Sharon’s review ~ The Player by Felice Stevens

Posted March 18, 2024 by Sharon in LGBTQIA, Reviews, Sharon/Slick / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Kindle Unlimited in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sharon’s review ~ The Player by Felice StevensThe Player by Felice Stevens
Published by Good Man Press on March 11, 2024
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQIA Romance, Romance, Second Chance Romance, Single Parent Romance, Small Town & Rural, Workplace
Pages: 329
Format: eBook, Kindle Unlimited, Paperback
Source: Kindle Unlimited
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4.5 Stars

Friday night lights hide more than they reveal…

When retired NFL superstar Keller Williams returns to his small town to coach his old high school football team, he’s surprised how much he enjoys being out of the limelight and on the field with the kids. Even more surprising is his immediate attraction to the father of one of his players—single dad Niall Harper.
Problem number one: Niall Harper isn’t gay.
Problem number two: Keller isn’t out to the world.
Problem number three: Niall hates his guts. And Keller has no idea why.

High school librarian Niall Harper has always done the right thing. Except be true to himself. Divorced and raising his teenaged son, Niall is dismayed to discover the new football coach is none other than his long-ago Friday night fantasy and nemesis. Not that it matters—Keller doesn’t remember him. It’s nothing new; Niall has always been easy to forget. Now Keller wants to be friends. And more. Niall can’t deny the annoying man makes him laugh and feel things he’d only dreamed possible. But would a player like Keller be satisfied with a regular guy like him?

Being together is more than complicated, but they are willing to take the risk. Niall reveals he’s dating his son’s coach, and Keller comes out to the team, his fans, the press, and small-town gossips. Neither is prepared for the fallout, but that doesn’t stop them. It’s time to throw the Hail Mary pass of a lifetime and win the game of forever. And they’re ready.

Ms. Stevens offers up an emotional, thoughtful, and beautifully written love story that also brings to light the bigotry, hate, and hypocritical injustices still all to prevalent in our world today. ~ Sharon – Simply Love Books

 

I really loved The Player by Felice Stevens, the story of two men who spent their teen and adult lives not being their true selves for various reasons. It was equally heartbreaking as it was heart-warming and watching the retired NFL player return to coach at his high school and fall for the father of one of his players who just happened to have crushed on him during high school was fantastically yummy. Ms. Stevens offers up an emotional, thoughtful, and beautifully written love story that also brings to light the bigotry, hate, and hypocritical injustices still all to prevalent in our world today.

Keller never thought he’d return to his home town, but after his mother died in an accident that threw his life into a bit of a destructive mode, small town living seems the right move for him. His hope is he’ll eventually settle in, be able to come out to the world, find someone to share his life with, and finally be happy. Coaching at his old high school is something he’d never really considered, but finds he immediately enjoys. Having a great group of young men who are eager to learn and improve makes it all the more satisfying. While he doesn’t recognize the man who is one of his player’s father, the hostility coming off of him tells him there is something he needs to get to the bottom of with the man that turns his head.

Niall can’t believe that Keller saw him get stood up on his first night using a dating app to meet a man and even more that he is his son David’s new head football coach. Working at the school library is the perfect job for the shy, bookworm he has always been, but there is something about the attention Keller shows him that both mortify and intrigues him. Having been bullied in high school by many of the football players, Niall doesn’t trust Keller even though he never actually bullied him, his friends did. As Keller breaks down his walls and shows Niall there is more to him than his jock persona, life for them both gets very interesting.

I loved watching these two take their time to build a friendship that eventually led to more. I felt the pace of the story was good for their situation, with both of them not being out, they didn’t rush into a physical relationship and Niall was extremely worried about his son David’s reaction when he did come out. David and his teammates were excellent secondary characters and I loved how Keller led by example and was there for them when they needed someone to talk to. I’d love to think there are a lot of coaches out there like Keller, but unfortunately I don’t think that’s the case most of the time. Keller’s best friend Elijah was the best; he had his back and supported him through everything. The kind of friend everyone should have. While I appreciated the relationship Niall had with his ex-wife, Angie, she also slightly annoyed me. She seemed to steamroll over Niall and I realize that had a lot to do with how he didn’t try and make waves in their marriage and I did feel they forged a new relationship as the book progressed.

I hate that members of the gay community are still often threatened with their jobs or are accused of improper behavior where there is no reason for it, it remains an unfortunate reality for so many especially in small towns and not only small towns in the south. I truly do not understand “Christian” communities who display such vile and unchristian like behavior. I felt the author did a good job of showing how out of hand accusations can fly in small communities and while I did feel like the school board backed down for their own selfish reasons, in the end I was happy for everyone that they did.

The Player had a rich and full plot, likeable characters, and best of all two people finally able to be their true selves and find love in the process. What more could you want?

 

4.5 Stars

About Felice Stevens

Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. She believes that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, Her characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love.

She lives in New York City and has way too much black in her wardrobe yet can’t stop buying “just one more pair” of black pants. Felice is a happily addicted Bravo and Say Yes to the Dress addict and proud of it. And let’s not get started on House Hunters. Her dream day starts out with iced coffee and ends with Prosecco, because…why shouldn’t it? You can find her procrastinating on FB in her reader group, Felice’s Breakfast Club.

Posted March 18, 2024 by Sharon in LGBTQIA, Reviews, Sharon/Slick / 0 Comments