Author ~ Wade Kelly
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 26 August 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, New Adult
The JOCK Series: Book Three
Defining his sexuality didn’t make sense until his best friend spelled it out.
Doug Archer did some pretty idiotic things in the first eight weeks of his junior year of college. First, he kissed his gay best friend, and second, he kissed a guy he’d mistaken for a girl. Not stellar moments for Doug. If he isn’t careful, he’ll lose his spot on the soccer team to the new freshman, or worse, he might misconstrue his new friend Rob’s overly affectionate tendencies for flirting. But if Doug isn’t bothered by another guy’s attention, and he normally dates girls, does that mean he’s gay or bisexual?
Sam Garber suppressed his same-sex attraction his entire life. His father told him it was immoral, and Sam did everything he could to bury his feelings. However, after meeting Doug at a party and kissing him, Sam can’t think of anything else. He decides dating girls is the best way to keep his secret hidden. With playoffs in sight, this is no time to think about guys in any other context than soccer. Only neither boy anticipates the difficulty in suppressing his attraction for another jock!
This just may be my favorite book in the series. Book three in the Jock series picks up where the second book, No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys, left off as far as the series timeline goes. While Doug and Sam’s love story is new, and Wade Kelly does recap any important prior events, I think anyone who has not read at least book two might be a little lost with respect to all the secondary characters in the story.
Sam’s been raised by a father who grew more violent as the years passed once he had an idea that Sam was gay, seeking out any religion that would support his homophobic stance, and a mother that seemingly just closed her eyes to what was happening. His father browbeat him into doing all he could to suppress his attraction to men and Sam knows that it would just be easier for him to date girls. He’s recently been stuck in the middle of his parents’ fighting and impending divorce. Now that he’s escaped home and is away at school, there are times where he yearns to accept who he is, but those feelings are still up against what his father says is right. He still thinks his feelings are unnatural and against God’s will. As much as he wants Doug the fear of his father’s reaction outweighs it.
Doug has been working through his own feelings since the last book, when his best friend Chris fell in love with Alonzo. He is really pretty comfortable with his attraction to Sam and is just trying to figure out whether he is gay or bisexual. Doug understands that Sam is working through some issues and tries to be there for Sam however he needs him to be. Easier said than done as Sam continues to date a cheerleader and Doug finds it hard to keep his anger and jealousy hidden. Both of them are guilty of sending mixed signals and not really communicating with each other.
There is definitely insta-love in this story and both men know the other has strong feelings very early on. I found myself alternately being angry with and then feeling bad for Sam. Since the story is told mostly from Doug’s point of view, it hurt being in Doug’s shoes watching Sam date Mindy, even knowing why he was doing it and the damage his father had done to him. I was angry at Sam when, knowing full well how Doug feels, he asks Doug not to see any girls, seeks out physical contact with Doug, yet he continues on with Mindy. I couldn’t blame Doug for acting out on his jealousy and anger. Wade Kelly definitely knows how to get the emotions her characters are experiencing across to her readers. The only thing that saved me from writing off Sam early on was getting a bit of Sam’s point of view and his background.
Most of the characters from the first two books are back and some even have chapters from their points of view. Chris and Alonzo play a large supporting role as does Ellis, who is back again coaching the soccer team. My favorite returning character though is Rob (Ellis’ best friend from My Roommate’s a Jock) who is back with his open-minded spirituality. There are religious undertones in many of these stories and Rob is so good at remaining true to his faith while offering up guidance without judgment. Rob becomes a lifeline for both MC’s, but especially Doug, who in turn provides Rob with much needed friendship.
This is a series that focuses on characters coming to terms with themselves and coming out amongst the outside pressures and expectations of family and friends. As with the prior books this one has plenty of emotional ups and downs while still being funny and sexy. It doesn’t skimp on the drama and angst and provides a wide variety of reactions from supportive to outright hateful, with some characters coming around in unexpected ways. I found myself pulled into each character’s situation and was completely invested in every moment of happiness Doug and Chris found together. Now that Doug’s story has been told, I’m begging you Wade, please bring Russell back and put Rob out of his misery before he has a breakdown. That man needs a happy ever after of his own if anyone does!
Meet Wade Kelly
Wade Kelly lives and writes in conservative, small-town America on the east coast where it’s not easy to live free and open in one's beliefs. Wade writes passionately about controversial issues and strives to make a difference by making people think. Wade does not have a background in writing or philosophy, but still draws from personal experience to ponder contentious subjects on paper. There is a lot of pain in the world and people need hope. When not writing, she is thinking about writing, and more than likely scribbling ideas on sticky notes in the car while playing "taxi driver" for her three children. She likes snakes, can’t spell, and has a tendency to make people cry.