Author ~ Amy Lane
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 25th November 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
a Winter Ball novel
Mason Hayes’s love life has a long history of losers who don’t see that Mason’s heart is as deep and tender as his mouth is awkward. He wants kindness, he wants love—and he wants someone who thinks sex is as fantastic as he does. When Terry Jefferson first asks him out, Mason thinks it’s a fluke: Mason is too old, too boring, and too blurty to interest someone as young and hot as his friend’s soccer teammate.
The truth is much more painful: Mason and Terry are perfectly compatible, and they totally get each other. But Terry is still living with his toxic, suffocating parent and Mason doesn’t want to be a sugar daddy. Watching Terry struggle to find himself is a long lesson in patience, but Mason needs to trust that the end result will be worth it, because finally, he’s found a man worth sharing his heart with.
I absolutely adored Mason in Winter Ball so I was thrilled to see he was getting a book and I loved him just as much here. You don’t need to have read that story to jump in here, but it’s a fantastic one and the MC’s from that book, Skip and Richie, do play a big supporting role. The story between Mason and Terry itself is fully contained here though.
The book starts off with a hilarious view into Mason’s childhood and really set the tone for knowing Mason as a 37 year old adult. He grew up in a happy supportive family, has a good education and is a successful executive. His love life has been less than great, with a few relationships with men that never really understood him. He also can be socially awkward since he has a bit of a mouth-filter issue (which you’ve experienced if you read Winter Ball) and sometime can’t rein in his brain whose default mindset seems to be that of an adolescent with a sex obsession (see the flashbacks referred to above).
Terry Jefferson is fairly young (about 25), inexperienced when it comes to life in general and a bit flighty. He lives with the vile creature that is his domineering, emotionally abusive, bigoted and hateful mother and finds it hard to break away from her.
Terry and Mason meet through Skip’s soccer league and start hooking up. It’s clear from the start that physically, they give each other just what they want. The sex is hot! Mason falls pretty fast for Terry, who he thinks gets him like none of his partners have before. Terry really doesn’t understand that Mason could possibly want him around for anything other than sex. He sees Mason as an older, smarter classy guy and figures they will just keep hooking up until Mason is done with him since he has nothing else to offer. As Mason helps Terry move away from his mother and as they spend more time together, Mason knows Terry is exactly what he wants, but he also thinks Terry isn’t in a position to commit to something long-term since he’s just starting out on his own.
I understood Terry’s confusion and inability to understand having a relationship and I understood Mason’s need to let him go out and experience things. Mason trying to save himself from further heartache didn’t seem to work too well for the most part as Terry does seem to leave him in the dust. I had a hard time connecting with Terry. I really wish I had a bit of his POV, as I think it might have helped me understand just what he was thinking about the relationship, especially once he’s out on his own. I definitely felt bad for him and could feel his sadness and loneliness, but when it came down feeling that emotional connection between him and Mason, that fell a bit short for me.
I did enjoy the sub-story about Carpenter (Skip’s co-worker from Winter Ball) and Mason’s completely adorable brother Dane. Dane is trying to figure out his friend Carpenter’s sexuality, as he seems to be flirting and responding to Dane as if he’s not straight. Their budding friends to lovers story was a strong thread throughout the book and I would love to have their story in the future.
Dane also struggles to live with his bi-polar disorder as Mason tries to keep him on his medication regimen and from falling into an emotional spiral over Carpenter. Although I didn’t find the main love story to pack quite the emotional punch as Winter Ball did for me, the relationship between Mason and his brother Dane was beautiful and did choke me up a few times.
The friendships amongst the soccer team are another strong point of this story and Mason has found his people amongst Skip, Richie, Carpenter and Terry. The banter and camaraderie help Mason through and even serve to give Terry a bit of the push he needs to move forward. And if you’re looking for a strong woman here, Mason’s secretary, Mrs. Bradford takes the cake, while Mason’s mother is the mom every child should have in their corner.
Amy Lane’s writing is wonderful as always. There is depth and emotion and each character has their own voice and personality. If it wasn’t for my trouble connecting with the romance between Mason and Terry, this story would have been as good for me as the first one. Regardless, there is plenty to like here and if you were a fan of Winter Ball you are definitely going to want to read this one.
Winter Ball by Amy Lane
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!
Meet Amy Lane
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.
She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.