Author: C. Koehler
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: October 26, 2020
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Sports Romance
Page Count: 380
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Tipping the Balance is the second book in the CalPac Crew series, featuring newly-graduated rower Brad Sundstrom and Drew St. Charles, Coach Nick Bradford's BFF. As the first book ends, Drew is very interested in Brad, while Brad is beginning to realize he may not be as straight as he thought.
That dynamic continues as Brad struggles against even saying the word "gay" much less coming to terms with his attraction to Drew. Brad has a lot of emotional baggage and has a difficult time dealing with being less than "manly":
Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod .... Was he gay? Bi? He didn't know. Both terms conjured images that he didn't recognize; that he prayed didn't apply to him. The lisping faggot, the limp-wristed theater crowd, the c@cksucker. Even at relatively liberal California Pacific, there'd been the divisions between the jocks, the real men, on the other hand, and the .... not-manly-enough guys on the other. [...] But, somehow, to like guys sexually was to be less than a man. He couldn't shake that idea from his mind.
Brad continues in this mindset throughout the book, gaining little in the way of personal growth or understanding of his sexuality, IMHO.
There is a lot going on here - Brad working for his horrid homophobic father in the family construction business, Drew, Brad and Emily putting together a bid to restore a historic property in town, issues with the college oversight committee and Nick and Morgan's coach/teacher relationship, and Brad becoming Nick's assistant coach. Brad gets up at the crack of dawn to work with the CalPac crew, works part-time at his father's subdivision sales office, works part-time restoring the historic house, takes classes for his contractor's license, attends oversight committee meetings, AND is in a relationship with Drew.
But wait, there's more .... criminal activity, rampant miscommunication, as well as an extended medical situation, and by the time we get to 91% Drew and Brad still have all their issues without any substantive discussion or resolution. At almost 400 pages, the pace is very slow, yet there is little in the way of personal growth, relationship building and communication. With too much telling versus showing, Brad and Drew's relationship feels very lightly developed, despite the huge amount of POV narratives from both characters.
This book just did not work for me for several reasons - the lack of character development and growth as well as the lethargic pace and convoluted plot. 2.5 stars and I cannot recommend this book, although "your mileage may vary." I welcome your comments!
I received an ARC from the Publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.