Rating: 4.5 stars
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Fifteen years ago, Ben Warren was a wake boarding champion until a serious accident ended his career. Since then he has worked in a pro shop for his friend Eddie, giving lessons and spending time on the lake, but he will never ride like he once did. When Davis Fox walks into his shop, at first Ben just sees a rich, young guy with a crazy goal: learn to wakeboard so he can enter the local competition and reconnect with his younger brother. Ben thinks Dave is insane to try to pick up wake boarding so fast, but when he learns this is the only way Dave can reunite with his brother who is being kept away by their homophobic parents, he agrees to help.
Sparks fly between Ben and Dave right away. Davis is sweet and sexy and full of life. He makes Ben hot and crazy in the bedroom, something that surprises him as Dave is much toppier than Ben usually likes. Things are going great for them as they spend mornings together training on the lake and nights in bed and falling for one another. But there is more to Ben’s past than just the public accident that damaged his back. He has demons to face and more secrets he is keeping. Ben has never risked himself emotionally with anyone before Dave, and opening up fully about his past is difficult. But he realizes that if is not honest with Dave, he may lose the man he has grown to love.
Double Up was one of those stories that just made me happy. It is sweet and sexy and low angst, while still having a legitimate conflict and dealing with real issues. First off, the chemistry between Dave and Ben is wonderful and really sparks between them. Not to mention they are super sexy. Holy cow, there are not a ton of sex scenes here but North really gets some mileage out of them. It is not just the wonderful heat and intensity, but also the way they really highlight the issues between these guys. Ben is vulnerable emotionally and has a hard time trusting and opening up to others. He is crazy about Dave and willing to push himself a bit to be with him. So we see how Ben surprises himself by his willingness to follow Dave’s lead, how he takes some steps to make himself vulnerable and trust. And then we see how richly rewarded he is when he takes that chance. They are adorable together with some nice banter, great chemistry, and lots of heat.
I also really enjoyed the way North guides us through the world of wake boarding. This is a sport I knew nothing about, but North manages to really give us a great sense of what it involves. I could really picture the moves the guys are making and the way they glide out over the lake. I loved the scenes where Dave is training and where they are watching the competitions and North makes it all come to life. The sports element is not overdone, and even if you are not a big fan of sports in your books I really think you can enjoy this one since these scenes are often about much more than competition. They are also a window into Ben’s passion and for us to get to know him and his motivation, as well as a way for Dave to reconnect with his brother. So I think this part was particularly well done and really added some interesting elements to the story.
My only small concern is that I didn’t fully feel I had a handle on these guys’ issues when they get to their ultimate conflict. Things were just a little hard for me to follow exactly (and you all know how I feel like I always have to understand EVERYTHING). Not convoluted or overly complex, just left me a tiny bit unsure of exactly what was bothering and motivating them. But overall I think it worked well and these guys work through some real issues and come out better as a couple at the end.
So I really enjoyed Double Up quite a lot. I think it is a great story with really likable characters and a lot of fun. It is a light and easy book, but also one that deals with some serious issues. I have never read anything by Vanessa North before, but I will definitely seek her work out after reading Double Up. So a great story and one I’d definitely recommend.