Rocking the boat

Title: Rocking the Boat
Author: Christopher Koehler
Cover artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Rocking the Boat
Genre: Contemporary romance
Length: 230 pages
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: A coach falls for one of his athletes in this college sports romance which taught me a lot about rowing, but left me disappointed.


Nick Bedford, closeted coach of California Pacific College’s men’s rowing team, is struggling with professional ethics. He denies his attraction to Morgan Estrada, a rower on the crew, though the heated glances between them drive Nick wild. Then Morgan makes a move… and though Nick panics, Morgan gets what he wants: Nick.

Safely assured that he’s not preying on a younger man, Nick gives in to his feelings for Morgan. They take pleasure in sharing their daily routine, and the sex sets the sheets afire. Everything seems perfect until an anonymous complaint is filed against Nick right before the biggest race of the year. It’s exactly what Nick has feared most—and it may be enough to capsize the fledgling relationship.


Nick is a  twenty-nine-year-old coach of the college varsity rowing team and he is also a graduate student at the same college. Morgan is a twenty-one-year-old undergraduate student and a member of the rowing team that Nick coaches.  The blurb above explains the rest.

What I liked about this story? I could definitely feel the passion of the writer when I was reading about rowing practices and competitions. I am not a rower and know next to nothing  about this sport, but the writer’s passion definitely comes through in the story.  I also liked that Nick and the guys he coaches are so passionate about this sport as well. I am always pleased when the characters have something else to be passionate about in m/m romances besides wanting to sleep and start a relationship with another character, and it helps me to see them as more well rounded  “people”.

But I had several problems as well. Unfortunately the building of the romance between Nick and Morgan did not work for me at all.  When the relationship finally started, I was annoyed enough with the both of them that even though I thought they had chemistry together, I felt that these two were just too immature and ultimately I did not care much about what was going to happen to them.

Let me try to explain why the romance did not work for me while trying not to give spoilers. First of all, while I appreciated that the issue of a coach being attracted to one of his team members was being taken very seriously and given a lot of thought, for me there was too much thought given to it in this story. Do not get me wrong, I do not think that this issue can ever be given too much thought in real life, but personally I just got bored while reading about Nick’s agonizing over it.

Then, when Nick finally decides to do something to get Morgan out of his head, I thought it was so silly that I was surprised that a grown man would even come up with such ridiculous (IMO) idea. Maybe love made him temporarily lose his mind?  He also suffers through what I feel is character inconsistency several times in the story, turning 180 at one point.

Additionally, Morgan’s ideas about how to make Nick acknowledge their attraction and to start their relationship also did not strike me as very mature, but Morgan is twenty one years old and I was inclined to be a little more forgiving. Although, on the other hand, he is twenty one, not fifteen, so maybe I expected a little better from him as well?

I also wondered why we never found out the name of the person who complained to the athletics department, but then I realized that maybe writer was saying that it was not important, that Nick and Morgan had to overcome to be together was the point of the story, no matter what outside forces caused it.

Lastly, while overall it was readable, the writing was a little too chopped for my tastes and had a few rapid POV shifts. Ultimately, the story did not not work for me, however, if you like sports-themed books — rowing in particular — it might for you.


  • Hi Elisabeth, I am glad you enjoyed the book. I have to disagree however about him alluding who the tipster is or at least this was my interpretation :).


    Funny, somebody asked me about it yesterday elsewhere and I have reread the chapter again and I still think that the one who was telling the story decided to take the blame for that letter, and since originally he was the one who saw them, it was a nice misdirection in a sense. Although quite honestly I do not see what the point was in the first place.

    • You might be right, I could have misinterpreted. If the person isn’t revealed, then I would make the assumtption he plans to do so in the sequel? Most authors don’t leave details hanging like that if they’re not planning to follow-up at some point.

  • I liked it. I actually thought it was a really sweet story, and throve scenes were incredibly hot. Yes, the actions were immature sometimes, but I agree with Enny – sometimes people in love do stupid things. 😉 And I’m pretty sure he does at least allude to who the tipster is, at the very end. At least that was how I interpreted things.

    • Okay, so I can see finally that the strong possibility exists that the guy who did it is indeed revealed, but I am still not sure. And in fact this episode is a very good example of what I consider to be rather erratic and hard to understand behavior of some characters. If this character did it, why in the sentence before he is asking who did it? He did not have the reason to say anything, he could have just be quiet. Guys, if you read the book, do tell me what you think. Did he do it or not? I am more than happy to correct the review, but I am honestly still not sure that he did it, I thought he was taking the blame for the anonymous person by pretending to be the one to patch things up with athletic department. Thanks.

  • I agree with your review too Sirius. I really like sports themed books so i purchased this book without reading any reviews (so unlike me) and was disappointed. It started off really well but by the end it just didn’t work for me.

  • Sirius- thanks for the thoughtful review and time spent on explaining your POV about how this relationship developed. I have looked at this book many times wondering if would be worth reading -think I will put in TBR pile for now.

    Enny- enjoyed your response also will check out review on goodreads 😀

    • Hi Duhaunt, I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it. I keep thinking about this one and I think that maybe the better explanation why I could not relate to characters’ actions (especially to Nick’s) would be me thinking of his actions not as immature, but irrational? Like I definitely think that the younger guy (Morgan) acted immature when trying to make Nick pay attention to him, but at least this makes sense to me as one of the ways person in love would act. But I just could not *understand* (Oh, yay, I think I worked it out finally lol) his thoughts process, when he decides to “get Morgan” out of his head. I was staring at the page and wondering, how the heck this is supposed to get Morgan out of Nick’s head, could somebody please explain it to me?

      Thank you, I think I now understand my reaction better 🙂 and I hope you enjoy the book.

  • Sirius
    I haven’t read this book but I love sports themed books because there are so few of them around so I will definitely read Rocking The Boat.

    I understand your points but what Enny said also makes sense, about people not acting rationally when they are in love, although the repetition might grate on me after a while. It’s now on my TBR because rowing is a big Olympic sport here in Canadaa so I want to see what it takes to prepare for a major competition.

    Thank you Sirius for a very thoughtful review.

  • I personally loved the book. It is true that the characters didn’t behave very sensibly a lot of the time but that’s what people in real life do. Love will make you a little bit crazy, especially when it’s your first time. The book was so well written that I could understand the conflicting feelings of the characters and I really rooted for them. Another thing I enjoyed was learning so much about rowing.

    Regarding that thing about the anonymous letter writer never being revealed: A friend of mine on Goodreads wrote Mr. Koehler (btw, could you please correct the spelling of his name in your review) a thank-you note and he said that there will be two more books about other characters from the team so my guess is that we’ll hear more about the tipster in the second one.

    @ Lisa: The book got very good reviews on Goodreads so you might want to give it try.

    • Sirry about this Enny, it will be corrected, yes, just not this very second. I never corrected the published review yet and want to make sure I will do it correctly first.

      I am glad you enjoyed the book. I could not relate to Nick’s actions at all personally. I mean I could relate to him being in love, but I just cannot imagine many people in real love do what he did trying to get Morgan out of his head. It just made no sense to me and I cannot talk more without spoilers, but as you said, maybe other readers can write it off as love making him act this way.

  • Great review Sirius. I really like sports themed books. However, it almost sounds more like a coming of age story with the maturity level and repetition. I’m guessing since I haven’t read it though. I still may put this in my TBR pile because there just aren’t many sports themed books out there. Thanks.

    • Thanks Lisa, it is not exactly coming of age story, both characters are gay and are personally aware of who they are in that sense. I felt the repetition was there, yes. Let me know if you decide to try it, I am curious what will be your impression.


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