Cover Image: Unwritten Rules

Unwritten Rules

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Member Reviews

KD Casey's books make me love sports romances! They are so good at balancing the setting with the plot so that you don't feel overwhelmed by baseball.
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Thanks Netgalley for allowing me to read this book! The title and this beautiful cover drew me in and i was excited to read this book! I will be recommending this book to others for readers advisory.
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Unwritten Rules was so incredibly tender, sweet but in the sexiest way. The dual timeline were woven together so eloquently. This book has made me fall in love with baseball, specifically catchers. KD Casey has become an instant buy for me.
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The main character hates himself for being gay and thus spends the entire time treating other people, even those he loves, like total garbage. Life is simply too short for queer romance with a self-hating protagonist that reads like it was written 15 years ago.

The pacing is off, especially in the first part, and so very slow that it's almost like the author was daring the reader to start skimming the text or simply skip entire pages. I'm sure all the technical information about baseball was highly necessary in the author's mind, but I had rather had read a story about characters that weren't quite so soulless.
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There was a lot of baseball in this book, and it was pretty slow. I did find some appreciation for baseball though, and I loved the disability rep in this, which I definitely wasn't expecting to be present.
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I am always on the lookout for more new and wonderful authors plus, I am a HUGE fan of m/m sports romances, so this book was a no-brainer to pick up. I am, however, not a fan of second chance romances. There are only so many bridges and I probably would have set them on fire long before the characters try for seconds. Anywho... Where was I? Oh yeah... But, because this was a new-to-me author, I decided to grab Unwritten Rules and give it a whirl. Unwritten Rules is a second-chance m/m sports romance with a heavy emphasis on baseball.

The overall story was emotional with more than a little bit on man broody-angst, which is normally not a big deal for me, but in the backdrop of super baseball, sports info... well, it kind of felt a little bleak. Now, the writing definitely pulls you in, BUT the sheer amount of baseball facts and talk et al was kind of a detraction for me. I will just say that I am probably not a good target audience and leave it at that.

Further, the storylines featured dual past and present information, which really pulled me away from the overall story. For me, I'd rather have some sort of storyline in the present or past and then switch to explaining all the past/future, and then go back on with the story. I do eventually have to put the book down and then trying to remember where and when I was, just sort of pulled me away from the overarching storyline.

 Zach and Eugenio's story is chock full of emotion and steam. You truly can feel their connection. As they built up to their relationship through friendship, you do actually get to witness all the feels and emotions develop, which is crucial for me. I really did like how Zach finally decided to deal with his internalized homophobia and feeling about himself. It is a pleasure to see a character grow on-page rather than come back all fixed in one fell swoop.

Overall, I really enjoyed Zach and Eugenio's story and I hope to read more from the author.

*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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Unwritten Rules is MM second-chance sports romance. It is told from the POV of Zach, a professional baseball player and bounces between the present and 3 years ago. Throughout the past sections we see Zach realize he is attracted to Eugenio and begin and end a relationship. In the present sections we see the two find each other again and begin anew.

I really enjoyed the book and the relationship between Zach and Eugenio. Like most gay sports romances the book tackled the issues of internal and external homophobia as well as masculinity, and did so very deftly. This is a sports romance where the sport is on the page a lot. I don’t know baseball. I went to a couple games in college but have no idea how the game works so a lot of the baseball stuff was just gibberish to me and is honestly the only reason this wasn’t a 5 star book for me. I loved all the side characters and felt like they added a lot to the story. I would read more books by KD Casey.

Thank you to Carina Press, Harlequinbooks, and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Fun and steamy read - original, the banter, the teams, I just loved it. I can't wait to read more from Casey!
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I’m a huge fan of queer hockey romance, so I was very excited for the opportunity to read this queer baseball romance. 

The hockey romances I’ve read include gameplay scenes as an integral part of the narrative, but the focus is on the camaraderie off the ice. Zach and Eugenio are both catchers, so there isn’t as much gameplay per se, but this book places an equal emphasis—if not a dominant one—on the mechanics of baseball versus romance. I thought I knew a lot about baseball from schoolyard games and rooting for hometown teams, but this book opened my eyes to so many things I didn’t know about this quintessential American sport. 

I don’t mean to imply that this is a negative aspect of the book—on the contrary, I’m so impressed by Casey’s extensive knowledge of the sport, and I appreciate its inclusion in the romance. 

Speaking of which, I’m always a sucker for second chance romance, and this book delivers a big heaping spoonful of second chance. The timeline skips around from the present day, in which Zach is going to see his ex-boyfriend Eugenio again for the first time in three years—and then three years ago when they first met. 
So needless to say, this book is full of *feelings*, from Zach’s regret about the way they left things, to the realization that his attraction has not waned, to the hope that he can make amends to the man he hurt. The angst level remains fairly low, but it’s a constant presence. 

This is a single-POV romance, with Zach serving as narrator. He’s a fascinating protagonist: he’s a professional athlete who uses a hearing aid, and he’s also Jewish. He’s mostly secular, but he respects the traditions his parents still observe. I should point out that Eugenio is Venezuelan-American. It’s always nice to see a diverse spectrum of representation in romance novel protagonists. 

Baseball players—like most professional athletes, I’d imagine—sure do eat a lot, and this book made me so hungry with all the descriptions of food. AND, there’s cooking for people as a love language, and I could just swoon. 

I would absolutely recommend Unwritten Rules. This was a great book, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Casey in the future. 

I received a digital ARC of this book from Carina Press/NetGalley.
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Well, this is awkward...for a few months now, I have been off and on , trying to read Unwritten Rules and finally managed to finish it today; considering, I read a book a day , it's baffling. 

Here is the thing , Unwritten Rules is undeniable a well written book and K. D. Casey is a very articulate and talented writer. 

Yet,  this is a sport story with some romantic elements to it; not the sport romance I was expecting to read.  To me this tale falls more into  Women Fiction than Romance. 

Conclusion , one must enjoy/love the game of  baseball with all it's intricacies and nuances to really appreciate this book.

I just reviewed Unwritten Rules by KD Casey. #UnwrittenRules #NetGalley
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This book was read thanks to NetGalley

I want to start this saying that I am big sports fan too, so when i read the plot from this book I knew that I had to read it.

And let me tell you that it didn't disappointed me, the author touched ever single detail that you would expect in a LGBT book with sports industry in it... and they did such a good job portraying it, it felt real, it felt respectful of the journey an LGBT people usually goes to accept themselves and how sometimes society makes it harder for them. 

Highly recommended.
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I finished this book last night and I'm still trying to gather my thoughts, to find words that describe my feelings and to make sure I can do this book justice. Because this book was an experience. One I won't forget about easily. One that went up to my all-time favorites shelf right away. I'm sure Zach and Eugenio will stay with me for a long time. I have embraced their story and their love with both arms, ensuring them they own a place close to my heart. I truly fell in love with these guys!

I also fell in love with KD Casey's writing. This book is written in present tense and third person, solely from Zach's pov, and I know there will be readers who don't favor this way of story telling, but for me it worked perfectly. 

This is a true sports romance in more ways than one. It is clear the author has a great love for this game called baseball. For me, as a non-American, living in a country where baseball is quite a small sport, I was afraid the technical side of the game would lower my enjoyment, but it didn't. Like, at all. I loved to see how sometimes the sport and its terms was used as a metaphor for Zach's behavior and his fear for coming out. It was refreshing and educational at the same time, and highly entertaining as well. 

In this story we meet Zach, and from the moment I met him, I just knew I was going to love his story. The writing, being inside Zach's head, the going back and forth in time - everything about it just worked for me. Zach is in his late twenties when he meets Eugenio at spring training. He has known he is gay for quite some time, but he is deeply closeted. Fearing he might not be able to play again when someone finds out, fear for his parent's reactions, because he feels like he's one huge disappointment to them already. He has the occasional hookups when he needs to scratch an itch, but he just doesn't believe a relationship will be in the cards for him. 
Until he meets Eugenio. Sweet, loving Eugenio. I fell in love with him too. The way their relationship develops felt very genuine and real. The friendship and the falling in love. Though Eugenio doesn't hide his sexuality, he is forced to keep their relationship secret. Zach tries, he really does, but the effort isn't enough. His fear is always stronger than his intentions, and it's not surprising when Eugenio gets tired of hiding, of Zach's excuses. 
I loved how Zach's fear was described, because it felt so legit. Being a straight cis woman, I never had to go through what he had, so I can't relate to any of it, but it wasn't hard to imagine it would be like that. The need to at least have someone to talk to. About the longing to be yourself, about the love of your life just walking out of the door because you are not courageous enough to show the outside world who you really are. Who you love. 
Eugenio walking away was Zach's wake up call. And even though Eugenio never forced Zach to come out, I also understood why he was done with hiding their relationship. He needed to tell someone too, talk to someone about how he felt, that he was in a relationship with someone he loved. But he couldn't, because of Zach, and I understood he gave up after 2 years. 
We witness their love develop in flashbacks, and despite the secrecy of it, it's so sweet and endearing. And you just want to know where it went wrong and how. When it finally does, the heartbreak Zach suffers from is written so beautifully, it tugged on my heartstrings, calling on all my feelings. 
So, so touching. 
When they meet again after 3 years, when you get to see how miserable Zach was without Eugenio, when you see how, after everything that happened, there's still a lot of love left, you just know everything will be all right. And then you will finally be able to exhale, to let go of the breath you were holding all this time. 

Needless to say that I highly recommend this book, specially for the readers who love a well written sports romance. Baseball fans will be delighted with this book!!
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This book gives good romance and good baseball. Two thumbs up. I hadn't read anything by KD Casey before but if this turns into a series I will definitely be checking it out.
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I love me some queer sports romance. I was super into the idea of flipping between past and present interactions, of knowing their breakup was inevitable but still rooting for them to succeed. It was also great to see a HoH character whose makes adjustments for his disability without it being a focal point of the plot.  

That said, Unwritten Rules was…okay. I had trouble getting through the prose: it often felt like watching a scratched disc skipping, with scenes that continue across inexplicable short jumps in time. The past/present scenes felt unbalanced, and I kept feeling two steps behind when flipping between time periods. I also found the baseball jargon difficult; I much prefer sports stories where the sport aspect is more accessible to a layperson. 

I stuck it out longer than I would a straight, able-bodied romance but probably wouldn’t have finished otherwise.
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I’m not a sports fan, but I do like a good sports romance, and having read the synopsis of début author KD Casey’s Unwritten Rules, I had high hopes of finding one within its pages.  But while the book gets off to a good start, I’m afraid those hopes were dashed before I got to the halfway point.  It doesn’t tread any new ground in terms of the storyline (closeted pro player worried about the effect coming out could have on his career) – and that’s fine; tropes are tropes, and it’s ultimately all about what the author makes of them.  But while KD Casey can clearly write and really knows her stuff when it comes to baseball, the book has a number of fairly big flaws that make it impossible for me to offer a recommendation.

The story is told entirely from the perspective of Zach Glasser, a catcher with the Oakland Elephants.  He’s Jewish (although not particularly observant from what I could gather), he has hearing loss in one ear, and in the first part of the story, he’s been playing in the major leagues for four years. He’s also gay and deeply closeted, he’s never had a relationship and is so terrified of anyone guessing about his sexuality that he seems  to spend his life constantly assessing and regulating his behaviour to make sure he doesn’t give himself away.  He knows he can’t possibly have a career in professional sport as an openly gay man and has told himself he’ll be able to have a life after he retires.  But that’s quite a few years away yet.

Then Zach meets Eugenio Morales, a young up-and-coming catcher at spring training, and although they’re vying for the same place on the team, Zach is asked to take the other man under his wing.  Eugenio is a fast learner; he’s also handsome and outgoing and Zach, who has never really allowed himself to get close to anyone, finds it hard to resist his overtures of friendship.  It takes Zach quite a long time to see those overtures for what they really are, however; but once he clues in, he and Eugenio (who is bi) embark upon a very secret, very passionate affair.

It’s in the book blurb, so it’s not a spoiler to say that the relationship crashes and burns. Eugenio can no longer deal with the secrecy – and Zach’s near-paranoia – and Zach, despite promises he’s made, is no closer to coming out than when they first got together.

The story is told in two timelines – “three years earlier”, charting the development of Zach and Eugenio’s relationship from their first meeting, and then the “present day” sections which show them getting their second chance after a long separation.  I liked the structure, which means we get to see both first and second-chance romances unfold on the page and it generally works well, although the second-chance romance doesn’t feel as well fleshed-out as the first.  And that leads me to one of my major issues with the novel as a whole, which is that the romance is pretty lacklustre.  I never really connected with the characters or felt the connection between them because there just isn’t enough of who they are outside of baseball; we spend all of the book in Zach’s head, but I couldn’t tell you much about him, and Eugenio’s characterisation is even sketchier. As a result I never understood what attracted them to each other – other than a mutual interest in baseball.  Their chemistry is lukewarm at best, and practically all the time they spend together in the first timeline is spent with Zach terrified about someone finding out about then; his fear of discovery permeates the entire story and I found it exhausting at times.  I’m not belittling the very real prejudice still faced by gay athletes in professional sport, but in most sports romances, there’s room for some lightness and the joy of making that important connection, of really being seen – but this is just unrelenting fear and gloom and Zach getting in his own way.  (I didn’t blame Eugenio one bit for getting out.) And there’s no let-up in the second timeline, which revolves around Zach’s fears of what will happen when he comes out.  A lot of the time, Eugenio feels like an afterthought and I came away from the book feeling as though what I’d read wasn’t a romance so much as it was a story about one man’s journey to self-acceptance.  The ending is abrupt and something of an anti-climax, and I’m not sure I ever got used to the third person present tense narrative, which seemed like a really odd choice.

But the biggest problem I had with the book is that it’s very baseball-heavy – and I know nothing whatsoever about baseball.  Okay, it’s a sports romance, so there’s going to be some actual sport in it, but this isn’t like Rachel Reid’s Game Changers series or Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s Him books, where the hockey is present in such a way that even a sports-hater like me can enjoy the story without needing to know too much about hockey.  In Unwritten Rules, there is hardly a page without some reference to baseball on it, and while the author does a wonderful job of putting the reader there in the stadium dirt with the players, the rest of the time I was completely lost amid technical terminology and talk of triple-and-double-As, stats, opt-outs, trades and various playing techniques.  This meant I had no idea what was at stake for these characters and as a result, couldn’t understand their motivations and decisions.  At best it was incomprehensible and at worst it was boring, and I skimmed entire pages of baseball-talk because I had no hope of working out what it meant or why it was important/relevant.  I felt like I was reading the book from a distance through a sheet of thick glass. Of course, this is a highly personal thing – if you understand the sport, you may well get more out of the book than I did, although that doesn’t negate the other problems I’ve outlined.

What makes it all the more disappointing is that KD Casey is obviously a talented writer, but she gets so bogged down in the minutiae of baseball that the characterisation and romance are sorely neglected.  As a result, Unwritten Rules is a book that will probably only appeal to a very small, niche audience – and I’m afraid that audience doesn’t include me.

Grade - C- / 2.5 stars
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A sports romance for sports fans!!! I loved this book! The **accurate** (praise be) discussion around baseball and the characters careers was PERFECTLY balanced with the building romance and tension. Loved loved loved it.
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3.75 stars

As a sports romance, this was practically everything I could have asked for, and I loved it! Both MCs are baseball players, and a large chunk of the story takes place during spring training when they first meet. They're both catchers who get to know each other while spending long hours together at practice, waiting to see who makes the final roster cuts, and all the little details were exactly what I want from my professional athletes. It's a weird life, and I like getting an inside glimpse at all the bits and pieces that go into it. The author came through big time in that regard.

She even sold me on the second chance romance, which is one of my least favorite tropes. I usually struggle to buy into either the separation or the reconciliation, but this one moves back and forth between the present and past in a way that works really well for that aspect of the story. 

There is a very distinct contrast with the spring training atmosphere and the almost joyful energy that tends to bounce off the pages of my beloved hockey romances, though. That's not a complaint -- I get the sense that it's an accurate contrast and one that I found very interesting to explore -- but I didn't realize how much I rely on that uplifting atmosphere to balance out the tension of the razor's edge these MCs tend to walk when trying not to get caught together.

In this one, that tension is combined with a low-key sense of dread that's hanging over all the happier times of the chapters set in the past because you know what's coming from the very first scene of the book. The MC is now leading a pretty solitary life that he's no longer finding much to be satisfied with, and it drapes a sense of melancholy over the majority of the book that I was not expecting. It was really good, but it had my heart in knots for a lot of the book. (It didn't help that the main source of conflict is something I tend to avoid for anxiety purposes. Thankfully it's handled well and doesn't ever take over the plot.)

And thank goodness I read it anyway because it's the best thing I've read in weeks! I can't wait to see what this author does next.
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I don’t really know the rules of baseball, it’s not readily available to watch in the UK, but there are plenty of pointers in this story to give me the general picture. I did speed over a few paragraphs when the lingo got too intense.  That said, even though there were a lot of what seemed unnecessary information in the plot line, it all came together to make for a truly addictive, highly emotional story.  Zach Glasser is very much down on his life.  He’s a closet gay who has very little self confidence, but an extremely large heart.  He’s very much a, the glass is half empty kinda guy when it comes to his life. Then Eugenio Morales enters his ballpark, and wham, his life changes forever.  Together they should be able to conquer the world, but no, it looks like Zach’s paranoia might end them.  I had so many emotions while reading this, happy, sad, annoyed, angry.  I felt sorry for Zach.  I was annoyed with Zach.  I felt sorry for Eugenio.  I was annoyed at Eugenio.  You name it.  I felt it.   A highly emotional and highly enjoyable read.  I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is my honest review.
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Rainbows and Sunshine 
October 17, 2021

I love sports romance and I cannot remember the last time I read one focused on baseball. Unwritten Rules is a second chance romance and deals with coming to terms with your sexuality, especially when you're an athlete.

Zach and Eugenio have a connection from their first meeting and their chemistry is palpable. It is written entirely from Zach's POV,  alternating between past and present. I liked the format as we can see both romance in parallel. I felt the book to be a bit slow and it took me a while to get into it.

Zach is gay and Jewish with hearing loss and deeply in the closet while Eugenio is bi, Venezuelan and also playing the same position as Zach, i.e, catcher.

So usually when I read sports romances, even though I know pretty much nothing about the sport, I can enjoy the novel very well. And I know even less about baseball than say ice hockey or football. But for this one, baseball is equally important as the romance and that impaired my enjoyment. I think you'd love this even more if you're a fan of baseball.

*ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review
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Zach Glasser lost the best thing in life when he left fear dictate staying in the closet. Fear of losing the sport he loves, the friends and family he’s never told, any chance of happiness with a man who had come to mean far more to him than a team mate.

Three years comes and goes but fate has more in store for Zach and Eugenio. They both get selected to play in the All-Star Classic. It doesn’t matter that it’s been years. The chemistry between them is still off the charts.

So y’all know I love a good sport romance novel. They are my JAM. Add in a second-chance romance, friends-to-lovers trope? I’m about it. There’s so much diversity in this novel, like you would see on a true professional baseball team. Also, Zach has a hearing disability which wasn’t treated as a brief mention. It was present throughout the novel.

I read this when I was supposed to be napping … FYI no naps were had. I couldn’t stop myself from reading.

The way this story was told, in chunks of past and present, really worked. At first it was a little off putting because I expected the traditional one chapter past, one chapter present format. This wasn’t like that. Any time there was a shift, it was easily recognizable.

Do you need to know anything about baseball to understand what is happening here? Nope. You do get pieces of spring training, the all-star game, and activities around the club house, but KD Casey paints such a vivid picture that you don’t really need to know anything about baseball.

Now the romance … it was gooood. The way they flirted with each other in the early stages. While they were training, and when they were together during their off hours. Followed by some steamy kisses. Yes please! I’d give this a 🌶🌶 .5 out of 5 on the spicy scale

Zach’s character, he had my heart. Sure, he fell in love with Eugenio (who had me all 😍 too), but he discovered himself. I liked seeing him understand what he valued in life and the steps he was would take to get there.
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