This book has some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever read. Raven Nez, a Native American, is a college football star. He’s the Great Red Hope: his father and tribe expect him to enter the NFL draft, promote the casino, and earn lots of money for the people on the reservation. Raven claims that his talent is exaggerated by “the Native thing. The hair, the mystique.” He’s afraid he’ll get injured quickly in the NFL, but he realizes the benefits he could bring to the tribe.
Raven is also gay. His grandfather raised him to believe that gay people are two-spirited, with special places in the tribe. Raven volunteers at a youth shelter and passes this message on to gay teens who have been taught just the opposite. He fights off women thrusting their bosoms at him for autographs and avoids the spotlight, because he just wants to help kids.
Dennis Hascomb is a film student hired by the tribe to make some promotional videos for the casino. He also has a YouTube talk show that, in the past, outed a popular student and caused lots of drama. Dennis is very pretty. Raven is asked to work with Dennis on the video, and he has such a crush on this white boy who’s so smart, yet haunted.
I also have to mention Raven’s best friend, Walter. They’ve been friends since they were kids, and have been fake boyfriends for a while. See, Raven’s got enough status in the tribe that people would love to match him up with their sons. He doesn’t like a lot of attention, though, so Walter does him a solid by pretending to be his boyfriend, thus saving him from hundreds of setups. Walter’s also looking out for Raven: “I think this is something you have to do with your white boy. And I’ll tell you this. Anybody you love, I love. But if he ever hurts you, all that pretty blond hair will be hanging from my belt.”
Dennis is a whole ocean of drama. I can’t even explain without spoilers, but his situation is something I’ve never seen before. It was almost too much — Raven’s life is complicated enough, Dennis could be Average Joe and it would still be an interesting romance. But he’s not. Dennis is gay, but has never acted on it, and Raven is very cute with Dennis’s virginal excitement.
This book has a sweat lodge ritual, and football, and a casino, and parental expectations, and blackmail, and creepy people, all in a hurricane surrounding Raven and Dennis. It’s quietly suspenseful, as you wonder when the dam is going to break open (mixed nature metaphors, sorry!). I loved it so hard. My only quibble is this: Dennis has A Secret (of course). As in every romance, he can’t fully be with the one he loves until he reveals the Secret. And, as in many romances, I didn’t like his timing. But that’s mostly my preference. Otherwise, everything worked out, and there is definitely an HEA, and this was amazing and well-developed and funny and you should read it.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
Tackling the Tight End
by Tara Lain
Release Date: January 15, 2016