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.
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?
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.