Author ~ E.E. Grey
Publisher ~ Fantastic Fiction Publishing
Published ~ 24th June 2014
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Dorian has been working his whole life to make the Olympic gymnastics team and win that elusive all-around gold medal. Just because he’s the youngest, shortest and not the most socially savvy team member shouldn’t warrant all the teasing—bullying, really—he has to endure, especially from Jules Gardner, the former Olympic bronze medalist and current teammate. He’s had a crush on Jules for years, but Dorian isn’t going to let Jules get in the way of his goals, no matter what.
Jules, on the other hand, loves to mess with Dorian’s head. It’s fun, like a cat playing with a mouse. Seducing him is even more entertaining. But Jules’ personal coach, Coach Harper, doesn’t believe in pulling any punches when it comes to Jules winning. When Coach Harper begins pushing Jules past the boundaries of good sportsmanship, Dorian realizes something more sinister is going on. And Dorian is the only one who can rescue Jules’ gymnastic career from utter destruction.
It’s the eve of the 2008 Olympics and 19 year old first time Olympic gymnast Dorian is on Team USA with veteran Jules, the man he has had a crush on since watching him compete in the last Olympic games. Too bad that the reality of Jules hasn’t lived up to Dorian’s expectations. While Jules is an amazing gymnast who can charm anyone, he doesn’t have anything nice to say to Dorian, constantly picking on him and making snide comments about him in front of the team.
Dorian is so high strung and laser focused as I imagine any Olympic level athlete has to be, but he has taken it to extremes. The pressure he puts on himself is unrelenting. Even his coach, his mother and his friends try to get him to relax a bit and enjoy the Olympic experience, but Dorian can’t seem to let anything go. This attitude also eggs on Jules, who doesn’t seem to think that his teasing is anything more than a part of competition. He knows that Dorian is talented and even Jules’ coach has pegged him as his top competition, but figures since Dorian already thinks Jules hates him and hasn’t made any real effort to fit in with the team, why should he stop. When another of their confrontations unexpectedly turns sexual, Dorian can’t help but want more at the same time hating that he does. Through hate sex, tense competition and threats to their gymnastics careers, Dorian and Jules manage to forge an oftentimes uncomfortable relationship, but whether there is any real future for them is anyone’s guess.
For me, the story had a bit of a slow start. I didn’t feel the Olympic spirit, but then again, neither did Dorian and since the reader is in Dorian’s head most of that time it’s understandable. I didn’t dislike Dorian, but he was exhausting! He’s a perfectionist who has been laser focused on nothing but gymnastics and fears disappointing anyone. He is socially awkward since he never socializes beyond seeing his teammates in training, he has no other interests and can’t conceive of anything beyond competing. He’s in his first year of college but would rather be back at the training center full time than pursuing his education. After the Olympics when things get tough, he only seems to get more self-absorbed in his “woe is me” spiral and gets on everyone’s nerves.
Jules, who I initially disliked, quickly grew on me once we got into his head. He is a fierce competitor, but manages to appreciate life more than Dorian. He is a bit lost emotionally, however, and he clings to the image of his personal Coach as a benevolent father-figure, replacing the father that walked out on him and blinding him to the real harm that is being done. His motives towards Dorian were questionable in the beginning and I wondered just how far he would go and what his end game was, but thankfully his POV made him a more relatable character and not just a bully. I liked being able to see the true affection he had for Dorian and how important he really was to Jules.
I had a bit of trouble with the three year time jump in the middle of the story. I thought it came at a crucial time in their relationship and in Dorian’s life and I missed seeing their relationship fully develop. I think Dorian would have been a more likeable character to me earlier in the story if I had the benefit of seeing him maturing and coming to terms with the changes in his life. That said, Dorian did grow during the story and though he is still super serious, I did like him a lot more in the second part of the book.
The dual components of Olympic gymnastics being both a team and an individual sport added to the tension between the men. Even though the men are on Team USA, they are still striving for a place in the individual all around event and it is very easy for team sportsmanship to suffer or, in the case of Jules and creepy Coach Harper for the focus to be placed on being the best even at the cost of your current or future teammates. This particularly added a lot of drama towards the end of the story as Jules faces another up and coming gymnast who, unlike Dorian, finds nothing charming about him.
The story is told from mostly Dorian’s and Jules’ POV but there were also a few times where the reader is seeing Dorian from the view of his friends, coaches and supporters. This actually stopped me from writing Dorian off earlier since it became clear that he had people on his side that understood where he was coming from and he wasn’t just a moody, miserable kid.
The two men face a lot of ups and downs both in their personal and professional lives and both show a lot of growth by the end of the story. I enjoyed getting a look into the lives of these elite athletes, the pressures they face from all angles and their attempt at having a bit of normalcy and fun in an otherwise grueling sport. Careers are at stake more than once and due to the nature of the sport they are separated more often than they are together, but as unlikely a pair as they seemed at the beginning, Dorian and Jules pulled it together to make a good, balanced couple.
Meet E.E. Grey
E.E. Grey has been writing for going on eight years, mainly gay romance/erotica novels and short stories. Grey loves to write contemporary fiction with the occasional supernatural influence. In her spare time, Grey enjoys traveling and has visited over twenty countries. Grey also enjoys baking, spending time with friends and pets.