Title: The Blueprint
Author: S.E. Harmon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 13th 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance/Football/OFY/Banter
Page Count: 270
Reviewed by: Renée
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Kelly Cannon is satisfied with his life. He has friends, a wonderful family, and a great job. But his love life has reached a new level of pitiful. Why? Well, his heart decided to break all the rules. Don’t fall in love with a straight guy. And definitely don’t fall in love with your best friend.
NFL standout Britton “Blue” Montgomery has pressure coming at him from all sides. From his father, who’s only interested in Blue’s football career. From his coaches, who just want him to play without getting injured again. From the fans. From his agent. And from his mother, who has popped up on the radar after leaving his family years before. And now his relationship with Kelly is on shaky ground, and that frightens Blue more than anything.
When Kelly admits he’s in love with Blue, bonds are tested, and Blue has to decide what’s really important. He doesn’t want to lose the number-one person in his life, but the cost to keep Kelly close might be more than he’s willing to pay.
It’s a good thing his nickname is the Blueprint—it’s time to draft a new set of plans.
SE Harmon does OFY a little differently.
Blue is an NFL player on the field and a get-himself-some player after hours. It’s not as if it’s difficult for a famous NFL star to line up some company for the night. He takes advantage of the easy opportunities, there are no expectations, and no sleepovers.
Kelly is a college physics professor, tatted and pierced up, but a total nerd by his own admission. Openly gay, he has zero fucks to give about what people think. Except for Blue, of course – his best friend since grade school.
Kelly and Blue have a really close relationship. They talk multiple times a week, even with Blue travelling for football. Oh, and Kelly has been in love with Blue since forever, too.
I want to point out that this book does not delicately handle the OFY arc. Harmon has a knack for making her characters blunt with biting honesty and sarcasm. These MCs more so than any of her others. And while it totally worked for me, I can see how others may not take to Blue and Kelly’s brand of honesty and humor. For example, Kelly coming out to his parents:
“[…]This was fairly anticlimactic.”
My mother blinked at me. “That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”
“I need a story, Ma. This is not a good coming-out story.” I raised an eyebrow. “They’re going to take my gay card for this. I hope you’re happy.”
Kelly knows it’s a lost cause with Blue. He knows there is no amount of bend to his sexuality. So he doesn’t shy away from a random date or two…..or a quick hookup, during this story. (And for that matter, there is some page time with Blue and his lady friend of the night too – not too explicit, so don’t worry).
Blue has some niggles about Kelly’s dates though. He writes it off, for a while, as just wanting to keep his best friend to himself. He doesn’t want to share Kelly’s time with people.
And then a tipsy Blue decides to get his curiosity on.
This is the part of the story that made me a tad uncomfortable. Of course Kelly isn’t going to say no. He’s been in love with the man for years and has a chance to touch Blue! I can’t say I blame him too much. But Kelly shares his feelings with Blue, and Blue is kind of a dick about it. He just wants his best friend. There’s no need to go there or for things to be any different than they’ve always been. And, unltimately……..
“I’m in the NFL. You know how people are. That would be making a statement that I’ll never be willing to make.”
Shot to the heart. But fair enough, right? Everyone should be able to make that choice for themselves, but, damn, their honesty with each other consisted of repeated punches to the gut.
I was mad at Blue for satisfying his curiosity with his best friend, knowing how Kelly felt about him. How can you call yourself a best friend?
But, make no mistake, it ends well. I appreciated the way Blue’s acceptance of his evolving sexuality played out. It wasn’t hearts and flowers. But for an NFL player, I found it to be very realistic. All that internalized homophobia, I imagine, has to be a very real thing for athletes, especially the ones with fathers who felt a certain way about “the gays.”
I’d say that if you want your OFY/Bi-FY to be a delicate evolution with tons of self-insight and discovery, using PC terms, this isn’t the story for you. Harmon writes blunt and in-your-face characters with matching dialogue. I found that it worked for me.
The relationship angst was like crack to me. Add in best friends-to-lovers? I loved it. Recommended.
I’ve already figured out what I want. It’s time for you to do the same.”