Author ~ Teegan Loy
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 4 March 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Life is about making choices. For nineteen-year-old Jalen Marten, the choices he makes will not only affect his life, but the life and career of his superstar tennis player boyfriend, Austin Suter. Jalen spends the summer following Austin around the pro tennis circuit playing the supportive friend as Austin adjusts to life on tour.
Keeping secrets from people is hard enough, but when the media, a horde of new fans, and staff and family who all think they know what’s best for Austin are involved, it’s even worse. Coming out to the world is not an option, so Jalen is forced to hide in the shadows. It doesn't always work, and Jalen begins to wonder if they should stay together. The next choice could make or break them as a couple, and both men wonder why love has to be so complicated.
A Lovely International Tennis Romance
Tennis seems to have captured the eye (or imagination) of quite a few gay romance authors recently. It seems that the life of a tennis star is surprisingly taxing, especially for a singles player. All that travel over a long season and multiple continents puts a huge strain upon the player and makes relationships difficult, if not impossible. There are all those fans, sponsors, managers and coaches to keep happy, all those hotels to live in, for much of the year, endless jet lag, and the press following you around and invading even your most private moments. Unlike team sports, there’s no teammates to hang with, no organization to cater to your every need, just a lot of people earning livings off your talent and endless practice, each with their own advice and demands.
That is true for Austin, the “great American tennis hope”, a young man just recently graduated from high school and thrust upon the world stage without preparation or support. Add in his childhood friend and lover, Jalen (Jae) and his burden is increased dramatically with the onerous demands of living in the closet and lying, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The closet exacts a terrible toll.
Add in Austin’s father (who knows best, of course, and hates Austin’s relationship with Jae) and the PR monster he’s hired (and is sleeping with), and the relationship between the boys seems truly doomed.
Austin’s mother, who realizes what Jae means to Austin, arranges for him to stay with Austin on tour. Unfortunately, Austin’s team is determined to make Jae unhappy enough to force him to leave - which he eventually does.
Probably the straw that breaks the camel’s back is when they try to get Jae to stop attending matches, or attending incognito in the nosebleed seats so that the cameras will not pick up his reactions to his beloved’s performance on the court. Jae cannot live in the closet. Not just because he doesn’t want to, but because he’s just a touch effeminate, and there’s simply no closet that can hold him.
Because he doesn’t want to harm Austin’s career, and because their life together on the tennis circuit has become almost unbearable, Jae leaves, without warning, and heads back to the U. S., breaking Austin’s heart.
With no real resources or prospects, Jae heads for Los Angeles. He’s a talented musician and songwriter and he is determined to somehow get over his love for Austin and carve out a life for himself that doesn’t require a closet and won’t harm the man he loves. By accident, he also became a well-regarded male model when he’s impressed into filling in for a model who didn’t show up for a major fashion shoot. So he’s gorgeous and talented, and somehow he will make it on his own.
Most of this lovely book is comprised of Jae’s journey to find himself, and, in doing go, rediscovering Austin and the love they share. It’s a hell of journey, populated with fascinating secondary characters, including an unwashed surfer (Evan) who turns out to run an apartment complex filled with interesting tenants, including the ultimate foodie, Mrs. Otis, whose husband died two years ago, but still cooks as though he’s still alive, providing heavenly leftovers to the young men she “adopts”.
Almost no one is who they first appear to be. One who acts like a slacker is actually a young man with a huge inheritance who is also a brilliant artist. Mrs. Otis is a major tennis fan (and thus figures out who Jalen is, despite his attempts to remain incognito). A business card given to him by Austin’s mother turns out to be the key to a recording studio and label not far from the apartment he shares with Evan. Each character has a unique backstory, and each backstory reeks of LA, of dashed hopes, dreams that never die and pure creative talent.
Jae carves out a rich and promising life for himself. But it’s a lonely life without the man he loves. Ms. Loy does a wonderful job of rendering a host of vivid characters, some of whom you’ll love, others you’ll hate, but all will move you in some way or another. The love story between Austin and Jae is nothing less than epic, and you’ll spend the whole book rooting for them to get back together. You won’t be disappointed.
This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I loved it. Ms. Loy provides a wonderful roller-coaster populated with indelible characters all of whom evolve and grow, in both authentic and evocative ways. This book will not change the world, but it will surely make your day richer and more heartfelt, and what more can you ask of a first-rate romance novel? Don’t miss this one. It’s fun, imaginative, elegant and lovely.