Author: Teegan Loy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 3 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Life is about making choices. For nineteen-year-old Jalen Marten, the choices he makes will not only affect his life, but the life and career of his superstar tennis player boyfriend, Austin Suter. Jalen spends the summer following Austin around the pro tennis circuit playing the supportive friend as Austin adjusts to life on tour.
Keeping secrets from people is hard enough, but when the media, a horde of new fans, and staff and family who all think they know what’s best for Austin are involved, it’s even worse. Coming out to the world is not an option, so Jalen is forced to hide in the shadows. It doesn’t always work, and Jalen begins to wonder if they should stay together. The next choice could make or break them as a couple, and both men wonder why love has to be so complicated.
Review: Love Simplified picks up right where the last book leaves off. Thanks to Austin’s mom, Jalen is whisked away and joins Austin on his tour of tennis matches overseas. The guys are deliriously happy when they’re alone but Austin has responsibilities. What starts out as as long as we’re together nothing matters quickly gets smothered under keeping up appearances. There’s a lot of conflict over Austin and his image. Austin is still in the closet and Jalen doesn’t want him to come out even though he offers. He says it’s for Austin but it’s also because Jalen doesn’t want the attention. Will’s father has a very strong dislike of Jalen and poisons part of their entourage against him. Which essentially divides the group into two teams that bash heads at every turn. There’s so much tension in the air Jalen again buckles under the pressure and bails on Austin.
Despite not usually liking NA I enjoyed the first book in this series. It ended kind of open so I wanted to read this one for some closure. For me the first book balanced out more. Maybe it was that they were in high school and the angsty drama fest worked. In this one it just made me insane. It was way too much angst and way too unbelievable. The first portion of this book where Austin and Jalen get back together was good. I liked the struggle and the idea that no matter what they had each other. It lost me when Jalen runs off though. His character IMO came off as angry, irrational, selfish and somewhat cruel to me. Not exactly likable. But EVERYONE loves him. Except me apparently. I just didn’t buy into the “finding his own way again” vibe at the expense of Austin and other people’s feelings.
The majority of this book the MCs are apart. It’s mostly about Jalen finding his place in the world. Pining away over Austin even though he’s the one who severed all ties with a note at a horribly inopportune time. He runs off to LA where he’s whisked up by a group of kind people who give him a place to live, a job and hook him up with a recording deal. His new best friend who adopts Jalen upon his arrival in LA is a drugged out rich boy with major daddy issues that also happens to be a ridiculously talented artist and a hook up with the recording label Jalen wanted to sign with. It’s all very indulgent and riddled with wish fulfillment. Which felt totally unrealistic to me. That mixed will all the angst was just too much for me. I couldn’t enjoy any of the last three quarters of this book. Quite frankly it felt silly. While I liked Austin, Jalen just felt very immature. So much so that I had to skim all sex scenes towards the end of the book. Reading them made me feel icky.
Keep in mind I am NOT a fan of NA or angst so this book was a double no no for me. I wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t liked the first one. Love Simplified just wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the main character at all and felt bad for his love interest who paid the price of heartache for his immaturity and indecision. Yes he was young but to me it didn’t give him a pass for his selfish behavior. I also thought the story totally implausible and far fetched. I have really enjoyed some of this author’s stories before this one but this one was just not for me.