben and Craig. Craig's son Cory is on the autism spectrum and needs diagnosis and help but Craig is too weak to stand up against his father and casts Reuben in the role of protector and provider.

When Reuben meets Cameron Wano, he is immediately smitten but believes he can never have a relationship with the lean, lithe charge nurse with the guyliner. Becoming an All Black and getting endorsement deals would finally free Reuben of his father's toxicity and provide him with money for Cory's therapy. But Reuben just can't face becoming the first out All Black and Cam won't go back into the closet for anyone, no matter how sexy.
Anything ... between us ... Is.Not.Happening. So what are you doing? If you want to keep your gay undercover, it's maybe not the best idea to be seen talking to the guy wearing eyeliner, and who may as well have 'I love dick' tattooed on his forehead. I'm hardly a shrinking violet, yeah?
I like the premise of this story but the pacing almost made me DNF this book.

At 300 pages, the book feels bloated with all the melodramatic scenes rehashing this central conflict between Reuben and Cam, as well as Reuben trying to get therapy for Cory and dealing with Craig's excessive drinking. Sure the sex is very steamy and erotic but after a while, I found myself skimming the sizzling sex scenes because I didn't get any sense of an emotional connection between the two MCs. There is no resolution to either situation until after page 250 or so, and while other readers may not feel the same, by this point I was done.

And a few minor niggles - there is some discrepancy on the time frame (mentioning how one year has passed, and into the second year, and then at another point referring to only a few months) and Cam is continually described by his use of eyeline/guyliner (over 20 times). "Crossing the Touchline" just did not work for me, although please note "your mileage may vary." 3 stars.

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