Saturday, March 10, 2018

Relay 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.

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Book 1
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Riptide Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Dane and Alex had a love affair when they were 16, which ended with Dane turning his back on Alex. Ten years later they are both on the US Olympic swimming team and things between them are not good. There is so much resentment, jealously, and animosity between them I was wondering how this story was going to end up a romance.

Alex’s jealousy of Dane and the way he treats him in the beginning really bugged me. But at the end of the day, Alex is a good, hard working guy and he eventually came around. I also struggled a little with the fact that at 26, Dane was still being ruled by his parents. Neither of these characters is prefect, which makes them easier to relate to.

The emotions, both positive and negative in this story, came across really strongly, as did the sexual tension between the pair. I think this is why I was so swept up in their lives that I read this book in less than day. I didn’t want to put it down.

The only negative for me was how the doping was dealt with. My brain kept wondering where WADA was, and I had to keep reminding myself that this is fiction and to stop being so pedantic.

I adored Relay and as soon as it was finished I wanted to dive in to Medley, which is book two. Unfortunately for me, it isn’t out until next month so I’m just going to have to be patient.

Reunited as adults at an Olympic training camp, swimmers Dane and Alex may be the best in the world, but neither man can completely move past the fallout from their teenage romance.

This book’s strength lies in the characters. Dane is an entitled rich kid who allows himself to be controlled by his pushy parents and lucrative sponsorship deals. Alex has made it onto the Olympic team through hard work and bloody-minded sacrifice. I love the contrast between these two. Alex enjoys personal freedoms Dane doesn’t allow himself to hope for while Dane enjoys financial security that allows him every possible advantage in his swimming career.

The chemistry between Dane and Alex is hot. Teenage heartbreak and adult resentments combine to ensure that every encounter between the two fiercely competitive Olympians is electric. Interestingly, though, there isn’t a whole lot of sex in the story. I enjoyed the growth in both characters – but especially in Dane. I had more empathy for him through the whole book than I expected to.

The plot is a little bit over-the-top. Without spoilers, I enjoyed the training scenes and the interactions between all the teammates. Sadly, Dane’s parents are caricature baddies and I’m still not sure how or why a story about an Olympic swim team became a story about computer hacking, chemotherapy, and private jet trips. While I loved the characters and their relationships, I did have some issues with the story itself.

Love, Coast-to-Coast.

Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. Growing up surrounded by generations of Southern storytellers and at the knee of her soap-opera-loving grandmother (and her grandfather, too, though he’d never admit it), she began spinning tales of romance at an early age. Now writing romantic suspense and contemporary romance, Layla is inspired by her coast-to-coast experiences and delights in weaving elements of the people she’s met and places she’s been into her stories for readers everywhere to enjoy. Layla, a 2016 RWA Golden Heart® Award Finalist in Romantic Suspense, is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Silicon Valley, Kiss of Death, Golden Network and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters.

Connect with Layla

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Google+  ~  Instagram

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Relay (Changing Lanes #1) by Layla Reyne to read and review.

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