Rating: 4 stars
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Everett “Pretty Boy” Navarro is a pro tennis player who is recovering from an embarrassing on-court injury. While celebrating a phenomenal tournament, he did a silly jump, then fell on his butt, breaking his coccyx. Everett’s lying low in Seattle, trying to recuperate and seeking the help of a renown personal trainer, Reggie, to get him back into court shape for the upcoming U.S. Open qualifier tournaments. Everett was orphaned when he was 16, and though he’s only in his early 20s, he’s spent all that time, and his parents’ life insurance, training to make it in the pro tennis circuit. He’s never had any strong attractions or connections to people, moving around constantly with his training, and his competition schedule is grueling. Being stationary in Seattle for this recuperation is a big change for Everett.
Reggie is a big man, bearded and tattooed and fit and buff. He owns his own private gym, where he trains people, and sometimes does therapeutic massage. Reggie is secure enough in his masculinity to acknowledge that Everett is an attractive man, but he’s also sensitive enough to recognize that Everett is lonely. He has few acquaintances, but Reggie is full of life and friendliness, so he invites Everett to pal around with him, and hey, if they end up becoming physical, that’s cool too. Maybe Reggie is bisexual—or just really open about his partners. He’d never really fooled around with a guy before, but their budding friendship is so supportive, he’s willing to see where it leads. Reggie’s brother, Owen, is married to a man, and he’s super openminded about his own personal sexuality.
What both Reggie and Everett decide is they really like each other’s company, and hanging out is always better with orgasms. And, heck, Everett’s as strong as he’s ever been, but he’s also no longer fully alone in the world, especially when Reggie agrees to go to some tournaments as his athletic trainer.
This is a fun and frolicking bromance that starts platonic, but gets more and more physical as Reggie and Everett spend time together. I really love Reggie, who is the most agreeable character I’ve read in a long time. He’s so devoted to his brother, and Everett, and I really enjoyed his character growth. It was totally joyful when he got his absolute happy ending. Everett was a little tougher to connect to, I think because he was such a lone wolf. His family trauma left deep scars that pushed him to move in ways that sometimes made him less likable, but he definitely redeemed himself, after contemplating the loveless, friendless existence his recalcitrance was leading him toward. Everett is sensitive to the struggle of “out” athletes, and he’s not sure he wants to be one. A history of parental homophobia made it harder for Everett to accept his new and unexpected relationship. Especially since his explorations with Reggie had only been going a little over a couple of months. But, the prospect of not having Reggie in his life is even more overwhelming than the possibility of coming out as a bisexual athlete. And, Everett is choosing happiness over legacy, without considering a scenario where both can coexist. Good thing for Everett, this does exist.
If you enjoy sports romance, papa bear gym trainers, or spitfire athletes, this might be a book for you to check out. I liked the low angst and high happiness quotient. It’s the second book in the Love Unexpected series, but reads fine as a standalone.