Alex Schaefer is a sports journalist, commentator, and podcaster big in the British sport scene. He’s just co-written a memoir for a newly out football (soccer) star. And, well, the early press is amazing. Alex is always concerned when he writes big books, because he’s had some bad experiences in the past. Like, when he ghost-wrote Ethan Bower’s “biography” and it was a flop. Mostly because Ethan was a big-headed prick and Alex told it like it was. Shame that he hid Ethan’s sexuality, because Ethan came out almost immediately after that book launched, making the book outdated before it sold out its first print. But, that was nearly a decade ago and Alex’s cautiously elated about the reception for his new book. He’s not super happy to learn that Ethan will be at the launch party, however. With all the people that will be present, Alex hopes to avoid reconnecting with Ethan if at all possible.
Ethan Bower may have been a world-class sprinter, but he couldn’t out-run Alex’s Schaefer’s scathing biography. He’s been simmering in hatred for a long time, and is even more mad that Ethan’s new book is gaining such favorable reviews. Why couldn’t that hack have written such nice things about Ethan way back when, huh? The thing is, Ethan is trying to transform himself into a TV personality, of sorts, now that he’s done with competitions. He could be a coach, but that really doesn’t satisfy Ethan’s desire to remain relevant. His new agent is helping him in this mission and it’s paying dividends; Ethan won a celebrity cooking show and is now working on a cookbook. He’s also on a short list for a celeb dancing show, which will raise his visibility and get him top-notch commentating spots. At the launch of Alex’s new book, Ethan plans to put the man in his place, yet their encounter is less toxic than either man envisioned. Honestly, Ethan finds Alex to be more gracious and sexy in his mid 30s, in a way he’d never considered back when they’d collaborated on the book.
And, Alex is mildly surprised Ethan doesn’t blow up at him. Mutual friends have indicated that Ethan has grown up a lot and his youthful narcissism was a stage he’s overcome. Humbled by his abrupt departure from the sporting limelight, Ethan has changed. Alex is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, a bit. There is a mutual attraction simmering between them that they begin to explore when Alex visits Ethan’s hometown to commentate for a big competition. The more time they spend, the more they begin to understand that they likely each made mistakes in the past, and well, Ethan acknowledges that he really was a bit of a prick back then. That said, their present selves start to imagine a future together.
This is an interesting enemies-to-lovers story. Both characters have distinct personalities and they take turns narrating, so it’s easy to follow their thoughts and desires. I liked Alex throughout, he’s a real stand-up guy. Ethan wasn’t horrible (anymore), but he does seem grasping at times. These are the moments that Alex questions even his inclinations to spend more private time with Ethan. Do not expect too many steamy moments; the focus here is on the connection, not the sex. Ethan and Alex have rather open and candid conversations, which I enjoyed. It was good for them to clear the air, since they’d had a dark history. I also enjoyed the discussions of athletes who are out, and their allies. Ethan’s ambitions are a put-off for Alex, and I could understand his reservations. I was glad, however, that they talked through their issues. I would say the ending is Happy For Now, with Alex and Ethan committed to building their relationship, but too early to really feel like it’s fully settled.