Review: The Red Zone (Riptide series 3) by Beth Bolden

Rating: 4,5 stars 🌈

I really liked this story. For one, Borden’s series about the LA Riptide NFL team is marvelous and any new installment is exciting.

Two, Bolden brings into her Riptide universe, characters and couples from her other terrific series (Kitchen Gods , Kitchen Wars, and Food Truck Warriors). These couples are intertwined with each other’s stories and seeing them again here is a total pleasure.

Third and best reason? Bolden loves and knows the sport of pro football, every angle and aspect. From the Sports announcers/broadcasters like Terry Bradshaw , sitting crafty and country in his booth, to draft day to the locker room dynamics, it’s all here.

That’s understood immediately as we dive into the opening scene and mindset of defense end Spencer Evans. The Stars opponent has the ball and now it’s up to the defense to stop them. He’s in the zone…game’s on…he’s mentally focused as the field and action unfolds before and around him. We are THERE with him, seeing it all and waiting for him to act.

What an awesome way to jump into the story and character.

From that scene Bolden takes the reader and her characters on a moving emotional journey of self growth, acceptance and love. But not before putting them and us through some real turmoil.

That’s perfect and realistic when you have as tightly wrapped a person as Spencer and as deeply self protective as Alec Mitchell, the gay Sports super agent who’s had feelings for Spencer since the msn was first drafted. Each man has rejected, then been rejected over the course of a decades long complicated relationship. Spencer choosing to be drafted and then play for a decade for a team so toxic (the fictional LA Stars) that he’s buried who he is so deep he no longer knows who he is. And Alec Mitchell has watched knowing the man Spencer was.Tough dynamics through a decade of complex emotions.

The journey for both men restarts afterSpencer decides to change…everything.

It’s a moving read. Spencer, with the help of not only Alec but the surprise support of those he’s hurt in the past, decides to tear down the walls he built, and find himself again.

We see the maneuvering to get trades done, team dynamics (both great and ugly), while feeling intimately part of this new path Spencer is taking along with Alec.

Great stuff. I was totally in the game as they say, with him all the way.

The romance? Just as complicated and rewarding. I love this couple. The chemistry is hot.

The story comes so close to perfect. But it contains one element that always makes the reader wonder and yes, something I find irritating. Probably because it’s so correctable.

I call it the “missing main animal character “ element. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen this happen and it takes me right out of the narrative because I’m too busy wondering where the hell Soarky, Fluffy or what have you went.

In this case, it’s a one-eyes black cat called Ignatius or Iggy for short. He belongs to Spencer. How that came about and their adorable relationship is a fairly big part of the story. Iggy acts as a fulcrum for a specific meeting. He also is used to show Spencer’s vulnerability and ability to change. So yes, Iggy’s a big deal.

However, the last , important, third of the story? No Iggy. Not even a mention of someone taking care of him, introducing him to Alec…nada. Iggy disappears.

Now I understand that the author has goals, narrative stages she wants to tell and/or hit as the storylines start to come together and the book heads toward The End. However, at least IMO, better to either never have such a animal character in the first place, use another device to accomplish the same meeting, then to create (extremely well btw) and then dump said animals.

It’s noticed. And in my case bothers me enough every time I see it to deduct rating points. 🤦🏼‍♀️. Just no.

So yes, great story, wonderful characters and romance. Missing cat.

Maybe Iggy will find a home in the next book. Which I will surely read because I do love the Riptide team and it’s players.

Unfamiliar with the inter workings of pro ball? Don’t worry because you’re going to feel like a football veteran after reading this, as well as her other books. Enjoy!

There are 3 terrific books in this series, I recommend them all.

Riptide series:

The Rivalry #1

Rough Contact #2

The Red Zone #3

The Red Zone

Synopsis: Spencer’s deep in the Red Zone and it’s time to even the score.

Nine years ago Spencer Evans became the first player out of the closet to be drafted into the NFL. Everyone believed he had aspirations to change the world but all Spencer ever wanted to do was play football for a team that accepted him wholeheartedly. But they never would, and Spencer began to conceal all the parts that made him different.

When a terrible injury forces him to re-evaluate his life and his choices, he realizes there’s only one man who can help him.

The very first gay sports agent, Alec Mitchell has given his life and his career to making queer athletes’ dreams come true. He can’t help but think of Spencer as the one who got away—professionally and personally.

Alec thought he’d buried his desperate longing for Spencer ages ago but it turns out it was just lying dormant, waiting for the right spark. When he begs Alec to take him on as a client, everything they’ve been burying for years surfaces once again.

With Alec’s help, Spencer can change everything about his life he’s come to hate. An extraordinary future—and an undeniably extraordinary man—are waiting for him. The play has been called. All he has to do is catch the ball and score › seriesThe Riptide Series by Beth Bolden – Goodreads

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: