Author: Layla Reyne
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Summary: Captain is not a title Alejandro “Alex” Cantu takes lightly. Elected by his teammates to helm the US Men’s Swim Team, he proudly accepts the role, despite juggling endless training, team administrative work, and helping out on the family farm. And despite his ex-lover, Dane Ellis—swimming’s biggest star—also making the Olympic Team.
Dane has been a pawn in his celebrity parents’ empire from crib to pool, flashing his camera-ready smile on demand and staying deeply in the closet. Only once did he drop the act—the summer he fell in love with Alex. Ten years later, Dane longs to cut his parents’ strings, drop his too-bright smile, and beg Alex for another chance.
Alex, though, isn’t ready to forgive and forget, and Dane is a distraction he doesn’t need on his team, until an injury forces Alex to accept Dane as his medley relay anchor. Working together, their passion reignites. When Dane’s parents threaten reprisal and Alex is accused of doping, the two must risk everything to prove Alex’s innocence, to love one another, and to win back their spots on the team, together.
Review: Layla Reyne impressed me greatly with her debut series (Agents Irish &Whiskey) but I was unsure of this one from the start, because swimming is not a subject of much interest for me. I say that because it probably played a part in influencing my enjoyment. Dane and Alex were 16 year olds at swim camp and fell in love as only 16 year olds can. But Alex has harbored a grudge for 10 long years because Dane left him behind after camp, and still has never come out. Dane has always been under his parents thumb, resents their calculated exploitation of his success, but at 26, has done absolutely nothing to change that, even allowing them control over his money. His attitude towards them reads like a sullen teen, not a grown man. Since Dane and Alex had to have run into each other over 10 years of competition in the same sport, I fail to see how they wouldn’t have a little better understanding of each other. I continued to feel the plot lacked sufficient logic for many of the devices that were used. If the men were younger, say 18-20, I think I’d have been able to connect better.
Arriving for Olympic training, Dane is jealous of Alex’s popularity with the team, acting spoiled and entitled and is Alex is being judgmental, petty and spiteful towards Dane. The resulting turnarounds from hate to love, to hate, then love again, just went way too fast to feel believable to me. There was time for them to spend together, eventually, while Dane is trying to clear Alex, but I still had a hard time buying into the “I’ve always loved only you” scenario. I did like Alex’s mom and family, and their situation supplied a good tug on the heartstrings. The rest of the team members were interesting and hinted at some themes for future books. Dane’s parents were so unlikable that they became unrealistic caricatures. Then, the solution to Dane’s money issues was so simple, that the eventual confrontation was almost a non-event. Mine is probably a minority opinion and I will try the next book in the series. I’m still impressed with the author, it was simply a matter of not meshing with this book. It’s yet another one you’ll need to decide on for yourself.