Series: Bergman Brothers, #5, #5
Published by Chloe Liese on 10th May 2022
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We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin.
Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.
Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me.
To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.
I thought of the Ted Lasso series (having not read Chloe Liese’s afterward) immediately as soon I really got into the story, with the Mr. upcoming-sunshine-vibes vs the grumpy, worn-out football player on the last legs of his career. At least, it was what Ted Lasso aimed to accomplish–winning every grumpy arse over with his special brand of positivity and upbeat outlook on like while battling his own personal anxieties.
I loved the Ted Lasso show obviously, and more so because ‘Everything for You’ reminded me of what I’ve missed so much since the last season ended. There’re very strong echoes of Ted’s personality in Oliver Bergman of course, only that Liese has turned this into a M/M romance with a longtime idol of Oliver’s who now happens to be his enemy of sorts on and off the field. I did like the emotional unravelling of the characters, had a love-hate relationship with the rest of the big (and ever-growing and sometimes annoying) Bergman clan but it was frankly, this did become a little too long and unfocused with a penchant for juvenile moments for my liking.
The pacing was an uneven one that felt like a rough and cranky shift in gears: a years-long jump, a rocky hop between enemies to suddenly hooking up, to many inopportune cockblocking moments to somewhat out-of-character long, long love-declaration speeches from a reticent Gavin Hayes by the end. There were points where I couldn’t wait to turn the pages but also points where I’d put down the book for days and didn’t give it a thought.
Chloe Liese’s got the chops for writing her characters; her protagonists are probably her strongest point in fact but sometimes the Bergman family become stock characters and/or space fillers that either provide comedy or sage life advice leading to apparent turning points which I think I could really do without. So a mixed-bag in all, considering how I’d wavered between stars for the book.