Friday, December 30, 2016

Release Day Review ~ Truth, Pride, Victory, Love by David Connor and E.F. Mulder

Release Day Review ~ Truth, Pride, Victory, Love by David Connor and E.F. Mulder

Title: Truth, Pride, Victory, Love
Authors: David Connor and E.F. Mulder
Release Date: December 30, 2016
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
Pages: 342
Beneath the surface, they share more than dreams of Olympic gold.
Since elementary school, the question of Reed Watson’s race has needled him. But the one thing he’s always known is that he is destined to become an Olympic star—he felt it the moment he first hit the water. Chosen by a former Olympic swimmer to train for the 2016 Olympics, Reed determinedly works toward his dream.
Along the way, Reed develops feelings for two men he’s known since childhood: Cal, his next-door neighbor, and Mathias, his rival since the fourth grade. Cal’s struggle with his sexual identity and a tragedy complicate Reed’s feelings, while Mathias’s wealth quickly makes it obvious they are from vastly different worlds.
As Rio approaches, Mathias becomes a gay sports icon, while Reed is told to hide his sexuality for a lucrative endorsement deal that will offer his family a financial boost and help him with mounting debt. Reed’s unresolved desires for both men remain and so too do all the things that have kept them apart. Has he grown enough to navigate rougher waters, to find truth, pride, victory, and love?

4 Stars!

I'm not sure where to start, this book is kind of tough to rate and review. There are so many parts I loved and that touched me in some way. Yet there are more than a few parts that drove me insane. I feel like I was completely enthralled throughout the first half of the story, watching Reed grow up and navigate life as a kid and a teenager. However, the second half of the book is when I started to find myself getting irritated and frustrated and frankly, at some point, tired of the angst. It was as if things were prolonged in order for more build-up but I didn't need all that build-up, I needed action and resolution and I hate to say this, but I really needed sex.

What I Loved: I really liked the premise of Reed being adopted by a black family and him dealing with the question of his own racial background. It's obvious he's not completely white or black and people outside of his family want to figure out where to clump him in at. I loved this part of the story because as a biracial woman who spent almost my entire life being asked the question "what are you?", it was good to see that it wasn't a problem unique to me.

As a child and then a teenager, this is something that can become quite a struggle. I remember having kids of both races shunning me because I didn't neatly fit into any category. It was horrible and sometimes a bit isolating for me until I made a group of very loyal friends. It allowed me to really empathize with Reed and his desire to figure out where he fit, who he was and to be comfortable with it. I do, however, wish there would have been more about this in the story.

I also loved Reed's family. They were wonderful and supportive and loving. The Watson clan made me smile through most of this book because they were down to earth and real. I could honestly see them in my mind and I always love that.

What I Liked: Reed, for the most part, he was a pretty great character. However, he could get on my nerves at times as well. His brother Devon, though, was great and I loved the way Reed was with him. He knew his brother's limitations but he was always right there with him supporting him and giving him brotherly attention and love.

I also really enjoyed reading about a swimmer on the road to success through school and then Olympics. The things Reed goes through getting through school and having to deal with family and financial and relationship issues made it all the more real.

What I Didn't Like: Okay, here's where I had problems. First and foremost, Reed's attitude about money. I am not an athlete, so I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure it is a common thing to have sponsors and for those sponsors to be paying money that helps you achieve becoming an Olympic athlete. Not everyone can afford to do it all on their own. Reed refused to maturely and logically look at his sponsors' financial support as par for the course. Instead, he insists on looking at it as charity and needs to pay his own way. I found myself continually annoyed about him insisting on paying his sponsors back every cent.

My other big gripe is all of the back and forth, start and stop that happened in the book. What do I mean by that? Every time an intimate scene started, whether kissing, frottage or more, the characters would stop and talk, discuss everything and possibly argue. Then they'd start up hot and heavy again and then stop and start discussing things again. Each scene took forever and by then, I'd lost interest in what they're talking about because all I'm wondering is when are they going to do something already?

Now, I'm not a complete and utter perv. I don't have to have sex scenes in every book I read but when a character spends 80% of the time talking about his D and what he wants to do with it and then there's scene after scene where he is getting hot and heavy with someone, well, I expect something to happen, you know?

And finally, I have to say I did not like Matthias. At first, I felt sorry for him, I felt like I could see where he was coming from. Honestly, I understand why he became the way he is but it does not excuse his behavior. I wanted to love him, mainly because he's so important to the story but I just couldn't. I also can't understand how he is forgiven so many times. I don't think I'd be on speaking terms with him by the end of the book.

Overall, while I enjoyed the book I wasn't able to fall in love with it. I'd still recommend it, the writing was good and the premise great. I just did not care for how the story played out in the 2nd half.

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

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