Showing Him the Ropes (Vallie’s Review)

showing him the ropes
Title: Showing Him the Ropes (Champions of Desire #1)
Author: Christa Tomlinson
Publisher: Torlina Publishing
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 178
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Chance “The Chancellor” Gerhardt is a mainstay for Frontier Professional Wrestling. He’s won multiple championships and has the respect of the locker room. But after ten years at the top, Chance is looking for a new challenge. The one he gets, mentoring FPW’s young rookie, is both unexpected and unwanted.

Devin Jacobs is a hot new talent signed by Frontier Professional Wrestling. He’s always been a fan of The Chancellor, and not just because of the older man’s skill in the ring. He has it bad for the steely eyed veteran wrestler. Unfortunately for Devin, The Chancellor isn’t looking to get involved with anyone. Or is he? During long nights traveling and working together, Devin catches more than one secretly admiring glance from The Chancellor…

Devin is determined to earn victories and championships in the ring. But he’d also love the opportunity to win Chance’s heart. Can the two of them navigate their way through the hyper masculinity and backstage politics of professional wrestling to the most important victory of all? Or will their shot at love be defeated 1-2-3?

This was my first professional wrestling novel and, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be a repeat customer.

Devin is a rookie and assigned to be mentor by the Chancellor, a 38 year-old wrestler with an impressive career. They go on the road together from show to show and room together. The attraction is immediate on both sides but Chancellor is reluctant to pursue it, mainly for professional reasons. Don’t mess with someone on your roster and all that.

Things I liked:

The wrestling: I had no idea how it all works and I was quite interested to learn about the shows, the fact that there were storylines between wrestlers, and all that goes into it. Like I said, I am a newbie to this so I appreciated getting to know more without suffering from info dump. The author managed to introduce the world of professional wrestling without preaching about it.

The slow-burn: Devin and Chance take their time to become closer. Devin is a natural tease, someone I pictured being all sassy with a toothy grin. He is passionate about wrestling, ambitious, but also awe-struck by Chance, since Devin has been idolising him for years. Chance is more gruff and distant but warms up to Devin’s ginger ways. When they started exploring their attraction, things went kaboom. They really wanted each other and their sex scenes testified to that.

Now for my niggles:

The who-dunnit: Not exactly a mystery, but there was suspected foul play in the inner workings of the company. I didn’t guess it right, which is a bonus, but this whole part of the plot did not manage to keep me interested. It was like an after-thought, something to revisit every now and again, but without making me care about it.

The pace: Like I said, I enjoyed the slow-burn. But, I also became quite bored reading about Chance’s mercurial attitude. He was hot and cold half the time –getting with Devin and then regretting it a few hours later. The inner monologues of “Gee, I shouldn’t want him, I shouldn’t get involved” were not really developed or deep, just a mantra that was repeated every time Chance decided to put space between them.

Character development: I didn’t see much of that, I’m afraid. There is some talk of their respective backgrounds, on a very superficial, demographic level, but other than their stance on professional issues and what they feel about each other, I didn’t feel like I got to know the characters very well. I also realise that their lifestyle wasn’t conducive to a lot of scenes outside of the travelling and the actual wrestling, but I started craving a bit of normalcy. I just wanted them to do something other than go to the bar after a match. I wanted them to exist outside of the confines of their job and their colleagues. But that didn’t happen so I was left a bit disappointed and fed up with all the wrestling-related stuff.
The sex scenes: This is me probably being super picky, but after a few years of MM reading, I have certain tastes and I think they got in the way of my enjoyment. There was steam and the scenes were quite explicit, but the narrative, hardly-any-dialogue style isn’t my cuppa and it makes me bored. Dirty talk would have been nice but even without that, I feel more in the present with the characters when they talk to each other. Long-winded descriptions of how they-re doing it doesn’t quite cut it –with the exception of a very hawt spanking scene. That was a good one!

Final thoughts: I think sports fans will like this. It’s a not a bad book at all and it certainly makes for an interesting read. It just didn’t surpass the “meh, it’s okay” level for me. For you, it might.

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Galley copy of Showing Him the Ropes (Champions of Desire #1) provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.