Author: Tara Lain
Series: Long Pass Chronicles
Released: January 15th 2016
Length: 200 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Dreamspinner Press
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?
For the most part, Tara Lain writes romance after my own heart. There is something so alluring about her characters, these men that always exude incredible loneliness, but show bravery when it’s most needed. While I can do without Lain’s shifter romance (or anyone’s, really), her Long Pass Chronicles are a guilty pleasure of mine. Hot, lonely football players, closeted or not, are bound to steal my heart.
In this ongoing fight for equality, it is most useful to remind ourselves over and over again that not all cultures suffer from our prejudice. I love Lain for bringing forth Native American beliefs about two-spirited people and doing a darn good job of explaining them. How I would love to live in a culture where being gender fluid is not only accepted, but respected as well. With Raven Nez, a huge, macho football player from a different culture and with an entirely different set of beliefs, Lain delivered a character that entertains and educates, all at the same time.
While amazing in many ways, the book is not without its problems, mostly in the romance department. I loved Lain’s approach to cultural issues, but Dennis’s life and struggles seemed just a bit over the top. I don’t doubt that there are people like Dennis’s parents, but somehow, the entire set up didn’t seem at all believable to me. Consequently, I never quite believed his interest in Raven wasn’t some kind of reaction to the mess he was going through, an attachment to the first person who was genuinely kind to him. On the other hand, with so many secrets between them, Raven basically fell for someone he barely even knew, which made both their feelings seem a bit unfounded and rash to me.
Nevertheless, there are so many positives to point out, starting with Raven being so openly gay as well as the cultural insights we are offered. Overall, while it’s not my favorite in the series, Tackling the Tight End (and I refuse to discuss the ridiculous title) is a book worth reading for many reasons. I’d recommend giving the entire series a try.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.