offside chanceRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Novel

Jude Brody needed to get away from the spotlight shone on his brother, Levi, and the family secrets and lies that follow him around. So when Levi moves back to his hometown, Jude chooses to stay at his brother’s place in New Orleans. A gun in his face held by one of Levi’s teammates, Will, was not the welcome wagon Jude had expected when he arrived. He hadn’t expected a welcome wagon at all. When Levi informs Jude that he and Will will be roommates, Jude is none too pleased. The man is loud, obnoxious, rude, and sexy as hell, and that is what confuses Jude the most.

When William “Slayer” Slater’s house burned on Christmas, he was thankful for Levi’s offer to stay at his New Orleans townhouse, but maybe not so grateful for his new roommate. Will is confused by Levi’s secret life and venting his frustration by way of homophobic rants. He is contemplating his future with the NFL. Unsure of his place or if his contract will be renewed after a horrible season, Will is in sort of limbo. He lost his house to what appears to be an accidental fire, he was taken by surprise with his best friend’s coming out, and the last thing he wants to deal with is Levi’s stuck up, prudish, know-it-all brother.

After a rough start, Jude and Will find a routine that works for them – Jude at school and Will getting his life back in order. Their slow friendship turns into a companionship of sorts – Jude cooking, Will cleaning, Jude giving daily orders for Will. The one thing Will doesn’t expect is the strange attraction he has to Jude. And when Will discovers a stash of porn in Levi’s closet, he’s shocked to discover it’s gay porn. Even more shocked to discover it turns him on. And Jude is the only body in the vicinity.

Fumbling and frotting on the couch leads to confusion and desire that neither man is prepared to deal with. Jude questions his sexuality, his feelings, and his past relationships while Will does his best to ignore his feelings and write off the experience as just sex. But neither man’s feelings are easily ignored. Jude and Will discover new things about themselves and their relationship that will either bring them closer together or tear them apart.

Offside Chance is the third book in the Southern Scrimmage series by Mercy Celeste. I love this series. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love sexy men in tight pants running back and forth on a field with a ball and the sexy men they love? What’s not to love or lust? And this story is just as sexy. The world of professional football meets the world of the average citizen. This story is sweet, sexy, angsty, and frustrating. And I loved every emotional second of it.

Celeste is a master of characterization, and Jude and Will represent that in spades. They are the grown up version of the geek and the jock. They have more mental and emotional hurdles than, say, the young adult version of the trope. But they’re more than just their stereotypes. Jude is maybe one of my favorite characters. He’s lived in his brother’s shadow forever. He’s the type of guy to lay low, keep quiet, and not upset the flow when it comes to his family. But with Will, has no qualms calling it like he sees it. So there are two sides to Jude – the almost meek brother who lives with secrets and lies from his family, and the confident, brazen man who will stand up for himself when needed.

Then there’s Will. What I like most about Will is that he accepts change. It may not be quick. It may be difficult and painful, but he doesn’t turn his back on the people he loves even when they scare him or push him away. And he doesn’t give up. He’s a persistent ass most of the time, seeming to only look out for himself. But in reality, he’s just trying to find a balance in his ever changing, sometime shocking and frustrating, life. Don’t get me wrong. Will’s an ass, only making certain moves and playing with emotions to piss Jude off. But he’s a mostly decent ass.

This story is not exactly OFY but sort of. It’s more of a story of self-discovery. Jude and Will are faced with an attraction that makes them question everything they’ve ever thought about themselves. For Jude, I think it’s a little easier for him to accept. But for Will, he’s stuck in a homophobic state of mind that he doesn’t understand, nor does he really want to. So, not only is it a story of individual self-discovery, but also a story of self-discovery within a relationship. And I love that part. Jude and Will are good together – opposites attract, and all that. And, geez, they’re hot together. As always, this author excels at freaking hot scenes of intense lovemaking.

This story also had quite a bit of action from the characters from previous stories. I really enjoyed catching up on their lives. I love that even though they’re individual stories have ended, their lives in this series haven’t. In this book we catch up with Bo and Dylan as well as Levi and Tracy. And all is not perfect. I think that’s what makes their secondary storylines so great. Reality still plays a part in the lives of these men. They still have fights, still have lots of sex, and still have secrets. They’re not perfect. But they try because they love one another. So, yes, I loved catching up with my favorites.

I didn’t love the way this book ended. The closing scene left me with a few questions and wanting a resolution. It’s not bad, but I wish there could have been some sort of completion. Instead it was left wide open and I was left with more questions than answers.

But overall, Offside Chance was a wonderful addition to one of my favorite series by one of my favorite authors. I love Jude and Will and their rocky journey. I can’t wait to see what’s next for this series. I highly recommend Offside Chance by Mercy Celeste.

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