Cam, a gymnast representing the United States during the Brisbane Olympics, is having a bad day. Vaults he should be able to do in his sleep and landings he stuck during Worlds are getting away from him. He’s in his head, and he knows it. And his coach knows it. Hell, the entire team knows it. When his coach suggests, as a joke, that Cam needs to relax, a fellow team member laughs that maybe Cam needs to get laid. It was meant half as a joke, but for some reason, the idea is now firmly lodged in Cam’s head. So, under the handle ClosetKase, Cam logs into Grindr, looking for someone to spend the night with.
Luke, the bar specialist of the team, is openly gay and also looking to vent some of the tension he’s feeling. With his parents uncertain if they’ll make his competition at, you know, the Olympics because of work, he’s feeling the need for some company. Someone to hold him, to validate him, to fuck him or blow him or both. So, under his alias “Alex,” Luke logs into Grindr only to meet “Ollie,” who has very specific requirements in a partner. And Luke can mange to fill each and every one of them.
Over text, the two men get along well, and in person, it’s even better. While it may have started as a fling, this moment between them feels like so much more than just a quick fuck. It feels … deeper, like they made a real and emotional connection. Like what happened between them was, or could be, the start of something new and wonderful.
With the Olympic games serving as a backdrop, two young men are going to have to make choices that will change the course of their lives.
Rings of Lust is the first book in the Rings series, with the basic premise being a love story set at the Olympics between two athletes. And as a sports romance, it doesn’t work. As a general romance, as a friends to lovers (or teammates to lovers), perhaps, but I never thought of either of these characters as particularly athletic. The descriptions of routines, of bar work, vaults, ring work, practice, or any bit of the gymnastics life were just not there. Now, I understand that the focus of the story is on the romance between Luke and Cam, but by placing this story at the Olympics, by making these two young men actual Olympians, there’s an expectation of … well, I expected some nod, however brief or indifferent, to the sport itself. But the gymnastics are given barely a glance, and when they are mentioned, it’s with a dismissive “he did the routine.”
For the last twenty percent of the book or so, the focus switches from Luke and Cam to the pairing up of every other member of the team, seemingly in preparation for future books. Someone is always walking in on another pair starting to, or finishing up, their romantic activities or trying to hook someone up with a cute guy. The first time, sure. But beyond that? It only added to the repetitive feeling as the book reused phrases and bits of conversation and, well before the halfway mark, I was already struggling to feel any interest in the book or the characters.
The first ten percent of this book was compelling, but as the story moved on, the tension was broken again and again by small talk or random side adventures. Cam and Luke, as characters, started well, but their voices soon became indistinct and by midway through, I couldn’t tell anyone apart. They all had the same voice, the same energy, and — because everyone was being paired up — the same stiff romances. The pacing is all over the place and, while the writing style itself isn’t bad, all of the rote repetition made it feel just as flat and uninteresting. I can’t recommend this book; it’s a pass, from me.