Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: May 29th, 2017
Received From: NetGalley
Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.
Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.
They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.
TROPES: enemies to lovers, teammates to lovers, found family, first love
TAGS: contemporary, new adult, romance, sports romance, queer romance, coming out
WARNINGS: homophobia, emotional abuse, misogyny, ableism, slurs, internalized homophobia, body shaming
“I’d rather have him there and lose, than win while he’s a thousand miles away.”
I requested this book from NetGalley because I’ve enjoyed the previous two books by Springer that I’ve read, and I was not let down with this book. The story follows Jeremy, who has been diving since he was seven and is determined to make it to the Olympics and medal, and his new teammate Brandon, who doesn’t care about winning and just wants to prove he’s good enough, in all aspects of life.
The dynamics of this book were really wonderful. First and foremost were the friendships! I loved reading about the deep friendship that Jeremy and Valerie had developed over the years as they met up at competitions and whenever they could in between. Over the years, it became more like a relationship between siblings, and the way that they pulled no punches when calling each other out was really reminiscent. I also enjoyed that they were able to be so physically close and no one really batted an eye at it. They snuggled when they needed comfort, hugged frequently, and there were often casual touches between the two of them. And throwing Brandon in the mix was both hilarious and painful. It was fun to see them all adjusting to this new person in their lives, and I loved that Val basically adopted Brandon almost instantly. Jeremy took much longer, but one can’t resist Brandon for long.
And speaking of relationships, the romantic one between Jeremy and Brandon was incredibly healthy. Sure, they both had some pretty big issues that they needed to work out, but they were able to do so either by working together or through the support of their partner. The most significant obstacle came near the end, when Jeremy refused to let Brandon help him, and the breakup scene is so crushing that you come out of it feeling just as bruised as Brandon.
The character development of the two mains was also really profound. Since the book takes place over the course of 2+ years, there was plenty of time for the two of them to organically reach where they needed to be by the end of the book. It was incredibly interesting to watch as they took completely different paths to essentially realize the same thing: they don’t need to make others proud; they need to make themselves proud. I think it’s a lesson that will hit home for many of us.
To touch on the trigger warnings:
- Homophobia, emotional abuse, internalized homophobia, slurs: These are almost exclusively a result of Jeremy’s family life. There are several scenes in which the family is present, and they use slurs very liberally, so please be careful.
- Misogyny: “Am I grown man, or a teenage girl?” is a thought Brandon has when he’s mentally gushing about how hot Jeremy is.
- Ableism: Valerie’s mother is called a “psycho controlling harpy” and the words “crazy” and “insane” are used a few times throughout.
- Body Shaming: At one point Jeremy’s narration mentions that his brothers mocked his Speedos because they’re jealous about how in shape he his while they are not, implying you need to be skinny in order to be fit.
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars
Elyse is an author and world-traveler, whose unique life experiences have helped to shape the stories that she wants to tell. She writes romances with LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, and believes that every person deserves a Happily Ever After. When she’s not staring futilely at her computer screen, El spends her time adding stamps to her passport, catching up on her terrifying TBR list, and learning to be a better adult.
She’s always happy to chat with other readers, and you can find her online at:
- Website: http://elspringer.com
- Twitter: @ElyseSpringer
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elysespringerwrites