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The Jock

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Wes Van de Hoek clawed his way off his family’s West Texas ranch under the Friday night lights, earning a football scholarship to the state’s best university. Three years in, he has it all: he’s the starting tight end, team captain, and, according to ESPN, maybe the best college football player in the nation. But he’s been keeping a secret from everyone. Justin Swanscott ha Wes Van de Hoek clawed his way off his family’s West Texas ranch under the Friday night lights, earning a football scholarship to the state’s best university. Three years in, he has it all: he’s the starting tight end, team captain, and, according to ESPN, maybe the best college football player in the nation. But he’s been keeping a secret from everyone. Justin Swanscott has three certainties in his life: he’s gay, football is overrated, and he really, really doesn’t like cowboys. He should never have fallen into Wes’s open-range eyes or let his heart run wild when Wes gave him that shy little smile over summer. But he couldn’t stop himself. Everyone’s asking questions about Wes this season: How is he playing so well? Will Texas be undefeated this year? Will he take the team all the way to the national championship? What’s next for him? The truth? Wes isn’t dreaming about an NFL contract. His heart belongs to Justin, even though the world wants it to belong to football. Wes has stadiums packed with screaming fans, ESPN is all over him, and the NFL wants him badly. He’s living under a microscope, and the pressure keeps building as the team keeps winning. Everyone wants something from him, but all Wes wants is to love Justin. Something’s gotta give.


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Wes Van de Hoek clawed his way off his family’s West Texas ranch under the Friday night lights, earning a football scholarship to the state’s best university. Three years in, he has it all: he’s the starting tight end, team captain, and, according to ESPN, maybe the best college football player in the nation. But he’s been keeping a secret from everyone. Justin Swanscott ha Wes Van de Hoek clawed his way off his family’s West Texas ranch under the Friday night lights, earning a football scholarship to the state’s best university. Three years in, he has it all: he’s the starting tight end, team captain, and, according to ESPN, maybe the best college football player in the nation. But he’s been keeping a secret from everyone. Justin Swanscott has three certainties in his life: he’s gay, football is overrated, and he really, really doesn’t like cowboys. He should never have fallen into Wes’s open-range eyes or let his heart run wild when Wes gave him that shy little smile over summer. But he couldn’t stop himself. Everyone’s asking questions about Wes this season: How is he playing so well? Will Texas be undefeated this year? Will he take the team all the way to the national championship? What’s next for him? The truth? Wes isn’t dreaming about an NFL contract. His heart belongs to Justin, even though the world wants it to belong to football. Wes has stadiums packed with screaming fans, ESPN is all over him, and the NFL wants him badly. He’s living under a microscope, and the pressure keeps building as the team keeps winning. Everyone wants something from him, but all Wes wants is to love Justin. Something’s gotta give.

30 review for The Jock

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jewel

    The Jock was definitely an enjoyable read. This review is going to probably sound like I didn't like the story at all, but I promise you, I did. It was quite dramatical (yes, I know that's not a real word, but I use it anyway when talking about OTT drama), but enjoyable.  I liked both MC's, though they were a little too perfect together, and the predicament they found themselves in with Wes being closeted because of his football scholarship, and Justin being a more open guy. They're opposites in The Jock was definitely an enjoyable read. This review is going to probably sound like I didn't like the story at all, but I promise you, I did. It was quite dramatical (yes, I know that's not a real word, but I use it anyway when talking about OTT drama), but enjoyable.  I liked both MC's, though they were a little too perfect together, and the predicament they found themselves in with Wes being closeted because of his football scholarship, and Justin being a more open guy. They're opposites in many respects, but Wes isn't a 'dumb jock', by any stretch. He's a dedicated student who wants to make a difference after college. Justin is a dancer, but also a nursing student, so he's also looking to make a difference. They were both just so nice. The smexy-times were plentiful and hot, too. No complaints on that front! Their dads both turn out to be supportive, as well, which I was pleased to see. No fragile masculinity to be found in either one. Tal Bauer, though, can really write the mushiest of mush. So many 'you're my forever' and 'I love you's' and 'you're the love of my life' stuff, when these boys have barely even known each other for 10 minutes (ok, a few weeks). I'm kinda cynical, I suppose, but I found the declarations of forever -- so often and so soon -- to be over the top, and not entirely believable, especially considering they're both barely old enough to drink. I tried suspending my disbelief, I really did. I mean, this is Tal Bauer we're talking about and there is always cheese. But the cheese came with extra cheese and then some more, for good measure. The build up to the inevitable ka-ploo-y felt just a touch long, as well. It was like every time they'd do something careless, which was a lot, I felt like I needed to hold my breath, but then it would be fine (ya know, until it wasn't). That, though, was just a bit of delicious torture, and I actually enjoyed it more than I let on. I do feel like it didn't need to go on as long as it did, but once the water broke, I was a bit taken by surprise by what did it. What happened after that was entirely predictable -- and I'm gonna bitch a little bit in the spoiler tags -- (view spoiler)[with people that were supposed to be Wes's friends making everything about them. They wouldn't even let him talk to them, instead just threw him away, (view spoiler)[until tragedy strikes, then they're all suddenly very cool with the gay, and acting like they were all along. I dunno, after all that I felt THEY owed him an apology, more than the other way around. (hide spoiler)]   I get that they felt he should have come out to them, but did any of them give him a reason to believe it would be ok? No. They were so quick to throw him to the wolves when he didn't get to come out on his terms, I can't really blame him for not trusting them. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, by a bunch of self-absorbed college football players not thinking before acting, but I expected more of Colton, and definitely more from the coach. They didn't even bother to back him up, and then blamed the loss of the game on him, as if he's the only one on the team, and the coach was right there with them. Newsflash, boys -- Wes never took all the credit for the wins, and he doesn't get all the blame for that one loss, either, even if the coach is an asshat and throws the blame at Wes. Wes was always quick to give the credit for wins to all of you, and you blew it, when he needed you the most. (hide spoiler)] . Everything does turn out ok, in the end, but goddamn. I honestly could have done without the bit about Justin's mom, though. I didn't feel it was needed and it didn't add to the already tragic part of the story. For me, it was just too much and unnecessary. The only positive female character in this book is Wes's dead mom.  Even with all my niggles, I did still like the story. It might not be my favorite Tal Bauer story, and I doubt I'll ever read it again, but it was still a decent read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Renée

    This was very, very enjoyable. More than I thought when I realized the ages of the MCs. Tal has his cheesy moments: too many ILYs and a bit insta-lovey, but this is balanced well by the angst he delivered. And kudos to awesome dads!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cadiva

    I don't know how he does it but it seems whatever he turns his hand to, Tal Bauer can produce a masterpiece of emotional turmoil which just ticks all my boxes and makes me happily raging! This book sees him visiting college with a new age (21) pairing who really shouldn't, on paper, have anything in common to connect them other than their sexuality. But from the moment Wes and Justin meet in Paris (my absolute favourite city so this was a joy!) it's obvious there is the potential for something sp I don't know how he does it but it seems whatever he turns his hand to, Tal Bauer can produce a masterpiece of emotional turmoil which just ticks all my boxes and makes me happily raging! This book sees him visiting college with a new age (21) pairing who really shouldn't, on paper, have anything in common to connect them other than their sexuality. But from the moment Wes and Justin meet in Paris (my absolute favourite city so this was a joy!) it's obvious there is the potential for something special. The thing which struck me most about this book is just how nailed on Tal gives the reader the unbelievable - and quite wrong - amount of pressure Wes is under as a closeted American Football college star with NFL prospects. His coach piles it on, not in a malicious way at all, but still, it makes him live his life hiding a huge part until Paris and Justin. For the first time Wes meets someone he'd be willing to give it all up for. Their romance is beautiful in its simplicity and its honesty, they fall fast and hard for each other but they're also aware of the wider repercussions. At first Wes is willing to stay in the closet and Justin is willing to live in the shadows. (view spoiler)[But after the Coach's responsibility speech, Wes worries about the threat of turmoil, exposure and potential danger to Justin if he comes out and he ends things. This part of the book broke my heart as each of them suffers from the pain of losing the person you know you want to spend the rest of your life with. There's all kinds of sorrow and it's intrinsically entwined with Wes' college team's success on the field, they're storming their championship and scouts are calling for more than just Wes when it all comes crashing down. And, at this point, speaking as an ex-journalist, can I just say how much I utterly despise scandal sheet reporting. (hide spoiler)] I've said in the past how much Tal's books make me go OMG, so while I was expecting this book would be no different, I have to say I wasn't prepared for the gut punch I felt when that moment happened. It's brutal and, sadly, all too common still even in this day. Wes' life is upended and the consequences of him falling in love seem to be beyond repair. However, as this is a Tal book, he somehow manages to draw all the broken pieces back together in a way which isn't just relatable, but which feels honest and inevitable. The final few chapters are a hard-fought for victory which makes it all the sweeter. I'd have loved an Epilogue a few years down the line but, even though these two young men are only 21, their commitment and love is fixed so deep that you know it will last any challenges it faces. Very definitely one of my favourite books from Tal. #ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisazj1

    I loved this so much! 🥰 This was the sweetest, most romantic story I've ever read from Tal Bauer....until it wasn't. Then came the pain and fury I was looking for. 😒 To be fair though, it wasn't at all drawn out and I couldn't have asked for things to work out any better than they did. This was TB's first on two fronts, new adult and sports, and I think he did an outstanding job. If you read this author's books, you know he can be a bit over the top and insta-love is also a thing. Suspend your di I loved this so much! 🥰 This was the sweetest, most romantic story I've ever read from Tal Bauer....until it wasn't. Then came the pain and fury I was looking for. 😒 To be fair though, it wasn't at all drawn out and I couldn't have asked for things to work out any better than they did. This was TB's first on two fronts, new adult and sports, and I think he did an outstanding job. If you read this author's books, you know he can be a bit over the top and insta-love is also a thing. Suspend your disbelief at the door and enjoy the ride. And maybe this was a little insta but come on. It was Paris in the summer with Wes being a college kid who had never, ever allowed himself to be himself, and was always onstage, with all eyes on him. Anonymous for the first time in his life, maybe since he was a child. I completely bought it, and honestly I was as enchanted as he was. Justin had always been looking for someone who accepted him for who he was, on all levels, and didn't expect him to be anything other than that. Given how damn sweet Wes was, I didn't blame Justin at all for falling for him so quickly. I genuinely loved them both. 💕 I am a complete sucker for sports romances, always. Any sports, though fighters and hockey are my favorites. And I was born and raised in the South, where football really is king. But I don't love sports because I was raised to. I played, my kids played, my whole family played. I love sports for the sheer grit and heart that it takes to dedicate yourself to that sport, that a player has to have to succeed. I love it for the brotherhood, the family that you become when you play with people for a long time. Tal Bauer did a phenomenal job at portraying this. Both the good side of that and the bad, including the unreasonable pressure that is placed on players, the outrageous, sometimes actually terrifying expectation that fans can place on athletes. Then there's how invasive both those fans and the media can be. This is indeed the price of any kind of fame but sometimes it's too damn high. I also loved TB's play action description, he did an exceptional job here as well. I was as into those games as I would have been watching them and I made just as much noise, LOL! There were some tears in this story, though not excessively so and they were absolutely appropriate. I shed a few of my own, though mine was rage. 🤬 There was also, I have to admit, a bit of cheese but I was perfectly ok with that. I was swooning just as hard as Wes & Justin were. Besides, I've always thought that all good romance is at least a tiny bit cheesy. 😏 This wasn't perfect, few stories are. However, it was as heartfelt and real as I could could want and that made it perfect for me. ❤❤

  5. 5 out of 5

    MarianR

    I was so engrossed in writing, I really don't care if they only fell in love in a few weeks, I live for it! I laughed, I cried, I got angry and hearts came out of my eyes. Wes is gentleman, cowboy (and when he has his hat🥵), kind, cuddly, caring, and puts his team before his feelings or used to before Justin. "I think the are a whole oceans inside of you" "You can dive into every one" Their relationship deepens throughout the book and I loved it, with the steamy scenes🥵. Wes, I adore you. I'm go I was so engrossed in writing, I really don't care if they only fell in love in a few weeks, I live for it! I laughed, I cried, I got angry and hearts came out of my eyes. Wes is gentleman, cowboy (and when he has his hat🥵), kind, cuddly, caring, and puts his team before his feelings or used to before Justin. "I think the are a whole oceans inside of you" "You can dive into every one" Their relationship deepens throughout the book and I loved it, with the steamy scenes🥵. Wes, I adore you. I'm going to obsess over you, okay?🥰 You are such a beautiful being and I loved how he is so attentive to Justin. I also really liked Justin, he's just as good, and I loved how he helped Wes learn more about himself and other things. And i love how the relationship between Justin and his father grew. I loved how they were there for each other, being part of their dreams. The coach thing pissed me off, put a lot of pressure on him, and in the end he didn't try to talk to Wes about it😤. My niggles: I would have liked to have a little more moments with the team, to see their connection off the field. I'm shocked at how Justin came out, I'm not going to lie. PS: Wes, I will never forget you🥰🤭. And I just found out that the author did not put an epilogue because there may be more stories in the future. Mood: Screaming🤭 Highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vickie

    6 fucking stars

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    4.5 Tal Bauer. Tal Bauer. Tal Bauer. Tal Bauer. Heart racing, teeth clenching, edge of seat sitting, tear jerking. Every single time.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    4.25 stars from me. At first, the writing was glorious, but then sadly tailed off for me. Seeing Paris with all of its charm through the eyes of two young guys, one of whom is free to be himself for the first time in his life, was wonderful even if a tad insta-love. Did I think the relationship would last when they got back to the States? No, I can't say that I did cause the pressures on Wes in particular were immense. A poor, closeted, 21 year old wannabe American NFL footballer from West Texas, 4.25 stars from me. At first, the writing was glorious, but then sadly tailed off for me. Seeing Paris with all of its charm through the eyes of two young guys, one of whom is free to be himself for the first time in his life, was wonderful even if a tad insta-love. Did I think the relationship would last when they got back to the States? No, I can't say that I did cause the pressures on Wes in particular were immense. A poor, closeted, 21 year old wannabe American NFL footballer from West Texas, the stresses and strains of seemingly being the one player the team couldn't do without, and the coach really piling on the guilt of being there and performing for his teammates too, was just too much for one young guy to bear...the cracks began to show. Added to that, the fact that Justin was a complete opposite in every respect...ballet being one of his passions. How could it possibly work? What would happen if news of their relationship got out? Well...I'll leave you to discover exactly what did happen when the curse of the gutter press struck. Yes, the internet and social media is very useful for a lot of things, but it's also very quick to judge you, is amazingly intrusive, brings you to your knees and in particular, kicks you when you're down. I have to say I cried a lot...a helluva lot reading this, so you WILL need tissues. Did I get my HEA? Not saying, but (view spoiler)[I was rather unhappy that the hate crime was unresolved, and life for the team went on as usual. Also not sure that what happened with the team would actually happen in RL...but this IS fiction after all!! (hide spoiler)] well done both dads. A real credit.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Irene Sim

    "I don't know how to be all those men at once. It's like I have to put on different faces every hour, when the only face I want to wear is my own. The guy I was in Paris. The guy I am with you. Wes, who loves Justin" What a beautiful story. Was it perfect? No. Was it original? No. But I loved Wes and Justin so much, I felt their longing for a future together, I felt their fears and hopes, the dreams that they didn't dare have for fear of disappointment. And the story itself is so beautifully told "I don't know how to be all those men at once. It's like I have to put on different faces every hour, when the only face I want to wear is my own. The guy I was in Paris. The guy I am with you. Wes, who loves Justin" What a beautiful story. Was it perfect? No. Was it original? No. But I loved Wes and Justin so much, I felt their longing for a future together, I felt their fears and hopes, the dreams that they didn't dare have for fear of disappointment. And the story itself is so beautifully told in dual POV. I have only one minor complain:(view spoiler)[How on earth did this reporter put the pieces together to out Wes this way and why wasn't further explained in the story. I feel as if this thread is left loose and I really wanted to find out. (hide spoiler)] Can't wait to read another book from this author to see if the magic is there too.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeris Jean

    Well, this book was a freaking sucker punch to the heart. I hadn’t read a Tal Bauer book before. I was surprised, initially, by just how good the writing was. Lyrical and lovely. Then I found myself rapidly emotionally invested in these characters. I ugly cried for at least an hour of my reading time. But...it was all worth the emotional gauntlet I was put through. I loved this book. Highly recommend.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Layla

    OK... so I'm a bona-fide #Talthusiast. This is a fact, it is well known, and he is one of my 1-click authors who always gives me a great story to lose myself in. This is Tal's first Sports Romance, with YOUNG MEN (21 years) and he KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK! A ROLLERCOASTER OF FEELINGS: HOPE, HOPELESSNESS, ANGST, LOVE, DEVOTION AND SACRIFICE. What I loved... 1.Justin: The nurse student/dancer who is out, proud, beautiful and Wes's dream come true. Justin can't believe his luck when he first lays OK... so I'm a bona-fide #Talthusiast. This is a fact, it is well known, and he is one of my 1-click authors who always gives me a great story to lose myself in. This is Tal's first Sports Romance, with YOUNG MEN (21 years) and he KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK! A ROLLERCOASTER OF FEELINGS: HOPE, HOPELESSNESS, ANGST, LOVE, DEVOTION AND SACRIFICE. What I loved... 1.Justin: The nurse student/dancer who is out, proud, beautiful and Wes's dream come true. Justin can't believe his luck when he first lays his eyes on Wes. He thought Wes would be the stereotypical Texas Cowboy, but Wes turns out to be so far removed from that. #BetterThanMyImagination 2.Wes: Star football player, closeted and determined to stay that way to make everyone proud... until Justin. Justin shows him what being himself looks like. He gives him a taste of a life he thought he would never have and Wes grabs on to that with desperation. Wes is under a big amount of pressure, from himself, his teammates, his father and most of all his coach and it is that pressure that gets in the way of him finding his happiness and being true to himself. But Justin is different, he is more and he is everything. #CameOutOfNowhere 3. Three weeks in Paris, alone and free. I mean what's a better setting for a romance than the City of Love itself? Instead of seeing the sights and being tourists in their free time, Wes and Justin spend every available moment together, in each other's arms and fall gradually in love for the other. some would see that as a bit insta-lovey...but for me it works here because of two reasons: These guys ae young and it works, plus sometimes you know who the love of your life is from the moment you meet them. #WhoIReallyAm 4. Flirting in French. Gahhh it was all Mon amour and Je t'aime and all the French fried my brain. these boys were SO FREAKING SWEET AND ROMANTIC I CAN'T EVEN. #Swoonfest 5. Steam-o-meter: HIGH STEAM PEOPLE! Wes is a virgin and Justin gets all his firsts. Admittedly, this is Tal's steamiest book other than His First Time, and boy did he deliver! these guys went at it every chance they got... I mean they're' 21 so DUH! #PantiesWentPoof 6. Angst-o-meter: angst, angst and more angst. Tal Bauer cant write a fluffy book to save his life. and that's the way I like it! these guys go through so much. pining, hurt, blows from every which way but it hurts so good I can't even be mad. #TalBathesInOurTears 7. HEA: Tal comes through and ends it on a high-note. These boys deserve all the love and all the happiness. I love them so... #IWantMore PS... PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING TELL ME THESE GUYS GET MORE BOOKS! I received an ARC from the author and this is my honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ana Nimity

    Would be an epic movie It's just Tal Bauer, doing Tal Bauer things. A sweet romance, heartbreak, hot sex, football, and family, both blood and found. I needed tissues, both for the heartbreak and the good times. Just a lovely story. I couldn't put it down. Tal's a brilliant writer and I've loved everything of his I've been brave enough to read, but I have to say that this book captures football in Texas SO well. Despite that, it's not really about football, it's about living your truth. Even if Would be an epic movie It's just Tal Bauer, doing Tal Bauer things. A sweet romance, heartbreak, hot sex, football, and family, both blood and found. I needed tissues, both for the heartbreak and the good times. Just a lovely story. I couldn't put it down. Tal's a brilliant writer and I've loved everything of his I've been brave enough to read, but I have to say that this book captures football in Texas SO well. Despite that, it's not really about football, it's about living your truth. Even if you don't know anything about the game, I believe you can read the book with no problem because it's always clear what the message is. Part swoony romance, part oh-my-God what just happened, part Friday Night Lights, it's definitely going on my re-read shelf. I loved it. I just loved it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mirjam

    Buddy read with the gals from Turning Pages At Midnight Buddy read with the gals from Turning Pages At Midnight

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elsbeth

    I loved this. Of course I didn't get anything from the football-talk but I didn't care!! Wes & Justin were awesome. I loved the setting they fell in love. In het city of love; Paris!! The French talk was cute; Je t'aime, mon amour... I'm a sucker for French. So that totally worked for me. The story was light even cheesy in the beginning but you knew.. A Texas Football player in the closet and a out of the closet studend in nursing and a balletdanser wouldn't work out smoothly??? And boy did Tal de I loved this. Of course I didn't get anything from the football-talk but I didn't care!! Wes & Justin were awesome. I loved the setting they fell in love. In het city of love; Paris!! The French talk was cute; Je t'aime, mon amour... I'm a sucker for French. So that totally worked for me. The story was light even cheesy in the beginning but you knew.. A Texas Football player in the closet and a out of the closet studend in nursing and a balletdanser wouldn't work out smoothly??? And boy did Tal deliver in het angst!! I was so rooting for Wes. The load he carried on his shoulders. And the fff homophobia!! Pissed me off so much. But kuddo's for the dads. That made a lot right finally and left me in happier place. Although this was a 400+ page book, I could've read more about these 2 boys. Cause boys they were. I would love to read about them after University, them living their HEA!!! Tal????

  15. 5 out of 5

    Papie

    4.5 🌟 Wes and Justin. ❤️❤️❤️ Loved loved loved this book. I didn’t know what to expect in a NA football romance from Tal Bauer, as it seems so far from his usual political suspenses. But it was ah-ma-zing. And there is something about his writing, he makes everything vivid and real and addictive. Even football, a sport that makes no sense to me, no matter how patiently my husband explains it every Super Bowl. Or how many sports romances I read. Was everything OTT and too intense? Yes. The love at 4.5 🌟 Wes and Justin. ❤️❤️❤️ Loved loved loved this book. I didn’t know what to expect in a NA football romance from Tal Bauer, as it seems so far from his usual political suspenses. But it was ah-ma-zing. And there is something about his writing, he makes everything vivid and real and addictive. Even football, a sport that makes no sense to me, no matter how patiently my husband explains it every Super Bowl. Or how many sports romances I read. Was everything OTT and too intense? Yes. The love at first sight The Paris romance The heartbreak The drama The hatred The love and support The HEA Everything was bold and intense and too much and I loved it all. The only thing that pissed me off was Coach. I expected better. Both dads were amazing, especially Justin’s dad, I might have a little or a huge crush there. ❤️

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    The Jock it's a very captivating love story. But I have to say, I struggled to get past the first 25%. I'm not a fan of fluffy reads and easy stories. Therefore the lack of conflict almost made me give up. I am so pleased I pushed through it though! 💪 What a turn around! When things started to get complicated I became fully invested in it. That said, for my taste, T Bauer tends to lie heavy on emotional aspects, becoming over the top and cheesy sometimes. And I could have done without some of these c The Jock it's a very captivating love story. But I have to say, I struggled to get past the first 25%. I'm not a fan of fluffy reads and easy stories. Therefore the lack of conflict almost made me give up. I am so pleased I pushed through it though! 💪 What a turn around! When things started to get complicated I became fully invested in it. That said, for my taste, T Bauer tends to lie heavy on emotional aspects, becoming over the top and cheesy sometimes. And I could have done without some of these cheesy parts.🤷‍♀️ 4 solid stars despite that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    I finished this yesterday and I thought I'd leave the review for a few hours until today, so I could give my heart some time to chill after the rollarcoaster of feelings. But it's almost 24 hours later and I'm still so affected by this book that I have no idea if I'm going to be able to make any sense here. From the very beginning, from Wes's very first chapter telling us how he couldn't stop staring at Justin with the Eiffel Tower as a beautiful background, how he found the guts to kiss him, fro I finished this yesterday and I thought I'd leave the review for a few hours until today, so I could give my heart some time to chill after the rollarcoaster of feelings. But it's almost 24 hours later and I'm still so affected by this book that I have no idea if I'm going to be able to make any sense here. From the very beginning, from Wes's very first chapter telling us how he couldn't stop staring at Justin with the Eiffel Tower as a beautiful background, how he found the guts to kiss him, from that very moment I knew this book was going to hurt - but beautifully. I read The Jock with a perpetual knot in my throat, with the constant threat of tears about to overflow from my eyes - Because despite this being a beautiful love story of two young men discovering true love in a foreign land and finding safety in each other's arms, you know that pain is coming. You know that when they leave their hiding space in France, reality is going to bitch-slap them in the face. And despite knowing that it's coming, when the phrase "on Friday morning their world imploded" appears in front of you, you can't help but be destroyed. But I would put myself through this agony again and again. And I will - I know I will re-read this book at some point in the future. Because it is beautifully written, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, and Wes's internal dialogue feels so fucking real - his personal struggle to find out who he is, the jock, the cowboy or the man who loves another man? Something that it felt a tiny little weird for me towards the end was when we get Nick's (Justin's dad) point of view. When he goes to the jock house to face Wes's friends. I'm not sure I've come across this many times before - normally it's either one or two POV's from the two love interests. So to have other people's description of their part of the story shocked me a bit. However I did get over it very quickly and even appreciated the arc of Justin and his dad - that affected me so much, what his dad did for him and how they start getting to know each other again. Truly inspiring. Likewise, Wes's dad turning up at the end was another *pumps-fist-in-air* triumphant moment. So yeah, just amazing. This book really did it for me. I know books can be very subjective, what one person loves another hates, but for me this was everything. EVERYTHING. A million stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Miriah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I enjoyed most of this. It’s definitely very cheesy and sweet, but I actually really liked that part of it. This author is a new auto-buy for me because the few I’ve read by him are very enjoyable. This is a long book for a romance, and it’s very enjoyable. Wes and Justin are fantastic together, and fantastic alone. In the brief breakup scene both characters grieve their loss and I love that in a romance. I don’t like when characters are written to be stoic in those situations, and refuse to cry I enjoyed most of this. It’s definitely very cheesy and sweet, but I actually really liked that part of it. This author is a new auto-buy for me because the few I’ve read by him are very enjoyable. This is a long book for a romance, and it’s very enjoyable. Wes and Justin are fantastic together, and fantastic alone. In the brief breakup scene both characters grieve their loss and I love that in a romance. I don’t like when characters are written to be stoic in those situations, and refuse to cry over someone else, etc. So it was lovely to read about more realistic, if not slightly over the top reactions. Then seeing them get back together was delightful, and the romance was strong, with Wes especially doing everything he could to show Justin how much he loved him. However, I absolutely hated the climax, and I’ve never read a book where someone’s coming out has been made so much about other people. I found that part to be ridiculous and made me quite angry. Wes’ friends, teammates, and coach being SO angry he “lied” felt ridiculous to me. They abandoned him, didn’t even let him speak or explain himself, not that an explanation was needed. They threw him to the wolves with no support. The second part to the climax also really pissed me off. I know that type of beating/attack happens way more often than I’d like to think about, but I hate that in my romance novels. Then all of a sudden his team is right there by Wes’ side, but still angry of course that Wes “lied” to them all and his best friend Colton even had the audacity to essentially say Wes owed the team an apology. When Wes did “apologise” to the team, they seemed more upset that the coach put the emotional weight of the entire team’s success on Wes’ shoulders than him being outed against his will and how they all reacted. That being said, everything is well written and that was the only thing I didn’t like about the book. Everything before and after that is great. I loved how Wes and Justin stayed strong through everything. Wes never shied away from Justin when he was forced out of the closet, and Justin was always there for him. This is well worth the read, but be ready for cheese ...and maple syrup drizzled cotton candy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    KerriLee

    I struggled with rating this book, much like I struggled with reading. I really like Tal Bauer and I’ve enjoyed many of his romantic suspense books. This being a contemporary sports story lacked a little bit of that punch for me, which is my fault for not being prepared for no mystery to solve. Also, this book is super over-the-top on the mushy scale. I skimmed a lot. So I don’t really know how to give it a fair review because I just don’t generally like oozing, cheesy lovefests. So I think it’s I struggled with rating this book, much like I struggled with reading. I really like Tal Bauer and I’ve enjoyed many of his romantic suspense books. This being a contemporary sports story lacked a little bit of that punch for me, which is my fault for not being prepared for no mystery to solve. Also, this book is super over-the-top on the mushy scale. I skimmed a lot. So I don’t really know how to give it a fair review because I just don’t generally like oozing, cheesy lovefests. So I think it’s good probably if that doesn’t bother you.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nina Bryant

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Good premise I like the premise, how Justin and Wes met, etc. Then details just didn't add up, the biggest disappointment is when a player was brutally attached,nearly beaten to death, by fans....and the story line just dies. The player is released from the hospital and goes back to practice - thank God is was a bye week? The book had a lot of potential. Good premise I like the premise, how Justin and Wes met, etc. Then details just didn't add up, the biggest disappointment is when a player was brutally attached,nearly beaten to death, by fans....and the story line just dies. The player is released from the hospital and goes back to practice - thank God is was a bye week? The book had a lot of potential.

  21. 5 out of 5

    haletostilinski

    I absolutely adored this, couldn't put it down last night, had to force myself to to sleep. This is my probably my favorite Bauer book since Enemies of the State, which is saying something as I've loved almost every Bauer book. This was so exciting and new and fresh from him. And yeah, we've all ready sports romances again and again and again, but Bauer made this unique in all the right ways, to give it a bit of a revival, you could say. Or he just made it a sports romance but not a generic one. I absolutely adored this, couldn't put it down last night, had to force myself to to sleep. This is my probably my favorite Bauer book since Enemies of the State, which is saying something as I've loved almost every Bauer book. This was so exciting and new and fresh from him. And yeah, we've all ready sports romances again and again and again, but Bauer made this unique in all the right ways, to give it a bit of a revival, you could say. Or he just made it a sports romance but not a generic one. Wes is a rising football star in Texas when he goes to Paris for 3 weeks to take classes abroad and get the equivalent of a year of French for college out of the way. Justin just so happens to be there for the program as well, and is his roommate for these three weeks. He also goes to the same university as Wes, and they're in the same year at the college, the same age, they've just never met before. They meet here. Interestingly enough, for 2 years they lived on the same college campus and never met, and then they both go thousands and thousands of miles away to Paris, across the ocean, and that's where they meet. They hit it off right away, and they find themselves wanting to hang out together and see Paris sights together then go to other places on their own. They captivate each other. And when Wes, a sweet, kind small town southern boy who has been in the closet all his life, gets the courage to kiss Justin, who grew up in the city and came out to his parents when he was 16, and is out in general, things change permanently for these two budding lovers. For the rest of the two weeks or so in Paris, they're together, and it doesn't take long for them to fall deeply in love. Their's is a lightning in a bottle romance, a once in a lifetime, a forever romance. There's just one problem. Wes isn't out in Texas, he plays football, where no one is out in the NCAA, and barely anyone is out who played in the NFL, and he's the big star. So much is riding on him, and that's a lot of pressure. When they get back, reality crashes in and things change, but after some struggle - which I found completely understandable on both sides. These are two young 20 year olds, they're going to make mistakes - they find their way back to each other, but still have to date in absolute secret. As they fall deeper and deeper in love, pressure mounts more and more for Wes as the absolute star of his college football team. But Wes just wants so much to love Justin. And when things happen that force their hand, shit goes down. Wes (view spoiler)[gets outed (hide spoiler)] . And I don't like how anyone other than Justine acted with it. Not even Colton, Wes' teammate and best friend. I love that they came around, yes. But I hated how they made it all about them, and didn't even stop to consider (view spoiler)[just why Wes wouldn't come out in fucking Texas, in a huge sport where there are no other out players and what happens is *exactly* what Wes feared. ALSO, he doesn't owe Colton or the other guys on the team shit. It's his life, his sexuality. I don't even care that it affects the team, that's on the other guys. THEY made it a thing. They only blew up once Wes was outed. They all said "it's not that he's gay, it's that he didn't tell us" well....try to think why he wouldn't before losing your shit? Like it's so easy to come out to anyone, even someone you love like a brother. Wes couldn't know how Colton would react, even though he ultimately reacted well after shit was sorted out. I just didn't think they were understanding and made things harder for Wes, who I felt so bad for. I just didn't think his teammates did enough apologizing at all. Again, I did like that they wised up and listened to Wes, but it shouldn't take Wes being beaten to a pulp to light their asses in gear. And yes, they became better friends after and stood up for Wes and for Justin, but still. I wanted better apologies *shrug* (hide spoiler)] . All that to say it didn't detract or anything, no need to give this lesser stars for all that. Because as much as they pissed me off, I did feel that their reactions for very human and very real. I could totally see that happening in real life. Which sucks! But still, realistic reactions, I felt. The writing in this was just so good, and Wes and Justin just both remained my absolute favorites throughout this. I loved them immensely and couldn't get enough of them, so much so that I felt a teensy bit like "wait why you end it here?!" at the very end because I just wanted more, more, more with these two. I wouldn't mind a second book with them, or even just little extra snippets of their life together. I loved them too much to want to let them go after this book. Pwetty pweese *bats eyes* So definitely two MASSive thumbs up from me, and I HIGHLY recommend this. I absolutely loved it, loved it, loved it. Perfect 5 stars for me, and I'd give it more if I could! <333

  22. 4 out of 5

    JESSI ☾

    Tal Bauer stole my heart with The Murder Between Us earlier this year and since then I have been making my way through his books. The Jock was his first venture into the more romance less political/thriller side of things and holy crap he came in and owned it!! Sports romances in general aren't my cuppa (except HIM by Sarina Bowen) and I am not sure if I loved this one so much because I lived this life of small-town Texas football for so long or if it is because the story, he created was so hear Tal Bauer stole my heart with The Murder Between Us earlier this year and since then I have been making my way through his books. The Jock was his first venture into the more romance less political/thriller side of things and holy crap he came in and owned it!! Sports romances in general aren't my cuppa (except HIM by Sarina Bowen) and I am not sure if I loved this one so much because I lived this life of small-town Texas football for so long or if it is because the story, he created was so heart felt you couldn't help but fall for both Wes and Justin but I 100% did. Top 3 of 2021 so far, easy!! * Bear with me please this review is going to be long, I can feel it. * Wes Van de Hoek did everything he could to get out of his small West Texas town of oil fields and cattle ranchers. Now he has a scholarship to the state’s best University and is up for not only team captain but becoming the best college football star in the nation. With skills like his and everyone fawning all over him you would think that Wes is happy with the way his life is going but he has secret. The kind of secret that could shatter everything that he has built as well as his team’s success. Justin Swanscott wants nothing to do with cowboys, football or Wes Van de Hoek. After a summer spent together in Paris Justin thought that he had vastly overrated cowboys and football because he fell in love with just that in Wes. The three weeks they spent together were almost like a dream and if it wasn't for the constant pain in his heart, he would have thought it was all just a dream. Now back at university and trying to stay away from all that is Wes he just wants to take his ballet classes, finish nursing school and move on. How is he supposed to move on when all around campus everyone is praising all that is Wes? Wes might be the big football star but all he wants is to love Justin. Everyone expects something of him and the one thing that could help balance his life out he can't have. He has to see Justin in French class and that is hard enough but after seeing Justin perform his piece for dance glass Wes doesn't know if he can stay away any longer. Justin is finally starting to move on even if every other thought is of Wes. When he encounters Wes one night it is clear that both men are struggling to make it through without the other. It hasn't been long since Wes ended things, so nothing has changed but what if they were to try and work through things? A piece of somebody is better than nothing, or is it? Wes and Justin stole my heart from the start!! There were too many moments that I was heartbroken over the consequences they were facing just for wanting to be together. The terrible thing is that if something like this ever happened in Texas, the fall out would be the same if not much worse. For a state as big as Texas with a city like Austin the hate that people of the LGBTQ+ community faces is tragic, and this story was just as much about that for me as it was about Wes and Justin's love. As if I need to say The Jock by Tal Bauer was five stars and MORE!! If Tal ever decides to write any more stories that is full of angsty love I am 100% going to be there for it. Oh, and side note as if this review isn't long enough. I've seen a lot of people say how OTT this story was in places, but I didn't think it was. Instalove happens all the time in stories and we don't bat an eye but with this story I felt like it made so much sense. Think about it, you have never felt accepted for who you are but the first person to accept you for you is also someone you can talk with, dream with and love. If anything, that is the kind of instalove I want to read about.

  23. 5 out of 5

    ✧ Marureviere ✧

    "Who am I when you love me?" There were a lot of lines that I highlighted because Tal's words are poetry but the one above is my favorite (I didn't even notice that it was on the cover untile I was almost done reading). I love me some sports romance, and I enjoyed this one, even though I will never, for the life of me, understand football. There were quite a heft number of football terminologies here that I did not understand, but it didn't really take my enjoyment away while reading. I reall "Who am I when you love me?" There were a lot of lines that I highlighted because Tal's words are poetry but the one above is my favorite (I didn't even notice that it was on the cover untile I was almost done reading). I love me some sports romance, and I enjoyed this one, even though I will never, for the life of me, understand football. There were quite a heft number of football terminologies here that I did not understand, but it didn't really take my enjoyment away while reading. I really liked Justin and Wes. Especially Wes. There's just something about a gentle and shy giant that appeals to me. Their romance was kinda insta and they were pretty much head over heels in love all throughout the book. There were times that I found it too mushy, too much, but they were really sweet and adorable together. This scene in particular I found quite endearing: In class, they only had eyes for each other, and while the rest of the group was going wild over the Riviera or the Alps or gossiping about their trip to Lake Como, Wes called Justin mon coeur and mon amour and doodled two swans on the pages of their workbook. The main conflict of the book was about Wes being the most popular and sought-after footbal player and how that hinders his relationship with Justin and his coming out. How that pretty much escalates the risk of him being hated and assaulted simply because of his sexuality. Homophobia is disgusting, but unfortunately, it exists. It's our reality. Especially in a 'macho' environment like Wes'. They will turn your life upside down. Are you ready? He might be able to say yes, but was it fair to Justin to turn his life upside down—or worse? Subject him to the capricious whims of football fans, the wild swings of poisonous love and vitriol? Subject him to violence? What would happen to the man he loved? Was he willing to risk Justin’s life to find out? Glory had never been what he wanted. He wanted a future. He wanted to see his dad smile as Wes walked across that stage and accepted his college diploma. He wanted to love a man and be loved in return. He couldn’t have what he wanted. Privacy is a luxury for him, and because of his popularity, that could be taken away from him. It's painful to read about. But their love was mighty. “Tu es mon plus grand amour.” You are the love of my life. All in all, this was a solid read. And oh, I also loved Justin's dad! He was one in a mill.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amy Dufera - Amy's MM Romance Reviews

    Tal Bauer's The Jock is an amazing sports romance. This is a fabulous combination of college romance, sports, whirlwind romance, Paris, and coming of age. Basically, it's four hundred pages of awesomeness! I love this story and couldn't devour it fast enough. A few weeks in Paris for Wes finds him falling madly in love with his roommate Justin. After a whirlwind romance, they head back to the same college in Texas. But things aren't so easy. Wes is a closeted football player, who can't come out wh Tal Bauer's The Jock is an amazing sports romance. This is a fabulous combination of college romance, sports, whirlwind romance, Paris, and coming of age. Basically, it's four hundred pages of awesomeness! I love this story and couldn't devour it fast enough. A few weeks in Paris for Wes finds him falling madly in love with his roommate Justin. After a whirlwind romance, they head back to the same college in Texas. But things aren't so easy. Wes is a closeted football player, who can't come out while on the team. His coach hits him with a motivational talk that comes at a terrible time. Justin, meanwhile, isn't closeted. Ugh, all the feels come out when they need to leave each other for a few weeks. And all the angst starts when Wes is back at school and pressured by his coach. All the feels. The tension. The fear. The anxiety. The doubts. The absolute terror of coming out, or being outed. The need to protect Justin at all costs. And this is why I love sports romances. All of Wes's fears are well founded. Sports fans are brutal. Teammates are ruthless. Everything Wes feels is absolutely based in reality. The pressure he feels is intense and is well illustrated. He's only at college due to his football scholarship. If he comes out and loses football, he loses his education. And his education is extremely important to him, for that is his dream. Omg. Everything about this book is amazing. I felt every damn emotion along with the men. The only thing I don't love is that it's written in alternating third person pov instead of first person. There are definitely times this kept me a little disconnected, but overall, the emotions are felt strongly. The book gutted me. Just gutted me. And that's less than a third of the way in. The rest of their story follows the highs and lows, the good and the bad, of their journey. The strength of their connection and love is never in doubt. But the path they need to take to get their happy ever after is in question throughout. I love every single second of this romance. It definitely surprised me with some twists and turns I didn't see coming. I appreciate that this is a totally unique storyline to me. It's definitely not what I expected and you'd be hard pressed to find two people who fall in love so quickly or so deeply. The Jock is everything I love about sports romances. Tal Bauer perfectly encompasses all the pressures and demands put upon athletes to tow the line and be the star athlete. I love, love, love this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Clea

    This was definitely surprising. I'm normally really tired of athlete in the closet story line. I read a lot and thought I was over it. I'm also not a huge fan of extremely romantic stories. So I'm definitely surprised at how much I love this book. I liked everything, and from the first pages. I remember praying that the book will stay as good from start to finish. I read other books by Tal Bauer and some where the couple is particularly cheesy made me roll my eyes but for Wes and Justin I always wan This was definitely surprising. I'm normally really tired of athlete in the closet story line. I read a lot and thought I was over it. I'm also not a huge fan of extremely romantic stories. So I'm definitely surprised at how much I love this book. I liked everything, and from the first pages. I remember praying that the book will stay as good from start to finish. I read other books by Tal Bauer and some where the couple is particularly cheesy made me roll my eyes but for Wes and Justin I always wanted more.more.more. They are way too cute. I couldn't feel my knees. They fall in love fast and complitely and me, good old cynical me, was falling for it. I am in love with them. The main plot is not that revolutionary but who cares about this if the characters and the writting is good? This books doesnt feel like so many other sport mm romance book. This book feels special and precious. The difference is that it takes its time to make you understand perfectly how Wes feels, how confined and scared he is and why. When Justin and Wes come back from Paris, full of hopes and promises, Wes's coach choose to name him captain and main tight-end of the team. And Wes, who was feeling so light and in love with Justin, find himself under so much pression and responsabilities. Because Wes doesnt play for himself, he play for the team and football is a way to be away from his dad ranch and on the road to a brighter future. He can't let his team down and he cant loose his scholarship. He think he cant have it all, makes a choice and everything go to hell from this, and Léa lost it. It is a book about Wes. Wes who always wear a cowboy hat even in Paris and feed the duck by himself and treat Justin like he is a god. You have other POVs, mainly Justin, but it is Wes story. It is about how, him a Jock footballer from Texas, can be in love with a man and not loosing any other part of himself? The thing amazing with Tal Bauer books is that the angst is bearable because it is counterbalanced by the love that the main couple has for each other. All the characters are amazing, even the manly stupid footballers are touching and non-sexist. The relationship between Justin and his father is wonderful and I cried, a lot. I can only recommend this book to anybody who love romantic love story and a perfect mixed of fluff and angst. I didnt felt like that for a comtempary novel about men in there 20s since Red, White and Royal Blue. I LOVED IT

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sita the Reader

    This one took a little time to get into . . . and I was wondering what the hell one of my faves was doing writing a sport romance. Don't get me wrong, I love sport romance, but sometimes you think your author has settled in their niche and then they go do something crazy! But . . . after a chapter or two, I was locked in and invested. Because boy did the story build. Wes and Justin, are your typical Tal Bauer characters, as in they're sweethearts you want nothing but to wrap up in soft things and This one took a little time to get into . . . and I was wondering what the hell one of my faves was doing writing a sport romance. Don't get me wrong, I love sport romance, but sometimes you think your author has settled in their niche and then they go do something crazy! But . . . after a chapter or two, I was locked in and invested. Because boy did the story build. Wes and Justin, are your typical Tal Bauer characters, as in they're sweethearts you want nothing but to wrap up in soft things and put them on a shelf all safe and protected. They've got layers, they're intriguing, likeable, complex, and you're cheering for them from the beginning. And unfortunately, you can't wrap them up and keep them safe. Because that moment, you know "that" moment, in a book that destroys you and you don't know how the characters and the book will recover. THAT moment cut deeps, really deep, too deep. Truly. I wasn't sure what was going to happen, and everything was smooth sailing and then I noticed I was nowhere near finishing the book and then the dread came. And then that moment came. And I think my spirit left my body for a moment. But, true to form, the author gathers all your shattered pieces and very carefully puts them all back together. So, that was a convoluted way of saying: be prepared for lots of feelings folks. LOTS OF FEELINGS. SO. MANY. FEELINGS. And the sports. Be prepared for sports talk. However, if you're not a sportsball person, or like me and know nothing about American Football (I'm a Kiwi, we have Rugby, so I'm all about them All Blacks). Don't worry; obviously, Wes's sport plays a pinnacle part of this book, it's basically it's own character, but you won't get lost in it. I had my concerns, this author is very detailed orientated in his words -- it makes since with the stories we usually get from Tal Bauer, the devil needs to be hidden in the details -- but that type of style might not work here, and in fact could hinder the reader. I thought I might get turned-about up in all the 'play' talk, or the momentum of the story would stutter. Turns out, the details were helpful and not overwhelming nor took away from the flow of the story. An enthralling, brilliant, moving read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    3.5 stars "The Jock" is a story of two men falling in love, Wes, who is a college football player and not out, and Justin, a cute guy who is living his best life. They meet in Paris, on a school 3-week French course. They end up being roommates and fall in love, but Wes ends up breaking it up because he doesn't want Justin to be harassed by football fans (why are sports fans always so homophobic jeez). Wes and Justin obviously go to the same school and soon realize that they love each other too mu 3.5 stars "The Jock" is a story of two men falling in love, Wes, who is a college football player and not out, and Justin, a cute guy who is living his best life. They meet in Paris, on a school 3-week French course. They end up being roommates and fall in love, but Wes ends up breaking it up because he doesn't want Justin to be harassed by football fans (why are sports fans always so homophobic jeez). Wes and Justin obviously go to the same school and soon realize that they love each other too much to just let it go and decide to date in secret. Now, I think that the relationship is really cute and both characters feel like real human beings in how they talk and act. I especially adore how affectionate they are with each other, which is rarely seen in books, I think. In most cases, the love interests are never really affectionate outside of the bedroom. Father issue: I loved Justin's relationship with his dad. In the beginning, I thought his dad would be a problem, but I love how they actually resolved their issues. Like, they didn't just stop not getting along, they actually sat down and had proper conversations (multiple!) throughout the book and that is very important for me because that's how real-life talk, Shoutout to Justin's dad for divorcing his homophobic, church-obsessed wife (get rid of the toxic people in your life!). Where is Wes's dad in all of this, on some ranch, I know they explain it, but jeez after everything that happened the man just appears and I feel like he should have been brought when Wes ended up in the hospital. Wes coming out: well, that was fucked up. But what's more fucked up is how his team reacted. Don't know why people think gay people are required to come out or if they don't somehow betray the whole team. Lol they live in Texas and play football, no wonder the guy stayed in the closet. Shitty friends, but hey they made up through talk and action, so that's all that matters. The whole football talk: never seen a match so I high-key skimmed the parts of the match, I mean... The last thing worth mentioning- this is an actual story with highs and lows, emotions, sex, friendship, family, and yeah football. But it feels real (tho they did fall madly in love in just 3 weeks :D) so I highly recommend it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    thunderlightning

    5-fucking-stars One of the top five best gay jock books I've ever read, handsdown. I read this book like I was chugging water in the middle of the desert. Every chapter is better, more emotional, deeper than the one before. Wes and Justin will steal your heart in the first second they met in Paris. Wes is a cowboy born in buttfuck Texas, but he made a new path for himself when ge gained a football scholarship all on his merit. Wes is humble, with big gigantic body, his aw-shucks country charms, a 5-fucking-stars One of the top five best gay jock books I've ever read, handsdown. I read this book like I was chugging water in the middle of the desert. Every chapter is better, more emotional, deeper than the one before. Wes and Justin will steal your heart in the first second they met in Paris. Wes is a cowboy born in buttfuck Texas, but he made a new path for himself when ge gained a football scholarship all on his merit. Wes is humble, with big gigantic body, his aw-shucks country charms, and his stupid cowboy hat. He's a beast in the field, he got million fans, and he already got the NFL sniffing for him; except all Wes wants is to keep his head down, play football, and get a diploma that will change his future, and never let anyone know he's gay. Enters Justin. Justin is the complete opposite of Wes. He's out and proud. He's well off, nursing student, cultured, and loves ballet, and snarky and subborn as hell. Wes and Justin are an unlikely couples, but they crashed together when they both roomed together for a semester abroad in Paris. It seemed like insta-love but it was not. They kissed after a week in Paris right under the Effil Tower. They spent four weeks together every walking moment in Paris, living, sleeping, eating together. The developmengt between them was magnetic. The story between them felt natural and heartwarming and an epitome of a "meant to be" love. Then everything came crashing down when they had leave Paris to go back to reality Spoilers: it gets better What I love about this is: -Even though Wes was in the closet, he wasn't ashamed of his sexuality -Everything Wes did made sense (view spoiler)[even when he broke up with Justun (hide spoiler)] -The chemistry between them was dripping from the book. They were so in love. (Also their love wasnt the typical cringy in-you-face sex-all-hours kinda couples) -You will be completly charmed by Wes that big bull with his cowboy charm and big bleeding heart -The ending was the best. A mix of realistic life scenario with HEA. When i finished the book my first thought was "I want more of this. give me more" I really really do

  29. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Well, damn. It's happened again: A Tal Bauer book I give less than five stars to. This was of course not unforeseeable, given that the announcement for this one filled me with significantly less giddy excitement than the announcement of a new Tal Bauer novel usually does - contemporary sports romance? College football? Ugh. The theme is, to put it mildly, really not my jam. If this were any other author, I'd probably have skipped this book entirely. However, it's Tal, and anything he writes, I w Well, damn. It's happened again: A Tal Bauer book I give less than five stars to. This was of course not unforeseeable, given that the announcement for this one filled me with significantly less giddy excitement than the announcement of a new Tal Bauer novel usually does - contemporary sports romance? College football? Ugh. The theme is, to put it mildly, really not my jam. If this were any other author, I'd probably have skipped this book entirely. However, it's Tal, and anything he writes, I will read. Anything. Even a college football themed sports romance. And it is a good book - the romance is sweet, the sex is hot, the guys are lovely, the writing is phenomenal, but... I really, really missed the action and suspense component he does so exceptionally well. So... I love Tal's books, I really, really do, and it's not that I didn't enjoy this one... I'm just not as in love with it as with the rest of his works. (With the exception of Splintered - Criminal Delights: Obsession, which also just wasn't a theme I was interested in.) Will I read whatever sequels to this book might come along at some point? Of course I will. And I'm sure I'll enjoy them, too. Will part of me be wishing, ever so slightly, that I were reading a sequel to one of his other books instead? Most likely. Do I now feel like a little bit of a traitor who is no longer allowed to show her face in Tal's FB fan group? Uhm... yeah, kinda. Oh well. It's not you, book, it's me. I'll take political intrigue, serial killers, deadly epidemics, pulsepounding action, edge-of-your-seat thrills and suspense over a sports theme any day. I have no doubt that anyone who actually likes contemporary sports romances and/or has the slightest bit of enthusiasm for this whole college football thing, which is simply a completely alien world to me that I really have little to no interest in exploring, will love this book unreservedly - I'm just not that person.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Monte Price

    It really was the third act hate crime for me... Like I said in a previous update, I know nothing about collegiate athletics or how accurately they were portrayed in the writing of this book. What I can say is that I was fully invested in the whirlwind Parisian romance that became riddled with angst the moment our protagonists were back from their summer abroad. Wes was the soft jock of my heart who just wanted to get out of his small town and better himself. Justin was the person that was willi It really was the third act hate crime for me... Like I said in a previous update, I know nothing about collegiate athletics or how accurately they were portrayed in the writing of this book. What I can say is that I was fully invested in the whirlwind Parisian romance that became riddled with angst the moment our protagonists were back from their summer abroad. Wes was the soft jock of my heart who just wanted to get out of his small town and better himself. Justin was the person that was willing to be there and support Wes as he worked through his shit. It was just all there for me. What I appreciated most was how quickly we worked through the initial miscommunication, if we can even call it that. It was really more of a situation where Wes was making a decision for Justin and the angst that follows when both sides do not have all of the same information. That was a small portion of the story though. After that mix up the book does spend the rest of the narrative really building up that relationship and having me believe in its authenticity. So much so that I was happy to not have the third act break up... but the third act hate crime was simply not needed. Not when the book already had a strong enough subplot to support the dramatic tension that the hate crime facilitated. Because it was so clearly a plot device, and one only present to counteract the outing as a plot device from earlier. Also probably could have done without Justin's mom's story that his dad just infodumps seemingly out of nowhere for no reason... Like we certainly didn't need that. Overall though I was hooked from the beginning, I became fully invested in Wes and Justin's story and it was very nearly a five star read for me. As a romance I was rooting for it and almost all of the things that didn't quite click were elements of the narrative that were present to form more of a narrative around them. I felt as though my time was well spent here and would recommend for those also in search of a good time.

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