Review: The Player by Felice Stevens

Note: An advance reader copy (ARC) was provided by the author via Gay Romance Reviews.

I'm not one to base my decision on whether or not I'm going to read a book based on its cover--I'm more of a blurb girl--but I must confess that there was something about the cover for Felice Stevens's latest standalone novel that had me super curious. To find out that The Player was about a retired professional football player who moves back to his hometown to take over head coaching duties for his high school's football team AND that his love interest happens to be a single dad who doesn't exactly have the fondest memories of their time together in high school? Welp, there was just no way I was going to walk away from it, and I'm glad I didn't because this turned out to be a wonderful read that had me feeling satisfied.

Keller Williams is the titular character in The Player, and after enjoying a highly successful career in professional football, the thirty-eight-year-old has retired and moved back to his hometown of Overlook, New York. He's gone from player to coach, and he hopes to inspire his high school players to be the best they can be without compromising other important things. When he meets one his players' father, Keller has no idea that he's already met thirty-seven-year-old Niall Harper before and the impression he left wasn't a good one. How can he convince Niall that the boy he was at seventeen isn't the man he is now more than two decades later? And more importantly, how can Keller prove himself worthy of Niall's heart?

Niall and Keller have history, but it's more of a complicated kind, given that Niall's opinion of Keller was clouded heavily by a teammate of Keller's in high school. I appreciated how patient Keller was, choosing to give Niall opportunities to consider what he wanted and needed. He seriously was such a great guy, and I'm glad that there wasn't any unnecessary drama when it came to his burgeoning relationship with Niall. There were certain complications, particularly the reactions and acceptance (or not) of Keller and Niall not only being openly gay, but also being an out couple. The side story regarding Keller's players was such a bonus as well. I'm giving The Player four stars, and look forward to a return visit to Outlook!

Release Date: 11 March 2024

Date Read: 09 March 2024

Learn more about Felice Stevens.

Pre-order The Player on Amazon.


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