Author ~ Wade Kelly
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 14 December 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, New Adult
The JOCK Series: Book Two
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.
This was another good entry in the Jocks series. The main couple in this story is Chris, the closeted jock who is expected to marry a cheerleader and Alonzo, the quiet, goth/emo who keeps showing up to watch Chris’s soccer team practice. For fans of the first book Cole and Ellis are back in this story as well.
I just want to get this part of the review out of the way and say that the whole dad obsessing on the cheerleader thing really made me uncomfortable; “squicked me out” would be a good way of putting it. I guess in theory it is no different than a parent obsessing on a child following in his footsteps over a college or career choice, but this one really was over the top. Even the characters find it weird, so I guess that’s what Wade Kelly was going for, and succeeded. Even though it was explained as him being into family history and steeped in tradition, it turned me off every time it was mentioned. Luckily it didn’t overshadow this story and Chris’s mom’s attitude and acceptance makes up for it. His character’s slavish devotion to this “family tradition” doesn’t change, but Alonzo does manage to outsmart him in the end. It may not have been the resolution I wanted to see, but I did like it in a strangely subversive way.
Chris is popular, handsome and a leader on the soccer field. He isn’t perfect though. He can be rude and I thought he failed at being a good friend when his best friend and roommate Doug was obviously going through some things. The fact that he never realizes what he has done and waits for Doug to apologize to him still makes me angry. That flawed part of his personality though is balanced with his protectiveness, caring and loyalty to Alonzo. It is clear that he is crazy in love and would do anything to help him, even if he doesn’t always start off on the right track. I had a mixed feelings about Chris’s actions throughout the book, but overall, his devotion to Alonzo made me like him in the end.
My favorite character hands down was Alonzo. Wade Kelly did a lovely job with his growth through the book with the help of Chris and his newfound friends. He had a horrible experience growing up in a small town where he couldn’t be out. The consequences were devastating and he carries the physical and emotional scars. He has been working for years on healing, but he still suffers and has a lot of anxiety, self-doubt and fear. While he has some setbacks in the story, he worked hard to overcome them and he blossomed. I loved watching him gain new confidence and strength while finding a new family of friends and people he could be himself with.
Wade Kelly always does a good job writing young/new adult characters that have a good balance between acting like an adult and acting like a teen. This is definitely on the lighter side of her writing, but there are still plenty of emotions that come through without putting you through the wringer. The dual points of view (with a couple chapters told from secondary characters’ POV as well) really helped to gain a good understanding of both men. It was great catching up with Ellis and Cole and Doug was an interesting secondary character. I’m glad we’ll get to see him again as the main character in the next book as he seems to have a lot he needs to work through. Recommended for both fans of the series and anyone who enjoys an emotional coming of age story.