on 17 June 2011
I have just finished reading this story by Amy Lane and I am really really surprised that there hasn't been a review before now. Or maybe not so much.
The first book I found of Amy's was Keeping Promise Rock and as soon as I had finished that I went looking for more of her work. I have to say I bypassed The Locker Room on more than one sweep through her works listed on Amazon and why? Well honestly it was the cover it was a big turn off. It had me thinking of frat boys and animal house and comic book goings on and thats just not the kind of book that interests me.
But Gods the book is so much more than that! Its actually a story of survival, and a growing love, and trying to fit in in a closed off society where same sex partnerships are cruely discriminated against.
Xander is a child living by his wits in a dump of a house with his junkie mother and whichever man she is hooked up with at the time. He's gentle, he's starving and all he has to distract his rumbling stomach and lonely thoughts is his basketball.
Chris has a good life, his mother and father work hard and give him and his sister all the love and support that they can. A chance meeting when Chris's mother is a little later picking him up has the two boys playing ball and the chemistery is right there between them. They move well together, read each other as though they have known each other for years and Xander is taken home to the boys house and the friendship begins.
Being a Scot I really don't know a lot about basketball apart from you have to be really tall but all the technical stuff about the game in the book wasn't hard to follow because it was all intermixed with what was going on in the boys lives.
Chris's family helps Xander survive through school and through hard work and determination the boy gets a scholarship to play basketball and he and Chris head off to college. They play like a dream on the court and pull their team to the top and then both boys are offered a professional contract and their lives start falling apart. Not because they don't love each other but because of the strain of trying to hide the fact that the two of them are a couple. And the nastiness just piles on and on ..................
I won't say any more its a book you have to read to its conclusion and you won't be sorry you do if you love m/m romance.
on 3 December 2012
What is going on with these book covers?? I have to say for the record that I'm not a great fan of the extremely cheesy looking covers which publishers of this genre tend to use, in fact I'm not a fan at all! Why do the authors let them get away with it - ugh! This cover is a particularly bad example IMHO.
This review contains **Spoilers**
As far as the contents of the cover are concerned, a magnificent book, and for me, on a par with Amy Lane's other brilliant book 'Sidecar', to which I've also given a 5* review. Xander & Chris have been together and in love since they were 14. As the formative years of Xan's life were so horrific (mum's drugs and general couldn't give-a-toss attitude, violence and so much hunger), once he'd met Chris, all he wanted were Chris and basketball. As they grew up, and continued to play B/B, they tried to date girls (even sleeping with them) in an effort to conform to sports general outlook as a whole (be manly and lots of groupies are OK), to avert suspicion away from themselves (Chris' family and close friends were 'in the know' and were cool with it). However, it started to take a toll on the 2 guys; Chris began to drink heavily as he tried to maintain the charade, and unfortunately Xander's nightmares from his childhood (of being locked in a box) began to worsen and he also started getting an ulcer - please bear in mind that by this time, the guys had been together and in love as a couple for a lot longer than most modern-day marriages, in fact they thought of themselves as married. When they eventually returned to Sacramento to play for their team (their hometown), things were fine at first until the coach was changed, and a really homophobic moron arrived, whose every other word was extremely derogatory, and as he noticed that they seemed to be together all the time, picked on them incessantly. He discovered them kissing in the locker room (hence the title) on the one occasion when they'd decided that they couldn't continue the charade any longer and were going to 'out' themselves. Overnight, Chris was transferred to a team 1000 miles away, and Xander was left in their huge house to confront his worsening nightmares alone. Luckily, Chris' sister Penny and a couple of 'stray' girls who were friends of the boys moved in, which obviously helped Xander, but Chris was then left alone in Denver, drinking more by the day. This of course eventually resulted in a car accident which meant that Chris was unable to continue playing B/B, indeed, was lucky to get away with his life. As Xander continued to try and get Sacramento to the play-offs (with Chris' wish that Xander play for himself and not the team), Chris slowly recovered sufficiently enough to be able to be airlifted back to California, and continue his rehabilitation in their own home, complete with nursing staff etc., Xander then decided that he no longer had a problem announcing to the world that they were gay (as it no longer meant anything to keep it a secret because Chris could no longer play). This lead to Barbara Walters, American chat show host extraordinaire apparently, visiting their home and getting an interview that finally put their side of their story. At this point, Xander was still none the wiser as to whether he could continue playing for Sacramento, as no-one from the club had been in touch since the interview, but there were no rules in B/B's book to say that a gay person couldn't play, and as Xander was the heart and soul of the team (as well as their best player), they needed him, and the book ended with a phone call.
The only minor niggle I had with the book was that as both of the guys had tats done at 18 featuring rings and each other's names (in place of actually wearing each other's ring), I would have thought that their secret would have been discovered much, much earlier than it was, I mean don't they shower after a game? Maybe they showered at home? I have to admit to shedding quite a few tears during the reading of this book, that's how much I enjoyed it and got so involved in the characters. I'll readily hold my hands up and confess that to me B/B is just a 'souped up' version of netball (which I hated as it was so boring) and I do not understand it, but the book was tremendous, and I'll read it again and again. Many thanks Amy.
on 9 March 2013
I love the m/m genre, you know what you're getting, emotion and lots of it. Chris and Xander, friends, lovers, soul mates and the story of how they got from childhood to fame and fortune, disaster and ultimately to where Xander wanted them. What a fabulous tale, plus I learned a bit more about basketball than the only team I know - The Harlem Globetrotters! It was just so good and your heart bleeds for Xander and his early life, and Chris and his family are so what every family should be like, loving and happy, two parents and a safe haven. I won't spoil it - you don't want to know the plot you just want to know if its worth reading and it most certainly is.
on 29 June 2013
First, forgive this amazing book it's unsophisticated front cover!
Second, this is a most unexpected beautifully written drama, so heartrending it made me ache for the two protagonists. Intense, and my heart was in my mouth throughout. This is a very rare find today in gay literature where every Tom at every street corner is an 'e-writer', pouring out poor stories by the gallons, their literary efforts usually leaving one irritated, disappointed, embarrassed and unfulfilled. This book is different, you've got to read this book. It is so heartbreakingly beautiful.
on 7 May 2015
Sweet romance with a hard edge. This book bowled me over. I listened to it on Audible, have got it on kindle, and having finished it immediately sent for a hard copy, and I am very discerning as to what goes on my collectors shelf !
I adored Chris and Xander. I am a sucker stories where lovers beat the odds , experience angst and somehow rise above all the negativity in life because they are special people. This read will leave you in a happy place :)
on 24 September 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is a story about romance pure and simple. I liked the characters and I only encountered 1 typo - which is really great. I so loved it I'm about to buy another book by the same author.
I have given this a 4 * rating because:
1. I loved the story
2. It was edited with care
3. I have re-read certain bits of it already
4. The 'sex' bits were part of the story and not just mindless porn
I would have given it a 5* rating if the story had ended without me having to wonder what happened next. I didn't much like the ending, although it was ok and the main character was at peace, which was somewhat satisfying. Complete satisfaction would have earned the last star.
I am happy to recommend this book.
on 27 September 2011
I picked up this book for one reason; I needed to get my reading focus back! I was all over the place in my reading. I was starting books which couldn't hold my attention and this wasn't necessarily the stories fault. Experience taught me that a story from Amy Lane has always been able to draw me in and keep me engaged throughout the entirety of it. The Locker Room was no exception. I will not attempt to try and explain what it is about Amy Lane's characters that affects me some much, just the fact that they do.
Normally I'm a reader who loves a complex multitude of storylines but The Locker Room kind of swallowed me up with its simplicity, intensity and romance! I have no review notes save the names of the main characters and a quote. That's it! The Locker Room is about falling in love and doing everything for each other. To conquer difficulties and bigotry but also soaring in the love you feel for the other half of your heart and soul. There is also love for the basketball game and making hard choices. It was all revolving around Xander Karchek and Christian Edwards. Their life, their love and the game they played brought enough emotional tension for me to be completely invested.
At the beginning of the story Xander Karchek is a teenager who has to scrape by in life for food, warmth and a place to stay safe. He has one love and that is basketball. It is on a fateful night he plays basketball where he meets Christian Edwards. Chris is coming from a warm nest with loving parents but the moment those two meet on that basketball court the magnetism between them is evident. They come from opposite backgrounds and while Xander struggles with this fact, in the end, it didn't matter! From that first moment they were kibble and bits, red and yellow M&M, Ben and Jerry...you get my drift. At first they became inseparable friends but over time it developed in to true love. The love burned fierce inside Xander and Chris, they never doubted that love, or the connection they felt. They were each other's first and only love which grew deeper over the years. It was the outside world that caused trouble and then some.
Xander and Chris bring out the best in one another and over the course of the years I saw that connection grow so strong. I think it is a remarkable feat to have almost fifteen years pass by in 250 pages. It never felt rushed and always with a flowing writing style and animated dialogues. Some periods got more attention than others but in every significant moment Amy Lane put focus and detail. At some points I thought it almost went too easy. Xander and Chris are stars in high school and college basketball and then go pro. It is the secrecy about their love for each other that brings a high voltage tension to the story. It brings difficult dilemma's to the forefront yet it simultaneously showcases the strength of their romance and their bond together. This kind of romance sweeps me off my feet and makes my heart go pitter patter.
The Locker Room resonated with me in the message that real love can conquer it all. It might not be easy, it sure as hell wasn't easy for Xander and Chris. Yet they have a tenacity, a love stronger than oak and a small group of family and friends to opposite the darkness, dangers and bigotry. Both these men are very sympathetic and become a powerful pair. I was just completely engulfed by the maelstrom of feelings portrayed by these two life-like men! There was no secondary storyline or plot, it all revolved around Xander and Chris' life and it was enough.
Chris and Xander were personable, passionate and sympathetic from the first moment I met them. Gradually the emotions became more complex to deal with and I was nailed to the pages how this couple would come up at the other end. I love it how this author has the ability to keep me focused on just two characters sharing their tumultuous ups and downs with me. Amy Lane excels in complex emotions, fantastic developing relationships and awesome characters.