We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin.
Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.
Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me.
To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.
Comment: A recently published book being read not too long after that... rare! Lol, but I've agreed with a friend to buddy read it this month...
Oliver Bergman is a soccer player and he is living a pretty good life, knowing he does what he likes and his family is doing well. However, for the past two years he has been a teammate of Gavin Hayes, a British player who is now in the US, close to the end of his career, someone whom Oliver has be a fan of for long, for his skills but also because he came out as gay. The problem is that Gavin isn't as friendly and likable as he imagined and their relationship is rather strained. He still respects Gavin's professional work but it is true the rest is difficult. Gavin, on the other hand, welcomes the distance between them, because he sees in Oliver someone who could change everything for him...will they finally find common ground?
In this 5th installment of the Bergman Brothers series, we finally have Oliver's story. Oliver plays soccer and we've known him to be one easy guy, always ready with a smile, which we now learn means he is using that as defense mechanism against anxiety and panic attacks. His life is getting stable and considering this book takes place a few years after the previous one, we get to know what has happened to the other Bergman siblings too.
I saw some comments on the fact this time gap doesn't allow the reader to see how Gavin and Oliver met nor how the dynamics between them started, we only know about it two years after the fact. I suppose we could have had a different pace and this could have been included but in my opinion, the way this ended up happening wasn't too bad either. I do agree perhaps we could have had more scenes with them thinking about the other before they admitted mutual feelings...
I liked this novel, I liked how these two are in different places in their careers and I bet this certainly plays a heavier role in anyone's life than what a novel can convey. Soccer does demand a lot of a player and we often see some who have issues with pain or injuries and that changes everything for them. In this case, Gavin is 34, an age many professional players are ending the career or playing in less competitive championships. This doesn't mean their wok is less than those in the big leagues, but it is a fact it's not the same level of pressure.
Therefore, it was a nice opposition with Oliver, who is 24, so at one of the best years for a soccer player, already experienced in the game but with physical endurance and room to improve. Although the game wasn't as detailed in the story as I wouldn't have minded (it's the sport I understand and follow the most), I think it was enough to establish the rules in the professional relationship they had. But since this is a romance, of course the fascination was to see their personal interactions.
In this regard, I still would have liked to see more things before they were forced to spend more time together. This can indeed change the perspective when it comes how instant or not their attraction and intimacy seemed to be. However, despite Gavin's grumpiness, this is at its base, a story of mutual respect and understanding and it can be said a bit too much sometimes, and when they are in the stage of doubting the other one would actually want to be part of a couple, it's quite a weak plot choice, because it's not up to their personalities - or what we have learned of them by then - and it makes some situations feel too quick or too simple.
Despite the less appealing details, Oliver is such a sweetheart but he isn't high maintenance so to speak, so he is likable and I could easily root for him. Gavin's past is a little dramatic but it's a match to how his personality has developed through the years. I liked the dynamics between them and was always eager to have more scenes with them, but it is true I felt the sexual and emotional tension could have been done a little better at times.
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