Title: Tackling the Tight End (Long Pass Chronicles #3)
Author Name & Publisher: Tara Lain (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: January 15, 2016 – 216 pgs
Everyone wants the best for SCU student and tight end Raven Nez—and they know exactly what that is. Enter the NFL draft, become a big football hero, promote his tribe’s casino, and make a lot of money to help people on the reservation. Just one problem. Raven’s gay and he really wants to work with gay kids. Plus he figures a gay Native tight end will get flattened in the NFL. Then the casino board hires a talented student filmmaker to create ads for the tribal business and asks Raven to work with him. But the filmmaker is Dennis Hascomb, a guy with so much to hide and a life so ugly it’s beyond Raven’s understanding. Still he’s drawn to Dennis’s pain and incredible ability to survive.
Captivated by Raven’s stories of the two-spirited and by the amazing joy of finally having a friend, Dennis knows he has to break free from everything he’s ever been taught was good—but that’s a struggle that could kill him and Raven too. Is there a chance for “the great red hope” and the “whitest guy on earth”? A future for the serpent and the raven?
The third book in the Long Pass series takes readers back to SCU. A few years after Will and Noah’s story, Raven Nez is SCU’s new star football player. Even from the outset, Raven is the perfect leading man. He is out and proud. He is confident with his native heritage and he works to support his band when he isn’t supporting troubled LGBT youth.
As Tara Lain doesn’t do angst-free romance, her other leading man is enough of a hot mess to fully compensate for Raven’s perfection. Dennis is the villainous blogger who outed Will during the first story. Readers who loathed him in that story have to wait quite a while in this one to find any redeeming qualities in him. Even when I finally started to see him as a victim, I struggled to like or respect him. And I certainly didn’t trust him.
In a romance, I need to feel balance between partners if I am to believe in the chemistry and a HEA. Here, Raven was just too strong and Dennis too weak for me to see them as a pairing of equals.
There were parts of this story I really loved. Raven’s native identity is fascinating. I loved the complexity of his relationship with his family and his band. I loved the complexity of his relationship with football. But whenever the story flipped to focus on Dennis, I struggled to stay focused and involved in the story.
I have really enjoyed this series so far. I love the diversity of Tara Lain’s leading men and I secretly enjoy the OTT angst in each of these stories. I just didn’t enjoy the pairing in this book as much as I did the pairings in the first two stories.