International tennis star Robin Keller is on a downward spiral. A top seeded player, he loses in the first round of the French Open. He’s self-medicating with alcohol and pain killers. His manager and coach know that something is wrong, though they don’t know exactly what, and turn to Quinn Damaris to get Robin back on track.
Quinn has made a name for himself as a personal chef and life style coach of sorts to famous athletes and performers, helping them change their diet and their headspace to get their lives back on track. After an accident that caused him to lose both his legs to amputation, Quinn knows something about working through hard things. When he gets the call from Robin’s manager, he takes the job and heads to Switzerland to be a live in chef for Robin. Robin doesn’t know he’s coming, and the two men get off to a rocky start. Eventually, Robin realizes what good Quinn can do and they settle into a routine.
Both men think the other man is straight, and though they are both attracted to one another, they keep their feelings quiet. Until Quinn catches Robin with another man, and Quinn subtly brings it up. Once they both know that they are gay, the attraction flairs to life and it isn’t long before they start up a physical relationship that builds from their friendship. But Quinn’s contract is only for a year, and the healthier Robin gets, the more it’s clear that Robin doesn’t need him. Despite the nature of their relationship, they’ve never put labels on it. When Quinn walks away, the pain is acute for both of them. But Robin needs to see that he can stand on his own, and Quinn needs to realize just how deep his feelings for Robin go.
I’ll be honest, what drew me to this book was the fact that one man was a double amputee, and the other was a tennis pro. Instantly, the dichotomy of that had my interest. It’s rare that we see a MC with the kind of physical limitations that Quinn has, and I was anxious to see how the authors handled that. And tennis is a favorite game of mine—to watch, not to play—and I was looking forward to that aspect of the book. I can absolutely say that this book didn’t disappoint.
Robin is in trouble, and he knows it. He might not acknowledge it fully to himself, but he knows that he’s in a bad place. He’s using alcohol and pain killers—not quite to the point of abuse, but close—and he has a fuckbuddy relationship with another tennis pro when he’s on tour. There’s definitely some self-loathing going on there, but Robin isn’t in the right place to accept or notice it. What I think I loved best about this guy was that even though he was combative in the beginning, he was quickly ready to accept help and willing to do what it took to get back in top form. I loved that there wasn’t a lengthy process of him fighting the change, that he was first and foremost an athlete who knew that he had a gift, and that hard work had gotten him to where he was. Now that he was in a bad place, he wanted that to change. And boy, once he was committed to the process, to listening to what Quinn said and wanted, he really did make a change. This walked a fine line of being too easy, but the authors did a really great job of showing us that Robin wanted to be better—both in his mental state and in his game—right from the beginning. I loved watching him grow and change, and I loved that he had his moments where he was petulant and upset. This was a guy I could root for right from the beginning.
And Quinn, oh, I just loved him. We meet him eight years after his accident, so he’s adjusted and has accepted what and who he is now. This guy has his head on straight, and wants nothing more than to help other people get to a healthy place. That’s not to say that he didn’t have doubts and flaws. He could be jealous at times, and he didn’t always handle everything perfectly. But his serene outlook on life was wonderful, and so exactly what Robin needed that it was so easy to see how they fit together. I loved watching their relationship progress from friends to lovers.
These guys are drawn so well. They have communication issues that they eventually work through. They don’t always do the right thing. But for the most part, they have each other’s best interest at heart. And when they finally get together, wow do they spark off the page. Their chemistry is just palpable.
Tennis itself was practically another character in this book, and I really enjoyed the way Chase and Rhodes brought in that aspect. We got to see the rigors of traveling and competing, and the toll that can take on an athlete. Robin’s disappointment at losses and elation at winning were really well done, and I almost felt like I was there. Trust me, though it would certainly help, you don’t have to be a fan of tennis to enjoy this book.
I enjoyed this book from beginning to end, and if there were a couple of small moments where I had to suspend disbelief just a little, it was easy to do. I was drawn into the story from word one, and didn’t put it down until I was finished.