Xander Karcek has only wanted two things in his life: Christian Edwards and basketball—the man he loves and the game that let him escape a childhood he’d rather forget. His two obsessions have served him well. He and Chris beat the odds and stayed together through high school, college, and right on to the NBA. But life under fame’s microscope isn’t easy, especially when two men are pretending to be frat-buddies so the world doesn’t know they’re the next best thing to married. Their relationship survives the sacrifices they make and the lies they tell to stay together, but when their secret is exposed, the fallout might destroy them when nothing else could. Chris and basketball are the two things holding Xander together. Now the world is asking Xander to make a choice. Is there an option that includes a future with the man he loves?
I feel like this story is so well known and beloved that everyone knows what it’s about and it’s hard to remember a time when I hadn’t read it or had it affect me.
But I know that’s not entirely true, and somewhere there are readers out there who have yet to experience the amazement that is this story.
Xander is poor, pretty much raising himself as a teenager, keeping out of the way from mom’s “boyfriends” who want to steal his money and slap him around. The only thing that gives him any hope in the world are basketball and his “friend” Christian Edwards.
Chris is your typical all-American boy, a great family at home including a little sister, who meets a young boy playing basketball one day and sort of “adopts” him into his life and his family.
When Xander’s mother’s latest man friend forces Xander on to the streets Chris’ and Xander hatch a plan for him to work and go to school and live on his own. This lasts for a little while until exhaustion and hunger make him collapse one day on the courts, driving him to first move to a group home then later the Edwards’ house.
Everything would be perfect but for one thing: Xander and Chris have realized that they are more than friends. They don’t act upon it. A sense of morality keeps them to furtive kisses until they’re 18.
Basketball treats them both well, and sends them to be roommates in college. There, the fact that they’re so good works against them. Instead of living together as roommates as they’d dreamed, their skill lands them in the house of the varsity team, forcing them to keep their love quiet yet again.
When graduation comes they have to make the miraculous occur and get drafted by the same NBA team… they manage it, but at a cost. They can’t be gay and in the NBA. So, they manage an arrangement that … well, let’s just say they end up having to do more than just show up with a woman now and again to look like the straight celebrity athletes they are.
Finally, after years of hiding and the shame from denying their true nature, disaster strikes, eliminating basketball for one of them but opening the door to their future at the same time.
This book. GAH! I’ve read and listened to it so many times, and each and every time I am TORN OPEN. It is so gut-wrenching. They love each other so damn much and their pain kills me. Unlike some romances where them finding love is at least one if not the main obstacle, keeping their love quiet is the only focus in the book.
Probably the part of the story that guts me the worst is the part when they’re teenagers and Xander is living by himself and Chris’ mom finds out just how he’s been doing that… GOD I cry like a baby every time.
Then, there’s the nights the boys have to “fake it” to convince the media they are straight. It’s so heartbreaking!
Finally there’s the ending, which ends up being so bittersweet, but that interview they do with Barbara WaWa… bawling!
Amy’s ability to grab your heart and make it bleed is profound and amazing. She has such a way with emotion and finding just the right small thing to focus upon which manages to impart the greatest impact.
These guys are so well written that they feel real celebrities to me – they’ve made appearances in her other books as well as some guest appearances in other author’s works- it’s as if they are truly part of basketball history.
I know Amy has mentioned a book two for these guys and I know I for one would LOVE that. They need more time and we need to see Chris healed and give them their reward for all their years of silence.
Sean Crisden is just awesome! He is one of my favorite narrators and he does an amazing job here. Xander is just so stolid and stoic and Chris is just the right amount of peppy and growly. This is an absolute joy to listen to.
6 of 5 stars! A true M/M must read.
(Copy Purchased for Review)