Diamond Ring (Unwritten Rules #3)

 Diamond Ring (Unwritten Rules #3)
Author: KD Casey
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: April 13, 2023
Genre(s): M/M Sports, Second Changes
Page Count: 380
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 

Having read (and loved) Fire Season (the second book in this series), I really looked forward to the book, and in particular the author's skill in writing about baseball and some of its hard truths.

Rookie pitching phenom Jake Fischer and catcher Alex Angelides meet in their exhilarating first season where they make it to the Series, but things don't work out the way they'd hoped and planned. Jake's torn UCL means surgery with a 15-20% failure rate and 12 to 18 months of recovery. And a fight between Jake and Alex is the way they leave their fledging relationship. 

10 years later ... Alex and Jake reunite for one more season, Jake hoping to make it through the season without getting cut. For Jake, it's a sobering view of what can never be - "to be ten years younger, with a good elbow, with the career he was supposed to have. A championship ring, a record-breaking contract. To stop feeling a hot wash of shame when his parents and friends ask him when he's going to settle down. To give up this stupid fucking dream and begin his actual life." 

Where this book really works for me is in the way the author deconstructs the fairy tale, not only of a successful baseball career, but the relationship between Jake and Alex, which doesn't end right away with an unrealistic HEA. And Casey does not stint on how Jake works so hard to manages his mental health: 

 " ... his therapist asked why he thought he rearranged things when he was stressed. "I guess it's my way of controlling the stuff I can control," Jake said. Because that made it sound normal as a habit. Practically healthy. His therapist smiled, and nodded, and asked him when he felt out of control, casually enough that Jake's honest answer slipped out. All the time. 

 KD Casey really brings their A game here as we get a complex story of success and struggle, sweat and heartache coupled with a sizzling connection between Alex and Jake that they finally get right. 5 stars.

I received an ARC from the Publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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