This story was so much fun to read. Mostly because it was devoid of all the annoying angst these romances tend to be filled with while also avoiding turning into a complete fluff fest because of the lack of angst. It just made sense.
The tension in the beginning was everything. Just so much fun. I smiled and laughed through the whole thing. Knight is everything. And even though the book starts off right at the height of his anger of being the number 2 tennis star for 2 years everything was clear enough for you to feel and understand the tension the two main cast members shared. The history, hilarity, and steam were all there.
King was almost as fun to read. He was way too chatty at the wrong moments however. It was fun in small bursts but it felt like the author was overselling his ability to read people. So sometimes it was more annoying than a fun anecdote. Otherwise, he was a character who knew what he wanted, knew how to get it and went at it with unwavering tenacity and succeeded. And, in that success still managed to piss Knight off ultimately beating him again. Knight’s insistence that he was still winning on some level was the biggest form of denial and oh so enjoyable.
The problem with things working out so well in the beginning is that I was worried about the rest of the story. Worried about forced arguments/fights for no reason. Worried about miscommunication that leads to those annoying temporary breakups. Worried there’d be some angst, mostly on Knight’s part dipping into self-doubt about if this was what he really wanted and if defeating King on the court was more important than the relationship and, even more problematic, the possibility of him continuously telling himself ‘but I’m straight’ to keep the annoying ‘he doesn’t like guys’ cliche plotline going. I read a lot of romance so I was very, very worried one of these and many other tropes would rear its ugly head.
Instead what we actually get is to watch the relationship develop naturally, interspersed with a few steamy scenes and it uses one point, that could’ve devolved into an argument or forced tension, as character development instead for both but mostly Knight as he realises something about himself at that moment. This story is what the books claiming to be low angst should be but never are because amping up the fluff content usually ends up slipping into some bit of forced drama, and minimal angst or the opposite which is not taking itself seriously enough so readers cant take it seriously either. This story was a nice, sweet, adultier version that started at the height of the tension and allowed readers to enjoy the growth after without the unnecessary drama/tension extras.
My only problem, other than King coming off a bit know-it-all-ish sometimes, was the ending. It just ended. It was unresolved. After all the beauty of dwelling in the after, the book has an ending that forgoes the after thus avoiding real closure for the story. It started with a press conference and this ending would definitely be press conference worthy. Addressing the public and then ending with them alone in their apartment would’ve resolved the book better. Even a step beyond this where reporters joke that even being lovers King still dominates him on the court and this one time had to be a fluke. It would’ve played so nicely off the point King made earlier about him needing to beat him more than once to prove his dominance. As it stands it’s definitely the type of unresolved ending I’m not a fan of.
Still, it avoided most of my hated tropes and usual romance cliche’s so it was a fun refreshing read in that sense. I really enjoyed it but were it not for King being slightly obnoxious and the cliche and unfulfilling last page/chapter this would’ve been an easy five stars but I definitely was bothered by it enough to be frustrated by an otherwise refreshingly different type of romance. So it was more of a questionable five stars lol. But five all the same.
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