Title: Man On (Black Jack Gentlemen #1)
Author: Liz Crowe
Publisher: Tri Destiny Publishing
Length: 131 pages
Genre: m/m Contemporary Erotica
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: As the tags are very spoilerish, I don’t want to put them here but if you really want to see them, check them out at the bottom of this post but beware! They contain spoilers!
Rating: Not Feelin’ It
Reviewed by Nikyta
*****This review contains major spoilers to the contents of this book*****
Bad boy of European football, Nicolas Garza is about to hit American shores with a vengeance. Signed by the Detroit Black Jack Gentlemen as lynch pin for their expansion club, Nicco only half believes he’s making the right move. But with a past full of ghosts and rotten behavior chasing him from his homeland, he has no real choice.
Parker Rollings is a college soccer superstar, but his parents’ plans for their only son do not include professional athletics. When the Black Jacks approach him to finalize their roster, Parker leaps at the chance to keep playing, leaving behind medical school, stability and his first and only college sweetheart.
Nicco and Parker face off as bitter rivals for a coveted starting spot at midfield and are forced to channel their negative energy into something positive for the sake of the group—and themselves.
All eyes are on the fledgling team in its debut season. It’s crucial that the Black Jacks prove all the doubters wrong. They must make a good showing in the league and with new fans. But player drama, club dynamics, and misplaced priorities may tear it apart before it even begins.
The first thing I want to say is if you’re coming into this book thinking it would be a real sports story, you won’t get what you expect in this one because it follows Nicco through his journey to finding love in Parker but doesn’t contain many scenes regarding the actual sport.
I liked Parker because he was so innocent, naive and vulnerable. He comes from money but he’s not an obnoxious spoiled brat. He’s very sweet, dedicated to soccer and just wants a simple life where he can be himself. I adored the fact that he blushed so much at the littlest provocative comment. I found it so cute. Nicco is a different story. I won’t lie, I didn’t like him at all. He’s arrogant, stubborn and doesn’t give a crap about anyone else but himself. He does what he wants to and won’t care if someone objects to it. His reaction to Parker is instantaneous and intense. The lust he feels for Parker consumes him to the point he can’t stop thinking about Parker. However, Nicco is a sex addict and he’ll take that lust out on anyone.
The biggest issue I had with this story is that the blurb is very misleading. Coming into this book, I was expecting some intense sexual tension of enemies with a lot of sports related scenes, showing the rivalry between Nicco and Parker, the aggression and face offs for the same spot and ultimately the soccer season that they play together in. Unfortunately, that is not what this book is about and you don’t actually see any of those scenes but are told about them in just a few short paragraphs throughout the story.
To be honest, I didn’t like a majority of it because it is so focused on showing Nicco’s sex addiction (which is not mentioned in the blurb and considering it is SUCH a huge part of the book, I have to wonder why). I struggled to get through at least the first half of the story because Nicco would do anything that had two legs, even indulging in threesomes and orgies with women and men. I will say that while Nicco does have a lot of sex, thankfully most of it (especially with the women) were either glossed over or fade to black. Even with that, however, the constant talking about his conquests and how many he did last night, the orgies he partook in, the soft flesh of so and so grew extremely aggravating and annoying. I kept asking myself, “Why is this in here? Shouldn’t we be focusing on more of Parker and Nicco?”
A lot of the book revolves around that aspect of Nicco and I can’t say that it endeared me to him. It made my opinion that he was selfish and couldn’t understand the concept of monogamy nor be able to uphold it even more intense. It also made me think that even if he did get into a relationship with Parker, that he wouldn’t be able to keep it in his pants long enough to not break Parker’s heart. Regardless, the physical showing of Nicco’s clubbing and conquests took away from the actual Parker/Nicco story, IMO. By the end of the story, we are told and somewhat see the love and supposed devotion (as I said, it’s hard for me to believe Nicco won’t cheat eventually) but we didn’t see the lead up to this love and devotion. Out of the whole story, Parker and Nicco only spend maybe a third of it actually together that we see. The rest is either told to us (such as the time they spend on the field, their teamwork together and this long vacation they took) or of Nicco and Parker getting some action from other individuals.
Personally, that is not something I’m fond of. I like to SEE the development between characters but this book didn’t have any of that until the very end and I found that disappointing. I wanted to like this book but it started off really bad for me because I don’t appreciate seeing to this extent how much of a whore a character is. I want to see the connection between the main characters not between ONE main character and other people. We aren’t shown the connection between Nicco and Parker until very far into the book and at that point, many months have already past between them, none of them where we see them together and this happens more than once where weeks or months pass without us seeing any of what I believe were crucial moments to these characters relationship. More than anything, I really wished we had seen them play together on the field, during practice, at a game, anything to show that not all these boys have is lust because the emotions of love they share, I didn’t see and couldn’t FEEL.
In the end, I will freely admit this isn’t the type of story I like. I prefer to have stories that focus on the emotions that characters share and seeing them NOT on the physical releases of the flesh. Readers that enjoy books that have layers of sex and decadence will enjoy this but if you’re looking for a story about sports and love, this won’t exactly fit the bill. I will say that while I didn’t enjoy the story as a whole, there were pieces that I adored but those happened at the very end and by then, not enough was focused on that to lift my overall opinion. Still, I encourage readers to make up your own mind about this one because I know others will enjoy it much more than I did.
One last thing I want to say is that this book seems to be somewhat of a spin-off of another m/f series by this author. I say this because a few times it was hinted that we should already know a side character’s background and having looked up the author after reading this book, I can say that some of the secondary characters have books of their own in other works by this author.
Posted by Nikyta in 2 Not Feelin' It, Authors A-C, Contemporary, Erotica, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often Tags: Anonymous Sex, Bisexual, Closeted, co-workers, Enemies to Lovers, Famous, First Times, GFY/OFY, Girly Parts, Interracial, Liz Crowe, m/f scenes, m/m/f scenes, Public Sex, Separated Lovers, Series, Sex Addicts, Sports, Summer Vacation, Tri Destiny Publishing
A lot of books use sports as a backdrop for everything from romance, to suspense, to action/ adventure. One of my favorite books, as a matter of fact, is “Fever Pitch” by Nick Hornby which chronicles his life as fan of the English football club Arsenal. It has been translated into both UK and US movie versions but, interestingly enough, the American version decided to make it a movie about baseball, not soccer.
My own obsession with soccer (long called “the beautiful game” in Europe) began in Turkey, where I lived as an ex-pat American for a few years, during which the Turkish national team made a deep run into soccer’s World Cup, a tournament that occurs every four years, opposite the Olympic years. It was absolutely impossible not to get caught up in the country’s pride and near hysterical celebrating as their team made it closer and closer to the finals. They ended up losing to Brazil in the semi-finals who then lost to Germany in the finals. I got so into it, even my somewhat surly doorman for my building was begrudgingly proud of me.
After that we moved to England where “the footie” has long been a known obsession with fans. Football players are, in many cases, among the country’s biggest, most notorious celebrities, their antics and those of their “WAGs” fodder for daily gossip columns and blogs. For the record, I am an Everton fan but if pressed to choose, I will cheer for Man City over Manchester United any day of the week.
When we moved back to the states, my youngest daughter was in first grade (her first real experience living in the U.S. having been born in Japan where we lived prior to Turkey). In second grade, we signed her up for a “rec and ed” soccer team, run by the Ann Arbor public schools recreation department. By the time she was nine, we had joined a soccer club and now, at 15, she has played on Olympic Development teams and is determined to play at a Division 1 school in college.
So we live and breathe the sport you might say, at least from a female perspective, which is a unique one considering the very limited possibilities she has to do much beyond playing in college. But we love the game and subscribe to all the extended cable channels that allow us to watch it all the time.
It has long been my contention that, along the spectrum of fitness for athletes, soccer players are at the “most fit” end. Considering that their game lasts 90 minutes (two 45 minutes halves with a mere fifteen minute interval) and most players start and play the entire game with only the half time break. And it is a constantly moving sport, with players running up and down the field at top speeds, colliding with each other to gain control of the ball. Make no mistake: soccer IS a contact sport. And at least in Europe, the “season” lasts nearly year round.
It is gaining a foothold in America as a spectator sport more and more, thanks to the legions of kids who now play up through the thousands of soccer clubs from coast to coast. Cities like LA, Chicago, Washington, Houston, Kansas City and Salt Lake City have “Major League Soccer” teams and New York has recently announced its selection for an expansion team. The league has also decided that each team should have a “reserve (or farm) team” located in another city.
So I have crafted an “expansion team” for Detroit, Michigan, a city that is know for its sports fans and successful teams and one that could use the boost from visitors (and that’s about 40 minutes from my home in Ann Arbor). The “Black Jack Gentlemen” currently consists of 3 books, with at least 2 more planned if not more, depending on reader demand. They are unique stories, all designed to be read alone, if need be or enjoyed as a series as the players and club staff intertwine throughout.
In it, I deal with issues such as gay professional athletes (Man On), the gender politics of the game, and personal tragedy that leads to surprise second chances (Red Card) and how a person’s entire psyche can be ruined by abuse disguised as “BDSM” (Shut Out). These are not traditional “romance” novels but at their core contain tales of the basic human desire for companionship and love. All wrapped around the dynamics of a fledgling, somewhat rag-tag team in a sport and city that both have something to prove.