Review: Relay (Changing Lanes #1) by Layla Reyne

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.


I was so excited for this book and trust me when I say I wanted so badly to love it. There were things that I liked but on the whole it was mostly a miss for me. However, please bear in mind this is coming from a sports fanatic so, grain of salt.

It started off rough. Both Dane and Alex have tempers and tend to become physical when they're angry. Big 'no' for me there but I pushed on and things did approve somewhat after Alex called the truce around 30%. They continue to be pitiful communicators overall but they do make headway on their relationship. What puzzles me about this is how this story can become almost didactic on certain buzz topics yet still deploy violence as a means of showing how "strong" the feelings are between the protags. I, personally, have trouble believing in a relationship when one can so easily resort to violence against someone whom they claim to love, but that's me.

However, a large part of what drew me to this story in the first place was the lovers to enemies to lovers/second chances thing happening in the blurb and minus the violence it was a decent interpretation of the trope. Dane and Alex met at a swim camp when Dane was 16 and they fell in love. Unfortunately, Dane comes from Southern parents that are almost carcaturish in their religious fervor that reads more like villainy and at 16 he was ill-equipped to defy them, thus Alex was left heartbroken. Dane then proceeds to pour all of his energies into swimming to become the face of the sport in all his ginger glory.

As a sports fanatic if I can marry romance and sports I feel like I'm having my cake and eating it too which made this book an instant add. The problem is there's no sports in this sports romance. We start in the pool with Dane slapping the wall just before his teammate and mentor Mo. But after that... essentially bupkis.

I haven't the words for how disappointed I was at this development and, honestly, I don't understand why it happened. Since they are readying for the Olympics there is some training and talk of improved times, but IMO opportunities were missed. No mentions are made of international competition and you can bet money almost all of these guys have an international rival that they keep up with. Injuries, relationship woes, controversy, coaching changes, training changes or anything they could potentially use to their advantage is kind of a benchmark in sports but elevates when one is involved in an individual sport. If you don't believe me check out this vid from the Rio Olympics and watch Phelps squish his tiny little head, figuratively of course. What's more, the whole team is hyper-focused on winning the medley relay but there's no mention one of Team USA's biggest rival, the Australians?

Instead the narrative fragments into a kooky plotline involving the evil parents and an even kookier hacking scheme. For me, the evil parents cruel machinations didn't add up. The father is some big whig evangelical pastor who's known far and wide and the mother is a former beauty queen who supposedly has a successful business all her own, so why is Dane's sponsorship money the "golden goose"? As far as the hacking goes, it seemed like an cockamamie choice for a sports romance. Then again, there was next to no sports in this story. My only other quibbles are the timeline that somehow prevented Dane from competing in the previous Olympics doesn't jive and either we didn't get introduced to everyone on the team or there aren't enough members on this team for an Olympic squad.

On a positive note, what I did like were the team building and Dane and Alex's sexual chemistry. They do a good job of convincing me of their devotion to one another by the end of the narrative. But listen, the bottom line is I already like the mojo happening between Bas and Pup and I am truly looking forward to the next one. I think I see the end game of building towards the Olympics so I'm hopeful there will be more sports going forward and this was just a fluke.

Recommend to contemporary and second chance romance fans.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley.

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