Publisher: Beth Bolden Books
Cover Artist: Angsty G Book Cover and Media Design
Release Date: October 14, 2020
Genre/s: Gay sports romance, forbidden romance, age gap romance
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 93 000 words
It is a standalone story.
Their romance is forbidden. Their love is a secret.
They’re the Romeo and Juliet of football.
Neal Fisher knows heartbreak. It's the clock ticking down in the Super Bowl. It's missing the most important field goal of his life. It's losing everything: his thirteen year career as an NFL kicker, his future, and his pride.
Jamie Wright knows love. It's everything on the line as the crowd holds their breath. It's a perfect kick as the ball soars through the goal posts. It's NFL fame and glory laid out before him.
Neal is on his way out, and Jamie--if he can withstand the pressure of tryouts--is on his way in. The one person Jamie should avoid is the veteran kicker, and the last thing Neal wants is to sink Jamie’s chances. But a chance meeting and a wild and undeniable chemistry proves to be irresistible.
Neal thought he knew heartbreak. Jamie thought he knew love.
They were both wrong.
Their romance is forbidden. Their love is a secret.
But if they trust each other, maybe their growing relationship won't end in tragedy. It might even be the beginning of football’s greatest love story.
It felt surreal to be surrounded by so many people he’d only watched on TV. There was Bran Phillips, the famous center for the Riptide, just over there, a small girl balanced on his shoulders, and they were both laughing. Rashad Green, the best running back in the league, was sitting on a chaise lounge, sipping something fruity and frozen from a plastic margarita glass. And then there was Heath, making sure he got something to eat, and introducing him to everyone who they met. “The new kicker,” Heath said several times, even though it was hardly like he’d won the job. But then Heath would know that better than anyone, because he was on the coaching staff and he knew how many kickers they’d brought in to try out. But every single time he said it, Jamie felt like giving an addendum of not quite yet, but maybe, hopefully? If everything works out.
But Jamie didn’t, because even though Heath was more relaxed than Jamie had ever seen him, he was still Heath Harris, and he contained so much goddamn confident certainty that after meeting most of the people at the party, it was hard not to think of himself as the Riptide’s new kicker.
You’re getting ahead of yourself; you still gotta make it happen, he reminded himself. Tomorrow is the day you’re gonna have to prove yourself, again. And then you’re gonna have to do it over and over again, and then probably a couple hundred more times, for good measure.
Maybe then Coach R and Coach Toby might be satisfied.
He was sitting on the edge of the pool when suddenly he felt a body drop down next to him. He was half-expecting it to be Heath or maybe even Sam—which was surreal because he’d never imagined he’d be in the kind of position to be sought out by either of those guys—but then when he glanced over, he nearly fell into the pool.
It was Neal Fisher, and he was just in a pair of navy blue trunks, with little green palm trees scattered across the fabric. He was pale, like he’d spent too long inside this summer, but he was still undeniably handsome, his green eyes glowing in his gorgeous face, offset by his dark hair. It fell into his eyes a bit, probably because it needed a trim.
Jamie’s hands tightened on the edge of the pool and he prayed he didn’t make a fucking fool out of himself. He was just meeting his idol, that was all, and a guy he’d probably spent way too much time fantasizing about over the years.
Do not tell him you’ve jerked off to him about a thousand times. Do not even think about it.
“Hey,” Neal said casually. So casually that Jamie had a feeling that he didn’t know who Jamie really was. “You told me to come find you.” He smiled then, and though it was only a shadow of his former smile, which Jamie was embarrassed to admit he was intimately familiar enough with to tell the difference, it was still a smile. He poked Jamie in the shoulder. “Found you.”
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Rough Contact by Beth Bolden follows Jamie Wright as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Neal Fisher, after the man’s fall from grace due to a missed kick attempt during the Super Bowl. Despite everything that should discourage a relationship, the two form a connection. Now to see if they can make it work despite all odds.
This adult gay sport romance provides great glimpses of the football world, with its intense pressure, superstitions, hard work, and elements of chance that can undo everything in an instant. Although the acrimony between Neal and his ex provides an element of conflict, I thought their relationship could have been filled in a little bit more so the ex wasn’t quite so two-dimensional. Despite that, I enjoyed watching the journey taken by each of the main characters as they navigate the surprising spark that they have and all of the landmines that threaten to destroy their relationship before it happens.
The fictional football team is based in my beloved hometown, so it was fun to get glimpses of it and to wonder about the location of Neal’s favorite pizza place, lol. I haven’t read the previous story (The Rivalry) that details the relationship between two of the secondary characters who have cameos, but there was no problem reading this book as a stand-alone story (even though I am definitely curious about previous events). I love the camaraderie that shines through along with the competitive spirit, and I was fascinated to discover all of the elements that must come together for a perfect kick. The heat that develops between the men is delicious, and the intricacies of navigating the path of being a minority in more ways than one allowed Jamie to display grace and strength of character.
I think this story will appeal to both sports fans and romance readers, and I, for one, will be paying closer attention to the kicker during the next football game that I watch!
A copy of this story was provided for review