This book is re-released in the midst of the popularity of the anime Yuri On Ice which has pretty much taken the online social media by storm — by the way, if you don’t know that anime, you probably haven’t read Heidi Cullinan’s passionate blog post about it (*haha*). I can already see fans of the show who also love M/M romance might take an interest on the story of Alex Grady, a twenty-year-old American figure skater on his way to his first Olympic.
I admit that it wasn’t easy for me to immediately warm up towards Alex. Alex is abrasive, sometimes dismissive and he doesn’t seem to have a filter from brain to mouth, which ends up with him hurting other people with his words more than once. But I could chalk it up at him being young and also feeling the pressure to win — after all of his family has done to support him.
Unfortunately, it also made me frustrated with Alex’s determination to win the Olympics without actually showing that he loves the skating itself. I don’t fit to athlete’s “I’m in it to win it” philosophy; which also means that I definitely suck in competitive environment. I guess I really want to see Alex loving the sport because he can’t see himself doing anything else, rather than because of a gold medal (and possibly an Olympic tattoo).
On the other hand, I think that IS what the story is all about. It’s about Alex’s journey to find that there are things other than a place at the podium. Oh, winning is important but it is not everything, you know? Alex learns about friendship, about love (with Matt), and finally able to skate because he loves being on ice. THAT is what I loved the most about this story.
As for the romance — eh, it was okay, I guess. Since Alex is the narrator, I didn’t get to know a lot about Matt’s personal thoughts except in conversations with Alex. I liked Matt just fine though. I thought he would be a good partner for Alex, to remind Alex whenever he is in over his head.
I didn’t enjoy the sex scenes though, which was the HUGE reason for my not being able to put this on my 4-stars category. This is definitely due to personal taste. I have come to realize that I find Keira Andrew’s sex scenes to be personally off-putting. In this case, it felt dirty and I didn’t like to read dirty/advanced sex scenes with young adult/new adult characters *shrugs*.
All in all, this is a good sports-romance with figure skaters. There are quite a number of technical terms used during Alex’s training and performance, but you can take it in stride. Or you can try to watch Yuri On Ice for better visual image of what Alex is doing *lol*
RATING: 3.5 out of 5
The ARC is provided by the author via IndiGo Marketing & Design for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Title: The Next Competitor (2nd edition)
Author: Keira Andrews
Genre: MM Contemporary/Sports Romance
Length: 222 pages
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Amazon Global
Release Date: December 4th, 2016