Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Elijah Reed is a 35-year-old man who used to be a successful competitive climber, but is now past his prime. He retired five years ago and is still rather bitter over it. All the best competitive rock climbers are in their late teens or early 20s and Elijah doesn’t want to humiliate himself trying to compete against them, but he also laments retiring after he had some poor showings on the tail end of his career. He’s only just starting to mentor young climbers, particularly those who are also queer. These young climbers urge Elijah to attend a competition in Vail, Colorado, not far from his Denver home. And that’s where Elijah meets his biggest fan: Ty.

Ty is an up-and-coming climber on the U.S. National team, training for the Olympic trials in a couple of years. He’s 22, half-Black, and decidedly gay. Ty grew up watching Elijah scale some gnarly boulders, and Elijah coming out helped Ty see a bit of himself reflected in a very-White sport. Ty’s been training since his teens, and is often in the finals at climbing events. He sees Elijah in the crowd at Vail and he reaches out to fanboy. Elijah is rather stunned, as Ty is a gorgeous, successful climber. And young. Really, really young, in Elijah’s opinion. Ty’s the embodiment of all the attributes Elijah laments growing past. He’s honestly stunned that such a dynamic man wants to spend any time talking with him, and accepts Ty’s dinner invitation.

Ty can’t figure out why Elijah thinks he’s too old to compete; the man is a legend after all, but he’s down to hang if Elijah wants–and do more than just hang if Elijah could allow it. Elijah thinks he’s too old for everything, including dating Ty, but he can’t deny the attraction he feels to the younger man. Their conversation leads to Elijah agreeing to train together, and continuing to see one another after what seemed to be a one-night stand. Ty’s a man of two minds, however. His primary objective is to keep Elijah as close as possible. And, secondly, to convince Elijah to re-enter the competitive climbing scene, so they can travel and train together. Because Ty wants Elijah to be his boyfriend, despite Elijah’s concerns.

This is a sweet story, with lots and lots of rock climbing, and language regarding rock climbing. I honestly didn’t know anything about competitive climbing, and now I feel like I know a LOT. Unfortunately, climbing descriptions seemed to overtake the story, at times. That said, there was a clear focus on Elijah feeling unworthy of Ty, who he has a lot of respect for as a climber. Their connection is immediate and intense. I love how assertive Ty is regarding his desires. He challenges Elijah to see that their relationship is growing organically, and their experiences really demonstrate to Elijah that he’s worthy of Ty’s deep affection. I loved how Elijah broke through his emotional hang ups with the help of Ty and other climbers on the scene. It’s a nice insight on post-professional athletes, and how they confront their retirements and manage their legacies. Most books I’ve read with such characters are all newly retired, or making the decision to retire, so Elijah’s experience felt unique, in that regard.

Readers who enjoy sports romances and age-gap romances will probably enjoy this one. It’s the beginning of a series, but the next book centers on a secondary character from this story. I enjoyed this one, and would likely read on in the series.

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