Title: Coming in First Place
Series: Between the Teeth: Book One
Author: Taylor Fitzpatrick
Length: 170 Pages
Category: Contemporary, New Adult, Hockey Romance
At a Glance: Fitzpatrick writes with such an easygoing style and has a knack for creating characters I adore, even when they’re being grumpy at the guys who love them despite that eternal grumpiness. I’m stoked for the next book in the series.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: David has known Jake Lourdes’ name since he was fourteen years old.
Review: Having now read all three of author Taylor Fitzpatrick’s published novels, I can say that she is one of the only authors who can blurb a book like this and I’ll still read it because I don’t care what it’s about. I already know what I’ll get going in: a.) it’ll be about hockey, b.) it’ll likely be some form of ‘the grumpy one falls in love with the soft one’, c.) it’ll end in a tragedy, a happily ever after, or—as in this case—a maybe we can make this thing work. Not necessarily a happy for now, but as close as it gets for David Chapman and Jake Lourdes. And d.) I’m probably going to love it.
David and Jake have been years-long rivals, at the ripe old age of nineteen, coming up through the junior hockey league, and now that rivalry has carried over into their rookie NHL season. Or, at least David sees Jake as the enemy. It’s unclear whether Jake has ever given David much thought at all, really. What is clear is that David has always come in second place to Jake, the cocky American who plays a little dirty and doesn’t necessarily earn all the attention and accolades he gets through his consistently brilliant playing as much as through his self-confidence and charisma. For an athlete like David, who is rigidly disciplined—read: obsessively disciplined—who is asocial, to put none too fine a point on it, and who puts hockey ahead of everything else in his life—including, it would seem, his own happiness—the idea that the best he can do is come in runner up to a player as inconsistent as Jake means David loathes the guy on principle.
It also irks, of course, that David happens to find Jake attractive.
The building of their relationship isn’t done through grand romantic gestures, and, for the most part, it seems the only thing they have in common is their love of hockey. In fact, they only get together in the first place because David wages a game of sex chicken. He kisses Jake, thinking that Jake will either take a swing at him or at least back off. What David doesn’t expect is for Jake to kiss him back let alone invite him to his apartment to follow up on the kiss. I loved how the tables turned in this scene, in what was supposed to be David pushing Jake away; instead, it’s about David seeing this event through a competitive lens, again, and how he can win this game of “I dare you to have sex with me”. David started something he isn’t going to back down from, thinking…mostly…that Jake is going to chicken out before they ever leave the arena. At any rate, David isn’t about to concede, there’s no way he’s going to let Jake off the hook, but Jake doesn’t back down either, doesn’t want to, because for him it isn’t a game at all. So, the guy who has frustrated David Chapman for the past five years gets another win of sorts. But, he also goes on to show David what it means to finally be first, because Jake is nothing if not determined to build some form of relationship with David.
David is the prickly to Jake’s laid-back, and the feats of extreme patience and leeway Jake gives David to grapple with his feelings made me love Jake a lot. David adapting to the idea that maybe they can make something work, even if it means their hockey schedules won’t allow them to have a traditional relationship that includes dating and seeing each other often during the season, is the only way this book could have ended believably, not without several more chapters to see how it plays out. In the end, it was their potential that was more than enough for me.
Fitzpatrick writes with such an easygoing style and has a knack for creating characters I adore, even when they’re being grumpy at the guys who love them despite that eternal grumpiness. I’m stoked for the next book in the series, And Then, and know I’ll read it even if there’s no blurb at all, and even if I don’t know if it’s a continuation of David and Jake’s story or if it stars a different couple altogether.
You can buy Coming in First Place here: