I received this book for free from Riptide Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer
Published by Riptide Publishing on May 29th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Source: Riptide Publishing
Barnes & Noble
Jeremy Reeve is one of the best divers in the world, and he’s worked hard to get where he is. He intends to keep pushing himself with one very clear goal in mind: winning gold at the summer Olympics in two years. That medal might be the only way to earn his father’s respect as an athlete.
Brandon Evans is everything Jeremy isn’t: carefree, outgoing, and openly gay. With his bright-blue eyes and dramatic tattoos, he’s a temptation that Jeremy refuses to acknowledge. But Jeremy can’t ignore how talented Brandon is—or that Brandon has no interest in using his diving skills to compete.
They’re opposites who are forced to work together as teammates, but Jeremy’s fear of his own sexuality and Brandon’s disinterest in anything “not fun” may end their partnership before it begins. Until a single moment changes everything, and they help each other discover that “team” can also mean family and love.
Word count: 97,000.
Guys. Holy shit. Holy. Shit. This book was so good. I received this book at RT17 from the good people at Riptide Publishing, and so far it’s at the top of my ARC list from there.
Everything about this book was great. Brandon and Jeremy were so mismatched. Just looking at the two of them, they shouldn’t have worked. Jeremy was driven, focused, and couldn’t bring himself to think about anything but diving. Brandon was new to the sport, a natural but completely unrefined talent. He enjoyed diving, but he had no idea what someone like Jeremy had gone through to get where he was, and how hard he had worked and still had to work. He wasn’t exactly flitting about without a care in the world, but he definitely had priorities other than diving.
Jeremy has worked his entire life, every single day, to be the best. The next Olympics are 2 years out and he is not going to fail. He has the world’s best diving coach in Andrey, and his every thought and action takes him closer to his goal. So he is not ok when Brandon shows up to be coached by Andrey. Brandon has a shit-ton of natural talent, but he’s never been trained. He just started doing crazy dives off of cliffs and caught the attention of a scout. He’s never competed and doesn’t take it seriously.
And Jeremy can’t stand that about Brandon when they meet. Jeremy can see that it’s just a sport to Brandon. Just a way to get a college scholarship and his degree then move on. Jeremy couldn’t care less about his degree. He wants to dive. He wants to be the best. And he can’t tolerate what he sees as Brandon’s mockery of the sport he’s crafted his entire life around.
But somehow, slowly, Brandon manages to break through Jeremy’s defenses. And, wow. Does Jeremy ever have a lot of defenses. Jeremy is what Brandon and his best friend Aaron refer to as a “skeleton”. People who are so far into the closet that they die in there, never coming out to see the light of day. And Brandon has no interest in trying to drag Jeremy out of that closet. Until he does. At first, Jeremy refuses to even accept Brandon’s offers of friendship. Brandon was so patient with him, so willing to wait him out and wait for that moment Jeremy would finally be open to the littlest bit of a relationship.
These two are amazing. I felt like I couldn’t breathe through most of the book; first I was waiting for them to get their shit together and for Jeremy to figure out that Brandon is what he wanted. Then I kept waiting for the next catastrophe and the next. You could see Jeremy breaking Brandon’s heart coming for most of the book, and it just kept looming like the proverbial harbinger of doom. And when it finally happened, it was just as awful as I’d thought it would be. Both of them were hurting, both of them knew that what was happening was a mistake, but Jeremy was powerless to stop himself. A lifetime of being beaten down emotionally and being forced to hide everything he was had prevented him from even having the emotional strength he would have needed not to break them up.
I haven’t read anything by Elyse Springer before, but I’m going to start checking out her back list. I was lucky enough to meet her at RT17 as well, and she’s just as lovely in person as I would have expected. Oh, and I don’t know much about the world of competitive diving, but this came across as really well researched to me. And that cover is gorgeous. When Riptide first handed them out, I have to admit I thought it was a snake head. (Turn it on its side. You’ll see it.) And Elyse assured me that it’s not the first time she’s heard that which made me feel a little better. But it’s lovely. Even more lovely when you realize it’s a diver, not a snake head.
The only reason this was 4.5 stars instead of 5 is that I felt like the writing of Jeremy’s family was a little weak. They’re such typical redneck, homophobic, trailer trash that they came across as little more than caricatures. I live in the Midwest. I’m not saying I’ve never people like them, but I thought that those people came across the same way even in real life.. I just would have liked to see a little bit more depth to them, a little more than constant belittling and name calling. It made very little sense to me that Jeremy would even have contact with them at all.
I can’t recommend this book enough. And I have it on good authority from my friend Trish Brown over at Book Riot that at least one of Elyse Springer’s other books is just as good, so I’ll probably check that one out next. Do yourself a favor and pic this one up immediately.