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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

33009275Blurb

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.

Review

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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Copy Generously Provided by Author for Honest Review

Amazon link

https://www.amazon.com/Next-Competitor-Figure-Skating-Romance-ebook/dp/B01N5BX708/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481738013&sr=1-1&keywords=the+next+competitor+keira

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