Bryce Monaghan has never considered himself anything other than straight. That is, until he accidentally walks in on Noah Walker, forward for the Sydney Swallows in the Australian Football League, in the shower. Bryce has known Noah for years. They share a best friend and Bryce plays for a rival team in the same city. But suddenly, Bryce finds himself not able to stop thinking of Noah or how hot it was seeing him all wet and naked.
Noah has long found Bryce attractive; the gorgeous redhead is exactly Noah’s type. But he knows better than chasing after straight boys. However, when Noah learns of Bryce’s newfound attraction, he is more than willing to be Bryce’s bisexual experiment. Neither man is looking for anything serious or complicated. They both have busy lives as professional athletes and aren’t looking for more than sex. But things between the men are hotter than they even imagined and they find an unexpected connection. Soon, it’s clear that there is more between them than just a hot physical connection. But making the transition from casual to serious is not easy, particularly as the men play for rival teams. Now, both Noah and Bryce will have to decide if they are going to take their hot fling and turn it into more.
Forward Entry starts a new series by Aurora Crane focused on the Sydney Swallows of the Australian Football League. Since this is a sports romance, let me first say that I started this book knowing nothing about the AFL and ended it not knowing much more — and that was just fine. Crane does provide a glossary toward the end of key terms and it was helpful for me in a few places, but honestly, I still can’t even picture how this game is played even after reading the book. But like I said, that was just fine. Crane brings a good balance to showing games and giving us the sports talk without diving too deeply into things for those who aren’t familiar with or interested in the game. There is a clear sense of these men as professional athletes and how important this sport is to them, and the story follows the season timeline well, tying the action of the book into what’s happening on the field. So I think whether or not you are into sports or the AFL in particular, the athletics side of things is engaging and works well.
Aside from the sports element, the story is a pretty straightforward bi-awakening plot. Bryce sees Noah in the shower and is super turned on, which surprises him, but doesn’t bother him. He is more confused and curious and, when Noah learns about the attraction, the guys set off exploring it. Noah is hot for Bryce, so he doesn’t mind offering himself up for Bryce to find out just how into guys he really is. The men have nice chemistry and there is some fun sexual exploration here. And, of course, as time passes, it becomes clear that there is more building between the men and they need to figure out how to make that transition. The story does set these guys up as disliking one another at first, and so there is this sort of light enemies vibe, particularly early on, that didn’t fully come together for me. There is nothing that happens on page between them to suggest animosity other than being told they don’t like each other. It is not just that they are on rival teams, as Bryce’s brother and his best friend are also on Noah’s team (and Noah and Bryce share a best friend). If they are supposed to dislike each other and have that be a factor in their relationship, I needed to see it play out in some way, rather than just be told.
This story also introduces us to many of the guys on the Sydney Swallows, who will presumably be the focus of future stories. Crane does a nice job bringing these guys in without overwhelming the story. It makes sense that Noah spends lots of time with his teammates and they are a generally fun group. Sometimes their banter fell a little too far on the childish end to me, but overall, I found them entertaining and interesting and I am looking forward to more stories set in this world.