Scrambling

Title: Scrambling
Author: Lex Valentine
Cover Artist : Ginny Glass
Publisher: Loose-Id
Amazon:
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel/172 PDF pages
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Review Summary: Two best friends struggle to come out to each other after they came out to the world as the first openly gay NFL players.

THE BLURB

Evan McAdams has two constants in his life–football and his friendship with Reed Matthews. From the age of six, Evan’s played football alongside Reed. In his teens, he realized he was gay and loved Reed, but fear kept him from confiding his deepest emotions to his best friend.

When he and Reed are drafted to the L.A. Stars, Evan decides to come out. His decision impacts Reed who’s been in the closet too. The two men struggle with secrets of unrequited love while facing the world as the first two openly gay NFL players.

When injury forces Evan to retire, the love he bears Reed can no longer be hidden. But will Reed be able to reciprocate, or will Evan lose both football and the man he’s always loved?

THE REVIEW

Scrambling is the story of two professional  football players, Evan and Reed, who grew up together since they met at 6 years old. Both of them realized when they turned 16 that they were gay but they never told the one person who meant the most to them, each other. It wasn’t until much later that they confessed their sexual orientation. They did not reveal their feelings for their best friend until it was almost too late, and the entire book is about their stumbles and misunderstandings, until they grew a pair and learned the value of communication.

When Evan discovered he was in love with Reed he found out that Reed had a boyfriend, Len, so he spent the next 13 years trying to get over his unrequited love. They were drafted in college by their hometown NFL expansion team and Evan decided to come out as he was sick of remaining in the closet. He told Reed, who wanted to come out at the same time so they approached the team PR Director, Darcy, (who was a wonderful female character BTW) to strategize how to go public without alienating their teammates and fans. Over the years as they continued to play football for the Stars they pined for their lost love as Reed continued to pretend he was in love with Len his boyfriend of 5 years. By this time Evan had a f**kbuddy, Bryce, a retired football player who was also part owner of the team, but Bryce was only a convenience and they used each other for occasional sex.

Matters came to a head with Len and Reed and I thought that Reed would tell Evan the truth at last, but even with a major personal crisis that could permanently affect Reed’s football career he didn’t tell Evan about his feelings – he only told him that he and Len were no longer a couple. As for Evan and Bryce, that relationship took years longer to peter out.

Intelligent gay men continue to be portrayed in these books as being unable to communicate with each other and I’m not sure why this is. In Scrambling there were so many missed opportunities I was ready to tear my hair out as time and time again, just when I was sure that Evan and Reed would confess their feelings at last and be together, they pulled back. I couldn’t understand how two best friends who confided everything to each other and implicitly trusted their BFF above anyone else, and the one person from whom they couldn’t be apart, would not be able to read the other person’s heart. Even when eventually they had sex they never confessed their love, so for over a decade they kept their secret.

There was drama in Scrambling both on and off the field and I loved the football games as there was a lot of attention to detail to make them seem realistic. The reaction to Evan and Reed as the first openly gay professional football players in the league by the opposing players and some of the fans was believable, as the situation wasn’t presented as a gaytopia.

This story is about coming out but Evan and Reed didn’t come out in the most important aspect of their lives. They were still living the biggest lie and allowed fear to consume them for almost their entire adult lives. In the end when Reed’s and Len’s relationship was virtually over it was almost too late for Reed and Evan to pick up the pieces – life sure put a lot of roadblocks in the way of their love. There was a HEA but for me too much time was wasted in misunderstandings and miscommunication. I love sports and the plot sounded exciting, which is why I wanted to read this book but the execution didn’t work for me, consequently Scrambling wasn’t one of my favourite books by this author.

For those readers who love sex in M/M romances, if there’s one thing this author does well it’s her sex scenes and I never skip them. 🙂 In addition, both her prose and dialogue are very good. I have reviewed most of her M/M romances, especially her paranormal stories which I absolutely loved.

Scrambling is told from both Evan’s and Reed’s third person POV.

If you like lots of angst you will absolutely love Scrambling.

Recommended for readers who are fans of this author as well as those who love angst.

 

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

15 comments

  • Oy forgot to add, I did like that with all this angsting, at least happiness was not abrupt and lasted two chapters and the epilogue, I really needed that. And I enjoyed Darcy too, such breath of fresh air.

  • Hey Wave, so I have read it and here is what I said on Amazon. I do not think it has any spoilers, but just in case beware.

    This had been a very frustrating read for me, not the least because it was written so well, the characters come off the page so vividly. I will be up front and say that I had been hesitant to get this one – reviewer whose tastes are usually quite close to mine expressed her frustration with how much and for how long the guys did not communicate, but I figured I need a challenge to myself and see whether I will buy it or not.

    Not. I thought that the lack of communication between two best friends was written extremely unconvincingly. I should have started counting how many times both Ethan and Reed thought that if they will confess their love, they will loose other guy’s friendship.

    And I just wanted to ask them both – have you tried actually *asking* him before you are so very convinced??? It was especially bizarre when they both know when they are teenagers that they are gay. As much as I am frustrated with many varieties of GFY trope, at least the fear of the gay guy to confess his love to another guy, who is allegedly straight, at least makes sense in my mind. Not because it is right, but because the fear that the other guy could be not just allegedly straight, but a homophobe is all too real in our society. What in the name would cause them to lose each other’s friendship if they are both gays?

    At some point when Reed is with somebody else, Ethan’s decision not to confess actually made sense to me, but not before and not after. Oh my goodness after was even more frustrating, ten times more frustrating to me.

    If the idea was to show that they both acted irrationally, I needed to see the reasons for that, I needed that to be established that they acted irrationally. It is fiction, it needs to be believable and for me it just was not. And as blurb tells you they are not even the kind of people to want to live their life in the closet, they *insist* that they want to come out as gay players for crying out loud, but they are incapable to say the words to their best friend, who is I repeat also gay?!

    If I calculated correctly it took them thirteen years. Headdesk.

    • I thought that the lack of communication between two best friends was written extremely unconvincingly

      A number of issues bothered me about this book and this is one of them. Also

      And I just wanted to ask them both – have you tried actually *asking* him before you are so very convinced??? It was especially bizarre when they both know when they are teenagers that they are gay

      Another issue of a lack of communication.

      I hope that the next book focuses on issues that don’t compound what bothered me in Scrambling.

      Excellent review Sirius.

  • I also think that it is first and foremost question of believability, won’t you agree Wave? The guys in Hot Head for example were not exactly the most communicative bunch lol and I believed in all of it. I know some readers were frustrated by lack of communication in that book too – but for me it worked perfectly. Set up of two not just partners but best friends from childhood raises a red flag already in a sense that to convince me that they will not be talking to each other writer has to work harder than usual to convince me. Any kind of situation can happen in real life but in fiction I look at it and wonder if I can buy it as believable NOT whether it can happen or not. Maybe I will get it after all to decide for myself.

  • Unfortunately, stuff like what happens between Evan and Reed CAN happen. We all may think in a perfect world that best friends would tell each other everything but sometimes fear drives a wedge between them and communication flies out the window. Yes. For years. And sometimes, the HEA never happens for those people.

    I lived it. I know. But I’m sorry there are readers who don’t understand it. Sometimes it’s hard to when you haven’t lived it.

    Maybe you’ll like the second book better since the reasons for the angst are much clearer than simple fear.

    Thanks very much for the review, Wave. Glad you liked Darcy. She’s back in the second and third books of this series. I just have to finish writing them now! 🙂

    • Hi Lex

      I can deal with some miscommunication and I know this is not a perfect world, so bad things happen to good people. I also love flawed characters because they are rich and well drawn. However, it seems to me that in M/M romances communication or lack thereof becomes the plot and the worst is when there is what we call The Big Misunderstanding where the MCs are separated for years because they can’t talk to each other. The ability of a couple to talk to each other flies out the window in the majority of M/M plots. Don’t know why most men are portrayed as not being intelligent enough to say let’s talk about this.

      Everyone has misunderstandings that affect their lives or their friends’ lives and we’re all aware of this even if they haven’t affected us personally. However, I think these misunderstandings are so exaggerated in M/M that readers now recognize this technique in particular authors and avoid them altogether.

      I look forward to the second book and hope that the plot is either external to the characters’ relationship in some way or that it’s not about continuing misunderstandings because that’s been done many times. If there are miscommunications I hope at least that they are kept to a dull roar. 🙂

      Darcy was a great female character – something we don’t see often in M/M as women in these books are relegated to the role of a bitch or whore. So thank you for an intelligent female character Lex.

      I did enjoy parts of the book. 🙂

  • I bought this one, but haven´t read it yet. Stories where characters fail to communicate properly get really frustrating, even if they are well done. It´s just really annoying, because you as a reader get to see both side, while they only one. Still sometimes it´s pretty darn obvious!

    • It is so hard to get communication right, it seems. I have no problem with well explained miscommunication, unless it lingers for years and years, but the overall theme that men do not talk at all just does not ring true to me. At the same time I have recently read and soon will be reviewing a very sweet book overall, where one talk about misunderstanding to me just felt too long, too awkward and just off.

      Come to think of it, from my recent reads I think Josephine Myles did communication stuff to perfection in her new one “Hot floor”. The couple in it tends to discuss their love life, rules, and all that, but the conversation did not go on and on for pages and she put in a perfect explanation why they tend to do that which worked very well for me.

      Eh sorry for rambling off.

  • Hi Lisa

    How can lifelong best friends who see each other all day every day not be able to “clap on” to each others feelings for each other?For YEARS?!

    Those were exactly my thoughts. This is more than the Big Misunderstanding – it’s a total lack of communication on an elementary level about the most important aspect of their lives. However, I know that many readers who love a lot of angst would appreciate this book.

  • How can lifelong best friends who see each other all day every day not be able to “clap on” to each others feelings for each other?For YEARS?! I might try to buy it if one of them was living in another country or something, but they are teammates too? Huh?
    Thanks Wave, I would have bought this one because I’m a sucker for sports stories!(I would have been mad too!)

  • Oh no thanks. I still remember how hot the sex was in her book about dragons which I read and liked on your recommendation, but such multiple miscommunication for no reason (best friends, really?), will drive me bananas. I am sure of that. I was looking at this book, so thanks for saving me some money Wave 🙂

    • I really looked forward to this book because Lex is one of my favourite M/M authors, but Scrambling didn’t work for me. I think this book will appeal to someone who loves lots and lots of angst.

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