Author: KyAnn Waters
Cover Artist N/A
Publisher: Carina Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M, sports
Length: Novella/54 PDF pages/16K words
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: Likeable characters but I thought there were too many holes in the execution of the plot
Sports writer Max Myers just discovered he lives next door to the hottest soccer player to hit the field. If he scores a coveted interview with the reclusive striker for the Denver Blaze, he could take himself from sports blogger to mainstream sports authority.
Riley Grayson has no interest in interviews or in outing his private life to the public. He wants to be known for the scoring he does on the field and not in the sack. But Max is a temptation he can’t resist. Taking a chance, Riley and Max discover they have more in common than passion for soccer and hot sex between the sheets.
Just as they begin to trust each other outside the bedroom, Max is put in a no-win situation: write an article about Riley exposing accusations of drug use, or risk destroying his own credibility. If he does, he’ll lose Riley. If he doesn’t, he’ll lose everything he’s worked hard to achieve.
Max Myers, a popular blogger and sports writer, had relocated to Colorado from Florida because of its reputation as a sports capital, and he was anxious to break into television with all of the opportunities that could be afforded him. The day he moved into his new apartment the first person Max met was Riley Grayson, star striker for the Denver Blaze and two-time MLS champion. Turns out that they were next door neighbours but unfortunately for Max, Riley didn’t grant interviews. That didn’t bother Max too much as he thought that the soccer player was the hottest man he had seen this side of heaven and he was more interested in him personally than his play on the field. Apparently Riley liked what he saw too because within half an hour Max was invited to dinner in Riley’s condo. It wasn’t long before Max was performing a very personal service for Riley. Talk about a quick hookup.
They soon became inseparable and Max spent all of his free time (which was a lot since he wasn’t writing any blogs and hadn’t even unpacked his laptop) with Riley whose team and league weren’t in the pre-season as yet, so he was at a loose end as well.
Riley at 26 was at the peak of his career and he took it seriously. Although he wasn’t exactly in the closet he didn’t advertise his sexual orientation because he didn’t want to be known as “the gay athlete.” As far as he was concerned the only articles written about him should be those referring to his scoring prowess on the field not off. He wanted to trust Max but he was afraid of making a mistake and being exposed.
Max was out but he didn’t frequent the gay bars so his life was relatively private. Several months before he left Florida he had broken up with his boyfriend because they were incompatible and Riley was the first man he had been to bed with since then. In the two weeks since they first met Max had not spent a single night at his own place and they both started to think of their relationship as something that was a lot more than casual.
Once the pre-season started Riley had concerns about what would happen to his career if his relationship with Max were revealed — it might mean the end of his multi-million dollar endorsements. However on opening day he had a much bigger problem and unfortunately Max had the assignment to break the story that could ruin his career. Was his demand that Max put Riley’s career ahead of his own reasonable? Or would everything go down the drain when two careers were incompatible?
Riley was very conflicted about his sexual orientation and his relationship with Max. On the one hand he wanted the world to know that he and Max were a couple because he was very possessive and had fallen in love with him, but conversely he knew that it could be a career killer if he came out since the soccer moms might turn against him. Max was also in love with Riley but the day he shared this information with him was the same day that he was ordered by his editor to write a piece that might ruin Riley’s career.
Both characters were likeable and they had each other’s backs and seemed committed to the relationship, but when trouble hit all the doubts that Riley had initially had about Max resurfaced, and because their relationship was built on a pretty shaky trust foundation it soon fell apart.
My first niggle was the blurb which gave away too much of the story so the author could just fill in the blanks, although she did a credible job on that. Second, I thought it was unlikely that a high profile soccer star like Riley, who was not out and was very concerned about losing his endorsements, would have sex with a well known and ambitious sports writer like Max half an hour after meeting him. Third, Riley’s expectation that Max would give up his big chance and refuse to write the story about the possibility of Riley being “dirty” was unrealistic since it was news; also, he would have lost his job if he didn’t write the story. Fourth, for me there was a lot of sex for such a short story but this seems to be what most readers like. 🙂
My enjoyment of this book came down to whether the plot was believable and I’m afraid I wasn’t sold because of the speed with which they hooked up, given Riley’s angst about being outed. He had just met Max and didn’t know anything about his personal ethics — all he knew was that he was hot and he wanted him, but he was a sports writer. Even the big finish was contrary to everything Riley had reservations about (although it made for great press) so the sudden turnaround seemed inconsistent with his characterization.
Overall, although I liked some aspects of Striker I didn’t buy into it despite my love for sports stories, because I thought the book was full of inconsistencies. It wasn’t that it was poorly written, far from it because KyAnn Waters can definitely write, I just didn’t believe the premise. Other readers may have a different opinion. BTW I’m sure it was just an error on the author’s part to call the prostate the “prostrate,” and it may be that this was corrected before publication since the copy I reviewed was not the final version of this book.
If you’re looking for a hot short story with a sports orientation or you’re a fan of the author you would probably like Striker.