Note: This ARC was provided by the author via IndiGo Marketing & Design in exchange for an honest review.
Squeeeee! The Next Competitor is probably one of my favorite enemies-to-lovers slash sports romance reads this year. It also happens to be my third Keira Andrews book for 2016 and she's knocked out of the ballpark (wrong sport, I know, but you get my point) each time. This is the revamped second edition of The Next Competitor, which was originally released in 2010 as a young adult (YA) read. One of my friends read the first edition and when we compared notes, it was clear that there were tweaks, both minor and major ones, but since I never actually read the one from six or so years ago, my review can't and won't pinpoint what those exact changes were. I will say, though, that my fellow book whore is now itching to read the updated version and I'm curious about the old one.
At twenty, Alexander Grady has achieved a lot in his career as a figure skater. He's become a champion but he also knows how it feels to fall short and receive a medal color he wasn't aspiring for and he's experienced the sharp pain of defeat. He pushes himself harder than most. He has goals to achieve and his family has gone above and beyond to support his dreams. He doesn't need distractions, especially one in the person of twenty-four-year-old Matthew Savelli, Canadian pairs figure skating champion, nicknamed "Captain Cardboard" by Alex for his less than scintillating personality. So what if Matt happens to be gorgeous and has Alex turning his attention his way without even trying? Then Matt surprises him. Yes, he's nice--which is a good thing--but when he's naughty, Matt is so much better. With the Olympics approaching, can Alex risk pursuing a relationship? Which wins: love or ambition?
With the fair amount of sex and more mature themes, this reworked version of The Next Competitor falls under the new adult (NA) category. I loved how Alex did his fair share of growing up and owning the man and athlete that he was becoming. Matt was this wonderful surprise of a main character, someone who was much more than he seemed, and yet he also had his hang-ups, proving that he wasn't as put-together as Alex first though him to be. These two pushed each other to the brink but also pulled one another back from it. I was expecting a different turnout near the end of the book, but in hindsight, I think the way it worked out held more meaning, strengthening Alex's resolve in both his personal life and his life as an athlete. The hopeful feel of the end is also apt given Alex and Matt's ages and where they are in their respective lives. The Next Competitor receives five stars! ♥
Date Read: 23 December 2016
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