Well, I’m not quite to the level of reading all this author’s stuff (it is very aggressively male, which I can tolerate in a sports romance, but I’m not sure about elsewhere). But I am very much in for the rest of this series. I hope it’s longer than three books.
This time around, we follow Simeon Boudreaux, who we met last book as one of Gavin Brawley’s best (only) friends and teammates on the Barons, a fake New York professional football team. Simeon is a genuine Famous Athlete. Even non-sports people know his name. And of course Simeon is recently out of the closet. It’s been about a year since he and Gavin came out, and things have been going about as well as could be expected under the circumstances. There has been some pushback, but for the most part he is accepted by his teammates and fans as the first openly gay man in the NFL.
But he used to be on another team, the Predators, before he was a star quarterback with enough cultural cache to survive coming out of the closet in one of the most potentially homophobic spaces in the country. Mostly he hated his time on that team. He rarely played, and the atmosphere of the team was much different, much more negative. He did make a friend, another newbie, Adrián Bravo. But when Simeon left the Predators, his relationship with Adrián soured. Adrián saw what Simeon did as selling out to their rival team, and the two haven’t passed up a chance to fight and prod one another since. This has only escalated since Simeon came out of the closet. Everything comes to a head after Adrián makes veiled homophobic comments about Simeon on TV, and a pre-season game turns into a brawl.
To salvage the situation and get some good PR, Adrián and Simeon are banned from six games and sentenced to volunteer with kids at a Brooklyn youth center, teaching them how to play football. Oh, what a good time to patch up their relationship and perhaps discover some (sexy) things about themselves! Because look, there is a reason Adrián was so mad at Simeon for leaving the Predators, and it’s not because he gave away some of the Predators plays, which is what he tells himself. Nope, Adrián is a deeply closeted bisexual man (so closeted he isn’t even consciously aware of it), with a huge crush on Simeon. Simeon, of course, realizes this pretty quickly, and is only waiting for Adrián to catch up. Their relationship turns into this strange, sweet friendship where they basically play gay chicken with each other while Adrián works through his shit.
I would have actually liked a bit more drama, which feels like a weird thing to say. Normally drama just stresses me out. But that tension between the life Adrián thinks he’s supposed to be living, and the one he actually wants to live, was just worked through way too quickly for me. I wanted a little bit more wallowing.
Not sure when the next book is coming out, or who it’s going to follow. If it’s going to be Adrián’s jackass Predators teammate, just, oh man. Hassell has his work cut out for him. That guy is deeply unpleasant and if he is gay (like Adrián surmises at one point), he is covering it with a toxic level of jackholery and homophobia.
Long story short, I still recommend this series. I like it enough that I will definitely be putting it in my romance re-read rotation.
P.S. I’m sure the fellow on the cover is very handsome, but Simeon is described as Cajun, with medium dark skin and curly red hair, and Adrián is Puerto Rican! Who are you, cover fellow?
Read Harder Challenge 2018: A one-sitting book.