Rating: 3.75 stars
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When Pascal Durant was moments away from winning the coveted polka-dot jersey, which would crown him King of the Mountains in the Tour de France, he ended up in a terrible accident that left him bruised and bloodied and unable to win the race, though he insisted on finishing. He knows this next year will be his last chance to claim the title he desperately wants. He’s about to celebrate his 42nd birthday and Pascal knows he already must be twice as strong as his younger competitors.
At his side is his best friend and internationally known reporter, Laurent Descrochers. Laurent saw the video of Pascal after his crash from the previous year and still is deeply affected by it. He convinces his network that there’s a big story here. Pascal has become somewhat of a hero, and Laurent wants to be by his side and document his journey for his network.
The two men have been friends for years, but Laurent has been in long-term relationships for most of the time, and Pascal has been busy with his training and in a series of shorter-term relationships. They also have a deep friendship that neither of them wants to put into jeopardy. But when things with Laurent and his fiance come to a head, the two men start looking at each other differently, wondering if there is something more than friendship in the future for them.
The backdrop for a good portion of this novel is the Tour de France, and the amount of information I learned about biking in general and the Tour de France more specifically was quite a lot. Admittedly, I know little about the sport, but learning about the different parts of the race, including this “King of the Mountains” title and jersey that I had no idea existed was fascinating. The authors were well-researched and, due to their diligence, this felt like an authentic representation of the race.
It’s also difficult to not be immediately attracted to the idea of a cyclist in spandex. It’s, without a doubt, a sexy sport, and Pascal exudes this masculine energy. Laurent himself is one of the sexiest men alive, having been named as such many times. So neither one of them is hurting in the “God, he’s so hot!” department. The chemistry between the two of them? That could’ve been a little stronger. Laurent and Pascal made great friends, but that transition to something more didn’t seem all that believable to me. I wanted more from the two of these men. They had all the sex appeal potential in the world, yet the spark seemed to fall flat. It was too tentative, too polite. I don’t need for there to be shirt-ripping to convince me there is sexual chemistry, but when two men go from friends to something more, it’s oftentimes difficult to note the transition if there isn’t a drastic change in their relationship. And I mean more than just sex.
I think the major cause of this stems from the formal use of language in this book. It’s difficult to explain, other than to say that the dialogue felt stilted and unnatural. It felt dated, hearkening back to a period piece almost, rather than feeling like a contemporary romance. I wanted there to be more moments of spontaneity and realness. This may be a product of being so researched and concentrating so much on the information surrounding the Tour de France that the relationship between the men became secondary. I don’t know. I just know I wanted so much more from these two men, and what I got was a rather lackluster story about a friendship turning into something more.
If you’re a fan of cycling and the Tour de France, I would absolutely recommend this book to you. The authors did an amazing job of sharing tons of information about the race and the culture surrounding it in an understandable way. And I in no way disliked this book, I just would’ve liked something a little more. So if you’re on the fence, give it a chance.