Author: Teegan Loy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Life is all about making choices. Some are complicated. Some are simple. But for eighteen-year-old Jalen Marten, none are easy. Jalen has managed to stay invisible for his entire high school career. He has a small group of friends, and it’s enough for him. He doesn’t want or crave attention from his peers. All Jalen wants is to survive high school.
Austin Suter is the hot, talented tennis player who has the entire school bowing at his feet. Girls routinely throw themselves at him, and boys like Jalen stay the hell out of his way. Austin is destined for greatness on the world stage of professional tennis.
The kiss between them wasn’t supposed to happen. Falling in love definitely hadn’t been part of Jalen’s plan.
And when Austin turns pro, Jalen begins to realize that the choices he makes will affect Austin’s life. One wrong choice and Austin’s career could be over before it really begins. Jalen is not sure where he fits, or even if he fits at all in Austin’s life. But the more complicated things become, the less the idea of being apart appeals. Love should simplify things, not complicate them.
Review: I don’t read a lot of NA but I know I’ve really enjoyed every story I’ve read by this author so a novel length book was too tempting to pass up because of a NA tag. I’m glad I read it. This could have easily been a 4.5 star book but I’m not a huge fan of angst and things got pretty angsty towards the end. I still really enjoyed it and the couple despite them being high school students. There was on page sex so if that squicks you out don’t read this. I thought the couple falling in love was beautiful and exciting in that first time all consuming way. I was smitten and that’s what I want when I read a romance. I want to fall in love right along with the characters.
Jalen doesn’t think he’s even on super teen tennis star Austin’s radar until he hits him in the eye with a tennis ball in gym class. Then his life changes forever. He goes from being in the background to everyone noticing him. Jalen has no idea why Austin is suddenly there every time he turns around. Jalen thinks Austin is hot but straight since he’s had a girlfriend for awhile. Until rumors spread they’ve broken up. A friendship leads to a kiss which leads to them becoming each other’s firsts Austin isn’t out publicly so Jalen assumes that he’s an experiment or a fling. He knows their time is limited but he can’t pass up this chance with Austin just because he’s scared of heartache. Jalen knows he’d regret it for the rest of his life.
I really enjoyed the romance in this book. Both the primary between Jalen and Austin and the secondary between their friends. Austin has wanted Jalen from afar for much longer than Jalen can believe. High School is a very confusing and scary time for a kid. It’s even more pressure when you’re on the fast track to being a professional tennis player before you’re eighteen. So Austin has the freedom to get away with almost anything as a star athlete in his school but he’s not free to love Jalen publicly. This creates some problems. Considering Jalen has had a hard time coming to terms with the fact someone like Austin could want him he handles the secrecy and pressure of their hidden relationship very well. But everyone has a breaking point.
The book is told from Jalen’s POV only so you don’t really get into Austin’s head. You do feel that Austin genuinely has feelings for Jalen. You understand the pressure and conflict he must feel to succeed at his career while the small window for him is open. It’s everything he’s been working towards. Falling for Jalen is something he’s struggled to suppress for so long when fate throws them together it’s too much for Austin to resist. He has to act on his attraction for Jalen. Their courtship was a lot of fun to read about. I feel like although is was from one character’s POV I got a good sense of both of their struggles.
While I was happy to see Jalen shine at his singing and songwriting this was the part of the book that seemed more juvenile to me. Jalen has this amazing talent that literally sends his popularity into to orbit overnight. So much that he needs bodyguards at school? Okay. I think this might have made me crazier if I didn’t LOVE the main bodyguard/bouncer who was also Austin’s best friend. OMG he’s amazing! If only there were more like him out there. I adored that he found love with Jalen’s best friend who was also not part of the popular crowd before the tennis ball to the face incident.
To sum up the love story was excellent and sweet. There was such an innocent and fragile passion between the couple that I couldn’t help but be totally absorbed in them. Some of the high school politics were necessary for the story line but frustrating. Jalen’s mom was awesomely understanding. Lots of conflict. Pretty high on angst in the second half as things amp up between their characters and lives. I’d say if you like angst or NA you’ll love this one. If you don’t you may still like it because the romance portion of this story was written beautifully. I could feel the adoration and connection between the characters. Definitely A sigh worthy read.