Author: Tara Lain
Narrator: John-Paul Barrel
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 8 Hours, 30 Minutes
At a Glance: This is definitely not my favorite from this author, and I am still not convinced audiobooks are for me.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Will Ashford lives in two closets. He meets his wealthy father’s goals as both the quarterback for the famous SCU football team and a business major, but secretly he attends art school and longs to live as a painter. And he’s gay. But if he can win the coveted Milton Scholarship for art, he’ll be able to break from his father at the end of his senior year.
In a painting master class, Will meets his divergent opposite, Noah Zajack. A scarred orphan who’s slept on park benches and eaten from trash cans, Noah carefully plans his life and multiple jobs so he has money and time to go to art school. Will’s problems seem like nothing compared to Noah’s. Noah wants the scholarship too and may have a way to get it, since the teacher of his class has designs on him–a plan about which Will isn’t happy.
Review: Hmmmm. Where to start. I am really a fan of this author, but this book just didn’t work for me. I do think part of the issue was the narrator, but I also had issues with the story.
Will Ashford is the starting quarterback of the fictitious Southern California University football team, and his girlfriend is the head cheerleader. That would all be great except for one big fat problem – Will is gay. He has no desire to go to the NFL, and he really just wants to paint, so he’s taking a Master class under an assumed name. He’s a really talented painter, and he wants to win a scholarship to attend Art school so that he can leave his family expectations behind and not have to worry about tuition, etc.
In this class, Will meets Noah – who is both a model and a rival painter, and Will’s entranced by him. The instructor of the class is also interested in Noah, and his recommendation may be a key to getting this scholarship. For Will, though, trying to keep up on his painting class, his football practice, his other courses, his internship at his father’s company, as well as keeping off the radar of the campus YouTube gossip hound, and continue to feign interest in his girlfriend while also trying to keep the proverbial closet door shut and locked, is taking a big toll on him.
When Will runs into Noah outside of class, at one of Noah’s jobs, all he can think of is not being outed as an artist. Noah respects him as an artist, but he doesn’t think much of him as a person. And that’s before he knows that Will hasn’t exactly been forthcoming.
The character I like the most in this story is actually Will’s best friend Jamal, who is the center on his football team. He really is the kind of best friend everyone needs. I’m looking forward to reading his story, which is the second book in this series. Jamal always has Will’s back, doesn’t judge, and tries to do whatever he can to help Will out of whatever crappy situation he finds himself in. And Will would do the same for Jamal.
As the story progresses, of course Will cannot continue to hide his orientation from Noah when he is so attracted. They have a complicated relationship not only because of the art scholarship they both really want but because they come from such different worlds. Will feels trapped in the gilded cage, and Noah has never had any kind of stability in his life, other than what he has managed on his own.
Of course, as these things go, there must be a moment of truth when Will is put in the position to confirm or deny his orientation, his life choices, and his career aspirations. He is not only going to have to face the press, the football fans, and his father, but he’s going to have to face Noah and make a decision about how he’s going to live his life.
So why do I say this audio book didn’t work for me? Truly, I didn’t care for the narrator. To make sure, I read some of the book after I had finished listening to it, and I liked it a LOT more when I was in control of the story. His attempt at a sort of “sultry/sexy” voice for Will just was difficult for me to listen to and felt very put on and over the top. Then his older adult voice characterizations just did not sound right to me at all. Will’s dad and the art professor both sounded like they had chronic constipation. Honestly, the best characterization, I thought, was Jamal. That voice I could believe. He sounded age appropriate, and his speech pattern was much more authentic.
The other issues I had with the story are probably personal taste. I do not like penis nicknames and this one had a doozy. I know he’s a young guy, but no. And I also didn’t care for some of the other nicknames either. Finally, I just could not like Will as a character. The first, probably, eighty percent of the book, I felt like I was forcing myself just to get through it, and only in the last twenty percent did I finally want to know what was going to happen.
I will definitely read the next story in this series – but I will be reading it to myself. ;) As usual, YMMV.
You can buy Outing the Quarterback here: