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As a professional footballer it looks like Adam Hunter has it all, but when the secret of his affair with midfielder Louie Jackson begins to leak out he’s plunged into the depths of misery – prompting a desperate series of manoeuvres to conceal the truth. Injured, distrusted by his team-mates and plagued by personal tragedy, Adam goes from hero to zero – and by the time Louie’s transferred to a German side he’s running out of reasons to stay alive. If there’s any way back from the brink of suicide, it isn’t clear to him at the moment …

302 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 31, 2013

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Liz Powell

2 books4 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 73 books2,496 followers
January 22, 2015
This is the most frustrating, yet very good, book I have read in a long time. Five stars for the characters, story, emotions, realism. One star off for the really annoying structure.

Adam Hunter is a professional footballer (soccer player) who is in the second half of a stellar career. He's a quiet guy, whose best friend is his agent and school friend, Sophia. She's been caring about him, helping his career and wishing for more for a long time, while he fends her and everyone else off as best he can, because he's gay and really deep in the closet. Then his team gains a new player, Louie, who ends up being Adam's roommate on away trips. And it spirals out of Adam's control from there. Add in being a public figure, having an injured knee that plays up badly at times and makes taking pain pills a near-necessity, a father who's anything but a positive influence, and a drug-addicted brother, and it's no wonder Adam's life begins to fall apart.

There is a lovely, realistic feel to this book, in the sports part, the conversations, the character development, and more. There are some throat-catching emotions. The times when the MCs are together show some real chemistry. But...

Structure. Aargh. This book is told in flashbacks, layer upon layer, to multiple different time frames. They are simply labelled with 2 years 10 months ago, 2 years 2 months ago, 2 months 3 days ago and so on. Even when two sections come sequentially one day after the other, the reader's only time clue is that heading rather than "The next morning..." or "Two days later." I can't count how often I went paging back to figure out which time I was in relative to what I just read. At 30% I wasn't sure if I'd ever spent more than one section in "now." For a while I thought it was me being dumb and forgetful, but I concluded it was really bad editorial advice.

In a high-end literary work, a convoluted structure may add artistic juxtaposition and tension. But it demands that the reader keep a bit of distance from the work. You can't just fall into the story, because it forces you to maintain extra temporal awareness layered over the narrative. You have to step back, each time, and calculate where you stand relative to the other bits you've read. Is this before he saw his dad in the pub or after? Before the episode with his brother? It's distancing, and choppy, and so there has to be a strong reason to hold the reader at arm's length from the flow of the story. (And maybe this book was meant to be literary, but it didn't read that way, in anything but structure.)

In genre fiction, especially romance, the biggest goal is to suck the reader into the book, to feel and live with the characters, to know their pain, their passion and their joy. Every time I almost got there I was yanked out. Plus the reader is shown the relationship before it happened, and also after a break-up, back and forth, long before you see the middle part where the romance actually began to develop, where the love between the guys would be visible. You see Adam say "I love you" in an "after" moment, before you ever have the pleasure of watching that love grow. It's harder to ache for the break-up of two guys whom you have never yet really seen together.

It's a shame, because I could have adored this book, I think. Had it been linear, had I lived through it from Adam's loneliness to confusion to love to heartbreak to the ending, I fully expect this would have been a five-star book. As it stands, it's still worth a read, especially if you love sports/coming out/angsty stories. But if the author ever decided to rewrite it as a linear narrative, I'd read it again to feel the emotional richness of it more deeply.

I would also read a new book by this author again in a minute, as long as the narrative had a more conventional structure.
Profile Image for Fani *loves angst*.
1,630 reviews232 followers
February 19, 2020
Update 19/2/2020
An unpolished diamond, that's what this book is. As a result, I can understand both those who hated it, and those -like me- who loved it. Personally, I just can't get enough of Louie and Adam (and Finn) :P

Update 20/10/2015
It's very rare that I re-read a book less than a year after the first time, but in this case, I couldn't stop thinking of it. And I loved it even more this time, since now I didn't have to get through the first quarter to understand what's happened to our heroes, but enjoyed it from the first page. Despite knowing what was going to happen, once again I found myself unable to put it down. The raw emotional impact of this one is just AMAZING, and the juxtaposition between their happy times together and later, when the black clouds gather over their heads, more poignant than ever. I just wish there were more books like this one out there!

This book sure started strongly, as we meet the hero when he stops on a bridge, thinking of jumping down. Unfortunately things didn't go as well from there on; the next section moves the timeline 6 months in the past, while the one after that is set 5 years ago. And we have to move between those 3 timelines again and again and again till the end of the book. For the first 25%, it's near impossible to follow what's happening or what's happened in the past to generate this kind of reaction from our hero. After the 25% point though, the reader begins to understand what's going on and the story's much much easier to follow. And what a story it is!

This is one big drama featuring athletes in the closet, drugs, addiction to painkillers, bigoted team players, suicidal attempts, chronically ill family members... you name it. It's also a pageturner. Trying to find how those two came together and why they broke up, kept me up until late in the night and I shed many a tear for them along the way. The fact that the story is interspersed with descriptions of football games against Ronaldo, Rooney, Casillas inside stadiums like Alianz Arena and Camp Nou, as well as some games that supposedly took place in the last World Cup in Brazil, made the reading all the better:) For those of you who have not understood yet, we're talking about European football which Americans call soccer. Let me tell you, it was refreshing to read at last a book about a sport that I actually understand and like, as opposed to baseball or American football that I don't know shit about.

Let me add that there are quite a few errors in this book: grammatical, typos, plotwise (Louie is described as out of the closet at one scene, only to find out that he wasn't later) and that along with the weird timelines might put some readers off. There's also the fact that this is heavy drama, so people who don't like to read about suicide attempts or various forms of addiction, should stay away from this one. And lastly, keep in mind those two are not perfect heroes: they keep their foolish pride when they shouldn't, they say things they shouldn't, they try to please others and not themselves... but all in all, I found their actions realistic and besides, I have a soft spot for non-perfect heroes:) So I guess it's no surprise this one ended in my keepers shelf!

Oh, and a note to smexy-scene lovers, be warned that the sex scenes fade to gray here.

I'm adding again the photo that made last year's sports headlines after the final of Europa League and you can decide for yourself how friendly this kiss is:

Profile Image for Kade Boehme.
Author 33 books1,052 followers
June 28, 2013
Wow. Just wow. Not what I expected at all but one of the best sports stories I've read so far (and i've read my fair share). I think this was self pubbed and I'm stunned at how flawless it was. Some peeps may not like the way the time jumps worked but to me it was like a fucking movie and it just built each moment so well.

Adam and Louie are so great and you just want them together so badly. Bless Louie and his patience with Adam's curmudgeonly ways for as long as he did hold on but I also didn't blame him for what he did later in the story. Gah the way these two broke each others hearts over and over and all over such an easily solved issue. It was fucking BLEAK, man. I just didnt know how it could come together in the end. Part of me expected it not too, honestly. There was just so much hurt and B.S. under the proverbial bridge.

Oh and Finny. :( I just have to take a moment for you. I've had people who've breezed through my life just like you. Born with this void that cant be filled but enough heart to affect everyone around you long after you go. Wow.

Only some little niggles. Wish the end had been a BIT longer since I hadn't expected it to turn out well, when it did i expected there to be some work to it, not just a "I threw away the ... and called ..." then flash to 6 mos later and TELL all the good stuff. Hmph. For that the book gets a 4.5 star but HOLY BALLS this one...just wow. Such a great random find. I cant believe no one is reading this one! Do it! You so won't be sorry.

Oh...for those looking for sex. It's here but rather... I cant say fade to black cuz it's there: "I entered her and she came too fast, but I had to fake mine because I couldn't do this any more" and "he stroked my cock and the orgasm barreled over me." Like...One or two lines just so you know it happened but no details. Anywho...I didnt mind it but if you hav a stick up your ass about seeing a dick up their ass then this may not be your cup of tea.

Profile Image for Anna D..
506 reviews
March 11, 2015
Wow..the angst!!

This couple really sucked me into their story..but the back and forth confusing time line would suck me out! Reading about these two hot, young, rich, talented, famous soccer superstars, you would think that they should be envied but because they held one big secret it was hard to even consider wanting to trade places with their seemingly perfect life. Their in-the-closet love life/relationship was draining to read because however much they loved each other (and they really really did!!!) the constant fear of being exposed overshadowed what would normally be a wonderful thing; and because of this, the guys were somewhat broken.

If their story was told in the order that it happened, I could see myself giving this a 5 star rating because my only other complaint is I wish we could have read maybe 5 more pages at the end of when they were out, proud, and happy. Seriously, after the draining angsty read I feel I deserved just a little more insight into their trouble free HEA!
Profile Image for John The Cosmic Wanderer.
434 reviews43 followers
September 10, 2014
This could have been really amazing if some parts were edited out. It went in circles a bit in the middle and the timestamps got confusing. Nevertheless, Adam and Louie are great together and I found myself sucked in by all the angst and kept me guessing on how the story will end. 3.8 stars! Recommended to those who love sports themed M/M romance!
Profile Image for Anke.
2,457 reviews84 followers
September 10, 2014
This was a great read, on the one hand. This was a rather horrible read on the other hand. The writing was very compelling, the author managed to pull me into the story with just a few pages. Then there was the first time jump and the next and the next... Somehow I started losing my perspective so I started writing down the dates on the beginning of each new scene. Imagine my surprise - in the end there were 73. Yes, 73 breaks while I read this story. Every time my reading flow was disturbed, until about 30% I had problems to understand the order, the sequences of the scenes. Then it got a bit easier, but still, my reading flow was hacked.

Regarding the story - poor Adam, I felt with him although I wanted to just slap him over the head, several times. I understood all his troubles and fears, but I lost my compassion along the line. I didn't like the drugs, they were woven into the story step by step, only to then be dealt with during some short sentences, mentioning rehab. I didn't like Sophia, at all. Louie, well he remained aloof. I could understand him losing his patience after all these years, but in the end the development felt rushed.

The most positive I have to say is, this book didn't let me go. I had to finish it although much of what I read I didn't like. One bright spot was that the city I live next to, Munich, was however small a part of this story.
I think this is another one of those books that although I finished reading I didn't like what I was reading.
I think my rating would have been 4 stars, had the story been written in the correct timely sequence.
Profile Image for Eve.
301 reviews7 followers
August 15, 2014
This is probably the best sport gay romance I've read since Peter Lefcourt's "Dreyus Affair: A Love Story". I'm pleasantly surprised by how good it was for a first time effort (I believe?). Apart from a few editing/proofing errors, the story is nicely told in a non-linear, time jumping manner - even managed to throw a few suspense and tense moments,

It's probably not for some m/m readers though, it's really focused on the "sport" - English football. There are on the pitch action, a bit of club politics - to fully enjoy it, one might need to have an interest in the sport. But nonetheless, it's a top notch romance about two gay sportsmen struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, the secrecy, the lies, the hurt, betrayal.

I particularly like how the main character, Adam Hunter, was portrayed in the story - unlike a few other sport-centred m/m romance, where we see the "heroes" quickly bravely come out when they were exposed - Adam fought really hard to stay in the closet. Adam's struggle and self-destructive behavior (and also his lover, Louie) is fairly realistic as I would imagine a gay footballer would face in the top league. Louie seemed more determined to come out, but he's not without his demons and weaknesses. They both love and hurt each other a lot, and to certain extent to people around them.

Very much character-driven. I thought most supporting characters are so well defined as well. Adam's family background and dynamics ring true, so well written.

There are a few "eye-rolling" moments for me for some of the match results, but that's only me :-)

Very engrossing read. Highly recommended, even if you don't know much about English football.
Profile Image for Vallie.
684 reviews68 followers
April 21, 2015
Well. This was a heavy, depressing read. The MCs are professional football players (that's English football, aka soccer) and they develop a very secret relationship. Both are in the closet and both are struggling with it. There are addiction issues, very thorough descriptions of the sport and the sport celebrity world, as well as a very emotional mental health struggle with depression.

This was done really well IMO, but the entire story was told in multiple flashbacks. We're basically given 3 different timelines: the present, 4 years ago, and 6 months ago. There's a chapter in the beginning and one or maybe two in the end that are in the present. The two other timelines unravel slowly towards the present (3 years and 17 days ago, 3 years and 5 days ago etc) and switch back and forth constantly, to the point where I felt lost a lot of the times. Maybe this was done so readers can get a few happy times in between all the depressing stuff, because honestly, a linear storytelling with this amount of angst would have done me in, I'm sure.

There is a HEA, so don't despair but it's so damn sad for so long until we get it that I'm not sure it was enough to shake off the blues. Good, very English writing. I can recommend it to fans of mm sports romance who have the stomach for crazy angst but the flashback thing is a wild card.
Profile Image for Julie Bozza.
Author 31 books284 followers
August 18, 2014
Now that I'm an 'official' part of Manifold Press, I know I shouldn't continue my practice of reviewing my fellow authors' work. But for what my opinion is worth, this is a good solid read, long and detailed, that feels like a very realistic portrayal of life as a closeted gay footballer.

Well done, Liz! I'm looking forward to reading (and, I hope, publishing!) more from you.
Profile Image for S.E Dee.
5 reviews1 follower
July 12, 2013
I really loved this. I love character driven stories and this really did it for me. The author has her characters down so perfectly, I never felt like I was reading about cardboard people and I enjoyed the transitions they made.

It's a coming out story but one that deals with being gay not just under the public eye but in an area where there has yet to be a gay person! Reading this, I thought of the real life footballer Justin Fashnu and wondered, before his suicide, what sort of turmoil he went through and if it was anything like the protagonists turmoil. I wasn't sure at first if the football elements would get in the way or ruin the pace but they really didn't and actually added to the tension when the characters were on the field.

I'm really not a romance person and I DON'T read romance books but the issues addressed here intrigued me. It had lots of serious elements as well as some really funny moments. At times I was genuinely frightened about the outcome for both Adam Hunter and his love interest Louie Jackson.

I have to say, well done to the author for tackling a subject with such finesse and I hope to see more of her work in the future. My only discrepancy is that I felt the story went on a bit longer than it needed to but that's probably because I read it non-stop for two days which is kind of a contradiction in itself!
Profile Image for Ryan Santle.
102 reviews34 followers
November 22, 2015
At first, I didn't like the ambitious way this story was written. The jumping sequence/ time hopping method is taking away the suspense at some parts. Although when I was in the middle of the book, I found its charm but still I am annoyed by it. I just hope the author just provided actual dates instead of "xx years ago" since the method of writing is confusing enough. Typos are everywhere and this book says it has an editor. Someone is not doing their job apparently.

Enough of that. The story is gripping. It tackled the homophobia that exists in the 21st century. People nowadays thinks that modern world, at least the developed nations, are already tolerant and accepting towards the LGBT community. But we tend to forget that there are groups, clusters, and culture that are yet to be open. Religion always comes first to mind whenever we pinpoint the cause of "bashers." But there are still a lot of facets in our daily lives that Homophobia can be very strongly felt. One of these is Sports. And what better way to convey this message other than Football, where almost half the population of the earth loves?

I admit, I find this a slightly heavy read. It's emotional but quite eye-opening. Good job for a first book (If I am correct)

Profile Image for LexyLovesBooks.
263 reviews60 followers
September 29, 2015
Holly shit...I need to sleep on this and then review...wow


I don't often cry whilst reading books...in fact there are only a couple of books that I can remember were I had a really good cry. This book made me cry proper wet tears.

This book had me gripped...the story is told in three different time arcs. Present day, 4 years ago and 6 months ago and flips between these times throughout the book. I didn't find it too confusing but I could see how some people might.

It was an interesting format as you slowly get more and more snippets to piece together how they got to where they were.

They are both very damaged men and they do a lot to hurt one another...it's quite an angsty read but well worth the effort. I would have liked to have Lou's POV as well as Adam's as I thought it would have added to the story. Maybe a little more insight into the resolution at the end instead of just grazing though as it would have been rewarding for the reader after what the author put us through.

A solid 4.5 star read for me.
Profile Image for PaperMoon.
1,356 reviews56 followers
July 21, 2015
Rather tortured "coming out, back in, out, in" soccer M-M 'romance'. I get that some people struggle to come out ... the emotional sturm and drang was really drawn out here. I've no clue about the sport of 'football/soccer' but was not too confused by the playing details outline throughout the book (not so much detail that I was put off reading at least). The BIGGEST drawback is the chapters of the book jump backwards and forwards in timeline from present day to events a year and bit back in time. This was very disorientating and I actually stopped reading twice as a result. After all that struggle and perseverance, the ending proved a nice payoff in the end thank God.
Profile Image for Rosie.
269 reviews4 followers
March 10, 2015
There are a lot of times I read mm romance stories and within a couple of months, truthfully, I can't actually remember the characters, their names, or even the story anymore. This is not one of those times. I was completely engrossed in this character driven love story set in the English football league and I won't be forgetting Adam and Louie any time soon. I can't recommend it any more highly than that.
Profile Image for Det.
131 reviews21 followers
October 7, 2013
I just got impatient while reading in reaching the present time in the story but all in all this is an amazing book. I super love the end part! :D

It's amazing how the story was in the point of view of Adam, the character who was the one always hesitating and so afraid of coming out because if it was in Louie's POV I think it wouldn't come out as amazing as it is now, Adam would probably become the so annoying character where I will say 'WTH is the problem with you! Get on with it and be with him already!' hehe

The way the story delivered Adam's path to self destruct and how he struggles with it is amazing for me. It's so sad because you know it's really happening in the real world, maybe not the same problem as Adam but the self containment, the need to hide your true feelings and finally bursting resulting in doing something drastic like 'suicide' just to end it all and feel nothing.

Then the best part for me was the relief I felt through that voice mail from Louie. The gear of faith setting things right was finally working! and the feeling of being FREE at last, acceptance, no constraint and just being happy. :)

24 reviews8 followers
November 28, 2014
This was a really excellent read about 2 British premiership football players dealing with being gay. The author is clearly a football fan and really knows her stuff. It's a fairly long read which allows the characters to be well drawn and the situation they find themselves in pans out in a very natural way. The problems they face are very real and their lives and choices are messy and complicated. The story is told in flashback, jumping around from years ago to months ago to the near present, so its a little hard to follow at first until you get the hang of it. I would highly recommend this as an intelligent, though-provoking book but above all as a beautiful portrayal of a troubled love affair. I will certainly be looking out for more by this author.
Profile Image for clear skies.
821 reviews27 followers
January 4, 2015
As a huge football fan I had some serious issues with certain elements of how the actual sport was handled. That being zero. This was more about a man's emotional state about his own acceptance in a homophobic sport.

I didn't like how we kept jumping time lines. There were three and that's one too many. This book does nothing new. It's stupidly long and I didn't feel the connection between the MC's. New boy shows up and it's love at first sight. That's pretty much it.

I love sports. This did nothing. It lacked depth and emotion. I don't know whether the author is a football fan or not. It just read very mechanical if that makes sense.

Profile Image for Anne Barwell.
Author 17 books93 followers
September 12, 2014
I loved the characters, and although I'm not a sports' fan that didn't detract from the story. I got involved with the storyline very quickly and needed to know that everything was going to be okay as it wasn't obvious that it would or wouldn't be. The main character's struggle came across as very real.

However, I did find the time jumping distracting in that I kept having to stop and work out where the pieces and continuity fit together, so it threw me out of the story in several places.

Hope to see more of this author, and would love to see more of these guys.
Profile Image for motty.
23 reviews
August 15, 2014
Why is no one else reading this? It was amazing. Made me cry, which doesn't happen very often when reading M/M books. The time jumps threw me off the first time I read it, but it was very well-written so I persevered and decided to go back to square one when I got through about halfway. One of the most satisfying endings I've read in a long time. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Pet.
154 reviews9 followers
August 13, 2014
An incredibly good book. It gave me all kinds of emotions, I laughed, I cried, and it made me think a lot. I worshipped every page and didn't want it to be finished ever.
I can't recommend it enough!
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