What is a sexy soccer stud supposed to do when “following family tradition” falls 180 degrees opposite his closeted ideal?
From birth, Chris Jackson has been schooled on how to land a cheerleader. After all, his father married one, and his father’s father before him. Heck, even his older brother married a stereotypical cheerleader the summer before Chris went off to college. For two years, Chris dodges invasive questions about relationships by blaming his lack of female companionship on grueling practices and heavy course loads. But his lack of interest in girls should’ve given his family a clue. It isn’t until Chris mentions meeting a boy that his father’s synapses short-circuit.
Alonzo Martin is anything but a buxom blond. From his black hair, combat boots, and trench coat to his nail polish and guyliner, the mysterious introvert isn’t easily persuaded to date. Alonzo’s insecurities keep Chris at arm’s length, but Alonzo’s painful past might meet its match in the charismatic jock’s winning smile and sense of humor.
When opposites attract, only cheerleaders and gummy bears can help overcome fear and family tradition.
An outgoing jock who’s still in the closet meets a hurt, withdrawn emo guy he just has to have. Here’s what happens next…
The story starts right away, which is good. Slow beginnings annoy me. Both main characters, Chris and Alonzo, are wonderful guys, so freaking adorable and amiable. Loved them. Their dialogue is witty banter, partly small talk and partly in-depth conversations. I liked the realistic balance of their interaction.
This is a slow-build romance. Alonzo, who’s been traumatized in the past, has pretty legit reasons for shying away from physical relationships. So there’s a lot of kissing and making out, tantalizing little scenes that whet a reader’s appetite for more. Delicious approach in my honest opinion.
The characterization is pretty well done. We get Chris’s first person POV and then Alonzo’s third person POV. I personally wouldn’t have minded if both were in first person, since the two guys are so different in personalities and outlooks. Nonetheless, both men are shown as three-dimensional men coming into their true selves. Chris with his ever-present smile and Alonzo with his habit of avoiding direct eye contact, one optimistic and assertive, the other reticent and melancholy. These portrayals felt sweet and honest.
The writing is easy to follow, the pacing fluid. There was some sports stuff I happily skated over but beyond that I didn’t want to miss a thing. Sometimes the people talk a bit funny, as in too formal or mature for their ages, but these are smart people, so it makes sense. The sensual scenes, of which there are plenty, never cease to titillate and make me go “aww.”
One of the side characters, Doug, Chris’s best friend, has POV scenes too. He’s confused about his own sexuality but also shows homophobic attitudes. I was intrigued by these insights into Doug’s mindset, his bafflement about gayness, at once seeing it as disgusting but also as normal. His frame of mind could easily have become hatred and/or violence but he grows to see that love is love. I was surprised and pleased with how Doug’s situation was handled. His story’s next, I believe.
It was nice to see Ellis and Cole from the first book in the series too. These books are great, and they hold a special place in my heart.
All in all, Kelly is a great writer who has a knack for reaching the mindset of people who are kind at heart but going through angsty times and serious learning curves. There’s humor, fun and games amid the more heartbreaking stuff, which balances the storytelling well. The ending sure left me with a perma-grin and a few happy tears.
I highly recommend this series to all those who love jocks-and-nerds and coming out themes, and relatively low angst levels with plenty of sweet love mixed with spicy sex scenes.
Plus, there are gummy bears.