Seth is in his last year of college. He has worked incredibly hard on the football team with the singular goal of securing a spot in the NFL. He trains hard and stays late after every practice. It’s the staying late that puts him in a precarious position and he enters into a relationship with a man that abuses his power. Seth had never been with a man before as he kept a low profile on the team and he just wanted a relationship and to not feel so alone. But, he soon realizes his mistake and makes a break from a man he knows is no good for him. He’s not interested in a relationship anymore, but an occasional hookup is fine and he meets Colby.
Colby is still trying to find his footing after finding his boyfriend cheating on him. He’s wary of relationships, but the sight of Seth has him taking action for the night. The connection between the men is unexpected, but neither will admit at first that it’s more than a hookup. The guys continue to see each other hidden away from the real world as Seth has many secrets he’s not ready to share. Colby has already been betrayed once and when Seth’s ex won’t take no for an answer. Seth has to tell Colby everything and hope the man of his dreams doesn’t walk away.
Angst, angst, and yet some more angst. This book opens with the angst dialed all the way up and stays there for the first quarter of the book. Angst is good and I can always deal, but this book delivers it in consecutive chapters for both MCs. First, there is Seth who gets into his first relationship with a man. I’m purposely being evasive on the identity of the man he’s involved with as it reads better to discover on your own. But the man manipulates and lies to Seth who comes off as overly sheltered, naïve, and simply wanting to please. Even when good things are happening, like a football draft, the angst continues to bear down.
Then there is Colby and the angst stays high as he catches his live-in boyfriend cheating and I particularly enjoyed how this scene played out. Colby is left devastated, but he has his work and it’s during one of his business trips that he meets Seth. There is a lot of talk about Colby’s job and clients and deals and meetings and relocation, yet for all of this it is never disclosed just what Colby does. Seth is not out, he’s hiding his professional identity, and they don’t share any personal information. They are craving each other, the beginning of their relationship is frantic as they are in different time zones and then all of a sudden there is a reprieve from the tension. Then, the guys spend quality time together locked away from the rest of the world and take time to explore each other and then explore each other some more.
The second half of the book drastically changes. For all of the angst up front, everything slows way down. At first it was needed and then it became almost too slow. There are parts of the book that are erotic and parts that are completely over the top and walk the edges of realistic and not so realistic. At this point they began to continually have the same conversation about how they could make their relationship last and it became repetitive. I also never felt that I got to really know these guys. We saw how they dealt with their prior relationships, but that’s pretty much the extent of it. Seth mentions having friends on the team, but he was shown as being isolated and then falls into this misguided relationship with warning bells going off every which ways and he ignores each and every one.
There are some interesting scenes with Seth on the NFL field that added to this being a football story. Then everything got all mixed together as there was a cringe worthy scene with Seth’s parents, a coming out, and a team meeting that didn’t read at all as realistic. By this point I did have a difficult time sorting through Seth and Colby’s relationship as it seemed that they were hanging on desperately because they found someone that was simply nice to them and everything progressed at the speed of light. Seth’s ex returns at intervals throughout the book and for all the prior mystery and drama and all the angst, it played out in a predictable manner that definitely lacked impact for me, started going off the rails, and bordered on absurdity.
After the Snap is Miller’s debut novel. I liked the ramped up tone of the first half of the book and she made some bold choices in her story telling. The book had its moments in both directions and the rating here becomes a balancing act as the second half didn’t all pull together as well for me. I would, however, keep an eye on the author to see how she develops her craft.