Review: Contract Season by Cait Nary (2022)

Trade Season, Book #2

Review of Trade Season, Book #1

Heat Factor: awkward sex → “you should leave” → slow burn → spectacular sex

Character Chemistry: They are so awkward with each other, but they’re also the only one who really understands what the other is going through, and they’re so sweet to each other

Plot: Brody and Sea’s attempt at casual fails horribly, but somebody caught them smooching on camera so now the whole internet knows they’re gay. In order to contain the fallout raining down on their careers, their agents negotiate a six month fake relationship

Overall: The perfection of this fake relationship is that, when they would normally just walk away, they have to stick around and talk things through and UGH MY HEART

Second verse, better than the first. I enjoy a bi-awakening and angstfest as much as the next person, but I really enjoyed that Nary’s second book had a less brooding mood and much more inclusive language. Sea and Brody deal with a lot in this book, but they have supportive families and communities (Brody’s is bigger than Sea’s because the hockey team is bigger, but still), and it makes a difference in how they are able to cope not only with being outed but also with navigating their feelings about each other in reasonably healthy ways. 

Also, I love Party and would be super stoked to read his book. I am totally down for a surprisingly sage hockey himbo.

Brody meets Sea (short for Seamus and pronounced “Shay”) at his childhood friend’s wedding right after he’s been dumped by his boyfriend of three years and he lost the playoffs (or whatever you call it, hockey people don’t @ me) because his boyfriend of three years couldn’t wait until after the playoffs to do the dumping. So he’s done with love (is it even a romance novel if somebody’s not done with love?) but hey, he can fool around again!

Sea sees Brody and catches his eye while performing at his mentor’s wedding. He’s actually a country superstar in his own right at this point, but he’s only 23, and there’s still a lot of himself that he’s faking until he makes it. He’s theoretically not looking for anything because he’s closeted because he’s a country singer, but also he’s a, er, penetration virgin (?) when he has sex with Brody and kinda realizes he maybe would like maybe having a one night stand be…more. 

Things are already not off to a great start between these guys when Brody signs with Nashville, but also these guys are hot for each other, so they hook up again. Sort of. It ends badly. But just as both men have retreated to their respective corners (I know I’m mixing sports metaphors, just go with it), Sea’s totally-supportive-of-the-gays-but-good-Christians-should-know (🙄) neighbors post a video to the internet of these very intentionally closeted famous people caught on their door camera, and scandal ensues. 

And now we arrive at the fake relationship. Brody’s better off than Sea because his team is extremely supportive and not completely unaware, but Sea, as a solo artist, doesn’t have the same professional support network that Brody does. So why wouldn’t Brody step in and help Sea if he can? These guys both have good hearts, even if they’re complete doofuses sometimes. 

The components of this fake relationship that I particularly liked include: there’s actually a contract with specific contractual dates and no need for engagement beyond that. So for the first little while, even though both Brody and Sea are still all up in their feelings about their history, they leave their relationship solely at those contractual dates. But then they start texting. And then they kinda want to hang out just for fun. And oh, feelings are hard. Even though they’re pretty much having sex on page two (not quite, but you catch my drift), the development of their relationship is actually a very slow burn. They don’t have sex again until they get through a lot of hurdles (a lot…this is a long book for Carina Press). 

I also think this is a great example of a fake relationship trope doing its job perfectly because there are moments when something goes wrong and one or both of these guys just wants to turn tail and leave, but because of the contract, they are forced to at least make the effort to get to the other side of the problem. There’s more at stake than simply their own feelings, and it’s not only the big picture reason for the fake relationship in the first place making them pause, it’s the fact that they made an agreement that forces them to think twice before reneging on that agreement.

And finally, unrelated to the trope, I just really love protagonists who take care of each other. They see each other and see when the other is having a tough time (especially Brody seeing Sea) and they reach out, and it’s just everything I want to read in a relationship. You know what, that is actually trope related, because they wouldn’t be as comfortable simply taking those actions if they weren’t in the forced proximity situation. The fake relationship forces them to be in the same boat and because they’re in the boat together, they are willing to reach out.

Perfect trope is perfect. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon

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