The Penalty for Holding

The penalty for holding

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Get your game face on for “The Penalty for Holding” (Less Than Three Press), Georgette Gouveia's male/male literary romance about a gay, biracial quarterback’s search for identity, acceptance, success and love amid the brutal beauty of the NFL. Published by Less Than Three Press, it’s a timely tale of male power and rivalry – subjects that have always thrilled the author – set against the backdrop of the one-percenters she's long observed as a luxury magazine editor and senior cultural writer.

When the quarterback of the hapless New York Templars is injured, backup QB Quinn Novak takes the team to the playoffs. There he attracts the attention of two other quarterbacks who’ve been rivals since high school – Mal Ryan of the Philadelphia Quakers and Tam Tarquin of the San Francisco Miners. Quinn begins a volatile relationship with the narcissistic Mal and a loving one with the open-hearted Tam, keeping each secret from the other.

“The Penalty for Holding” – which may evoke for readers the homoeroticism of Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain” as well as the novels of Mary Renault and Patricia Highsmith – marks the second novel in Gouveia’s series “The Games Men Play.” Her first was the well-received “Water Music” (Greenleaf Book Group), about four gay athletes – two swimmers, two tennis players – and the way their professional rivalries color their personal relationships with one another.

"We get the arts and entertainments for our time," Gouveia says. "When I arrived in Jakarta and Bali in 2012 and saw the young men playing ball amid the morning mist, I knew Indonesia would play a part in the second book. Back then, there was no Michael Sam trying out for the NFL, and Colin Kaepernick was not yet taking a knee for Black Lives Matter. The Jonathan Martin hazing scandal and the various domestic abuse scandals were just heating up, while the concussion scandals were still in the future. Somehow I had intuited much of this and determined to use the rest in what would become a football novel.

"What I didn't anticipate was the rise of nationalism and anti-globalization in the world that essayed in Brexit and the presidency of Donald J. Trump. I thought I was writing a book about sex, race, the failure of leadership and violence in the workplace and how that violence spills into our personal lives. And I did. But I also crafted a novel about Quinn's challenging Indonesian-American heritage, which, as it turns out, fits this moment perfectly."