Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Jalen 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.
ebook, 286 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Series: Game, Set, Match
Love Complicated (Game, Set, Match #1)
Love Simplified (Game, Set Match #2)