Rating: 3 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

Porter Davis has been working at Sparta Athletics for years. Hector Valenzuela, the owner of the company, is a father figure and mentor, and Marisol Valenzuela is like a mother and friend. When Porter gets the news that Hector has passed, it’s as if his world comes crumbling down. The supporting bedrock beneath him has just fallen away and the only thing to replace it is Hector’s grandson, Quinn. The spoiled and useless playboy is known for lounging on beaches and partying in clubs, and his only talent seems to be spending his family money with no concern for his mother or his grandmother. Quinn now owns controlling shares in Sparta Athletics and is Porter’s new boss.

Quinn’s mother sent him to boarding school when he was 10. Nothing, not tears nor begging, would change her mind. And that moment has defined Quinn’s life ever since. When he came home to visit, he found himself replaced by Porter Davis, a tennis star and his grandfather’s favorite worker and his mother’s dear friend, and Quinn was left out yet again. So he put a few oceans between them, chose adventure instead of education, and has been going from yachts to balls to ski lodges, from young men to old men, from party to party, ever since.

With his grandfather’s death and his new position as an actual responsible person, Quinn finds himself with a strange question: Who does he want to be? Does he want to be an adult with a job? He could give up the shares and just go back to his old life. Or he could try to reconnect with the family he has left, and maybe see if there’s something more to Porter Davis than a snarl and a sulk.

Tight Laced was originally published as Game Point, and it is the second volume in the Labels and Love series, though you don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy this one. This book is … a strange one. The setup of enemies to lovers seems to be almost entirely one-sided, with Porter feeling both rage and contempt for Quinn from the first moment. But then, Porter is very much a man of feelings. When Quinn comes through to take a look at the office, every single employee treats Porter like a bomb about to go off, which indicates Porter’s temper is infamous, at least at work.

I’m assuming Porter probably upset that, in the reading of the will, he wasn’t named as the inheritor of the shares, or at least a promotion to take over Hector’s job, considering the angry sulks that follow. When his sister calls him out on it, though, he’s quick to say he thought the control of the company should go to Marisol, Quinn’s mother. Porter is a control freak and doesn’t seem to care to be working beneath someone he doesn’t see as worthy, and none of this is helped by Marisol — a friend he saw as family — suddenly spending time with and taking the side of someone other than him.

Quinn, for his part, is looking for stability and to find his palace in the world and, while he’s confused as to why his grandfather gave him the company, he’s also grateful. This is a chance to be part of his own family, even if it’s too late for closure with Hector. At least now he can spend time with his mom for longer than a brief visit. Maybe to get to know her, better? And the fact that she’s there for him, smiling, feeding him, caring for him, makes it all worth it. If only Porter wouldn’t be an asshole to him.

And there ends the first half of this book and we’re into the second half where, in a brief sentence and a half, everything has changed:

But something had happened in the past few weeks. Porter had become literally unable to make Quinn unhappy.

It’s never said how Quinn changed Porter’s opinion of him. We never see what happened in those weeks. Ever. Which is very irritating when the parts detailing Quinn’s turn from pretty party boy to savvy businessman — the reason Porter decides to tolerate him — are referenced as they had dinner with a client. It went well. The book goes from enemies at work to a different story of coworkers to fuck buddies to lovers. It’s a sudden and sharp left turn and I actually went back to try to find out if I’d missed a few chapters.

And then the villain is introduced, and it’s kind of an interesting choice with Quinn’s mother becoming the antagonist. Their relationship before Hector’s death is never expressly laid out, but there’s a lack of closeness between them — other than Marisol stalking her son’s Instagram — and the immediate love bombing when he comes home indicates some rather deep issues and she lashes out at her son in some rather toxic ways. Marisol gets uneasy at her son’s new relationship with Porter and all but accuses Quinn of getting ready to leave when he’s had his fun. She makes it very clear to Quinn that her adopted brother/son/friend Porter and his welfare and happiness are more important to her than her son’s. This followed up by her comments that make it clear she expects Quinn to end the relationship with Porter. After all, Porter’s obviously in love with Quinn, who is more accustomed to going from bed to bed and Porter’s better than that.

Marisol was 15 when she had a son, and sending him away to boarding school — while it may have been for his education — also seems to have been done for her own needs at the time. However, the lack of follow up, the fact that she has spent a good portion of her life watching him live his life vicariously through Instagram rather than trying to be a part of his life is rather telling. With her father gone and that support system gone, she seems to be trying to fill it back up with Quinn, someone she can influence and control through affection … and she doesn’t seem interested in sharing him.  However, a few weeks later,

Spoiler title
while Porter and Quinn are mourning their relationship and each other, she turns right around and blithely, brightly informs Quinn he was in love with Porter the whole time!

The ideas and the writing aren’t bad by any stretch, and Marisol makes for an interesting point of conflict, but the execution of the story is severely lacking. Porter, in the first half of the book, was rich with dramatic potential, but the Porter in the second half of the book lacked fire and personality. Quinn had a decent character arc and some growth, but it’s not enough to support the weight of the rest of the story. I’d pass on this one.

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