Defining his sexuality didn’t make sense until his best friend spelled it out.
Doug Archer did some pretty idiotic things in the first eight weeks of his junior year of college. First, he kissed his gay best friend, and second, he kissed a guy he’d mistaken for a girl. Not stellar moments for Doug. If he isn’t careful, he’ll lose his spot on the soccer team to the new freshman, or worse, he might misconstrue his new friend Rob’s overly affectionate tendencies for flirting. But if Doug isn’t bothered by another guy’s attention, and he normally dates girls, does that mean he’s gay or bisexual?
Sam Garber suppressed his same-sex attraction his entire life. His father told him it was immoral, and Sam did everything he could to bury his feelings. However, after meeting Doug at a party and kissing him, Sam can’t think of anything else. He decides dating girls is the best way to keep his secret hidden. With playoffs in sight, this is no time to think about guys in any other context than soccer. Only neither boy anticipates the difficulty in suppressing his attraction for another jock!
This one worked pretty well for me, picking up where book 2 left off, with Chris' best friend, Doug, who's 'straight,' having recently kissed and gone on a date with a dude that he thought was actually a chick. Long story, Sam was wearing a dress, a bit silly IMHO, so I won't bore you with those details.
But the point is that Doug kissed a boy and he liked it. A lot. To the point of near obsession. Then when said boy transfers to his college and joins his soccer team, he wants more. Maybe everything, even. But Sam is distant and avoids Doug like he has cooties.
The main drama in this one surrounds Sam overcoming the anti-gay brain washing that his abusive, homophobic father drilled into him for 18 years. Sam even goes as far as to date a cheerleader, Mindy, because he believes that it will satisfy his father.
So yep, loads of jealousy from Doug, as Sam secretly wants to be with Doug, too, but runs around sucking face with Mindy to avoid the temptation. Tres dramatical, people!
But when Doug gets his own sorta-kinda-maybe girlfriend, Sam's the one who's jealous, so the guys eventually work through their collective bullshit and become a couple. Queue the painful "how could you use me like that?" big-ringed bitch slap by the ex-girlfriend and you get the picture.
Once we finally get there, the book is chocked pretty full of sexy times, because, hello, Doug is 20 and Sam is 18, so... hormones.
The friendships played a big part in this story, too, but less so between Doug and Chris this time, focusing more on a new friendship between Doug and Rob (Ellis' BFF,) who were both really there for one another when they needed to talk, which was nice.
The romance was also handled well, so the feels did come through on-page, without anything feeling forced, ending with a nice, solid HFN, working 'toward' an HEA, if things continue on the same track.
I was a little shocked when the on-page violence from Sam's dad finally went down. It came across as a wee bit over-the-top'ish, but not terribly so.
The main detractor for the story was that I read and read and read and read, then looked at my progress and I was only half-way done. So yes, the book read as VERY LONG for me.
It wasn't that it dragged, exactly, but there was what felt like sooooo much detail about every single character from all three books in this one that it didn't feel super-focused to me.
So with so much of the book incorporating previous characters, Ellis & Cole, Chris & Alonzo, Doug & Sam, Rob, Cullen, and the list goes on, I would not recommend this one as a standalone read.
The book was fun, angsty and sexy, so if you're a fan of the series, I'd most definitely give this one a read, too.
And before you ask, no, there was NONE of that nonsense with Chris' dad and the cheerleaders in this one, so yaaaay on that front. ;- )
Overall, I'd rate this one at a solid 4 stars, even though at times it read as fairly young.
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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