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.
When I was a kid, I loved watching the figure skating competitions. I've never been on ice skates in my life, nor do I actually have the desire to, but watching the athleticism and grace out there on the ice was just so awe inspiring. And Keira Andrews captures that perfectly, but from the other side, where the competitors are.
Alex Grady, 20, is the reigning National US Champion. He's cocky and self-absorbed and has a tendency to run his mouth a bit too much. He has no filter to speak of and it gets him into trouble. A lot of trouble. He says what is on his mind without ever thinking it through and oftentimes, the things he says are, well, rather hurtful. He's had one goal since he was a child and that goal is winning an Olympic Gold. The problem? Well, Alex doesn't take defeat well, he pushes himself harder and harder and he doesn't even seem to have fun. He doesn't see his successes as good enough, because they are not the Olympic Gold. Life is skating and working toward that Gold Medal goal. Alex isn't very likable. At first, anyway.
Matt Savelli, 24, is a Canadian pairs skater. He's handsome, gracious and just a really good guy. Matt is insanely easy to like. He's focused and dedicated and easy going. Matt, I liked pretty much right away. He's laid back and honest, without being a jackass. He's a little older, but a lot more experienced at life. He takes most things in stride, even as he reaches for his goals. He and his skating partner, and best friend, Mylene are the perfect pairs skaters. They've been partners for six years, since she was 13. I absolutely adored them both.
Alex took me the longest time to actually warm to. He did not start off likable, at all. But as with so many things, Alex's abrasive personality was a shield and he hid behind it like his life depended on it. He's never allowed himself to really have friends, so he's never learned how to actually interact with people. And he's certainly never had time for hookups, much less a boyfriend. It really isn't all that surprising that Alex is a virgin.
Matt didn't want to like Alex. And, well, Alex didn't want to like Matt, either, because he saw Matt as having no personality, at first. They were total opposites. And when they finally got together, after Alex starts to seem more human, I loved them! They were hot and sweet and Alex took to losing his virginity like he had been a starving man who just happened upon a free buffet. Their problems are hardly solved by being together, though, because Alex is still Alex and he still wants that Gold medal to the exclusion of anything else. And Matt isn't out to his parents, either, so that causes a fair amount of strife. But mostly, Alex has a tendency to be an insecure asshole, and say things he doesn't even really mean.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Next Competitor. Young love can feel so intense and considering these guys are both very competitive athletes, emotions can run high when mixing their competitive lives with falling in love. The ending of the story is a pretty solid HFN, but I wanted "more". It felt a bit too abrupt to me. I do hope Keira Andrews writes more of these boys in the future, though.
Review copy of The Next Competitor was generously provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.
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