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.