Winter Ball by Amy Lane – Romance>Contemporary
Through a miserable adolescence and a lonely adulthood, Skipper Keith has dreamed of nothing but family. The closest he gets is the rec league soccer team he coaches after work—and his star player and best friend, Richie Scoggins.
One brisk night in late October, a postpractice convo in Richie’s car turns into a sexual encounter neither of them expected—nor want to forget. Soon Skip and Richie are living for the weekends and their winter league soccer games—and the games they enjoy off the field. Through broken noses, holiday decorating, and the killer flu, they learn more about each other than they ever dreamed possible. Every new discovery takes them further beyond the boundaries of the soccer field and into the infinite possibilities of the best relationship of Skipper’s life.
Skipper can’t dream of a better family than Richie—but Richie’s got real family entanglements he can’t shake off. Skipper needs to convince Richie to stay with him beyond winter ball so the relationship they started on the field might become their happy future in real life!
Skipper Keith is a lonely guy, except when he’s playing soccer with his teammates. He has no family so his teammate friends have become his extended family, and when his best friend and teammate, Richie, starts to look at him as more than a friend, Skip willingly takes the leap with him.
After practice one night, one thing leads to another as they sit together in Skipper’s car, and the two end up kissing. That leads to more when hands get involved, and before they know it, the two are a couple. Still a secret, but becoming closer, they work through the awkwardness of being each other’s firsts, and they find that life is so much better when it’s shared with someone you care about.
When Skipper gets sick and Carpenter, his friend and coworker and newest soccer team member, makes sure he gets home safely, Skip finds out he doesn’t have to be alone when he’s sick anymore. Between Carpenter and Richie, he has full time nursing care, and even though he’s hacking up a lung, he no longer feels alone and sick. He feels loved and wanted.
Once he opens himself to the possibilities, he finds that there are other people willing to be his friend as well. Then Richie’s father’s business is robbed and vandalized, and Richie has to spend most of his time there, showing Skip just how much he had come to depend on having Richie in his life. Both young men learn what it means to love one another over the course of time between Halloween and Thanksgiving and when the time is right, Skip is there for Richie when he needs the love and support this time.
This is one of those Amy Lane stories in which two young, emotionally damaged (or at least dented) men find their home within their hearts. They struggle with the emotional changes of finding out that they love their best friend more than platonically; they face the fact that they are gay; and they ultimately come to the conclusion that they need to be with their soulmate full time and stand up for each other, providing love and support even in the face of a lifetime of opposition.
I loved these characters—not only the MCs, but also Carpenter and Mason and the soccer teammates who stood their ground and reinforced Skip’s leadership and importance to them. Plus, there’s isn’t much I love more than a nice GFY story, other than a double GFY with a holiday theme. What more could I ask for when I get both in one book?
Out just in time for the holidays, don’t hesitate to pick up this story. It will warm your heart and your soul year round.