Note: This ARC was provided by Riptide Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
“I don’t want to be the one who turns your life upside down.”“Too late. You did that ten years ago.”
I, along with countless other fans and readers of M/M romance, already know that Layla Reyne--one of my favorite finds of 2017, which made her a go-to author for me--writes kickass romantic suspense stories. When I found out that she had a sports romance series with Riptide Publishing, I was both excited and curious. Swimming is THE sport for me because I both love to swim (I even competed in my younger years... Aaaaand now I've made myself sound super old!) and enjoy watching swimming competitions. So, how did Reyne fare in this particular romance sub-genre? Quite splendidly, if I do say so myself! Go ahead and accuse me of fangirling and being biased, but I wouldn't have hesitated to call her out on doing a shoddy job if I felt that's what she did. In this case, she not only proved she could write something different from her Agents Irish and Whiskey series, but that she does it superbly.
Relay is the first in the author's Changing Lanes series. I suspect that this will be a duet because there are four swimmers in a relay, and the first two are featured in book one, while the other two are in book two, which is entitled Medley and due for release in April of this year. Here we meet the entire US Olympic Men's Swim Team, with primary focus on twenty-six-year-olds Alejandro Cantu and Dane Ellis. Alex is the team captain and specializes in the backstroke while Dane is considered the face of men's swimming and specializes in freestyle, having broken the record of his mentor and teammate. These two have a history, one dating back to when they were just sixteen and at swim camp. It was young love, bittersweet love, with Dane having turned his back on Alex and the love they had shared in order to please his publicity-hungry celebrity parents. Ten years later, the bitterness and hurt linger.
Think of this as a second-chance love story slash enemies-to-lovers romance slash sports romance, and if anyone could have pulled it off, it's Layla Reyne. There's a great deal of animosity between the main characters, and even though the love that existed a decade ago is still very much there, it's compounded by a whole lot of resentment and anger. Alex and Dane made a whole lot of mistakes and missteps, but hello, these two were human, and had they been these pristine, flawless men, I would have raised an eyebrow and felt like I was being pandered to. I like my main characters flawed because they're easier to relate to, and flawed is what we get her. I'm not saying they're flawed in an assholic sense. They let their fears and emotions get the better of them at times, and that's something that I got. Alex and Dane had to work on their individual issues in order for them to work as a more mature couple.
Can I just say that I totally disliked Dane's parents? They were the epitome of media-conscious parents who saw their son as more of a commodity than their child. Then there was Alex's family, who was the complete opposite. The differences between both families explained how Dane and Alex became the men that they were in their mid-twenties as well as why they've made the decisions that they have through the years. There was also how they were with their fellow swimmers and teammates, and that dynamic certainly caught my interest, particularly the one between Sebastian Stewart, Alex's best friend and a veteran member of the team, and Jacob Burrows, the newbie on the team at nineteen, but I'll have to wait a few months to sastify my curiosity. For now, I'm going to seriously recommend you check out what's already on my list of top 2018 reads (true!), the five-plus-starred Relay. ♥
Release Date: 08 January 2018
Date Read: 01 January 2018
Learn more about Layla Reyne.
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