World Series of Romance: Pine Tar and Sweet Tea by Kerry Freeman

Gay High School Baseball Coaches: A Doubleheader

First up, Pine Tar & Sweet Tea, a recently published novella with a title and cover that caught my eye, and then Caught Running, a novel that I’ve read several…[*counts on fingers*] numerous times.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Game 1, featuring an up-and-coming* utility infielder:

Pine Tar & Sweet Tea by Kerry Freeman

Pine Tar & Sweet Tea by Kerry Freeman

  • Title: Pine Tar & Sweet Tea
  • Author(s): Kerry Freeman
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, GLBTQ
  • Publisher: Loose Id, October 2012
  • Source: Amazon ($4.99 ebook)
  • Length: 118 pages
  • Trope(s): Athletes, Insta-Lust, Lust in the Workplace, In the Closet, Family Drama
  • Quick blurb: High school coaches hook up at the end of the state tournament, but their one-night-stand turns into something neither is ready for.
  • Quick review: Interesting. Intriguing, even. I think I need to read more from Ms. Freeman.
  • Grade: B

* The opportunities for ridiculously obvious double entendres are endless around here these days.

It was hard to tell who started the kiss, but Matt was the one who deepened it. He thrust his tongue inside René’s mouth and tasted the last bit of sweetness from the tea. René grabbed Matt’s ass and began encouraging a slow, steady grind. Soon, René shoved his hand down the back of Matt’s jeans, his calloused fingers digging into Matt’s flesh.

René pulled Matt back by his hair. “And here I thought you were mad at me.”

“I thought I was too,” Matt whispered.

“Doesn’t matter now. Just kiss me.”

The set-up:

René is a former minor-leaguer now coaching a successful high school team. He’s discreetly out, but he’s not going back in for anyone.

Matt is also a player-turned-coach, but he’s a deeply closeted preacher’s kid shamed by a lifetime of pulpit-pounding sermons and dinner table lectures.

It’s Insta-Lust from the get-go when they meet at the state tournament…

A few of the parents thought the coach was glaring at him, but René knew a fuck-me-now look when he saw one.

…and they manage sneak in a mutually-fulfilling one-nighter after the championship game.

Did I say “fulfilling”? I meant SMO.KING.HOT.

But then their best friends start in with their own smooching and smexing, and Matt and René can’t resist falling deeper into something neither is prepared for.

The hits:

Did I mention the SMOKING HOT smexing? There’s more where that came from — along with a few swoon-worthy moments:

Matt raised an eyebrow. “Well, you do speak Spanish in bed.”

Now Rene blushed. “Sorry.”

“No no no. I loved it. Meant you’d let go. What was it you said?”

“Te deseo. Te necesito. Dentro de ti es el cielo,” Rene whispered. He clasped Matt’s hands in his. “I want you. Need you. It’s heaven inside you.”

The room shrank around them, and Matt could barely breathe. “How do you say, ‘Take me back to bed’?”

For a newbie author, Freeman gives us some really well-drawn main characters, and not just in the bedroom. Or bathroom (see intro quote above). Or locker room. René is brash but charmingly vulnerable, and Matt is just bursting to let his wild side out. Yes, I chose the word “bursting” on purpose. I’m easy that way.

The angstifying is nicely balanced by some spot-on dialogue and humor, especially from René’s best friend David:

“Son of a bitch,” he muttered as he stomped off. “Biggest game of the year, and NOW he decides to take the dick out of storage.”

…and while Matt’s preacher’s-kid family drama is a common m/m trope, it never felt forced or crossed the line into melodrama. Freeman gets extra at-bats for stuff like this:

“My grandmother was devout. Rosary, hair covering, the whole thing. When I told her I was gay, she sat me down and told me to remember one thing: God is love. He wants me to love and be loved in return. She didn’t believe that he would put me on earth only able to feel true love for a man if he didn’t mean for me to love that way.”

And speaking of family drama — ooh boy, I was not expecting that twisty bit near the end.

The misses:

Like many novellas, the pacing is pretty rushed and we miss out on the relationship-building. We know what’s keeping them apart, but we never quite get into their heads enough to feel what’s drawing them together.

And that twisty bit near the end. I’m kinda still a bit conflicted on that. It worked great as a plot wrench, but something about it is still bugging me and I can’t figure out what or why. Authors, be very grateful I’m just a reviewer and not your editor, because sometimes I have no fucking idea what I’m talking about.

Random yet obligatory post-game pop-culture reference:

From Pine Tar & Sweet Tea, Chapter One….

"He'd been celibate since the season began, faithful to the players and the game."

He’d been celibate since the season began,
faithful to the players and the game.

And from Bull Durham, somewhere in the first third of the movie….

"I am, within the framework of the baseball season, monogamous."

“I am, within the framework of
the baseball season, monogamous.”

Random post-game question:

The cover: Mantitty or moobs? I’m leaning toward moobs, because they’re distracting me from the beefier delts and pecs in the background.

The final score: B

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Stay in your seats for Game 2 of the Gay High School Baseball Coaches Doubleheader:

Caught Running by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban >>

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