Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen (audiobook)

Title:  The Understatement of the Year
Author: Sarina Bowen
My Rating: A+
Narrators: Teddy Hamilton and Christian Fox

Genre: New Adult Romance (m/m)
Series: The Ivy Years #3
Main Characters: Graham and Rikker
Release Date: June 2016 (audiobook)
Publisher: Audible/Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexual preference from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

Warning: unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky t-shirts and a poker-playing grandmother. 

My Review:
Overall: 4.75
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.75

I have so much utter love for this book. Wow, it was absolutely incredible. 

The setup for the story is fabulous. Graham and Rikker were best friends in high school...and then more. But one night they weren't as discreet as they should have been and were the victims of a hate assault. Graham took off and abandoned Rikker...who could have died. They never saw one another again...until college. They both play hockey and for a while both were safely hidden in the closet. But then Rikker was outed and thrown off the team at his last college...something the governing body of college hockey did not take well. They transferred him to Harkness, where Graham goes to school. 

Graham is DEEP within the closet whereas Rikker has made national news for what happened to him...everyone knows he's gay. As a result, Graham acts like he doesn't even know Rikker, although the chemistry between them is just as powerful as ever. But for Rikker, that's easier to ignore because Graham continues to be such a jerk. 

There is so much to love about this book. There are a TON of really complex and angst-filled emotions going on here. Graham is an absolute mess. He won't even admit to himself that he's gay. He has sex with women...usually drunk so he doesn't notice who he's sticking his dick into. As the reader/listener, I wanted to hate him, but he's just so lost and scared about being discovered. He's truly a hot mess. On the other hand is Rikker, who never planned to be out, but now handles it all in stride although he hates being the "gay guy" on the team. He just wants to be a hockey least it should be, but that's never the way it works. I absolute ADORED Rikker's character. While he hates Graham's actions, he understands why he's doing what he is. Rikker has amazing empathy. 

And then there are the side characters who I love...Bella, the team assistant and resident ho...I did not think I would like her so much, but wow, she turned out to be incredible. She's such a support system for Rikker which is huge since he's basically the outcast at the school. Then there's the team captain, Hartley. I love how he simply accepts the situations Rikker brings in stride. 

This book was absolutely fabulous on audio. I highly recommend reading it this way, although I will admit to ordering a print copy of the book for my keeper shelf. I'm looking forward to sitting down and reading the book to see if I enjoy it as much in that format.

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