Christian King is a star footballer. The game is his entire life and he strives for perfection. He loves his team and he will do whatever it takes to make it as a professional athlete, including hiding his sexuality. Which isn’t that hard, since Christian’s never wanted to be involved with anyone other than David, his first boyfriend.
David Cade is teaching seminars at university while he works on his thesis for his history Ph.D. He likes teaching, but is not so enthralled with all the rest. But when one of David’s new students just happens to be the twin sister of his former best friend and childhood boyfriend, he’s shocked. David reconnects with Lily, and because she’s a force to be reckoned with, comes face to face with Christian again.
David and Christian try to start off as friends, but there is too much emotion and feelings between them. David knows Christian isn’t ready to come out, and he respects that. He’s also fine with taking their relationship slowly. He needs Christian to be comfortable with everything they’re doing, and he doesn’t want to take the big step too fast for Christian, who’s never had sex before. The two easily fall back into their pattern from when they were teenagers, and their friendship and relationship grows.
But Christian is dealing with far more than he lets show. His anxiety makes him determined to be perfect, and he constantly worries about what everyone else will think if they find out he’s gay. He knows David deserves so much more than him, and pushes David away. But these two are meant for each other, and if they can just have some honest conversation, they might just get to their happily ever after.
I’m a sucker for the second chance romance, and that’s what really drew me to this book. I was really intrigued by two boys who were best friends and tentative lovers, who had to separate when life took them in different directions and now reconnect as men. And while this book started on a high note for me, I have to admit that as the story continued, it didn’t live up to the beginning.
I really enjoyed the characters here. Novak does a great job of really fleshing out both MCs, and it helps that it’s in alternating third person, so we really get to know them both well and see what’s going on in their heads. I liked watching the growth as they struggled with their issues and moved forward. Yes, things were more intense for Christian, who had a lot more to work through, but David had his moments to shine and show the reader his journey as well. Add to that the merry band of secondary characters and some good romantic chemistry, and it did a lot to smooth out this book for me.
However, the narrative on the whole was formulaic and it didn’t work for me. These two guys meet again, everything is happy, and the there’s the big drama that separates them and the grand gesture that gets them back together. There’s no way any author can write a story that’s entirely unique, but I was hoping for something that wasn’t quite so…over done. We’ve all read stories like this before, and sadly, there was nothing here to make it really stand out. This was a definite disappointment for me, as the book started off so well, and I was really hoping for more out of these characters.
Ultimately, while there were definite high points and things I liked about this book, there was also a lot that went into the negative category for me. The characters were great, but there came a point where the chemistry plateaued. I would have liked to see something a bit more original or some twist to really hook me into their story and make the second half more engaging. As it was, this book was nice and well written, but the overall plot left something lacking. I’d only cautiously recommend this book to those readers who love coming out stories, or jocks with hearts of gold.