Reviewed by Nikyta
Title: The Rivalry
Author: Beth Bolden
Heroes: Heath & Sam
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 458 pages
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: March 9, 2020
Available at: Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: The first time NFL quarterback Heath Harris meets Sam Crawford, it’s just them, a luxury yacht and a few days of fun in the sun. Sam turns out to be nothing like Heath expects. He’s kind and funny and irreverent—and also unbelievably, shockingly sexy. For three short, glorious, life-changing days, there are no rules.
The second time they meet, Sam has just been traded to Heath’s team, and instead of lovers, now they’re rivals. Heath has spent the last five years working desperately to be the best quarterback the Riptide could ever need, but when injuries threaten to derail his career, Sam is right there, standing on the sideline. Ready to take over, and ready to ruin everything Heath has given his life for.
Rival. Enemy. Teammate. Friend. Lover.
As their orbits collide, sparks fly, and Heath struggles to find the right label and the right box to shove Sam into, hoping to keep him contained. But Sam—and Heath’s feelings—refuse to cooperate.
Sam might not be just one of those things, he might be all of them, and so much more.
First, let me just say that this book doesn’t feel like a 450+ page story. I would probably estimate it’s more around 275-300 pages, if that, so don’t let that scare you off. Not sure why it’s listed as that many pages, maybe because of the font but on my kindle, it’s only 5366 locations. Also, this one has Colin and Nick from The Rainbow Clause in it and can be loosely considered a cameo but they actually help Heath a lot in this one.
With that said, I really enjoyed this one. I’ve always adored Beth Bolden books so that’s no surprise but this one gave me that sweet heartache that I sometimes crave. It was just the book I was looking for when I wanted to experience those certain ‘feels’ when it comes to coming out and the struggles of also being teammates. This one goes a step further in that Heath is sporting an injury in his shoulder that no one can explain and Sam is actually Heath’s backup. So not only are they teammates but they’re BOTH quarterbacks.
Heath is all tangled up in his feelings for Sam because one, he’s never really been into guys but he hasn’t really been into girls either, and two, Sam pushes his control and Heath hates being out of control. Add his injury into it and Sam suddenly becomes his backup, Heath is all kinds of messed up because he’s thinks Sam’s there to take his job and football is the only thing Heath knows. I loved that struggle within Heath. His desire for Sam and his fear that he’ll lose his starting position and everything he’s worked towards. It brewed animosity between Heath and Sam and it was all kinds of goodness, even when Heath was just a bit too hostile. As for Sam, he starts off pretty gullible and when it comes to Heath, he doesn’t exactly think straight because he’s being led by his dick and not his head but as time goes on, I really liked that Sam grew a backbone and realized he needed to get his own shit together and stop going off all halfcocked. And, at first, Sam feels young, which he is, but as time goes on, I really liked the changes in Sam and how he grew up, so to speak. When they both get to that point where their lives just click, it was such a satisfying moment.
While I really, really loved this one, I had a few issues. For one, it was too smutty for me because I wanted to see Heath and Sam talk things out or actually experience those times they spend together that were mentioned but never shown. Instead, just when I thought they would verbally work through their struggles, they ended up in bed instead, not to say it wasn’t hot just that I would have loved to see them connecting in another way and not just with their flesh. Add to that, I didn’t really feel satisfied with the way Heath’s injury was handled. Yes, we determine that it’s a mental injury but even after he started working through his issues, his shoulder never got better but seemed to just get worse. Then there was the ending, which I thoroughly enjoyed but I wanted to see what repercussions happen, it’s briefly mentioned but never really elaborated on, plus, neither of them told their coach or their media representative (or whoever it was) of what they were going to do, so how was there no backlash from either of them for being blindsided by Heath and Sam?
All in all, this was a highly enjoyable read. I adored Heath and Sam as characters and their struggle to navigate their chemistry around being teammates. I loved the internal struggle with Heath and him working through more than just those issues. I wished it had more onscreen moments of them getting closer together and less sex but, as it was, I really liked this one and gobbled it up right from the start.
Overall Impression: I really liked it
*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review.*