Title: Chasing the King of the Mountains (International Men of Sports #2)
Author: T.A. Chase and Devon Rhodes
Cover Artist: Posh Gosh
Buy Links: Amazon.com
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Length: Novel (140 pages)
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by J.K. Hogan
Review Summary: An intriguing friends to lovers story that I enjoyed, but wanted a little more from.
Pascal might be chasing the title of King of the Mountains, but will he realise in time that Laurent is chasing him?
Pascal Durant, one of the best mountain riders in the cycling world, was about to finally win his first polka-dot jersey denoting him King of the Mountains in the Tour de France. Then he suffered a horrific accident that left him unable to complete the race. In his forties and fighting chronic injuries, he knows he only has one more shot at the top.
Laurent Desrochers, an internationally known reporter, hears about his dear friend’s crash and watches a moving viral video of Pascal, bloodied yet unbowed, congratulating the winner. When Pascal tells him he’s going to do the Tour one last time, Laurent decides to convince his network to let him follow Pascal on his quest.
Friends for a decade, they had never thought of the other as more. Pascal’s focus on his sport and poor taste in men has never produced a long-term relationship. And Laurent’s constant travel causes a rift between him and his fiancé Jan that proves insurmountable.
Laurent finally realises his ideal partner has been in front of him all along. Can he pull Pascal’s focus from his goal long enough for him to know he’s being chased…and let Laurent catch him?
Chasing the King of the Mountains held a couple of firsts for me. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in France with French characters, and I know I’ve never read a book centered around cycling—more specifically the Tour de France. So I was very interested in picking this one up.
The book is about Pascal Durant, a professional cycler. Pascal has a dream of winning the mountain specialist title in the Tour de France, King of the Mountains. Pascal has a bad accident that takes him out of the running at the beginning of the book. After the race, he leans on his friend of ten years, big deal reporter Laurent Desrochers.
Pascal is about to retire from the sport, but he decides to train for the Tour one more time to try and win the title. Laurent convinces his network to do a piece on Pascal’s journey to win the King of the Mountains, which will allow him to follow Pascal through his training and race. I was really interested in the details about the cycle races, because I don’t know anything about that. It seemed well researched and worked with the story rather than taking away from it.
I didn’t have any major stumbling blocks with it, but it just didn’t pull me in as easily as I’d hoped. I tried hard to figure out why, as I adore T.A. Chase and Devon Rhodes. I think the main reason is that both main characters were a bit one dimensional. I normally love friends to lovers stories, but the friendship between Pascal and Laurent was merely referenced rather than shown—and the references were inconsistent. One second we’re led to believe they were really close, but then we find out something like the fact that Laurent has never even been to Pascal’s house. We really don’t find out a lot about these two guys beyond their careers and whether they like to top or bottom. Since the book primarily follows Pascal’s career, that leaves the reader not learning very much about Laurent. I liked him, because he seemed like a cool guy, but I didn’t really feel like I knew him by the end of the story.
Laurent is also in a relationship with someone else in the beginning, and that lasts about five minutes before he realizes he really wants to be with Pascal. Of course, he has a good reason to break it off before he gets with Pascal, but that whole angle of the story felt really rushed. Also, because the characters aren’t fleshed out, I didn’t feel like there was enough chemistry between the two of them to make it work. Sexually, they had plenty of chemistry, but since the majority of their courtship was spent traveling around, with Pascal training most of the time, there wasn’t as much chemistry in the relationship as there should have been.
All of that said, I liked the premise, and I liked both of the characters. It wasn’t overly angsty, but it wasn’t insta-love either. Even though the friendship part of their relationship wasn’t explored enough, just the idea of it was enough to make it not feel like insta-love—that and the fact that the actual courtship took place over the span of a year. The love scenes where hot but the book wasn’t overly stuffed with them, which is good, and the ending was stellar. It gave me everything I was looking for with how these two should end up. This was a good read and if it had a few more chapters of buildup in the beginning to make the characters more three dimensional, it would have been great.