I thought I would love this book. Mostly because sports jock M/M romance is one of my favourite tropes. It had all the makings of a good novel. College professor lusting after a student, student lusting after a professor. Tension and angst. Basically all the components of the formula for this type of novel. Yet it didn’t jump off the page for me, and the formula didn’t quite work.
Warning this contains one plot point that happens early in the story.
I pretty much skimmed through the first parts. I didn’t really get into it. Once I did start paying attention there were too many things that didn’t make sense. For instance, when Sebastian assumed the non-jock looking kid would be the one to write a paper about hockey with such effortless detail thus going against stereotype, but then on the flip side assumes the jock, Tristan, was the one who stole paper thus going with type. It didn’t fit his character on so many levels to choose the exact road of the type of thing he was trying to teach his students not to do. Furthermore, the obvious choice, when looking at the two subjects, would be to assume the jock would know about hockey. With this in mind even if Sebastian did jump to conclusions he still didn’t go the most likely route.
It was too obvious that this odd decision/plot choice was designed to get Tristan and him together. Also, teachers always ask for evidence. I couldn’t believe for a second that Sebastian, an established professor, would not have asked them both to supply evidence that the paper belonged to them. Why chance having a student report you if you’re trying to move forward in your career? Teachers are definitely much more careful and efficient about things like this because either their life, the students’ involved, or both can be ruined if something like this gets out of hand.
Along the same plotline, I find it hard to believe a closeted gay sports jock would write a paper on said topic to his gay lecturer unless he was fully intending on outing himself at some point. Which, as the plot goes on, we find out he had zero intentions of doing but this paper did exactly that. A closet gay sports jock would likely steer far away from something that would reveal his true self than just shoving it out there to his out professor. All of this happened right around the time I started paying attention.
When a student asked to see Tristan’s paper to help him with his own, you could see where this was going a mile away. The problem here was Tristain didn’t seem dumb enough to not know where this was going. But, the plot required this, so he had to supply it. Add to that, that most students would never offer up their completed paper to someone unless it was for a second pair of eyes to make it better. In turn, they would offer up the same, sit down with them to help them and share ideas from what they had done with their own if it was relevant to the other students topic. This for the exact problem that arises in the story. People steal things. No one wants to go through the drama of having to prove their work is their work even if they have all the evidence and it’s easy.
Just to be contradictory let’s say I have no qualms about sharing my work. Because, obviously, I can prove it’s mine. Unless the person I give it to goes out of their way to hunt down the same sources, create drafts and brainstorms, and all the other stuff I can provide, I can’t see them being stupid enough to steal it. This in the same way I can’t see Tristan offering it up in the first place, or Sebastian jumping to the conclusions he jumped to. From all angles, it seems off.
I also got lost sometimes. The timeline wasn’t obvious so I had to re-read bits to figure out how much time had passed occasionally. It could be because I’m just slow but it happened enough times for me to take notice of the confusion.
I didn’t feel the weight of Tristan being afraid to come out and couldn’t connect with Sebastian’s confliction with dating someone not out. There were so many opportunities to dig into this that were glossed over. It was touched on in casual conversation but never really dug into. This made the story felt like it just moved from one scene to the next as I kept reading. The final conflict seemed a bit… odd. I dunno but I couldn’t really get into the fight. I guess that was because it was the only time the topic was faced and it was at the end so I knew it would blow over as it was too close to the final page to be a real issue. There wasn’t enough time to dwell on it nor enough evidence before it to give it the emotional weight it was going for.
Lastly, I half-read a good bit of the erotic scenes. With the whole, I want to be dominated angle I expected, well, more. They just didn’t do it for me. The domination didn’t sell well and came off pretty tame. Like the erotic scenes in a normal romance novel which is fine, but I got the feeling readers were meant to really dig into the dynamics of this relationship.
I did finish this book. Fast. I enjoyed it just enough to keep reading. It was edited well, the scenes moved okay, but nothing stuck. Honestly only the things that bugged me stood out and the rest kinda filtered away. Not bad enough to ruin it but not good enough to be memorable either. This story read like an afterschool special with the perfect dose of total gay acceptance and a dash of sex so that it could pretend it wanted to be more than safe but it never got deep enough, or steamy enough to kill the safe vibe. It gave me all the promise of a nice gritty, hilarious and steamy romance, hit all the right not then stopped. Never quite diving into the characters enough to suspend the reality needed to join this journey.
I’m all here for suspension of reality as romance fiction by definition is fantasy. But there’s only so far you can go especially when the point where the story takes off is based on something you can’t ever see the main character doing. Not with the job they have. It was too contrived for me to go along with and it didn’t lift much more from there.
It gets two stars because I did laugh a bit and it was a fun read at some points but not spectacular on a whole. If light, safeish, hockey romance is your thing then this is for you. If you’re wanting a bit more than that this story might not deliver.