Review: The Next Competitor by Keira Andrews

If he risks his heart, can he keep his head in the game?

To win gold, figure skater Alex Grady must train harder than the competition morning, noon, and night. He’s obsessed with mastering another quadruple jump, and due to the lack of filter between his mouth and brain, doesn’t have a lot of friends. As for a boyfriend, forget it. So what if he’s still a virgin at twenty? The Olympics are only every four years—everything else can wait. Relationships are messy and complicated anyway, and he has zero room in his life for romance.

So it’s ridiculous when Alex finds himself checking out his boring new training mate Matt Savelli. Calm, collected “Captain Cardboard” is a nice guy, but even if Alex had time to date, Matt’s so not his type. Yet beneath Matt’s wholesome surface, there’s a dirty, sexy man who awakens a desire Alex has never experienced and can’t deny…

Note: This gay romance from Keira Andrews features opposites attracting, new adult angst, sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending.

This new version has been extensively rewritten, updated, and expanded into a new adult romance with explict on-page sex.

Sometimes you just catch an edge.

There is a lot to like about this story especially if you're a fan of competitive figure skating. It's clear Keira Andrews is from the amount of technical knowledge held within these pages.

There are a lot of things about competitive figure skating that are very subjective and many fans of the sport take issue with; Keira Andrews addresses those issues diplomatically. The amount of effort, time, money and sheer intestinal fortitude it takes to make a champion is also detailed well in an engaging way.

The Next Competitor is told from and centers around Alex Grady. Alex's focus on becoming an Olympic gold medalist is myopic and borders on obsessive. I didn't really like him, though he's not a wholly unsympathetic character. As far as his characterization goes it's actually quite good and remains consistent throughout with his insecurities plaguing him and, more often than not causing friction between him and those in his life. There were things that I sprang off the page immediately about him and his character that as this story unfolded snowballed. I think that's the thing that I liked the least about this story, that an opportunity was missed to show how a sports psychologist could've helped him get a handle on his anxieties.

His relationship with Matt helps to a certain extent, but I found the love conquers all tactic a bit trite. Initially I thought their relationship was moving to Kinksville and thought that might bring some... grounding but, alas, it stayed vanilla. A cautionary warning for the jizz averse-these two are cum junkies. There is snowballing and... generally they just like the jizz, each others, their own. I bet if they could get one of those fountain things...

I am just saying.

Admittedly, I had to suspend disbelief at much of the sex since Alex is a virgin when they meet, but who am I to question the edifying power of gay porn? Just put your jizz goggles on and go with the flow.

Their relationship is mostly opposites attract with a smattering of enemies to lovers. How they went from "enemies" to lovers happened very quickly and I found myself missing the potential fireworks of a true enemies to lovers story. Read: hate sex. Alex and Matt are (sort of) rivals but Matt is more a pairs skater and after his partner is hurt along with some prodding Matt decides to skate solo, though he's really no threat to the top skaters. What it does is give them more opportunities to train together, get to know each other and develop their relationship.

Matt is such a likable character. He's very even-keeled, earnest and just...nice. He, unlike Alex, has a balanced approach to skating, but he's got some closet-like familial issues to contend with that cause problems in their relationship. 

However, the story isn't overly angsty or heavy. The competitions kept the pace steady and I even learned a few things! The secondary characters like Mrs. C and Kenny added to the story and made Alex more sympathetic. 

The ending is what sticks with me, though. I liked the simplicity of it it while simultaneously finding it too easy, if that even makes sense? 

Nevertheless, I think fans of Keira Andrews and sports romances will enjoy this book.

A review copy was provided by the author.

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