Cover: JM Snyder
Publisher: JMS Books
Length: 61,269 words
During a golf tournament in Virginia, American golfer Reggie Weston meets Russell Lee, the British former world champion in the sport. The two men hit it off when Russell takes Reggie under his wing, teaching him the tricks of the game.
As their friendship deepens, Reggie finds himself falling in love with the Englishman, though he knows Russell doesn’t feel the same. He’s painfully aware of the fact that Russell isn’t gay.
But there’s more to Russell than meets the eye. He’s a troubled soul, plagued by monsters in his head telling him who he should be. He’s spent most of his life hiding his sexuality from the world so he won’t disappoint his homophobic mother.
Is seven days enough time for Russell to break through the years of hurt and accept the new direction fate has in store for him and Reggie?
MY RATING: 4 STARS
ARC RECEIVED FROM THE AUTHOR IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW
I’ve met Cristina Bruni at the MM Romance meeting in Italy last year. She was there with her book Sette Giorni, but I don’t know why (maybe I’ve already spent all my money?) I didn’t buy her book. Maybe was only fate, I was simply waiting for her to translate the book in English.
I really love sport romance, if MM romance even better. I’ve read sport romance about soccer, basket, baseball, football, hockey, rugby, skating, gymnastic, tennis… never golf! So a book out of the ordinary, sweet and romantic.
Cristina’s writing is engaging with a natural flow that captured my heart. Sometime it was like I was there on that golf course, feeling the tension and the joy of the tournament, connecting deeply with the characters.
Speaking about characters: I loved them very much!
Reginald Weston, Reggie, is a golf player, young and openly gay. He is at his first important tournament, everything is new to him and exciting, but what is making his hurt beat so fast is Russull Lee, the champion, his hero and wet dream. Their first encounter begins in the wrong way, but between them something clicked. Russull seems to be pulled to Reggie and teaching him some golf trick (OMG, I loved the dantian breathing scene!) will bring them on a new level. For Reggie and Russ is like a turning point in their lives.
Reggie is going to see what to be a champion really means and Russull is forced to face his demons.
Reggie is very shy, sometime too much, blushing frequently. I find that sweet, but under Reggie’s insecurities there is a young boy very strong and determined. He doesn’t hide his sexuality, and being gay and a sport player can be a challenge. And he is not afraid of that. I loved how he faced the final round of the tournament, scared as hell but with the presence of mind to be focused on such important event that could change his life. To be unconfident and scare is not always a bad thing, as for Reggie, it can brings out your passion and resolution. This is how I see Reginald: a sweet puppy tiger.
Russell is Reggie opposite. Strong and confident, nothing seems to scare him, on and outside the green. But who is the real Russ? He is a man facing his demons and, as in real life, he has reached his crossroad, the point in life where you are forced to fight them if you want to live. His crossroad is Reggie.
There were moments where I would have yelled at Reggie, telling him to stop being so shy and I would have yelled at Russ because he can be real asshole.
Their story is sweet, one that can break your heart and make you cry. I loved the way the author turned the events in order to give them what they deserve.
What I’ve loved about the book, apart from Reggie and Russ? The settings. The golf club in Virginia and Wimbledon. The first setting is well pictured and I had the feeling to be there on that green together with the golf players. The second one, Wimbledon, just for the good memories that place brings to my mind. Okay, I loved also some sexy scene… Russ and Reggie in the kitchen… (don’t go there, don’t go there).
If there is a criticism to the author I would say that Reggie would have been an amazing character even if he hasn’t blushed so much.
In the Epilogue I sensed a taste of mystery… Now, dear Cristina, I’m waiting for a sequel.
The Englishman beat him at pool, winning both matches. Reggie wasn’t upset, though, as every moment of their evening together was delicious. Everything apart from the beers Russell drank one after another, until he got so drunk, Reggie decided it was time to return to the resort.
“Tomorrow you have a tournament to win,” Reggie reminded him, pulling him out of the bar with difficulty. The silvery rays of the smiling moon lit the boardwalk, giving it a magical atmosphere.
“I won’t win any tournament tomorrow,” the Englishman murmured, gritting his teeth as he stopped in the middle of the road.
Reggie pushed him across the same moment a car zoomed by, blaring music.
“If you don’t rest a little, you won’t win anything,” he admonished, like a brother. Then he nervously massaged his cheek. He wasn’t accustomed to feeling it covered with hair.
“You can’t wait to shave?” Russell asked.
“No, no. It’s just that…I’m not used to it. But do I look good, at least?” he wanted to know.
The Englishman chuckled. “I already told you I won’t answer until tomorrow.”
A second later Reggie found himself holding car keys. “And these?” he asked, giving them an interrogative look.
“You drive, if you want us both to play tomorrow,” the Englishman said.
“Oh…okay,” Reggie stuttered, as if it was the first time he saw a car key in his life.
Russell fell into the passenger side seat and completely opened the window, putting his elbow out, then resting his head on it. He remained in that position until they reached the resort.
From time to time, the notes of the Nickelback rock song “How You Remind Me” cradling them both, Reggie gave him admiring looks. His long hair, now free, danced in the wind. The way he sat made the veins in his neck tense like cords, and Reggie stared at his strong profile, his long, light eyelashes…
God, what he would do to lay his lips on that face and give it little kisses?
They stopped at a traffic light just before reaching the resort. Reggie kept his eyes fixed on the red light, because they had already strayed too much to Russell’s face.
“What was your parents’ reaction when you told them?”
Reggie turned, surprised. Russell had spoken without moving a muscle, apart from his lips.
“Told them what?” “That you’re gay.”
“Not much,” Reggie explained with a chuckle. “My father pretended to be upset for less than ten minutes and then he hugged me. Mom told me she was a little sorry because she wouldn’t have any grandchild to take care of, but she could accept it if I didn’t bring home too many buff guys.” It was clear that binge drinking was making Russell ask strange questions…
Sitting back, Russell started, “When Daniel, the friend I told you about, came out…”
They entered the tree-lined resort path and Reggie hung on every word, waiting for Russell to finish his sentence.
“…my mother ordered me not to go out with him anymore. She told me she thanked God I wasn’t like him, or I could never return home.”
Reggie stopped the car in surprise. “Shit, Russell,” popped out of his mouth.
The Englishman gave him an inscrutable look.
“I mean,” Reggie continued, lightning his tone, “I don’t want to seem rude, but it’s just that…well, it seems your mother is a little, well…”
“Harsh?” Russell asked ironically.
“Let’s say that,” he agreed, driving again.
He’d have liked to add a thousand other things and ask more, but he felt scared. Russell had just given up a part of himself, a little window into his past that maybe not everybody knew, and Reggie felt intimidated. He wanted to know more, but at the same time, he feared reopening old wounds that needed to heal.
“I’m sorry,” was all he said. “Me, too.”
They parked behind the cabana and Reggie helped Russell get out of the car.
“I’m fine,” Russell murmured. “No,” Reggie said, “you’re drunk.”
Russell tried walking on his own but stumbled on the sidewalk as soon as he stepped onto it.
“Okay, maybe it’s better if you help me, Weston.” Supporting Russell, Reggie slid an arm around his side.
His body was warm against Reggie’s, and he hugged Russell in a sort of leaning embrace. It was a delicious sensation, and for a moment, Reggie dreamed of what it would feel like to Russell him again and again, maybe on a frigid winter afternoon in front of a fireplace, or on a hot summer night on the beach.
They passed in front of the tiki bar without caring what others might think. From the speakers around the pool blared Eminem’s hit song, “The Monster.”
At the door to Russell’s cabana, he searched his pockets to find his keycard. When he tried to insert it, he missed. He tried again, but he was too drunk. Finally he gave up and handed the keycard to Reggie without looking over. Reggie followed the silent order, like a good little soldier.
The cabana greeted them with silent darkness, lit only by the rays of the setting sun that shown through the open door.
Again, there was no trace of Danielle, not even her perfume lingering in the air.
Russell threw himself on the bed and toed off his shoes. “Do you hear this music, Reggie?” he whispered, rolling onto his back.
Reggie had remained by the door, not sure what to do. Go or stay? His mind suggested he leave, but his heart wanted to stay.
“Yeah, it’s Eminem,” he answered, putting his hands in his pockets.
“Open the window a little, please. I want to hear the words.” Reggie obeyed, closing the door and opening the window.
A light breeze roused him, adding melancholy to melancholy.
At the window, Reggie studied the bar and swimming pool, because looking at Russell, drunk and lying in bed, was unbearable.
Unbearable and wonderful.
Cristina Bruni lives in northern Italy with her husband and their child. She’s already published many M/M novels in Italy with Triskell Rainbow publisher. Since she was a young girl, her biggest wishes were being a mother and an author and now, after fighting for it for years, she finally succeeded in both. She loves travelling abroad, going to the cinema, reading Sherlock Holmes, luxury bags and playing tennis and golf. She’s madly USA-sick and UK-sick.
She made her debut writing fanfictions and, now, her new wish would be writing love Male-to-Male stories for the rest of her life and living on a beach in Hawaii.
Maybe dreams will come true again, sooner or later...
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