Review: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen


Title: The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years #3)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre: NA Romance, College, M/M 
Release Date: 29 Sept 2014

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My rating: 4 Stars
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What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.


This is the third book in the New Adult series, The Ivy Years, by Sarina Bowen. I've read the two previous novels (my review of book 2) and the novella, Blonde Date, and I really enjoyed them all a lot. My personal favourite remains, book 1, The Year We Fell Down (my review). This installment features a m/m romance between two hockey players in college and I found it just as good as the previous books.  was also very good. emotional, intense, a bit ansgty. 

It's an emotional friends-to-lovers sort of story starting back when the characters were teenagers and they meet again 6 years later as team mates in the college hockey team. They story is told in a dual POV and we get both sides to an event that pretty much shaped their lives up to the moment.

I liked both Rikker and Graham a lot, though i may have a tiny bit more love for Rikker. He was outed against his will and was forced in the role of a symbol, flagbearer for gay athletes. Despite being comfortable in the knowledge who he was, he didn't want the publicity and the attention. he just wanted to be a regular gay guy in college, playing hockey. In a way he was doing his own hiding, trying to blend it, avoiding by all means any more drama for himself and his teammates.

Graham was his polar opposite. He was so deep in the closet that he denied even to himself who he was. His hatred for himself and his desires were completely suffocating. His whole life is a form of evasion and he is so focused on playing the role of a straight guy all the time, that he is failing to form his won personality.

I found the inner struggles of the two main characters were deftly presented and I got deeply engaged in their story.

The girl in the story, Bella, was a great supporting character. I like how she was presented as a true friend and generally a nice human being, instead of the evil bitch woman we often see in m/m romance. I felt bad for her and Graham's obliviousness was no excuse for the pain he cause her and all the other people who loved him.

On the negative side, I felt that Graham self-loathing was too much at times. He seemed stuck in the past and couldn't really move forward for a big portion of the story. This also made Rikker seem far too patient with him. He forgave past and present mistakes far too easily. While I sympathize with them both for what they had to go through and very much enjoyed the dynamics of their relationship, how complicated, yet easy it was, I would have loved if they talked more often and more openly with each other.

The ending felt rushed. I would have loved to see more of Rikker and Graham as a couple, how the others saw and accepted them being together. The tentative reconciliation between Rikker and his family we see in the end felt a bit out of place and forced. I didn't really need it and don't think it added anything to the story itself.

The next book in the series will be about Bella and for all her love of hockey playes, I hope she ends up with a cute nerdy guy who knows nothing about sports :)

Purchase links: iBooks / Kobo / Amazon / B&N / ARe / Buy from SARINA

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