Rating: 4.5 stars
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Jeremy is truly happy that his best friend West is living his best life with Anson, but their relationship made Jeremy realize what was missing in his own marriage. While he remains on good terms with his ex-husband, Jeremy knows what he is looking for, but not how to find it. At West and Anson’s wedding, Jeremy winds up hanging out and talking with Darren, the star football quarterback, and while their connection is easy, Darren has never been interested in a man before. The men develop a friendship and soon casual texts turn into banter and longer conversations until Jeremy and Darren are talking every day.
Darren does not have an issue saying what’s on his mind and his confidence is evident both on and off the field. He likes sex and always has a willing partner, but Darren never felt the need to take anything further into a more serious relationship. Except now, he can’t stop thinking about Jeremy. Darren isn’t so concerned that he’s interested in a man, but Darren can’t figure out what it means that he wants to spend all of his time with Jeremy. Darren never thought a relationship would be for him, as he didn’t feel that he worked that way. But with Jeremy, Darren wants to be all in. However, Darren is still a professional football player and many eyes are on him and just because the men want to be together doesn’t mean there won’t be one obstacle after the other in their way.
Darren and Jeremy were introduced in the first book in the Atlanta Lightning series, The End Game, and Darren presents himself as such a force that he needed his own book. Anson and West play a prominent role here and while Darren and Jeremy’s story is new to this book, there is a lot of crossover from the first book.
This book is highly character driven and both Jeremy and Darren are well drawn and fully developed characters. Jeremy had an open marriage with his husband that worked well for them for a time, but Jeremy knows he wants something different for his future. He’s not sure how to deal with his growing attraction to Darren because he’s sure there is no future in a romantic relationship for them. Darren loves being the center of attention, but for as confident as he is, he’s always looking to do better. He realizes he may not have been the best support for Anson, before Anson came out, and Darren is committed to being the best friend he can be. When Darren realizes his attraction to Jeremy is developing into much more, he knows he doesn’t need a label, but he wants to figure himself out.
The friendship Darren and Jeremy develop is fun and flirty and something they want to protect at all costs. They text and banter in a juvenile way that works for them and even through Darren’s self-discovery and the world of football, it was easy to see how these guys fit together. There are scenes of attraction and heat as well as scenes of friendship and football as Darren and Jeremy work to secure the relationship they both have been missing. If you liked the first book in this series, you will definitely want to pick up this book as Darren and Jeremy secure their best life.
I loved the first book, but I’ll give this one a pass. I’m not privy to Riley Hart’s writing process, but it almost feels like she needed a sequel so she took two random characters from the first book and hooked them up, not caring that Darren was straight in the first book and Jeremy was in an ostensibly happy open marriage. To be honest, I’m not a fan of Hart, and I suspected that my love of the previous book was sort of a fluke.