Auden has spent the last three years training under former Olympic champions, Dorian and Jude, at their world class training facility. With the World Championships nearly upon him and the Olympic Games just around the corner, Auden is second guessing whether he has what it takes to make it. Though his coaches think he has what it takes, Auden has to step up his game if he wants to wear the red, white, and blue at the Olympics.
Auden has had a major crush on his fellow gymnast who boards at the facility, Trayce. While the two have a friends-with-benefits arrangement, Auden wants more…but Trayce isn’t looking for a relationship when he too is training for the events of his life.
Auden heads out for a night of just being a normal college-age student and goes to a local bar where his favorite band is playing. Arriving late, he missed the opening act, but is rewarded by meeting one of the band members, Shane. Shane is a free-spirit type of person who encourages Auden to live life a little. As Auden spends more time with Shane, he questions whether all of this training has been a huge waste of time and money when there is so much more out there for him to experience…like dating and love.
As the Olympic trials near, Auden has to choose between taking a chance on having what it takes to make the Olympic team, or giving it all up for a chance to fall in love.
This is the second story in the Olympic Passions series. Though the major players from the first book make appearances in this story as coaches, it can be read as a standalone.
This story begins in December 2023 as the Antwerp, Belgium World Gymnastics Championships have just completed. Auden and his teammate, Trayce, have each won a gold medal in individual performances. With the Olympic trials only six months away, the pressure is now on Auden to buckle down and prepare himself for the long practices and hard work. Despite this story being set in the future, this book is a contemporary story through and through.
Auden has spent his entire life devoted to becoming one of the best gymnasts in America and the world. The last three have been spent at the training under former Olympians, Dorian and Jude, who were featured in the first book of this series. As the Olympics near, Dorian (who is ever so focused and driven to make his athletes every bit as focused and driven as he is) sits Auden down and tells him he needs to buckle down. Unfortunately, for Auden being pushed harder, both by his coach and by his parents who continually remind him of the sacrifices they are making for him, has him rebelling even more when he just wants to be a normal young adult who goes out just to have fun and date.
Auden and Trayce have been hooking up for a while. While Auden’s friend, Anya, teases him about his pseudo-boyfriend, Auden knows that Trayce isn’t looking for a relationship. So when Auden meets Shane, a man who isn’t afraid of relationships, Auden finds himself torn between his feelings for Trayce and the newness of being in a relationship.
As a love triangle storyline, I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching this unfold. Auden has one identity – that of being a gymnast. As the pressure builds around him and he begins to question his ability and drive, he is desperately seeking someone who garnishes attention on him for just being who he is, not what he can do. While he’s crushed on Trayce for years and the two have some type of relationship with each other, he is crushed when Trayce isn’t willing to name what they have with each other. Shane, on the other hand, knows little about gymnastics except that he loves the toned and flexible body it gives Auden. Shane’s life has been normal, or more normal that Auden’s where everything is regulated – where he lives, what he eats, when he sleeps, when he trains, and what his dreams are.
Auden is your typical young adult who finally has a taste of independence, which means that he does engage in sexual activities with both Trayce and Shane. While ordinarily I am not a fan of stories where the main characters engage in sexual relations with more than one party throughout the book, this story had me guessing as to who Auden was going to choose – Trayce, the one Auden has been in love with, or Shane, the man who allows Auden to figure out what he wants to do with his life.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story, much more than the first book as I really liked all the main characters. I loved that Auden’s feelings seemed genuine as he just wants to be a normal young adult and he is torn between whether he is just going through the motions because it is expected of him and not because it is something he wants to do. If you love sports-themed story lines, you should check this one out! Highly recommend!