Review: Relay (Changing Lanes #1)

Author: Layla Reyne

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 2.5 stars

Buy Links: Riptide & Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher


Blurb: Captain is not a title Alejandro “Alex” Cantu takes lightly. Elected by his teammates to helm the US Men’s Swim Team, he proudly accepts the role, despite juggling endless training, team administrative work, and helping out on the family farm. And despite his ex-lover, Dane Ellis—swimming’s biggest star—also making the Olympic Team.

Dane has been a pawn in his celebrity parents’ empire from crib to pool, flashing his camera-ready smile on demand and staying deeply in the closet. Only once did he drop the act—the summer he fell in love with Alex. Ten years later, Dane longs to cut his parents’ strings, drop his too-bright smile, and beg Alex for another chance.

Alex, though, isn’t ready to forgive and forget, and Dane is a distraction he doesn’t need on his team, until an injury forces Alex to accept Dane as his medley relay anchor. Working together, their passion reignites. When Dane’s parents threaten reprisal and Alex is accused of doping, the two must risk everything to prove Alex’s innocence, to love one another, and to win back their spots on the team, together.


Review:  Dane Ellis and Alex Cantu have a history. Dane is consumed with guilt and Alex is consumed with anger. Unfortunately both guys have to work together on the US Olympic swim team. Of course it’s not pretty. Things get worse before they get better and innocent bystanders end up getting hurt. Dane and Alex find themselves on the relay team together. The guys eventually are able to reach a détente. Then they’re almost friendly and suddenly things are more than friendly. Of course that’s when Dane’s parents show up. Dane’s parents are bad, m’kay. When suddenly Alex is kicked off the team for failing a drug test Dane is done playing around.

There is something about Layla Reyne’s writing that I enjoy. I can get lost in her books and have no desire to find my way out. They’re like an absolute all time favorite snack food. You know once the bag is opened you’re going to eat the whole thing. So, in that respect I need to say I did enjoy reading this book. Overall the experience was pretty good, and I avoided people so I could read.

I had two major issues with this book. One of them was the portrayal of both Alex and Dane’s parents. Alex’s parents were wholly good while Dane’s parents were wholly evil. This felt really lazy. We had the hard working, rural, good people trope and the evil wealthy/evil Christian trope and that was that. There was no nuance at all. Honestly, I feel naming the tropes is vaguely spoilery. That’s how facile the portrayal of family was. Look, I love tropes as much as the next reader, but I need more than just the trope. I need fully formed characters, not bare bones tropes.

I was happily reading along when I suddenly got to the major factual errors. Seriously, I was mortified. I have significant second hand embarrassment for the people whose names appear in/on this book. Blood draws and USOC doing drug testing are major plot points in this book. The final conflict will not work without it. So maybe someone should have Googled how drug testing works? Who does it and what bodily fluids they test. Yeah, all the hacking and uncovering the baddie was cool. I like to read cool stuff, but in a contemporary romance the cool stuff needs to be plausible. The plot of this book isn’t even remotely plausible. Not by a long shot. Authors, if your plot for a contemporary romance is in conflict with reality it is not reality that is the problem, your plot is the problem.

In spite of being disappointed in parents and being embarrassed for the writer and editor, I still stand by my statement this was a fun read. Functionally this was speculative fiction, but it was fun speculative fiction and that’s what counts. I also feel I should say I rather enjoyed the immaturity of the swimmers and their bad behavior. That was one of the most real aspects of the book. To see amazing immaturity in a real life swimmer we just need to look at Ryan Lochte. These boys looked well mannered and adult in comparison.

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