(Mustangs Baseball #4)
Five years ago, switch-hitting left fielder, Bentley Randolph ran from his private shame and never looked back until the Mustangs new trade acquisition, Sean Flannery, walked into the locker room and laid him flat with a single punch, bringing the memories back in a flash of pain and humiliation. Unable to escape this time, Bentley has no choice but to face his complicated feelings for Sean, as well as the woman he loves.
Sean Flannery hasn’t forgotten the incident that changed his life or forgiven Bentley for the cowardly way he handled the encounter—asking to be traded to another team. Recently traded to the Mustangs himself, Sean is determined to keep his distance from the man of his dreams, up until the moment his fist connects with the left fielder’s face and the ensuing brawl on the locker room floor reveals something he never dared hope for—Bentley still wants him.
Bentley (Bent) Randolf couldn’t help himself five years ago, the encounter half innocent, half … not. He’s been running ever since, getting himself traded to the Mustangs, finally settling down with a woman he truly loves. And almost forgetting…
Sean Flannery is at the last stop on a career path that means everything, but his injuries and niggling memories of what might have been make his introduction to his new teammates in the Mustang locker room explosive.
You might say Bent and Sean had each other from “hello” … with fists flying and five years of bent-up frustration and desire exploding in a brawl in front of all their team mates. And so the dance begins: it’s a paso doble of advance and retreat, dominance and power.
Roz Lee choreographs their moves, their desires, their inner conflicts until they—and we—can barely breathe and when Sean finally breaks under Bent’s taunting, it ignites a firestorm of passion. The bonds are silk, mere trifles holding Bent hostage, but the chains are real and difficult to break. Bent’s torment is all-consuming; a torrent of fear, doubt, self-loathing, and confusion, mingled with the fall-out from his betrayal of his fiancée, makes Bent a very conflicted man indeed.
For Sean, what happened may have been the culmination of a dream, a fantasy, but he realizes that Bent might never accept what they have between them … because it’s not just about them.
If relationships between two people aren’t complicated enough, what happens when you add another to that potent mix, this one a strong, capable, independent woman? Bent loves Ashley, in fact he pops the question because he wants home, hearth, kids. Bent desperately wants normal.
The problem is, what’s normal in the world of sports isn’t going to match the new realities facing two men drawn to each other, their lust, their passion nearly eating them alive. It affects their game, their relationships, their very careers … and how they see themselves.
The author does a splendid job of making the conflicts real and compelling. She burrows inside the heads and hearts of these men with assurance and a deft hand. You feel their pain, you want them to be together, and when they are you get swept away with them. Bent and Sean are so strongly drawn that in some ways Ashley is a secondary, albeit it necessary, character—the pivot point around whom Bent oscillates as he tries to come to terms with the duality of his feelings.
Switch Hitter also has very tense moments of action and Roz Lee has a gift for getting inside the head of the athlete so that you see, hear, feel the ball approach, the satisfying smack on wood or the soul-sucking sound of leather-on-leather, or the terrifying moment when the ball’s lost in the lights… You understand why the men love this game and what it is like being out there on the field.
If you like your men strong and conflicted, if you like intense action on and off the field, if you like to agonize with them over their gut-wrenching choices, root for them, cry with them… Heat level: sizzling.
Roz Lee’s Switch Hitter is a solid home run. Five stars.