Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Release Day Review: Match Point by Leigh Carman ~ (Review + Excerpt)

Release Day Review: Match Point by Leigh Carman ~ (Review + Excerpt)

Title: Match Point
Author: Leigh Carman
Release Date Jul 20, 2016
Type Novels
Words 56,189
Pages 200

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Two stubborn men.

One is a rude jerk. The other, the life of the party.

It was hate at first sight.

Pro beach volleyball players Finn Callahan and Dexter Savage have been rivals since college. While Finn always comes out on top on the court, Dexter’s carefree and fun-loving personality earns him scores of adoring men and women. And as much as Finn fights to deny it, there’s another reason for the tension he feels when Dex is around. Hate wasn’t the only thing he felt when he first laid eyes on his opponent.

When they’re forced to team up, the two men must bury their differences—on and off the court—if either of them is going to succeed professionally.



That cocky bastard is the only thing standing between me and my first professional Grand Slam title. I loathe him. I’m not alone. No one on the PBVA—Professional Beach Volleyball Association—circuit likes Finn Callahan. The man is a dickhead, through and through. I dealt with him many, many times in college when we both played for USC. Callahan was a douche then, and he’s an even bigger douche now—something I wouldn’t have thought possible.

Blake Brady, my teammate for the past two years, flashes me a hand signal behind his back, indicating I should serve to Callahan’s left and put downward spin on the ball. I stand behind the line, find my target, and take three powerful steps forward. When I release the ball in the air, it goes twelve feet up. My final step ends in a jump, and the flat of my hand comes down to make contact.
“Nice one, D.” Blake lets me know my serve is perfect.
Unfortunately Callahan’s partner, Tristan Galliano, throws himself sideways and digs the ball out before it hits the ground. The man is damn fast.
“Blake.” At my shout, my teammate leaps high vertically in front of the net to block Callahan’s return…and misses. The ball is going left, but I’m all the way to the right. I stretch out, determined to make the save. The ball skips off my fingertips and hits the sand.

Son of a bitch!

Blake helps me to my feet. “Fuck. They only need one point, D.”
“I know that, Blake,” I snap. Callahan’s loud whoops of joy make me want to punch the man right in the mouth. I glance at the two men high-fiving each other on the other side of the net. Both are taller than average and athletic, with the thin but muscular build typical of beach volleyball players. But where Tristan Galliano’s face has soft, kind features, Finn Callahan’s has rugged, angled ones. Tristan is golden blond and sweet looking. Finn is dark, coppery brown and always glaring. Tristan is a genuinely nice guy. Finn is an asshole to the hundredth power.

How Tristan has put up with Finn Callahan for the last four years I’ll never understand. But since they partnered up their senior year of college, they’ve been unstoppable. They beat Brady and me, taking us out of a spot on the US Olympic team a year ago. It’s infuriating to know that 90 percent of the times I’ve faced off against Callahan, he’s come out on top. Today isn’t shaping up to be any different.

Callahan bends over, hands on his strong thighs as he waits for his partner’s serve. His sharp blue eyes bore into me from across the net. When I make eye contact, Callahan’s lips pull up into a devious smirk. Asshole. I scowl and focus back on Galliano. I don’t want to be caught off guard because I’m busy trading glares with the guy who doesn’t have the ball.
“Let’s do this, D. We got ’em.” I appreciate Blake’s enthusiasm. God knows I need him believing in us. Especially when facing the unstoppable power duo of Callahan and Galliano. I call them the Asshole and the Angel. If it weren’t for Callahan’s surly attitude, they’d have every sponsor on the tour eating out of their hands.

I nod at my partner. “You got it, Blake.” We take our positions and wait for the serve. The ball comes right at me, spinning wildly from Galliano’s killer jump serve. I rush forward and dig it out for Blake.
Blake grunts and pops it to me, nice and high at the net. Perfect. My heart pounds as I jump up and spike the ball fast and hard. If they miss this one, we get the serve and the chance to win. Callahan rushes forward, hurls his long, lean body onto the sand, and reaches out for the ball. It happens quickly, but each moment is frozen separately in my brain, like a string of photographs flipping to form a moving picture. No way is he going to make it in time.
Finn’s hands are extended, ready to dig out the ball. This is it. Do or die. The bastard gets under it and thumps the ball up high. It arcs down to Tristan, who spikes it over the net to an uncovered spot behind Blake. It hits the sand with a dull thud, and the crowd goes crazy. Callahan and Galliano shout and hug, celebrating their season-ending win.

Dammit! Frustrated, I stare at the ground, chest heaving while I catch my breath. Blake nudges me and uses his chin to point toward the winners.


He gestures at the net. “C’mon. You know we got no choice.”

Ugh! Who was it who decided you had to shake hands with the men who just stole your dreams? Good sportsmanship my ass. I’m itchy and sweaty and covered in sand. All I want to do is shower and go home and not think about volleyball until after the New Year, when next season’s practice starts. The last thing I want to do is watch Callahan gloat, which he’s sure to do.

Tristan approaches us first, grinning and more than happy to shake hands and wish us well. Once again I’m baffled. How can such a nice guy stand dealing with a rampant asshat like Finn Callahan? I greet Galliano and turn to the man in question, hand reluctantly extended. God, I wish I were holding out a fist instead. Callahan, that cocky son of a bitch, gives me a smug little smirk as he grips my hand. I shake as quickly as possible, keeping contact to a minimum, and storm off the court, suddenly bursting with the overwhelming need to wash my hands.
God, I hate that man.

What happens when archrival Volleyball stars are forced to team up and partner together? 

Finn Callahan lost not only his teammate but also his fiancé. Unable to lean on anyone for fear they find out the truth about him and Tristan, Finn hides from the world in the home he and Tristan used to share. He's more than surprised almost a year later when he is approached to partner with Dex Savage, his rival since College.

Dex is not happy thinking of teaming up with Finn. The two hated each other and he's sure they'll be at each other's throats. But Dex can't give up his volleyball career. He never wants to find himself living on the streets again.  This drives him to do his best to work with Finn. Soon, though, Dex starts developing unexpected feelings towards Finn and their situation goes from awkward to downright confusing.  Both men will have to decide what they want and how to get it without losing everything. 

I absolutely loved Match Point! Leigh Carmen, if this is what I can expect from the other books coming to this series, then you definitely have a fan in me. I'm a sucker for a good sports romance, throw in enemies to lovers and GFY/OFY tropes and this became a must-read for me. I'm pretty sure this is only my second book that focused on Volleyball players so it was a nice change from the usual football or baseball books I love.

I loved Finn and Dex and while both of them could be jerks, and were way too quick to use their fists against one another, I connected with each of them. 

Dex had understandable issues stemming from his past as a homeless teenager, making it almost impossible for him to feel financially secure. It didn't matter how many times his accountant assured him he was in no way hurting for money, Dex continued to push himself with games and sponsors. This dedication also made it nearly impossible for him to maintain relationships with the women he dated.

Finn is in the closet. Afraid of what his family will think (his partner Tristan was disowned after coming out to them), afraid of what the public will think and not ready to face the media attack. Hiding a part of who he is, becomes harder and harder for him driving him to act like a brooding jerk quite frequently.  He also finds himself distancing himself from his parents and sisters.

I loved the sexual tension between them. It was impossible not to see what they did to one another and the more they tried to play it off the more apparent it became. I think they're good together because on so many ways they balanced each other out. While there was a lot of back and forth from hate to lust to hate to love, it didn't bother me as much as some stories have in the past. Instead, I took it in stride waiting for when they realized they were in love.

I truly hope we'll get to see more, a few cameo appearances perhaps, from Dex and Finn in future books. 

I will definitely be picking up more books from Leigh Carman.

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