Relay (Changing Lanes, #1)
Captain is not a title Alejandro “Alex” Cantu takes lightly. Elected by his teammates to helm the US Men’s Swim Team, he proudly accepts the role, despite juggling endless training, team administrative work, and helping out on the family farm. And despite his ex-lover, Dane Ellis—swimming’s biggest star—also making the Olympic Team.Dane has been a pawn in his celebrity parents’ empire from crib to pool, flashing his camera-ready smile on demand and staying deeply in the closet. Only once did he drop the act—the summer he fell in love with Alex. Ten years later, Dane longs to cut his parents’ strings, drop his too-bright smile, and beg Alex for another chance.Alex, though, isn’t ready to forgive and forget, and Dane is a distraction he doesn’t need on his team, until an injury forces Alex to accept Dane as his medley relay anchor. Working together, their passion reignites. When Dane’s parents threaten reprisal and Alex is accused of doping, the two must risk everything to prove Alex’s innocence, to love one another, and to win back their spots on the team, together.

Relay (Changing Lanes, #1) Details

TitleRelay (Changing Lanes, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 8th, 2018
PublisherRiptide Publishing
ISBN-139781626496774
Rating
GenreRomance, M M Romance, Contemporary, Sports and Games, Sports, Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance

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Relay (Changing Lanes, #1) Review

  • Optimist ♰King's Wench♰ & MANTIES Champion
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 HeartsSpoilerish?I was so excited for this book and trust me when I say I wanted so badly to love it. There were things that I liked but on the whole it was mostly a miss for me. However, please bear in mind this is coming from a sports fanatic so, grain of salt.It started off rough. Both Dane and Alex have tempers and tend to become physical when they're angry. Big 'no' for me there but I pushed on and things did approve somewhat after Alex called the truce around 30%. They continue to be p 2.5 HeartsSpoilerish?I was so excited for this book and trust me when I say I wanted so badly to love it. There were things that I liked but on the whole it was mostly a miss for me. However, please bear in mind this is coming from a sports fanatic so, grain of salt.It started off rough. Both Dane and Alex have tempers and tend to become physical when they're angry. Big 'no' for me there but I pushed on and things did approve somewhat after Alex called the truce around 30%. They continue to be pitiful communicators overall but they do make headway on their relationship. What puzzles me about this is how this story can become almost didactic on certain buzz topics yet still deploy violence as a means of showing how "strong" the feelings are between the protags. I, personally, have trouble believing in a relationship when one can so easily resort to violence against someone whom they claim to love, but that's me.However, a large part of what drew me to this story in the first place was the lovers to enemies to lovers/second chances thing happening in the blurb and minus the violence it was a decent interpretation of the trope. Dane and Alex met at a swim camp when Dane was 16 and they fell in love. Unfortunately, Dane comes from Southern parents that are almost carcaturish in their religious fervor that reads more like villainy and at 16 he was ill-equipped to defy them, thus Alex was left heartbroken. Dane then proceeds to pour all of his energies into swimming to become the face of the sport in all his ginger glory.As a sports fanatic if I can marry romance and sports I feel like I'm having my cake and eating it too which made this book an instant add. The problem is there's no sports in this sports romance. We start in the pool with Dane slapping the wall just before his teammate and mentor Mo. But after that... essentially bupkis.I haven't the words for how disappointed I was at this development and, honestly, I don't understand why it happened. Since they are readying for the Olympics there is some training and talk of improved times, but IMO opportunities were missed. No mentions are made of international competition and you can bet money almost all of these guys have an international rival that they keep up with. Injuries, relationship woes, controversy, coaching changes, training changes or anything they could potentially use to their advantage is kind of a benchmark in sports but elevates when one is involved in an individual sport. If you don't believe me check out this vid from the Rio Olympics and watch Phelps squish his tiny little head, figuratively of course. What's more, the whole team is hyper-focused on winning the medley relay but there's no mention one of Team USA's biggest rival, the Australians?Instead the narrative fragments into a kooky plotline involving the evil parents and an even kookier hacking scheme. For me, the evil parents cruel machinations didn't add up. The father is some big whig evangelical pastor who's known far and wide and the mother is a former beauty queen who supposedly has a successful business all her own, so why is Dane's sponsorship money the "golden goose"? As far as the hacking goes, it seemed like an cockamamie choice for a sports romance. Then again, there was next to no sports in this story. My only other quibbles are the timeline that somehow prevented Dane from competing in the previous Olympics doesn't jive and either we didn't get introduced to everyone on the team or there aren't enough members on this team for an Olympic squad.On a positive note, what I did like were the team building and Dane and Alex's sexual chemistry. They do a good job of convincing me of their devotion to one another by the end of the narrative. But listen, the bottom line is I already like the mojo happening between Bas and Pup and I am truly looking forward to the next one. I think I see the end game of building towards the Olympics so I'm hopeful there will be more sports going forward and this was just a fluke.Recommend to contemporary and second chance romance fans. An ARC was provided by NetGalley.**************************************************************************Pre-read gibberish(view spoiler)[That blurb y'all!I'll be on this like white on rice. January's so far tho. 🙁 (hide spoiler)]
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  • Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**
    January 1, 1970
    ***3.75 Stars*** He'd loved Alex from across the pool and across a dorm room, then from across the country and across the years. Across everything that had stood between them. Oh the HATE LUST is strong in this one! Dane and Alex were each other's first loves, and 10 years ago Dane turned his back on Alex because of his parents' stronghold on him. Parents whose entire focus is on their image. Now reunited as teammates, Alex can't let go of the anger, disappointment, rejection, and still ever p ***3.75 Stars*** He'd loved Alex from across the pool and across a dorm room, then from across the country and across the years. Across everything that had stood between them. Oh the HATE LUST is strong in this one! Dane and Alex were each other's first loves, and 10 years ago Dane turned his back on Alex because of his parents' stronghold on him. Parents whose entire focus is on their image. Now reunited as teammates, Alex can't let go of the anger, disappointment, rejection, and still ever present desire. While Dane turns his yearning for Alex into defensive arguments and stubborn cockiness. These two could hurl some hurtful insults without blinking an eye. They were slinging barbs left and right while all that desire boiled just below the surface. Alex couldn't understand why Dane was willing to be a puppet? Why he wouldn't stand up to his parents when it was clear he was miserable? But even with all that anger, memories from 10 years ago flooded his mind and heart. Two teenage boys dancing in the dark in their dorm room, discovering each other's bodies, and falling in love. Dane was bombarded with the same memories, but he kept those memories locked tight...buried in an encrypted folder on his computer and deep within his heart...away from his parents, his sponsors, and the media. The anger and jealousy taking over whenever he saw Alex and his teammate Bas so comfortable in their skin and getting to live their lives how they wanted. To be that easygoing, to be that carefree, to focus so little on what other people thought, to live and love as they pleased...the jealousy nearly strangled him. But you can only hide for so long. A night away from training where Dane can let his guard down and an unexpected turn of events in preparation for the Olympics puts things in perspective for both Dane and Alex. Maybe it's time Dane finally grabs hold of the future he wants? But can Alex trust him not to walk away again? I do enjoy a good enemies to lovers trope, and this one definitely delivered. My heart broke for Dane and his yearning for the life he didn't think he'd ever have. To be around the one person you want more than anything was a torture that Dane lived through every day. He lashed out to hide the pain. Same for Alex. He resented Dane's privileged behavior and resented the fact that it was so easy for him to walk away all those years ago. The love never went away, but he didn't think he could handle Dane rejecting him all over again. The push and pull dominated the first half of this book, while the second half kinda went in a direction I wasn't expecting. First off, the switch was flipped a little too easily for my tastes. And second, certain elements felt out of place and didn't fit with the overall feel of the book. I didn't expect to pick up a book about swimming and have a suspense element thrown in? And speaking of swimming, there really isn't a whole lot in here. It appears that the arc of the series will be the team preparing for the Olympics in search of their elusive gold relay medal. Maybe there'll be more in the second book since the team is now on their way to Madrid for training and gearing up for that final push. Since this is a duology, I hope we get to see the final races and it's not glossed over. I really missed more of the swimming in this first book.And speaking of the second book...GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!! I'm beyond curious about Bas and Jacob!! Tatted, carefree guy + shy cinnamon roll = ♥ ♥ ♥ Yes!! This speaks right to my heart. Overall, this was an enjoyable and satisfying start to Layla Reyne's new series. And I'll tell you one thing....the cover branding for this series is A+++ WOWZA!! ***ARC courtesy of publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review*** (view spoiler)[It's no secret that since finishing the Agent Whiskey & Irish series, Layla Reyne has firmly planted herself on my autobuy author list.....and now as a follow up to that AMAZING series, she's giving us a second chance romance set in the world of men's swimming!!!!I CANNOT WAIT!!!! (hide spoiler)]
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  • Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
    January 1, 1970
    *2.5 stars*Decent story that gets bogged down with melodrama.When I read a sports story about Olympic athletes I honestly expect something more... realistic. I mean, these guys acted like children. I wanted more discipline or something, something to make this story feel more grounded. There is so much guilt and resentment here that it's hard to find the romance underneath. I had a hard time believing that a summer fling from 14 years ago would be so impactful on day to day life. I get that there *2.5 stars*Decent story that gets bogged down with melodrama.When I read a sports story about Olympic athletes I honestly expect something more... realistic. I mean, these guys acted like children. I wanted more discipline or something, something to make this story feel more grounded. There is so much guilt and resentment here that it's hard to find the romance underneath. I had a hard time believing that a summer fling from 14 years ago would be so impactful on day to day life. I get that there may be simmering chemistry or lingering feelings, but the depth of those feelings after so much time bordered on strange. I also just wanted more sports, more action in the story. I know a little about the world of competitive swimming, like any Olympics junky, and I was disappointed at the lack of competition and knowledge about the sport in the story. While there were some bright moments, the villainous super-villains and the family drama grew tiresome, and I think the story was just a case of expectations vs reality. Bummer. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
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  • Elsa Bravante
    January 1, 1970
    Una decepción. Llevaba tiempo esperando que se publicara, ¿qué puede ser más apetecible que un libro de nadadores? Poca cosa. Pero al final, es la historia la que ha resultado poca cosa.Alex y Dane y su amor de segundas oportunidades se queda en un bluff, con un desarrollo de los protagonistas muy superficial, un plot con agujeros y con muchos momentos de entornar los ojos ya sea por poco creíbles o por ridículos. Los personajes son nadadores, son majetes, son buenas personas, pero tienen 26 año Una decepción. Llevaba tiempo esperando que se publicara, ¿qué puede ser más apetecible que un libro de nadadores? Poca cosa. Pero al final, es la historia la que ha resultado poca cosa.Alex y Dane y su amor de segundas oportunidades se queda en un bluff, con un desarrollo de los protagonistas muy superficial, un plot con agujeros y con muchos momentos de entornar los ojos ya sea por poco creíbles o por ridículos. Los personajes son nadadores, son majetes, son buenas personas, pero tienen 26 años con un comportamiento de 16, tanto en sus actitudes como en sus diálogos, estamos enfadados y pum, de repente salen los I love yous por un lado y por otro, los perdones, sin ningún tipo de análisis, solo se repite lo mismo una y otra vez: me diste la espalda bla bla, mientras que el otro: soy un pobrecito bla bla, pero ahora seré muy valiente bla bla ..., todo ello aderezado con unos padres que son unos malos malísimos, una caricatura en lugar de un análisis real de la situación familiar de Dane o del equipo de natación.Luego pasamos al punto en el que Alex, Alejandro, es latinoamericano. Dice creo que 5 frases en español, pues 4 tienen faltas de ortografía o gramaticales. Es algo que me molesta profundamente, siempre lo menciono en las reviews, es una falta de respeto. Pero, en este caso, me molesta todavía más. El libro está publicado por Riptide, normalmente el español en sus libros es malo, por no decir muy malo, me puse en contacto con uno de sus autores por un libro con un español patético, según él me escuchó, según él la editorial iba a hacer una comprobación más profesional del español en sus libros y bla bla bla. El siguiente libro de ese autor tenía un español todavía peor y la editorial sigue publicando ejemplos como este. No puedes vender la diversidad, lo que te importan los sensitive readers y luego hacer cosas como esta. Las cosas se demuestran, no vale con decirlas. Y que conste que yo no tengo nada personal en contra de esta editorial, o ninguna. Pero incluso autores con libros publicados con otras editoriales y con un buen español, ha sido ir allí y aparecer los errores a diestro y siniestro. DO BETTER. No me ha gustado, no voy a analizar más porque no es necesario, ya quedó claro...
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  • Renée
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 21%This one isn't for me. Which is a shame since I did enjoy the Agents Irish and Whiskey series.But what we get here is a whole lotta martyr complex, grown men in their late twenties throwing tantrums like three year olds, and zero communication. How else would we treat someone we love and miss? Be unusually cruel at all times, right?Right.Sorry, but I can't keep pushing myself to continue.
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  • Hollis
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not really sure how I feel about RELAY. The beginning of the first book in Reyne's new series started off pretty rocky. We have almost-thirty year olds acting like children, causing problems for their team (Olympic mind you, not some intramural gang), which thankfully started to mellow out near the middle, mixed in with a poster boy full of regret, shame, and anger over how he lets his parents dictate his life drama and how he has none of what he truly wants despite his privilege and stardom I'm not really sure how I feel about RELAY. The beginning of the first book in Reyne's new series started off pretty rocky. We have almost-thirty year olds acting like children, causing problems for their team (Olympic mind you, not some intramural gang), which thankfully started to mellow out near the middle, mixed in with a poster boy full of regret, shame, and anger over how he lets his parents dictate his life drama and how he has none of what he truly wants despite his privilege and stardom, with a dash of.. hacking?I was almost sold on this story, even if I didn't quite like the characters -- sympathetic though they could have been, with Dane's closeted self, and Alex's captain matyrdom alongside his mother's cancer diagnosis -- but the slight veering into hacking territory, complete with sneaking into headquarters to download files, felt out of place and more like it belonged in the author's previous series.There was also a little bit at the end which went in an unexpected direction and.. well, I didn't like that either. There was potential here, and perhaps I'll see more of that pan out in book two for the next couple, and I can see it getting love from a lot of readers but on a whole there just wasn't enough that I loved for me to like this one. We'll see what comes next but it might be the last attempt I make with this author. Sometimes you just don't gel with style or story, sometimes both, but I'm willing to give it one last go. ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
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  • Diana
    January 1, 1970
    4 Te amo Stars I am a huge fan of this author and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this little gem. Alex Cantu is Captain of the US Swim Team getting ready for the Olympics in Madrid. Although he didn’t really want to be Captain, he takes his position seriously working with the Olympic veterans and mentoring the newbies. What he is not used to, is having to deal with the “poster boy” of the Olympic Swim Team, Dane Ellis. Ten years ago, Alex and Dane had a teenage romance, and since Dane though 4 Te amo Stars I am a huge fan of this author and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this little gem. Alex Cantu is Captain of the US Swim Team getting ready for the Olympics in Madrid. Although he didn’t really want to be Captain, he takes his position seriously working with the Olympic veterans and mentoring the newbies. What he is not used to, is having to deal with the “poster boy” of the Olympic Swim Team, Dane Ellis. Ten years ago, Alex and Dane had a teenage romance, and since Dane thought he had so much to lose being outed, he turned his back on Alex to please his evil, domineering parents. Now ten years later, Alex still holds onto the anger, as Dane is on top of the world, or so Alex thinks. It is until Alex is in trouble, that Dane stands up for himself to prove something not only to Alex, but to the rest of the team. I honestly struggled with the first half of the book. I did not like either Alex or Dane. Alex was acting ridiculous for not only what happened when they were “kids”, but also the way Dane acted so “privileged”. Dane was being controlled by his parents even though he is 26 years old. The second half of the book, I couldn’t read fast enough. My heart was pounding hoping they finally get to the bottom of who is out to ruin Alex. I also felt they became more real with each other, communicating their true feelings. By the end of the book, I adored both of them. I did enjoy the secondary characters, especially Bas and “Pup” Jacob and can’t wait to not only read their story, but to find out what happens at the Olympics!!!I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Riptide Publishing, in exchange for an honest review
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  • J *deep in the heart of Texas*
    January 1, 1970
    While I didn't enjoy this one *quite* as much as the Irish and Whiskey series, it was still good. Yes, there's some martyrdom going on with Dane and some lack of communication but I was still almost always engaged in the story. My one complaint would probably be Dane's heinous parents. And while, I didn't always agree with or like the way Dane acted....in the end I thought he made up for it. I'm definitely looking of forward to Jacob and Seb's book.
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  • .Lili.
    January 1, 1970
    I have to admit that the cover whore in me was immediately intrigued- cause, well gorgeous cover! Then the blurb finished hooking me in. Relay by Layla Reyne was different than I anticipated but in a right way. I was expecting a fluffier enemies to lovers story. You know, some UST that eventually led to an HEA, but what we got was way more than that.Some highlights:-Dane and Alex. These men came from two different places, but once they came together, it was... beautiful.-Enemies to lovers. I l I have to admit that the cover whore in me was immediately intrigued- cause, well gorgeous cover! Then the blurb finished hooking me in. Relay by Layla Reyne was different than I anticipated but in a right way. I was expecting a fluffier enemies to lovers story. You know, some UST that eventually led to an HEA, but what we got was way more than that.Some highlights:-Dane and Alex. These men came from two different places, but once they came together, it was... beautiful.-Enemies to lovers. I love sexual tension, and this book had some severe UST. Hate lust FTW! -The flashbacks. We were given flashbacks of Alex's, and Dane's past from both their perspectives and they helped see the full picture of how they got where they were. I'm not always a fan of flashbacks, but they worked in this case. -Suspense! It kind of came out of nowhere, but I rolled with it and found myself actually intrigued. -There was some martyrdom and sometimes that can be a turnoff, but it didn't bother me in this story.-I found the writing engaging and smooth. My only niggle was the conflict/miscommunication. It felt a little contrived. All in all, this was a great read. It delivered the whole package.-Chemistry-Outstanding character development-Some suspense-A strong hfn ending-And an excellent set up for the next book in the series! 4 Solid Stars!ARC kindly provided by Riptide Publishing via NetGalleyPre-review(view spoiler)[Sept 25, 2017That cover:Aug 10,2017:That blurb! (hide spoiler)]
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  • Natasha
    January 1, 1970
    Review also on my blog • Twitter • BookstagramI received an arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.Relay follows Dane and Alex, short for Alejandro. Alex has just been made captain of the US Men's Swim Team, while being openly gay and Mexican. Dane is a star swimmer who has just made the team. He's the son of a famous preacher, putting him in the public eye.  The two are also ex-boyfriends. They met when they were sixteen at a swimming training camp and were roomma Review also on my blog • Twitter • BookstagramI received an arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.Relay follows Dane and Alex, short for Alejandro. Alex has just been made captain of the US Men's Swim Team, while being openly gay and Mexican. Dane is a star swimmer who has just made the team. He's the son of a famous preacher, putting him in the public eye.  The two are also ex-boyfriends. They met when they were sixteen at a swimming training camp and were roommates, leading them to have a fling of sorts, but due to Dane's internalised homophobia, they broke up. But ten years on, the two are still in love with each other and have to work through that. This was a really emotional read. Because their breakup was due to Dane's internalised homophobia, there's a lot of fear on Dane's part. His parents are excessively homophobic, at a point even saying they wanted to 'help' Alex stop being gay. He also has a lot of pressures of sponsorships and keeping a good image to the public, namely the conservative people who are fans of his father. This puts a lot of pressure on him and pushes him more into the closet. At the start, due to their breakup there is bitterness between Alex and Dane. Alex never belittles Dane for being in the closet or for going through internalised homophobia, nor does he make him feel guilty for it. When they do eventually start to form a relationship again, the book doesn't do the typical thing where the out person is upset about keeping their relationship a secret. Alex let's Dane go at his own pace and never puts pressure on him. The most he wants out of him is to stand up to his parents which he didn't do ten years ago after being pushed around for so many years.There are elements of family. Alex's mother is going through breast cancer for the second time so there's scenes of him spending time with her. And again with Dane, he learns to stand up to his parents and not let them treat him terribly for not being their vision of perfect. Through that, he gets a lot of character development. Relay has all the fun in a second chance romance and a sport romance, as well as the angst that leads you to route for the couple and the characters. 
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  • Nora
    January 1, 1970
    There's a reason Layla Reyne is on my Must-Buy list; only she could get me this hyped about a swim team. It'd be easy to fall back on tropes with so many pieces to juggle, but she never once loses her footing. The ensemble team is lovingly crafted, with personalities and stories of their own, and the pressures of preparing for the upcoming Olympics are handled with a deft hand. And Alex and Dane? In a word: flawless. Protect them 2KAlways.RELAY is a story about an Olympics team coming together, There's a reason Layla Reyne is on my Must-Buy list; only she could get me this hyped about a swim team. It'd be easy to fall back on tropes with so many pieces to juggle, but she never once loses her footing. The ensemble team is lovingly crafted, with personalities and stories of their own, and the pressures of preparing for the upcoming Olympics are handled with a deft hand. And Alex and Dane? In a word: flawless. Protect them 2KAlways.RELAY is a story about an Olympics team coming together, but more than that, it's a story about second chances, self-acceptance and forgiveness, and learning to fight for who you are and what—who—you want, no matter the cost.Now please excuse me while I count down the days til book 2...........
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  • haletostilinski
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars!I loved Layla Reyne's debut series Irish & Whiskey, it was one of my favorites that I read this year. So I was excited that we were getting a brand new series from this author, I was excited to see her writing outside of the Irish & Whiskey world. And I've been waiting to read this for months, just waiting for it I was that excited! And I can honestly say that Layla Reyne did NOT disappoint with her first book outside the debut series that put her on the map.From the first page 4.5 Stars!I loved Layla Reyne's debut series Irish & Whiskey, it was one of my favorites that I read this year. So I was excited that we were getting a brand new series from this author, I was excited to see her writing outside of the Irish & Whiskey world. And I've been waiting to read this for months, just waiting for it I was that excited! And I can honestly say that Layla Reyne did NOT disappoint with her first book outside the debut series that put her on the map.From the first page, I was hooked. We get an immediate connection between Dane and Alex, and their fire and passion as well as heartbreak for what could have been left me wanting to just get to the end so I could read them getting their happy ending already, but shit had to happen before that could be achieved. - Alejandro "Alex" Cantu is a out and proud hispanic swimmer who prefers to keep his head down, out of the spotlight, and help at home as much as he can with what little money he makes swimming professionally, seeing as he doesn't have the endorsement deals other "privileged asses" have. - Dane Ellis is an in the closet white southern boy who grew up with loveless, controlling parents who only care about their, and his, image. It's all about keeping up appearances, and they've trapped Dane in their web his whole life, and Dane has been afraid to break free of it partly out of fear of coming out, part of it fear of the unknown, and probably fear of change. Nonetheless with all of that, because of his parent's riches, Dane has endorsement deals left and right, and he's the 'poster boy' for swimming (kinda how I think Michael Phelps is. I mean we know of other swimmers like Ryan Lochte, but Michael Phelps is the most famous swimmer out there, no question) and he is considered the best, or on his way to being the best.Due to an injury he had, Dane hadn't been able to compete in the Olympics four years prior, and because of personal drama with Alex's best friend Bas (who will be the focus of the next book, woot woot!) that affected the medly relay team in the Olympics four years prior, they took home silver instead of the coveted gold.But Alex, Bas, the whole US Olympic team is determined to get gold this time, except now with Dane around, who Alex has a very personal, frought past with, they both threaten to ruin the chances of the team winning gold with their complex relationship. Dane and Alex have to find a way to get along, or risk fracturing the team with their anger, jealousy and resentment of each other.They had a thing for one summer ten years prior, and I was glad that this book didn't go into flashbacks. Depending on how the author uses flashbacks, they can work really well with the story, or work somewhat with the story, or not at all. I feel like if the Reyne had tried that with this book, it wouldn't have worked well, so I was so happy when flashbacks never came.We get snippets of their shot-lived 'fling' in both their meandering thoughts - because thankfully we get both POVs - and obviously they were totally in love. But 16 years olds don't always make the right choices, and that is what Dane did. He'd been in his closet his entire life, and instead of stepping out of it with Alex at 16, he turned his back on him to stay in the closet, breaking Alex's heart.Ten years later, it is still not easy for Alex to forgive and forget. And Dane's own hangups and fear manifest into anger and jealousy at Alex for being able to out and free, and so they go at it, a lot, for the first half of the book - and in not in the sexy way.But one can only take the strain of pretending almost 24/7 for so long, and eventually Dane just can't take it anymore. And he starts to break free of the strings tethering him to his parent's manipulative, controlling ways.This book was a case of one person's out, the other's in the closet - but seeing a character get from being so afraid to come out of the closet to feeling so free once they're ready to always makes me so happy to read. And Alex may have been angry at Dane for not coming out and getting away from his parents for so long, but he never pressured Dane to come out or told anyone about Dane. I love when character's respect another, even when they 'hate' each other. It had to be Dane's choice, otherwise he and Alex would never have worked.I hate when stories - or even in real life - when someone takes the choice of coming out away from a person. It means that person wasn't ready, and they didn't want it, and whether or not they're out, they still haven't accepted themselves or what others will think. I loved both Alex and Dane, separate and together, and the contrast of their lives - and how perfect they were together anyway. Alex grew up poor, with not much - if anything at all - handed to him, he had to work hard for everything, he's the oldest of 4, and so as it says in the book, he's taken on kind of a 'third parent' role and he's grown up to be a nurturer, always taking care of others first, and rarely takes care of himself. But he also had the unconditional love and support of his family, his friends, and he's no doubt still had it harder than Dane, but in so many ways he was so much more free and alive and happy than Dane was. Dane grew up with money, with everything handed to him, and basically all his actions controlled, but he had the least loving home. His parents are THE worst. Not one redeeming quality about either of them, like even when parents are shitty, you hope they have something redeeming about them, something that makes you understand them, but Dane's parents had none of that. They were attention, money grubbing assholes who liked the ideal more than reality, and would stop at nothing to paint the picture of happiness than to actually try to have happiness. And Dane was more their puppet than their child. Makes me wonder if they just had a kid to further project that perfect image - which yeah, they probably did. To bring a child into the world knowing full well you'll never love them, that you're just using for yourself, is a horrible thing to do and Dane's parents were just so horrible. UGH. FUck them! What they do to Dane throughout this book is despicable.But bit by bit, Dane starts to get out from under their thumbs. starts to accept himself and his love for Alex, and seeing Dane get there was beautiful.I love how it was complicated, that I couldn't fully take either Dane or Alex's side, because I understood both their sides, what they were going through, and that each had a reason to act the way they did, and each did things wrong. Like, at the same time I wanted Alex to be more understanding of Dane's position, I was also going "well, why CAN'T you just say fuck them and go your own way?" so it was very back and forth for me. But eventually these two fix all that, they meet each other halfway, and Dane gets to that place where he's ready, and Alex gets to a place where he can forgive Dane and take that leap one more time. I loved it, once they got that place, the sweetness, the love - and some hot sex ;) - the understanding.So much I loved about this, and I couldn't put it down at all, and I seriously didn't want it to end, I felt like "nooo, more with Dane and Alex and their lives together pleaseeee" haha. My only gripe, was that there was some unnecessary drama created around the last third-ish of the book. Not the part where Alex gets falsely accused of doping, but where Dane's parents blackmail Dane once again, but this time not with anything on Dane, but on Alex, so Dane gives into them to protect Alex, and yet when the time comes for Dane to say something, HE DOESN'T! He just lets Alex think the worst of him again. Thankfully the drama doesn't last long, but it didn't have to happen in the first place. It gets resolved fairly quickly, which I'm thankful for at the same time I'm like "so...why did this have to happen?" Because Dane could have just told Alex what his parents were doing, there was NO reason to keep it back other than to cause some miscommunication and manufactured drama. It was the only thing that pissed me off in this book though. .5 stars off for it, personally, but thankfully it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.Overall this book was fantastic, and I enjoyed almost every second of it. Highly recommended for the well written characters, the interesting and engaging plot, and the well written chemistry between our MC's, and well written romance between them as well. LOVED this! Two enthusiastic thumbs up <3***ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***
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  • Mandi Schreiner
    January 1, 1970
    Not a fan of this one. The antics of the olympic athletes on this team were ridiculous. And then there was a hacking scheme?? And over-the-top parents...meanwhile the romance gets lost.Review to come
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Messy review: I felt that the romance aspect of the novel was lost due to the over-the-top plot line. We have hacking, rich helicopter parents, doping, the drama on the team ... add to that second chance romance with no chemistry, and I just didn't feel it. I really didn't care that much for the love interests. Dane was an overgrown child who really needed to grow a backbone. Alex was childish and not cut out for captain of an Olympic team. I also didn't believe their romance - I mean, they fe Messy review: I felt that the romance aspect of the novel was lost due to the over-the-top plot line. We have hacking, rich helicopter parents, doping, the drama on the team ... add to that second chance romance with no chemistry, and I just didn't feel it. I really didn't care that much for the love interests. Dane was an overgrown child who really needed to grow a backbone. Alex was childish and not cut out for captain of an Olympic team. I also didn't believe their romance - I mean, they fell in love at 16 for one summer, and when they broke up, sure, that's hurtful, but to hold such a grudge for TEN years.? To still be that in love after TEN YEARS? And Dane (view spoiler)[hadn't slept with anyone else in TEN YEARS!!!!???? (hide spoiler)]. Even the main characters admit they don't know much about each other, and are constantly surprised by one another, and I'm like, yeah, it's cuz you haven't seen each other in TEN YEARS!!!! Obviously people at age 16 are are very different people at age 26. I'm just saying. I don't know, it wasn't believable at all. I shouldn't have to suspend my disbelief in a contemporary novel.Also not a fan of the storyline at all. It didn't make sense? Dane is randomly (view spoiler)[ a hacker, like where did that come from? And they have to sneak into the swim headquarters (is that a thing???) and hack into the system to save Alex from his false doping charges. (hide spoiler)] Like what?? This is a sports romance not a spy novel/thriller. It was just so messy. Also, I thought this was a sports book. Where was the sports? They're at the olympics - wait, did they even get to the Olympics or are they still training in America? See, I don't even know. Anyway, plot was just too much . Way too much happens and I was left feeling confused. tl;dr: confusing, messy, unbelievable, didn't like the love interests. Bored.
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  • Marion
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this story and can’t wait for the second book in this duology. I read the reviews and was totally prepared for the bad behaviour at the beginning of the story. I was still entertained. It’s not perfect, the MC’s are sometimes annoying, the story perhaps jumping the rails a bit near the end...but I was still entertained. Sometimes, that’s all I’m looking for. To be entertained.
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  • Laxmama
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided for me. I was looking forward to this book, sports romance and second chances are my thing. Yet this just was not for me. A few things: IMO it almost felt like two books, the first half written one way then a 180 turn around in the second half. The behavior of professional athletes who returning to Olympic games was both unprofessional and far fetched. Lastly I question the bond of a 14 year old summer fling after 10 years. I may take a chance on book 2, both those characters felt i ARC provided for me. I was looking forward to this book, sports romance and second chances are my thing. Yet this just was not for me. A few things: IMO it almost felt like two books, the first half written one way then a 180 turn around in the second half. The behavior of professional athletes who returning to Olympic games was both unprofessional and far fetched. Lastly I question the bond of a 14 year old summer fling after 10 years. I may take a chance on book 2, both those characters felt interesting.
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  • Joyfully Jay
    January 1, 1970
    A Joyfully Jay review. 4.5 starsI am a huge fan of Layla Reyne’s romantic suspense Agents Irish and Whiskey series, so I was really excited to see what she could do with a more straight contemporary. Relay has many elements I really love, including an enemies to lovers story and a focus on elite athletes. I can also see Reyne’s style here, particularly with the bit of a suspense storyline toward the end of the book. The focus here is on the relationship between Alex and Dane, but it is set under A Joyfully Jay review. 4.5 starsI am a huge fan of Layla Reyne’s romantic suspense Agents Irish and Whiskey series, so I was really excited to see what she could do with a more straight contemporary. Relay has many elements I really love, including an enemies to lovers story and a focus on elite athletes. I can also see Reyne’s style here, particularly with the bit of a suspense storyline toward the end of the book. The focus here is on the relationship between Alex and Dane, but it is set under the bigger picture of the Olympic Games and the members of the swim team preparing to leave for the competition.From the romance end, we get a great enemies to lovers setup here, as these guys have been at odds for the last ten years after falling for each other one summer as teens. We can feel both the hostility between them, but also so clearly how much the men are still pining for one another. Alex struggles as the team leader to not let his feelings interfere with the team dynamics, but it is almost impossible for him to hold back his emotions, especially when Dane’s family keeps turning everything into a media spectacle. Alex still hurts from Dane’s rejection, and even when Dane shows signs of changing, Alex is wary of being hurt again. For Dane’s part, he loves Alex and always has, but he hasn’t been able to figure out how to get out from his parent’s influence. He is so used to falling in line, and they steamroll through just about everything, that even his little forays into independence get quashed. This story has quite a bit of angst as these guys struggle with their feelings, and in Dane’s case, struggle with taking an action that will change the course of his life. But I also like that Reyne pulls together the relationship end of things early enough on that we can really see the love the guys have for one another and then gives them an external conflict that they can work together to resolve.Read Jay’s review in its entirety here.
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  • Fern's Book Blog
    January 1, 1970
    4 super adorable stars! Okay so I am OBSSED with the enemies to lovers trope and this book FREAKING NAILED IT!! Seriously soooo cute! I totally love Alex and Dane! He'd loved Alex from across the pool and across a dorm room, then from across the country and across the years. Across everything that had stood between them. Alex Cantu is the captain of the US Men's Swim Team and has all the responsibilities that comes along with it. He juggles swimming, his captainship, working, and taking care of 4 super adorable stars! Okay so I am OBSSED with the enemies to lovers trope and this book FREAKING NAILED IT!! Seriously soooo cute! I totally love Alex and Dane! He'd loved Alex from across the pool and across a dorm room, then from across the country and across the years. Across everything that had stood between them. Alex Cantu is the captain of the US Men's Swim Team and has all the responsibilities that comes along with it. He juggles swimming, his captainship, working, and taking care of his sick mother. Basically Alex is a ball of stress and it gets even worse when Dane Ellis is on the team with him.Dane has been trapped following the rules his very strict and religious parents. Knowing he was gay from a young age, Dane and Alex spend an entire summer together at a swimming camp when they are teenagers. Faced with the realties of his home life, Dane leaves Alex and goes back in the closet. After all these years, Alex is still pissed at the way things ended.I absolutely adored Alex!! He is just seriously SUCH a good guy! Juggling so much and still being someone everyone looks up to is so not easy! There were points that I just felt so bad for what he had to go through considering how hard he works for everyone else! I also felt sooooo bad for Dane while simultaneously wanting to grab him and be like "take charge of your own life dammit!!!!!"! His parents were just UGH truly horrible! I loved how much he loved Alex and truly wanted to just be with him.I was also super obsessed with the side characters in this one! Sebastian and Jacob are seriously soo cute and I can't wait to get their stories in this series!! Soooo ready for the next one to come out!!
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  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    oooh i loved this. i'm all about second chance romance, and I was engaged from the beginning. Not gonna lie these boys frustrated meeee cuz I was just like omg please just talk this out!! But I enjoyed the back and forth, although I did want to throttle both of them when the thing!! happened with M cuz le gasp! :O but I still loved that push and pull between Alex and Dane. Whooo boy Dane's parents tho, I despise them but we were supposed to but damn...would not save if drowning let's just put th oooh i loved this. i'm all about second chance romance, and I was engaged from the beginning. Not gonna lie these boys frustrated meeee cuz I was just like omg please just talk this out!! But I enjoyed the back and forth, although I did want to throttle both of them when the thing!! happened with M cuz le gasp! :O but I still loved that push and pull between Alex and Dane. Whooo boy Dane's parents tho, I despise them but we were supposed to but damn...would not save if drowning let's just put that out there cuz >.> they were the wooorst. There was a club scene in this and those are my faves to read cuz we got the MCs getting all close and sweaty and things gets sexy so niiice. I also like the team camaraderie, and I'm looking forward to the next couples' book which seems sooo far awayy.One little thing though, I thought we'd see the team actually going for gold in this one, but I suppose we'll seem them doing that in book 2? I'm guessing. As this one seemed to just be the build up for it and not actually them when they were there swimming for the gold
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  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    Well. Layla Reyne definitely is in my list of author to follow because this book was very good. Just like the Irish & Whiskey series. Not the same tone though. But that's good too.I loved Dane. So much. I have a soft spot for men that are bullied by their family and Dane was so vulnerable at the beginning... It squeezed at my poor heart.So. We have Dane and Alex who are selected in the same swimming team to perform at the olympic games.They met 10 years ago at a summer camp and they fell in Well. Layla Reyne definitely is in my list of author to follow because this book was very good. Just like the Irish & Whiskey series. Not the same tone though. But that's good too.I loved Dane. So much. I have a soft spot for men that are bullied by their family and Dane was so vulnerable at the beginning... It squeezed at my poor heart.So. We have Dane and Alex who are selected in the same swimming team to perform at the olympic games.They met 10 years ago at a summer camp and they fell in love like young boys can fell in love.Then Dane's parents reappeared and wreck everything...They're rich and bigot and all about the "image"... I wanted to punch them. Repeatedly...So Dane. 16 and afraid turned his back on Alex and go back to his life of the perfect 'straight' poster man!So, of course, when they find themselves in the same team, resentment and anger boil and explode!It was short but nice and sweet and hot. Definitely going to read what's next. Want to know more about 'Pup'.
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  • Jessica Alcazar
    January 1, 1970
    I had high hopes for this ... really high hopes and I can't believe I'm about to type this BUT this story, this story was really good ... the book, not even a little. I have so many issues I'm not sure which ones to share and which ones to just say whatever LOL .... full review coming soon.
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  • Nichole (DirrtyH)
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsDifficult to rate, because there was so much I really loved about this story. But it kind of unraveled there toward the end with a lot of melodrama, and that whole thing where you somehow guess someone's computer password by looking at the pictures and mementos they have at their desk?Ultimately I did like the book and I will definitely read the next one. I really enjoy sports romances and this one had all the stuff I like. If you liked the book The Understatement of the Year by Sarina 3.5 starsDifficult to rate, because there was so much I really loved about this story. But it kind of unraveled there toward the end with a lot of melodrama, and that whole thing where you somehow guess someone's computer password by looking at the pictures and mementos they have at their desk?Ultimately I did like the book and I will definitely read the next one. I really enjoy sports romances and this one had all the stuff I like. If you liked the book The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen, this one had a very similar flavor. Former lovers who split up because one is closeted, and are now forced back together by circumstances. A lot of anger and resentment and attraction and love boiling under the surface between these two. Everything about the relationship worked for me. It was all the other stuff I didn't love.So much melodrama with a big "whodunnit" plot near the end, solved by magical computer hacking skills and the above mentioned miracle password guess.And the one-dimensional, cold, image-obsessed, evil homophobe parents trope is alive and well here. I don't enjoy that trope; it just doesn't seem realistic to me. Real people have more depth and nuance than that, even crappy ones.Oh, and question for you guys: I've never understood the whole "I can't get a tattoo because I'm afraid of needles" thing. Yes, technically tattoos are applied with a needle, but the needle is in a much larger contraption and you don't really see it. And it doesn't feel like a needle. At times it feels like a knife and other times like a burn. It's not anything like getting blood drawn or getting a big shot with a long-ass needle so I just don't understand it. Enlighten me please!
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  • Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    I couldn’t resist this book about swimmers on the road to the Olympics and a love lost years ago when they were teens. A look at the rigors of training for the Olympics, controlling parents, jealousy, friendship, life and love, I thoroughly enjoyed Relay by Layla Reyne.Alejandro “Alex” Cantu has more on his plate than any 26 year old should have; worry over his mother’s chemo treatments, the family farm needing extra help while he is away for Olympic training and the games, working extra shifts I couldn’t resist this book about swimmers on the road to the Olympics and a love lost years ago when they were teens. A look at the rigors of training for the Olympics, controlling parents, jealousy, friendship, life and love, I thoroughly enjoyed Relay by Layla Reyne.Alejandro “Alex” Cantu has more on his plate than any 26 year old should have; worry over his mother’s chemo treatments, the family farm needing extra help while he is away for Olympic training and the games, working extra shifts to help his family, as well as his duties as captain of the swim team, and now dealing with his ex-lover not only being on the team but the media circus that surrounds him thanks to his publicist and overbearing parents. While many people see the swimming star that Dane Ellis has become, Alex can see the stress and pressure that Dane’s parents bring each and every time they show up. Alex still harbors ill will towards Dane, but the more he is around his parents, the more Alex begins to realize just how much control they hold over Dane and his life.This was my first book by Layla Reyne and I appreciated that it was multi faceted. Not only was the relationship between Alex and Dane both past and present explored, so was Dane taking control of his life, the team dealing with losing a veteran member, Alex being accused of doping, and trust lost and broken. I liked that for most of this book Alex and Dane were at odds and it took time for them to figure out how to be civil and more to each other; there was no easy, magical fix, it took hard work and compromise for them to find their way back to each other.A story of hope, betrayal, healing, change, acceptance, and love, Relay was a treat to read.
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  • Apolishedreader
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book. I C.A.N.N.O.T. wait for the next book! Full review to come.
  • Isabella ~Mikku-chan~
    January 1, 1970
    *~~*ARC kindly provided by the author to me in exchange for an honest review *~~*Relay was a really superb sports romance with a topic I haven't read before if I go through my book list. Not only was the pacing, the way how the sports - the competive swimming - displayed, right from the start the hate between Alex and Dane is visible. But this hate is based on hard feelings caused by broken hearts. It's really captivating how Layla Reyne made it believable that they "hate" each other although th *~~*ARC kindly provided by the author to me in exchange for an honest review *~~*Relay was a really superb sports romance with a topic I haven't read before if I go through my book list. Not only was the pacing, the way how the sports - the competive swimming - displayed, right from the start the hate between Alex and Dane is visible. But this hate is based on hard feelings caused by broken hearts. It's really captivating how Layla Reyne made it believable that they "hate" each other although they actually have still feelings for each other, love each other.The tension was there, right from the start and fueled the whole book, from the first to the last page. I was hooked, I was cheering along with them and my heart broke several times. But in the end put together. Dane is a really charming but lonely main character. He is the pretty poster boy and does what his parents tell him - a bigot couple full of twisted believes and in every pore homophobe. I can't even say anything good about them, there isn't a single part, not an ounce of kindness and love in them. And it's actually remarkable. Layla Reyne made it possible to create two minor character, two antagonists who are this hateful, they colored your whole judgment & makes you furious, leads that you're even more and frantically rooting for Dane and Alex's happy end.I really loved how the love was displayed, how Dane isn't at some part hiding his emotions, at least we reader get the information, Alex is unaware and believes that Dane isn't supporting him & have left him.With being the "poster boy" and perfect tool used by his parents Dane is for the longest time departed from his team, something which made my heart clench & I wanted to hug him tight. It's not that Alex's feelings aren't understandable too, his anger is actually reasonable but it's hard to blame everything on Dane when it's not him; when Dane is in a worse situation than Alex, even if it doesn't looks like.The book is based on all these deep feelings, the fear, the anger, the hurt both main character are carry with them. But it's also vivid because of the sports aspect. Even if you aren't into sports you aren't confronted with too many sports terms and swimming scenes but enough to give the book the thrill, the action. Especially the dynamics in the team, the camaraderie is amazing, even if it's saddening that Dane is first excluded of most of the events.Layla Reyne knows how to capture the reader through the whole book, the events had an unexpected turn, the book was heavily based on the character development and less than going from hate to love and lust, even it's a part of the book, of course. I appreciated this aspect because it had a somekind of "slow burn" touch, without being too slow, and the mixed feelings, the heavy emotions were delivered and on point. It's not easy to hold the balance in a sports romance, between the emotional parts and the action, lively ones, the competitive and professional aspects with the terms and background about swimming. I can't wait to read the second book in this duology, Medley, and we already know - and got it confirmed at the end of the book - who the main character of this book are. I really hope we see in this book - next to a captivating plot - a few more scenes in the competitive swimming because I'm really fascinated by it. If you love sports romance, enemies to lovers, hate turn into love but the heavy emotions based on hurt and betrayal, you'll love Relay. It has everything a good book needs to satisfy you. <35 out of 5 stars for this. Review originally posted on my blog with added content Mikku-chan / A world full of words
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  • Kristie
    January 1, 1970
    So, I have a lot of feelings about this book. Because feelings are strong, I find it hard to articulate. If I could post a video of me waving my hands all around, maybe doing some charades, jumping up and down, making strange faces, and maybe floating a spoiler or two, that would be easier. Since that’s not going to happen, let me try and tell you what I think.What I think is that this is a strong start to this series and I loved it. I loved it even though it had me frustrated and sad, pissed of So, I have a lot of feelings about this book. Because feelings are strong, I find it hard to articulate. If I could post a video of me waving my hands all around, maybe doing some charades, jumping up and down, making strange faces, and maybe floating a spoiler or two, that would be easier. Since that’s not going to happen, let me try and tell you what I think.What I think is that this is a strong start to this series and I loved it. I loved it even though it had me frustrated and sad, pissed off and raging for much of it. At first it was the frustrated and sad feelings because OMG THE HATE. Alex is carrying a lot of hate around. Like, really a lot. That much hate hurts and can really impact life, you know? And in this case it does… dramatically. And all that hate made me frustrated until that turned to sadness because of the reasons for it. That hate was because of all these painful memories that won’t just go way, and decisions that can’t be changed. It was so sad. My heart hurt for Alex. But my heart also hurt for Dane. He’s carrying a lot of pain too, and nobody sees it.When really getting into the story, and things start to change, I could see behind all the hate, behind all the pain, to the longing. The want. The need. The… love? Yes, the love and a serious case of lust. It’s there, and it is so strong and sweet and wonderful. It feels like something new and old all at the same time. The relationship between Alex and Dane is full of angst, totally and completely electric, and fun as hell to witness. And then there is another change, team wide. That feels fantastic and gives the book this whole other feel. Actually, the more I think about it, this really felt like a book in three very distinct acts, and that made for a reading that was smooth. So smooth that when I checked for notes and highlights, I had none. Not a single one. This is almost unheard of for me. I think I just didn’t want to stop to take the time to do them because that would have meant not moving on, not getting to the next act. And I needed to get there. I needed to know what happened next.And yes, there are things that I would have appreciated more of, little things I would have liked to be slightly different or more flushed out. But none of those things were really worth thinking about once I got to the end. Once finished I just wanted to keep going and find out what happens next. If anything, I think one thing bothered me the most was the realness of the media questions. Not because of how real the media interactions seemed, but because it just reminded me of how stupid and inconsiderate the media can be. Alex, being a person of color and gay, made for the media not focusing on the accomplishments of the team and what they were working towards, but on his personal life. While sadly realistic, it still angered me a lot. So I guess, yay for realism? LOLI really enjoyed each character that we get the privilege of meeting. Most especially Sebastian, Alex’s best friend. (Regarding Sebastian, a hearty thank you to the author for not nicknaming him Seb. Bas is a far superior nickname.) There is also Jacob, or ‘Pup’. These two… Book two of the series features Bas and Pup and I can’t wait for it! Not only do we get to see more of them, but with the way Relay ends, there is more story waiting to be told. Not just with Alex and Dean, but for the whole team.And well, I suppose I didn’t enjoy every character. I hated Dane’s parents. I still hate them. I hate them with such rage. They’re such horrible people and I can’t, not for the life of me, think of any other character I hate as much as them right now.With that, I highly recommend this book and series. I can only hope it goes longer than two books because I know I’m not going to get my fix so quickly. So if you’re looking for some sports romance, heavier on the romance but still with plenty of swimming, pick up Relay now.ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    2.5*I so wanted to like this book. I mean, what's not to love? guy's in skimpy speedos and... well let's face it, that should be enough right?! Sadly, it was far from enough. This was all a bit too far-fetched for my liking.Alex (Alejandro) is doing just fine (kinda). He works hard to help support his family's farm. He already feels guilty about 'deserting' them when his mother is so ill but he's following his hard worked for dream. He's captain of the swim team and their focus is on the olympic 2.5*I so wanted to like this book. I mean, what's not to love? guy's in skimpy speedos and... well let's face it, that should be enough right?! Sadly, it was far from enough. This was all a bit too far-fetched for my liking.Alex (Alejandro) is doing just fine (kinda). He works hard to help support his family's farm. He already feels guilty about 'deserting' them when his mother is so ill but he's following his hard worked for dream. He's captain of the swim team and their focus is on the olympics and getting their next set of medals. He's exhausted but he can cope with that if that's all that he has to struggle through. However, life has a way of knocking you onto your butt when you least expect it and this event comes in the shape of Dane - the guy he fell in love with 10 years ago and who broke his heart.Dane knows that when he joins this swim team, that Alex won't be giving him a warm welcome. That summer they spent together meant everything to him but living in the enormous shadow of his famous and incredibly religious parents means that 'coming out' will never be an option for him. His parents have such a hold over him, he see's no way of ever leading a life he chooses for himself.Alex does his level best to keep Dane off of the relay team but when tensions run high, fists fly and an injury to one of the relay swimmers means that Alex's protestations fall on deaf ears. There is no other option than for Dane to take the injured man's place.Despite the fact that these men are 26 years old, they act like bickering, juvenile, brawling drunks and even knowing their behaviour is affecting the rest of the team, surely when their latest argument leads to the injury of a teammate (effectively ending his swimming career!), this will be enough of a wake up call. It's been ten years guys! Come on!If their behaviour wasn't bad enough, enter stage right, Dane's parents. I can understand his reluctance to exit the closet but these people are beyond fanatical and are verging on maniacal. They're willing to go to great lengths to maintain their celebrity status regardless of how much this only succeeds in further alienating Dane from his peers. I so wanted to enjoy this book but it feels like there are more bad guys than good ones and it felt too much like hard work, always making allowances for repeated poor judgement. Based on this, I won't be reading the next instalment.Copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.Reviewed by Cheryl from Alpha Book Club Alpha Book ClubAll Alpha Males Acceptedalphabookclub.org
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  • Dísir
    January 1, 1970
    The simmering intensity of testosterone-laden competitive athletes and that crazy energy that they bring to it are what I particularly love about sports romances. Never having read M/M for olympic swimmers, ‘Relay’ quite literally had my eyes popping at the blurb that was followed by furious clicking on Netgalley and earnest prayer that I’d be given an ARC. From the way Layla Reyne amped it up straight from the start as hostile sparks flew between Alex and Dane, I sat back, licked my chops and k The simmering intensity of testosterone-laden competitive athletes and that crazy energy that they bring to it are what I particularly love about sports romances. Never having read M/M for olympic swimmers, ‘Relay’ quite literally had my eyes popping at the blurb that was followed by furious clicking on Netgalley and earnest prayer that I’d be given an ARC. From the way Layla Reyne amped it up straight from the start as hostile sparks flew between Alex and Dane, I sat back, licked my chops and knew immediately this was going to be a good one. There were so many things I liked about this: the pairing, the unique pressures that the modern sports celebrity faces, the multiethnic representation of the swim team, the petty politics that goes on behind the performance and practice and the ever-present, pounding anticipation of the upcoming meet that pours off the pages. And just as I liked the context and the build-up to the Olympics, I was fond of Alex from the start—the overworked athlete struggling to make ends meet and while keeping his swim team in sync and in good spirits, while keeping his heart and head away from Dane Ellis. Alex and Dane as we learn, had a history and one that ended in a nasty way a decade ago, no thanks to Dane. Consequently, I had a bit of a harder time with Dane, wishing that his own courage wasn’t just limited to pushing his limits in the water. But Reyne peels back the layers to reveal more than a spoilt boy with his hypocritical parents (though I do wonder why religious characters always tend to be the biggest hypocrites in romantic fiction) who had done nothing but control his life. My only complaint is that some bits felt far-fetched, which made the ending somewhat anti-climatic as everything started and ended during the run up to the heart-pounding Olympics itself: Dane’s ultimate stepping in, the quick resolution, the unrealised but hopeful dream, the rushed HEA. Or maybe I’m nitpicking about what left me a little dissatisfied, only because ‘Relay’ felt unfinished, like the fall of the curtain before the climax of a play. Still, ‘Relay’ is probably one of the most unusual M/M books I’ve come across and I’m already hopping impatiently for the next one to come. *ARC by the publisher via Netgalley
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars- Lacked a little spark, but still an enjoyable storyI was so excited leading up to this release, so I have to admit I was a bit disappointed I didn’t love Relay more. There was a lot of good to this book. The characters were interesting with different dynamics and backgrounds, and I loved the set-up of Olympic swimmers with a romantic history training to compete in the Summer Games. However, the couple lacked the magnetism of Miss Reyne’s last pair of heroes and it took me more time to 3.5 stars- Lacked a little spark, but still an enjoyable storyI was so excited leading up to this release, so I have to admit I was a bit disappointed I didn’t love Relay more. There was a lot of good to this book. The characters were interesting with different dynamics and backgrounds, and I loved the set-up of Olympic swimmers with a romantic history training to compete in the Summer Games. However, the couple lacked the magnetism of Miss Reyne’s last pair of heroes and it took me more time to become invested in the story. While Alex and Dane didn’t quite hook me as much as Agents Irish and Whiskey, I did enjoy their story and am excited to see where the series goes next.Part of the draw of a second chance is that underlying connection that permeates all interactions. I didn’t get much of that in Relay at first. What I did get was hostility and tension between Alex and Dane, which made sense considering their sudden parting after a secret summertime fling ten years prior. Once I picked up on this dynamic, I was hoping for an intense enemies-to-lovers story. Unfortunately, their actions were a bit immature and dramatic, making it difficult to connect with the heroes at first and I really never got much of that spark I expected. That said, their story was sweet once it got going and I liked the resolution when Alex and Dane came together. I also really enjoyed the swimming and training aspects of the book, and the ending left me excited to see what their team accomplishes at the Olympic Games in Madrid. As this was the first in the series, there were plenty of secondary characters to meet and the little insights were certainly intriguing. I think fans of this author, fans of sports romances, and those who don’t mind some back and forth akin to an enemies-to-lovers romance will like this one. Reviewed by Annie from Alpha Book Club
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  • Julie (*Happily Ever Chapter*)
    January 1, 1970
    I read Layla Reyne's Agents Irish and Whiskey series and absolutely loved it, so I've been dying to get my hands on more of her romances. I was not at all disappointed in this one. Reyne does an amazing job of writing characters who are at odds with each other at the beginning of the books, and then transitioning into a strained friendship to eventually love. That was the case with the previous series I read and also with this book. I'm a big fan of hate to love romances. Add in the fact that th I read Layla Reyne's Agents Irish and Whiskey series and absolutely loved it, so I've been dying to get my hands on more of her romances. I was not at all disappointed in this one. Reyne does an amazing job of writing characters who are at odds with each other at the beginning of the books, and then transitioning into a strained friendship to eventually love. That was the case with the previous series I read and also with this book. I'm a big fan of hate to love romances. Add in the fact that this one was also a second chance story and I was hooked. There was so much hurt between these two characters but Reyne did a great job of letting them build the trust back up with each other.At the beginning of this story I mentioned that there is still some hurt and animosity between the two characters, it continues for quite a while and I have to admit that the boys did act pretty childish at times with their tantrums. It has been 10 years since they split and now they are on the same swim team so they are being forced to work together. There was a lot of push and pull between the two of them but I really enjoyed it, even if Dane frustrated me every time he buckled to his parent's demands.I thought the idea of Dane also being a master hacker was maybe a little out there, but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story too much. I really loved all of the secondary characters and hope that we get their stories soon!* I received an ARC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. *
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