Author: E.J. Russell
Publication Date: July 27, 2020
Length: 185 pages
Reviewed by Michael
A M/M Summer Games Romance
It’ll take more than medals to mend their relationship.
Diabetic gymnast Sol Ashvili, an alternate for the 2016 men’s Olympic gymnastics squad, had one thing on his agenda for the last day of competition in Rio—corner teammate Tony Thomas, his best friend for half his life, and finally confess he’d been in love with him for years. But instead of returning to the team suite after winning his second silver medal, Tony jetted out of Rio and turned his back on everything: a college degree, gymnastics meets… and Sol. The first two Sol could forgive—barely. The last? Not a chance.
Commentators had a name for Tony’s crowd-pleasing, no-holds-barred, high-octane gymnastics—the Thomas Flair. After the 2016 Games, he parlayed that reputation into a career as an internet celebrity, specializing in extreme sports and risky stunts. His decision to battle his way back into competition shape for a chance at the 2020 Olympic team is extreme all right, but now he must survive the biggest risk of all: facing Sol again after his epic betrayal in Rio.
For the sake of the team and the reputation of US men’s gymnastics, Sol and Tony struggle to leave the past behind and find a way to work together. But as the Games draw closer, they’re starting to realize that finding their way back to each other may be the only way for both of them to truly fly high.
The Thomas Flair is a 64,000-word enemies to lovers second-chance rom-com set around the Tokyo Olympics that might have been, featuring a thrill-seeker who needs reining in, a perfectionist who needs to let go, redemption, rowdy teammates, and a few gymnastics moves that will never make it into the Code of Points.
I was fourteen in 1984, and, like most of the country, was glued to the television watching the men’s Olympic team take home the gold. I was impressed with the athlete’s strength and absolute control. I also developed a huge crush on Mitch Gaylord. My poor ex-girlfriend got drug to the theater to watch “American Anthem.” Terrible movie, but Mitch was adorable.
Sol and Tony had been friends forever and teammates of the Rio Olympics squad. Sol has had to deal with the stress of being diabetic and Tony with a father who is never satisfied. Things fall apart after the Rio games, and Tony walks away, leaving Sol with a whole slew of unanswered questions. Fast forward four years, and Tony is back to prove that not only is he worthy of being a member of the Tokyo Olympic squad, but also of Sol.
Their reconciliation was rather quick, but I get it. Their friendship ran deep. Those feelings don’t just disappear, and the circumstances they find themselves in are similar to years past. The strength of their loyalty and devotion to each other is readily apparent, despite their rocky history. Perhaps because of this, this book has very little angst. Instead, this book chooses to focus on rebuilding the relationship between two former friends and taking it to the next level. With everything going on in the world today, this is exactly the kind of book we need.
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