Mike Gauliet is an elite swimmer in his freshman year at college. He’s a world-class athlete, but he’s got emotional issues that plague him and hold him back, it seems. See, he’s got a terrible diet, a nervous stomach (read: vomits all the time), and has a tendency to overtrain to the point he isn’t at peak condition for meets. He’ll swim for 8-10 hours a day, to the exclusion of all else, just to calm his nervous habits.
Mike’s college head coach calls in Jessy Turner, a private coach who has a tough reputation. Jessy immediately moves Mike from the dorms into his home, where he has a pool and plans to manage Mike’s life from dawn to dusk. Mike’s a rather free-and-easy guy, and he takes to Jessy’s bossy nature. In fact, both men are nurturing a growing attraction.
Jessy is considerably older than nineteen year-old Mike, and he wants to practice restraint, but he also sees a deep need for submission within Mike’s manner. As they spend the days and weeks together, their physical proximity leads to sexual intimacy. Jessy is careful with inexperienced Mike, but he’s also sure that a bit of domination is just what this young man needs to get past his overactive thoughts.
This is a very sexy and sweet sports romance. It might be a little over-the-top sexytimes-wise, especially in light of the current college-athlete sexual abuse scandals. I think the fine line is trod with Jessy being a private coach, not working on the behalf of a college. Instead, he’s paid from an endorsement fund in lieu of direct payment, it seems. Jessy and Mike become each other’s complete world, with brief time-outs for Mike to compete. His race times are steadily improving, and he’s on track to score some major team points for his college.
But, will Mike be able to keep to Jessy’s Spartan regimen? He does try his best, giving up comfort foods like soda, pizza, candy, etc, and sees vast improvement in his mood. And, these two are growing ever closer emotionally. So, the big conflict comes right out of nowhere, but I think it worked for me. To this point, it had all been too calm, especially as Jessy gets no pushback about having a sexual relationship with his athlete. I did suspect the cause of what had happened, but the real resolution is Mike and Jessy rebuilding trust between them. How that manifested, well, it was crystal clear from the start that Mike’s studies are taking a deep backseat to his training; expect at least 75% of this romance to be devoted to the love story. In the end, Mike and Jessy are a solid couple, with a bit of kink to their older-younger relationship. Jessy is all about making Mike reach his potential and satisfying his sexual drive. It was kinda funny how Jessy jokes that he feels like a teen again, as randy as he feels around Mike.
For me, this story was okay. I could see how it might push some buttons for readers who are sensitive to people in authority positions (coach/teacher) falling for their younger students/athletes. Mike seemed a bit too naïve, even as young as he was. And, I rather felt he was too isolated for an orphan raised by a compassionate aunt. Having been around elite athletes for more than a decade, it didn’t feel authentic for Mike to have so many challenges and accolades and not have anyone besides his coaches looking out for him. That said, I’m interested in reading the next book in the series to see if Mike keeps pushing forward on the world stage.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.