Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Elyse Springer - Heels Over Head

Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.
Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.
They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.

Comment: I saw positive opinions about this book some where and the idea of a story featuring athletes who are not in a team sport is always quite appealing, only because it's not as usual, and I'm all for trying it.

In this story we meet determined diver Jeremy Reeve, whose goal of being at the Olympics sees no obstacle, including that of his new training partner, Brandon Evans. Jeremy wants to prove he is worthy of his family's validation and while he can't help but being attracted to Brandon, he will try his best to ignore that and focus on his training. However, their coach wants them to practice synchronized diving as well, especially since Brandon is quite a talented for someone who has only been diving for two years. At first they don't seem to match and not even the presence of their friend and fellow diver Valerie seems to create a bridge, until Brandon decides to take things more seriously. Nevertheless, their personal lives aren't easy to deal with, will these two ever be on the same page?

This was an engaging story for me. I had a good time reading and wanting to know what would happen next, even though some elements are quite predictable. I would say the best thing about this story is that the characters, for the most time, behave as people who are dedicated to their goals and focused on their life experiences. On other words, the setting isn't just a prop for insta-love or insta-lust and I liked how we had time to see them interact and move along before anything romantic was settled.

The story includes many details about diving, about wanting to meet a goal, about what those things entail and whether the author knows about the subject or has investigated enough to shape her characters, I got the idea most of the information made sense. With this I mean I was convinced Jeremy and Valerie, the ones with more experience in the sport, were a god enough personification of how a real athlete might act and react in similar situations, that the training and routines described were realistic enough.

Brandon isn't as experienced, he started as a diver for fun and was "scouted", which according to many sports can truly happen - as opposed to all professional athletes coming from young schooling/practice. As for how he adapts, I think the way the author developed this part was also interesting because Brandon doesn't immediately become perfect when it comes to rules and specific traits people who have been at it for decades manage to do. I also liked the idea that focus and intent can make the whole difference and while Brandon had natural talent, without work and the right mentality, the right frame of mind - wanting to succeed - his results weren't as good nor ideal as those who worked with him felt he could.

I can't say, since I don't even know how to swim, but this aspect of the novel felt competent.
Of course, this being fiction, the funnier part is to see the romance or at least the development of the characters as they interact or adjust their feelings to what is happening in their lives. In this, Jeremy's character was the richest for me to want to see evolve, because he comes from a verbally abusive home, his father and brothers don't respect his choice of being a diver, his dedication to a sport they feel is "unmanly" and this has affected his feelings and state of mind. He can't imagine the idea of telling them he is gay.

As for Brandon, he is out but as the plot moves along we learn something happened before the story started and he is mostly homeless, living with friends and using the opportunity of a scholarship to be in a dorm. I mean, one doesn't need to be a genius to guess what happened, but the exact how is only told later on, when the main characters are already closer, emotionally speaking. I think the slow development between them, from reluctance and even animosity to wanting your partner to do well and falling in love was something which worked out well as gradually as it happened.

The romance isn't sugary nor easy, but there are some moments where it did feel as if the drama was a bit high... then, as the story is coming to the end, some situations (namely how Jeremy "learns" the lesson he is worthy as he is or how Brandon decides to trust in him despite financial issues making it difficult to take a certain step) felt slightly rushed. I mean, I do think those events had to happen, but the method used was a little too much like "despite the odds, they did it" and I think something as organic and simpler as the majority of the novel was would have suited better.

All in all, this was an enjoyable novel, I was glad the guys found happiness and seemed to have become a solid couple, but some later details kind of diminished my overall appreciation.
Grade: 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment