Crossing the Touchline by Jay Hogan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Full review tomorrow, but that was good, like seriously good, speaking as a huge Rugby League fan and follower of Rugby Union.
Ian Roberts, Gareth Thomas, Keegan Hirst, Sam Stanley, Nigel Owens, Louisa Wall, Phaidra Knight, Jillion Potter, Jen Kish, Mark Bingham (although he never played top game).
Ten names, ten different stories, all rugby league or rugby union players (and one referee).
In Crossing The Touchline Jay Hogan puts the spotlight on possibly the biggest sporting team in the world – the New Zealand All Blacks (hush up Manchester United fans 😉 ) and gives the reader an insight into the pressures of not conforming to the norm when it comes to sexuality.
Both Reuben and Cameron are wonderful creations, they’re fully rounded out characters, they live, they love, they hurt, they deal with tensions that the vast majority of people will never have to think about.
This is a love story, make no bones about that, but it’s also so much more. It’s about the pressures put on our top sportsmen and women to conform, it’s about the mental health issues of having to hide who you are and who you love, it’s about dickhead families, it’s about sporting organisations that put their money where their mouths (and sponsorship deals) are.
I totally believe in this New Zealand All Black side, management and all, having the back of a gay out player, they’re one of the loudest shouting sides in the world when it comes to equality.
The struggles both Reuben and Cam go through never overshadow the romance though. Jay has pitched this book absolutely perfectly (and I don’t just say that as a full flag carrying supporter of both codes of rugby football!)
They are scorching hot together, their relationship relies as much on friendship and support as it does with what happens between the sheets.
There were times I was screaming at what was going on (not going to spoiler it, but be aware of potential triggers for a parental unit that should never have been graced with offspring), the careful and considered treatment of a character who falls on the Autistic Spectrum is also encouraging and brings another layer of tension to the narrative which is wholly believable.
Everything about this book spoke to me. It’s quite radically different than the first book in the series (which is now with Dreamspinner and will be re-published later this year for those wondering) but it’s no less a story.
I loved it. It’s not an easy read, it’s a long book but it never felt like a trial, I didn’t want to put it down because I had to see how they reached their Happy and the Epilogue is beyond awesome.
I’d love there to be no stigma about being a gay sportsman or woman, sadly I know we’re a long way off that, but the more books like this give people hope, the sooner we might reach that goal.
#ARC kindly received from the author via the publishers Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest and unbiased review
Pre-order your copy at Dreamspinner Press here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/crossing-the-touchline-by-jay-hogan-10402-b
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