Author ~ Mercy Celeste
Publisher ~ MJC Press
Published ~ 5 June 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M
All heroes need an origins story.
From trailer park to the Super Dome.
Everybody's All-American quarterback by day.
Infamous exotic dancer by night.
Levi Brody is one of the undisputed greats of the game. With two Super Bowl rings, one MVP, three Pro-Bowl appearances, three National Championships, three SEC Championships and four State High School championships Levi has indeed left his mark on the sport, but it's all a load of crap.
This is my origin story and like all good origin stories, this one lies somewhere-
Between the helmet and the tiara.
The story of the rise and fall of the first fictional gay quarterback in the NFL.
Author’s Note: I introduced Levi Brody in the second Southern Scrimmage book Sidelined and continued his story through his brother’s eyes in Offside Chance. While this book is officially the fourth book in the Southern Scrimmage Series it does not continue the story. Bootleg Diva is a biographical look at Levi’s life through to the end of Offside Chance.
Written in memoir style, this is the heartbreaking backstory of Levi/Liv Brody that was only hinted at in Sidelined and Offside Chance. If you haven’t read those two stories, I wouldn’t suggest starting with this one. It fills in the gaps of what we know about the character and tells a tale of strength and survival. The things Levi did to survive, but more importantly to make sure his younger brother Jude was safe and taken care of without suffering the same abuse and pain Levi did.
The “memoir” is a telling of Levi’s recollections, not written for publication, but written down at the suggestion of his therapist and for Jude, so that he would know everything Levi could never tell him about who Levi is and why he has done the things he has. It takes us from the time Levi was 12 up to the end of Offside Chance when Jude makes that phone call to their father.
Jude and Levi have a fragile, fractured relationship, Jude always seeming to resent Levi for leaving even as he knows Levi put him through school and took care of him. Diva details just how much Levi loves Jude, how he has always considered Jude his since their mother never seemed to care. Jude was his responsibility from day one and though Levi should, he can’t hate the mother who didn’t keep them safe or care for them, realizing that she was as much a young victim of their father as he was.
Levi has been abandoned and used so many times, even those who take him in and protect him have a complex relationship with Levi. What I really loved was seeing more in-depth the necessity of Liv and being able to bring Liv out really did save Levi. There are some new characters introduced, including George/Gigi and his partner, who had a huge impact on Levi, and some characters that were seen in the prior books have their role in Levi’s life explained more fully.
The book doesn’t repeat the previous stories, rather it enhances and expands on them and Levi’s character. I liked being able to connect the scenes back to the previous books including Levi’s run-ins with Tracy on the field back in school, what was really behind the hit that ended his career and his college days with Slayer and his cousin Aaron.
The timeline of the series so far isn’t really furthered with this book until the final chapter, which is told from Jude’s point of view and takes place between the end of Offside Chance and the future installment, Blindsided. Some may see it as a cliffhanger, but it seemed to me more of a bridge to the start of the upcoming book (at least that’s my interpretation of the sub-heading for the chapter). In either event, there is an excerpt from Blindsided following the end of Diva, which if read carefully should temper any fears the last chapter may bring up.
This story is a must read for anyone who has read the Southern Scrimmage series and has fallen in love with Levi/Liv Brody. Every nuance of Levi that was touched upon in the last two books is fully fleshed out here and the writing was emotional and heartfelt. I truly had the feeling that the words on the page were coming straight from Levi. It made me sad and angry and made me love the character even more. If you’ve been holding off because you heard about the “cliffhanger ending”, then get it and read all of it except the last chapter and you will have Levi’s full backstory up until where Offside Chance ends, but I can’t recommend this enough for anyone who has read and enjoyed the series so far.