Straight from the Heart by Kimberly Gardner


 College student Kyle diStefano is having trouble paying his tuition. So when he hears about a job as team mascot with the accompanying full scholarship it seems like the perfect solution. Except he knows nothing about football. But why should that stop him?Known as the Big Cock on Campus, Dave Masterson never lets his antics with the ladies interfere with his true love, playing NCAA football. But when his coach suggests the team do some off-season conditioning at the ballet barre,  most of the guys scoff. Only Dave takes him seriously.

With Dave’s knowledge of football and Kyle’s knowledge of ballet, it seems each has exactly what the other needs, except they play for different teams. Or do they?

Kyle knows one sure path to heartbreak is falling for the straight jock who’s teaching him the rules of the game. Dave falling for another man is going to mean nothing but trouble. But neither man can seem to help himself.

When a public display of affection casts doubt on Dave’s NFL dream, he is forced to make a choice. Stay
with the game plan or call an audible straight from the heart.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23501185-straight-from-the-heart
While this is the third book in the series and characters from the previous two books do appear, Straight from the Heart can be read as a stand-alone book without issue. In this installment in the Exception to the Rule series we meet Kyle and Dave. Kyle is an out and proud dance student who
needs to learn more about football so that he can land the position of team mascot and get a full scholarship to finish paying for school. Dave is the big man on campus, straight as an arrow quarterback whose coach just suggested he take ballet lessons to improve his game. After a brief conversation, the two learn that they can help each other out and agree to share their knowledge with
the other.
One of the things I really liked about this book was that Dave wasn’t embarrassed to be seen with Kyle. Quite frequently in novels with this kind of storyline, the straight jock is too worried to be labeled gay by association to be seen in public with the other guy. However, Dave wasn’t worried about it and not only met Kyle in public, he also took him to the football field to demonstrate different plays and invited Kyle as his plus one to a mutual friend’s wedding. I was also surprised by the adolescent experience Dave related to Kyle prior to their first encounter – not at its occurrence, but rather that Dave shared it. I enjoyed the way in which Ms. Gardner developed Dave and Kyle’s characters and their relationship in a gradual manner which added to the realism of the book. Their sexual encounters
were hot, with the first one being even more intense when Dave admitted to Kyle that he really didn’t know what he was doing. That admission showed Dave’s vulnerability because he could have just as easily pretended to know what he was doing and hurt Kyle in the process, and that he did this just endeared his character to me even more. But even that paled in comparison to Dave’s grand gesture at the end because he understood that he needed to be a man of action and knew that words alone would not help him to achieve his goal … Kyle.
Straight From the Heart was a great read. I have read other books by Ms. Gardner and found her writing in this one to be just as enjoyable. I look forward to reading more of her work and plan to read the previous books in the Exception to the Rule series as I liked “meeting” their characters in this book and would like to read their stories as well – especially Josie’s story.