5 stars Angst Level Audiobook Author Provided Back To School Beth Jumper Bi-Sexual Book College/University coming of age Contemporary Exploration Football Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Humor m/m Mid level angst Mid level steam/heat Monthly Theme New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Olympics Part of a Series Sports Sports Swimming/Diving Virgin

Back to School Month: My Hero Audiobook by Max Vos Narrated by Jared Bradford

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When he was 16 years old, Rich Miller saved a young man from drowning at his local pool. Little did he know that years later, as a senior in college and Olympic diving hopeful, Rich would meet up once again with Johnny Milloway, now a big football player – and when Rich says big, he really means “bear”. The shy jock remembers his saviour, and the two men become friends.
Johnny isn’t put off by the fact that Rich is gay. In fact, the more time he spends with Rich, the more curious he becomes. Johnny wants to know all kinds of things – what it’s like to kiss a guy, for instance. Only it doesn’t stop there…
Rich finds it difficult to believe that this relationship can go anywhere. Johnny is straight, and Rich isn’t prepared to deal with the heartache he knows will come his way in the future. He has enough on his plate as it is – the worlds are just around the corner. His father would rather watch a football game than spend time watching his son dive. What he doesn’t count on is Johnny, who can be very determined. And having Johnny in his life proves to be a catalyst for some pretty earth-shattering changes.


Let me start by saying sports and/or college based books are not my first choice when choosing a book. They get a little angsty for me and so I normally avoid them. This audiobook was suggested for me to listen and review and I am really glad I did not let my aversion to this type of story stop me because it really was a nice, sweet and thoughtful story. Rich is portrayed as a man who is comfortable in his skin, knows what goals he has set for himself and is working hard to achieve them. Johnny is a younger man who is just starting out at college and he too seems comfortable with who he is and where he’s at in life so far. But college opens many doors for students, and Johnny finally gets to meet his hero, the person who saved his life many years ago. From there a friendship develops and seems to move on to a curiosity phase of man on man action. And wow what action, there was no hesitation on Johnny’s part!
You have the typical problem of coming out for Johnny and Rich feeling like he was used, but in the end a HFN ending that leaves you with a warm feeling.
Jared Bradford is a new narrator for me and I have to say his timing and inflection were spot on. The voices for each character were recognizable, and appropriate. You always knew who was speaking and what emotion was being expressed.

5 of 5 stars


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3 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level artists Book coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Friends to lovers Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Homophobia Humor Insta Love m/m/m Mild level angst Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Olympics Part of a Series Scorching/high heat Unrequited Love Virgin

Volley Balls (Balls to the Wall Book 1) by Tara Lain

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents


2nd Edition

A Balls to the Wall Romance

A double dose of alpha male might be better than one.

Despite just getting out of an abusive relationship with an asshole alpha, David Underwood’s wandering glance lands on two hot members of the Australian volleyball team on Laguna Beach and gets him harassed again. Still, when the delicious Gareth Marshall proves his interest by coming out to his team, David succumbs to his attraction. But Gareth’s volleyball partner, Edge, who’s equally hot, makes the lovers’ lives miserable.

For Gareth, a lifetime of hiding his orientation—and his attraction—from his best friend, Edge, as well as everyone else around him, adds up to hurt and frustration. David’s the first man to ever compete with Edge for Gareth’s passion. But Edge has secrets of his own, and David’s ex-lover will never be happy without David under his fist. With everything stacked against him, can a gay Laguna man find happiness with an alpha male–or two?

A “pumped up” version of the Volley Balls story, twice as long as the original.

First Edition published by Etopia Press, 2011.


I read the original edition and though this says it’s twice as long as the original, I can’t say that I noticed a heck of a lot of difference.  However, I love this series and though this wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, it’s still a lot of fun!  (I’m not sure if the author is redoing the entire series, but I see that there’s at least a new cover for book two so…) In any case, FAST Balls is my favorite of the series, reviewed here: and I think that, though it’s not necessary, reading them in order helps to introduce the characters in a really nice way.

David is the owner of an art gallery who’s recently left an ex who abused him. He’s not really looking to date, but open minded when opportunity comes along. Edge and Gareth are Australian Volleyball players who are in town during a tournament. Gareth knows he’s gay but he’s deeply in the closet, Edge has some secrets of his own and some self-examination in his future.

To me, you have to just accept a lot on faith with this story. Don’t try to look at it too deeply- there are a lot of plot holes and amazing insta-love moments that aren’t terribly realistic. We don’t get a lot of relationship building here, as Gareth sees David once and is pretty smitten and makes some important life decisions with only a little bit of encouragement from David to go on.

The relationship between Edge and Gareth actually makes the most sense – given their history – and I guess the triad kinda makes sense – given that David is the only one with any real relationship experience at all. (This was the hardest for me to swallow. I could buy David and Gareth, Gareth and Edge and even David and Edge, but the three of them, coming together, and agreeing that this would work for them? I had a hard time seeing this given the brevity of their time together and the situation with Edge and… Well, it was a hard sell. The other thing that bothered me was the dialog – sometimes David and Gareth spoke in ways that didn’t always feel authentic. “Shall I …” etc. I just reminded myself this is fiction and kept reading. )

The sexy times are plentiful. Gareth’s mom is awesome. The art sounds fun. Seeing Edge switch gears and share with Gareth and David – super, scorching, hot and at times sweet, too. I didn’t really buy the triad, but found the guys fun to read about anyway, and I really enjoyed the other books in the series so…

3 of 5 stars


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3.5 stars Angst Level Author Provided Book Contemporary Enemies to Lovers Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless m/m Mid level steam/heat Morgan New Adult Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Olympics Skating Sports Virgin

The Next Competitor by Keira Andrews


If he risks his heart, can he keep his head in the game?

To win gold, figure skater Alex Grady must train harder than the competition morning, noon, and night. He’s obsessed with mastering another quadruple jump, and due to the lack of filter between his mouth and brain, doesn’t have a lot of friends. As for a boyfriend, forget it. So what if he’s still a virgin at twenty? The Olympics are only every four years—everything else can wait. Relationships are messy and complicated anyway, and he has zero room in his life for romance.

So it’s ridiculous when Alex finds himself checking out his boring new training mate Matt Savelli. Calm, collected “Captain Cardboard” is a nice guy, but even if Alex had time to date, Matt’s so not his type. Yet beneath Matt’s wholesome surface, there’s a dirty, sexy man who awakens a desire Alex has never experienced and can’t deny…

Note: This gay romance from Keira Andrews features opposites attracting, new adult angst, sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending.

This new version has been extensively rewritten, updated, and expanded into a new adult romance with explict on-page sex.


I did not read the original version, but I have to wonder if it wasn’t a bit more appropriate for this story.

Alex is a 20 year old (virgin!) Olympic figure skater who is so focused on winning he has no time for anything else and no social filter thus no real friends and definitely no boyfriends (or even hookups!). He’s on his fourth coach in 6 years and has moved to Toronto to work with her where he meets Matt, another of her pupils?, a pairs skater.

Alex notices Matt but finds him “boring” but that’s unimportant anyway as all he focuses on is win, win, win.

Matt isn’t a very well developed character, and though he has some potential interesting things about him (his Italian blue collar family, being in the closet, an injury situation) he doesn’t translate as a overly “interesting” and I can kinda see Alex’s point.

But… they do cross paths and eventually end up as boyfriends.


What worked for me: I liked Alex as a character. I think he rang very authentic. The kind of drive it takes to make it the Olympics requires a certain personality type that isn’t going to just give up – ever!

I thought his being a virgin and how that got handled was both sweet and sexy (there were parts I didn’t like that I’ll get to) but that definitely added some much needed heart to this very self-centered, driven character.

I thought the background info on training and the figure skating circuit was pretty interesting. I kinda wanted there to be a bit more drama surrounding the gay v straight skaters – especially if that’s a real thing!

I loved the secondary characters – the other skaters, the coach, the parents – and thought they added a lot to this story.

What didn’t work for me: I didn’t feel a connection between Matt and Alex. They spent too much time apart and the time together either fighting or “making out” – ahem – or more. When Alex “flipped” and saw Matt in a new light it didn’t feel authentic and it felt more like a virgin wanting experience than a boy falling in love.

Matt – as a character – needed to be developed more. Maybe if we’d seen things from his POV I’d have felt more connected to him. He had so much potential – his family, his finances, his injury situation… but he just read as pretty flat to me.

What really didn’t work for me was the “dirty talk”. This felt tacked on to give this YA story an adult spin and it didn’t feel authentic at all. It didn’t match the tone of the rest of the story and made me a little uncomfortable.

I’m guessing the YA version is less “sexy” but I’m wondering if that’s more appropriate.

In any case. Keira is a gifted writer and I was captivated by the story and didn’t ever feel like I wanted to stop reading. I NEEDED to know how it ended and was moderately pleased by the HFN ending. Maybe if we’d seen these guys down the road… I’m not sure. With something like competitive sports that only happen every four years… wow – you just have to be kind of crazy to keep going don’t you?

I think fans of the author will like this, fans of figure skating as well, and fans of high-maintenance characters will get a kick out of Alex.


3.5 of 5 stars


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