Title: Canning the Center (Long Pass Chronicles #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Tara Lain (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: December 17, 2014 – 250 pgs
Six foot seven inch, 300 pound Jamal Jones loves football, so when he finds out the ultra-conservative owner of his new pro football team fired their current center because he’s gay, bisexual Jamal decides to stay in the closet and hang with the females. Then, at a small drag show, he comes face-to-face with his sexual fantasy in the form of Trixie LaRue, a drag queen so exquisitely convincing she scrambles Jamal’s hormones — and his resolve to nurse his straight side.
Trevor Landry, aka Trixie LaRue, hides more than his genitals. A mathematician so brilliant he can’t be measured, Trevor disguises his astronomical IQ and his quirk for women’s clothes behind his act as a gay activist undergrad at Southern California University.
To Trevor, Jamal is the answer to a dream — a man who can love and accept both his personas. When he discovers Jamal’s future is threatened if he’s seen with a guy, Trevor becomes Trixie to let Jamal pass as straight. But Trevor risks his position every time he puts on a dress. Is there a closet big enough to hold a football pro and a drag queen?
Cheesy, tired plot-devices aside, I loved this. Jamal and Trixie/Trevor are really brilliant characters. Vulnerable in his rookie NFL year, Jamal is away from his huge supportive family for the first time, learning about the price of fame. Brilliant mathematician Trevor is hiding away as an undergraduate student by day and hiding even further as drag-queen Trixie by night.
Other reviewers have said all that needs to be said about the plot. It is more than a little melodramatic, creates OTT villains and leaves subplots dangling. It’s not perfect. But I would argue that the Jamal/Trixie/Trevor pairing is both original and beautifully written.
I liked Jamal in the first book of this series as Will’s friend. I absolutely adore him here, leaving college behind, choosing his adult identity and struggling to make good decisions.
Trixie/Trevor is a wonderfully unusual m/m hero. The author could have stopped at an androgynous identity, but instead she crafted an insecure mathematics genius behind the pretty face. It works. Well. Trevor and Jamal’s strengths compliment each other perfectly.
This is my favourite book in the series so far and I’d love to see the author craft more unlikely heroes in the future.
Tara Lain never met a beautiful boy she didn’t love – at least on paper. A writer of erotic romance, mostly ménage and male/male, Tara loves all her characters, but especially her handsome heroes. A lifelong writer of serious non-fiction, Tara had the first novel she ever wrote accepted for publication in 2011. She’s now on book 27 and counting. After an exotic life of travel all over the world and work in television, education and advertising, Tara settled in Southern California with her soul-mate husband and opened her own small marketing business. She paints, collages, and started practicing yoga “way before it was fashionable”. Passionate about diversity, justice, inclusion and new ideas she says on her tombstone it will read, “Yes”.