A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Love Complicated (Game, Set, Match #1) by Teegan Loy

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

LoveComplicatedFSHigh school senior Jalen Marten wants nothing more than to get through his last year of school without attracting anyone’s attention. But unknown to him, he’s already attracted the attention of tennis protégé Austin Suter, a gorgeous senior who’s on his way to becoming a tennis pro, and if his dad has his way, that will happen before he even finishes high school.

Forcing himself to go to gym class, the last thing Jalen wants is to participate in tennis. He’s never been a team player, and in fact, he can’t even excel in a sport as simple as hitting a ball with a large racket. So when his opponent serves a ball straight into his face, he’s convinced he’s hopelessly doomed. The fact that the opponent is smokin’ hot Austin Suter is beside the point. Reeling from the force of the blow, and with his eye swollen shut, he’s shocked by the concern Austin shows him and even more shocked when Austin shows up at his home later that night to see how Jalen is doing. What follows is an unlikely friendship, and then a hidden courtship, and two young men who fall head over heels in love despite all the obstacles in their way.

Concurrent with their romance, Jalen’s popularity soars when he’s overheard singing one of the songs he wrote. It starts with his music teacher telling him he needs to form a band, and then it moves to the student body when someone overhears him and makes a recording of his songs. Brushfires have nothing on the speed of gossip in a high school, so while Jalen and Austen are trying to hide their love, it becomes almost impossible when Jalen’s popularity soars.

This is a long story filled with humor, angst, heartache, friendship, and of course, love and romance. It follows the journey of Jalen’s and Austen’s romance through all the ups and downs and complications of being teens with raging hormones, peer pressure, high school politics, and meddling parents. Well, one meddling parent—Austen’s father plans to assure his boy succeeds as a tennis pro and when he finds out about Jalen and Austen, he puts even more pressure on Austen to stay in the closet and to continue to date Maddie Kieffer, the girl his father had chosen for him. The same girl who makes life unbearable for Jalen and who is known as both a princess and a bitch in school. Jalen’s heart breaks so many times in this story that it’s a wonder it’s still ticking at the end, but at least the author leaves us with a HFN and there’s the promise of another story to follow.

Teegan Loy is a new author for me, but it won’t be the last time I read her work. Some of the humorous situations in the story made me laugh out loud, and equally, some of the sad scenes made me cry. All of the characters, especially the MC’s best friends, were very well-developed, making the story a pleasure to read. I recommend this to all who enjoy young adult MM romance.

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Cover art by Christy Caughie depicts two young men, one holding a tennis racket—a good representation of the theme of the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Book Details:

ebook, 280 pages
Published May 11th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1632169258 (ISBN13: 9781632169259)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesGame, Set, Match #1

A Paul B Review: Love Simplified (Game, Set, Match #2) by Teegan Loy

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Love SimplifiedJalen Marten met the love of his life Austin Suter one day during high school when Austin Suter hit a tennis ball into Jalen.  A few months later, Austin made his professional tennis debut at the Australian Open.  Instead of immediately going on tour, Austin returned to high school and Jalen.  As graduation approaches, Austin leaves for Europe and to play in the French Open and Wimbledon.  On graduation day, Jalen’s mother surprises him with a ticket to Paris to join Austin at the French Open and the summer tennis season.

Although welcomed by Austin and his mother, Jalen’s appearance is not accepted by everyone.  Austin’s father and his publicist are afraid if word got out that Austin has a boyfriend touring around with him.  They do everything to make sure that Jalen is as marginalized as possible.  They ask Jalen not to sit in the player’s family box.  They ask him to disguise his appearance as much as possible.  However, the young men do everything possible to spend as much time together as they can, thanks in part to Austin’s mother.  She runs interference as much as she can.  The tipping point is when Austin has a fashion shoot with a famous designer.  A male model does not show up and the photographer drafts Jalen to fill in for him.  The photograph that is the center of the campaign ends up being one of the two men in a smoldering pose.

Austin does well at both the French Open and Wimbledon.  His tennis star is clearly rising.  Jalen’s presence on tour worries not only Austin’s father but Jalen himself.  As the pressure from Austin’s father increases, Jalen knows his presence is causing tension in the Suter family.  Jalen leaves right before the biggest match for Austin—the final of the US Open.  He first heads home to talk with his mother, the leaves for Los Angeles to pursue his passion—music.

When he arrives in LA, Jalen meets a young man who finds him a job as a barista at a friend’s coffee shop and a place to crash if he agrees to help with general maintenance of the apartment complex he manages.  It appears that Evan has issues of his own to work through.  While Evan has his business ventures, the relationship he has with his father influences most things he does.  However, Evan proves to be a friend to Jalen and provides help by introducing him to a record producer.  However, the greatest assistance Evan provides comes at a holiday party for the complex.   With Evan’s help, Jalen’s previous doubts disappear and seems to head toward a happily ever after.

While I enjoyed this book, it was not quite the book that I expected.  The first quarter of the book started just about how I thought it would go.  But once Jalen leaves Austin behind in New York, the story diverted into more of a character study of both Jalen and Evan.  While being mentioned in passing several times, Austin does not reappear until the last 15 percent of the book.  Although its mentioned by Jalen’s mother or Austin’s mother that Austin’s game is suffering because of Jalen’s absence, it would have been nice to have some scenes of Austin while on the tennis tour without Jalen.

The book does portray the over-involvement some parents take in their children’s tennis careers that we have heard about in the media.  Personally, I would have preferred more time on tour with Jalen and Austin and a little less time of Jalen’s self-discovery in Los Angeles.

The cover art by Maria Fanning is perfect for the book.  It depicts Jalen and Austin above a tennis net and the Eiffel Tower.  It is well done.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details

ebook, 286 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634770460
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series:  Game, Set, Match

Love Complicated (Game, Set, Match #1)

Love Simplified (Game, Set Match #2)

In the Book Spotlight: Love Complicated by Teegan Loy (interview and giveaway)

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LoveComplicatedFS

 Love Complicated by  Teegan Loy

Release Date: May 11, 2015

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Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Christy Caughie

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Life is all about making choices. Some are complicated. Some are simple. But for eighteen-year-old Jalen Marten, none are easy. Jalen has managed to stay invisible for his entire high school career. He has a small group of friends, and it’s enough for him. He doesn’t want or crave attention from his peers. All Jalen wants is to survive high school.

Austin Suter is the hot, talented tennis player who has the entire school bowing at his feet. Girls routinely throw themselves at him, and boys like Jalen stay the hell out of his way. Austin is destined for greatness on the world stage of professional tennis.

The kiss between them wasn’t supposed to happen. Falling in love definitely hadn’t been part of Jalen’s plan.
And when Austin turns pro, Jalen begins to realize that the choices he makes will affect Austin’s life. One wrong choice and Austin’s career could be over before it really begins. Jalen is not sure where he fits, or even if he fits at all in Austin’s life. But the more complicated things become, the less the idea of being apart appeals. Love should simplify things, not complicate them.

Pages or Words: 280 pages

Categories: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

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STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

The locker room reeked of socks that hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine since the beginning of the semester. This place was the second worst part of my day in high school. The first was walking through the front door.

But gym class was its own private hell. I didn’t dislike sports; I just wasn’t any good at them. The kids loved to humiliate me on the court, in the water, on the field, or wherever the teacher had us. I’d been smashed in the face with a basketball, volleyball, soccer ball, and every other ball invented by humans.

Today my class was playing tennis, which was worse, because not only was there a ball, but also a racket. It increased my chances of getting hurt by tenfold. And I really wanted to survive my final year of high school and not die from embarrassment in gym class. I’d made it through the first sport of the year, soccer, by sticking to the sidelines and pretending to participate by running away from the ball.

This morning my mom came home from work as I was leaving for school, and I begged her to write me some sort of note to excuse me from tennis. She declined and told me to get more involved at school. What good was having a surgical nurse for a mother if she wouldn’t help her only kid out of a jam? And what did participating in gym class have to do with getting involved at school? I couldn’t get involved if I was in a coma or dead.

I started to argue with her, but the dark circles under her eyes and the heavy sigh that fell from her lips made me ease off. I kissed her on the cheek and told her to get some rest.

So now my only hope of not playing tennis was a freak rainstorm, and from the way the sun was shining, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I had no choice but to change, hide among my classmates, and hope Mr. Tames, my sadistic gym teacher, didn’t pick me to play.

Most of the kids were excited to be outside and acted like monkeys just released from their cages. They jumped on one another and hollered all the way out to the courts.

I hoped my quiet demeanor would help me blend into the background. Unfortunately my stellar plan didn’t work. Mr. Tames handed me a tennis racket and paired me with a hockey player named Kasey. Our first opponents were another music nerd and a regular kid. I stayed out of Kasey’s way as he raced around the court, destroying them. We won the match, and Kasey high-fived me by smacking me on the forehead. I scowled at him, because if we had lost, I could have sat down and celebrated getting out of gym class unscathed.

Our next match was against a soccer player and Austin Suter, who had been pegged as the next Wimbledon champion. At least that’s what he told everyone.

He was a pretty boy with full lips and light brown wavy hair that brushed his shoulders. Girls routinely threw themselves at him, and boys like me stayed the hell out of his way. One smoldering look from him and I’d have to walk around school with a book in front of my crotch. Admiring him from afar was the best I could manage.

“Hey, Austin,” my partner shouted across the net. “I’m going to shove this ball down your throat.”

“You’re going to be eating yours,” Austin shot back. His partner gave him a fist bump. Kasey and Austin exchanged a few more verbal warnings. I fiddled with the strings on my racket, and pretended to listen to Kasey’s game plan. Austin’s partner dutifully held his racket while Austin pulled his hair into a ponytail.

“Gentlemen,” Mr. Tames warned. “Enough trash talk. Start the game.”

I groaned and resisted raising my hand to ask to be dismissed. They spun a racket to see who served first. Austin sneered and Kasey growled.

It was supposed to be a friendly game, but the testosterone roared, and the game quickly turned cutthroat. I managed to stay out of Kasey’s way and every ball hit in my direction. I even accidentally returned one. The shot startled Austin and he missed. Mr. Tames whooped and pumped his fist. I should have taken the moment to demand an A.

“Lucky shot, blondie,” Austin shouted at me.

Kasey flipped him off and got yelled at by Mr. Tames again. The students surrounding the court yelled for someone’s head on a platter. I was pretty sure it was me they wanted served up for lunch.

The intensity of the game increased with each returned ball and I started to fear for my life when one zinged by my ear.

“Take it easy, Austin,” Mr. Tames shouted when Austin tried to nail Kasey in the balls. “Jalen, you don’t move this well when you’re playing dodgeball. The point of this game is to actually make contact with the ball. At least attempt to use your racket.”

I rolled my eyes and readied for the next point. Austin served to Kasey, who somehow got his racket on the ball and it popped over the net. The ball seemed to hover in the air, giving me time to figure out I had a bull’s-eye painted on my forehead. Austin raised his racket and connected with the ball, which connected with my face. Who knew a tennis ball felt like a giant rock when smashed into your eye socket. My racket clattered to the ground, and I covered my face to make sure my eyeball didn’t actually fall out.

Austin must have hurdled the net, because he was suddenly kneeling next to me and breathing down my neck. I tried to crawl away from him and his stupid apologies, but he caught me and helped me to my feet. Tames barked orders to set me on the bench while he went for medical supplies. Austin put his arm around my waist and I limped to the bench. The other guys hooted and hollered at me until Austin shot a scowl at them and quieted the entire gym class.

“Is your ankle okay?” Austin asked.

“My ankle is fine,” I snarled and sat down. “Limping makes my eye feel better.”

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About the author: Teegan Loy began writing a long time ago. Notebooks filled with ideas were stacked around the house. One day, she sat down with renewed ambition and something fantastic happened; she completed a story. (unbelievable, but true) Now most of her time is spent writing, but she takes an occasional break to go to the movies, where she imagines her stories on the big screen. She also enjoy watching hockey (love, love hockey) filling her iPod with music, and driving her daughter around town (amended…around the country) to various activites.
Where to find the author:

Facebook.com/teegan.loy
Twitter.com/teeganloy
Teeganloy.wordpress.com

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: A book from Teegan’s backlist. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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