Book Title: Football Royalty
Author: Eden Finley
Release Date: October 15th, 2022
Genre: M/M Romance
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
If you never fooled around with someone of the same gender, did you even go to high school?
My whole life I’ve had the pressure of being Marcus Talon and Shane Miller’s football prodigy. I’ve been destined to follow in my NFL-playing fathers’ footsteps since the day I was born. I usually thrive under pressure, but as senior year looms, it all gets too much, and I need an outlet. The last place I thought I’d find my release is at Levi Vanderbilt’s graduation party. In his bed. With him.
It’s a one-time thing. An experimentation. And while it was fun, we agree that being with guys isn’t for either of us. I’m happy to accept that until he turns up in California.
I haven’t had to think about him for four years, but now I can’t get him out of my head.
Coming to Franklin University for grad school to follow a boy I hooked up with once is the stupidest thing I could have done.
We said that high school didn’t mean anything, but the truth is, that night made me realize who I truly am, and since then, I’ve been trying to find that sense of freedom again.
I’m hoping it can be with him, but everything I’ve heard around campus points to Peyton not having the same life-changing revelation I did.
And if that’s the case, did I just move across the country for a straight guy?
Kill me now.
Football Royalty, while the eighth and final book in the Franklin University series, is the fourth book I have read. I did really enjoy this one and would say it’s tied for my favorite of the series at the moment. The plot itself and the side characters were easily my favorite parts of this book and the four I’ve read thus far. While the romance was really sweet, it was the found family vibes, the friendships, and all of the side relationships that added an extra layer to the story and really rounded out the book. I loved getting to see not just Peyton and Levi’s stories, but everyone else’s too, and it was so much fun to catch up with Miller and Talon, especially since I just finished a reread of the Fake Boyfriends series!
Peyton and Levi had one awkward hookup in high school, but even though it might have been cringeworthy for them, it was also Levi’s gay awakening, and Peyton’s sort of bi-awakening. Fast forward a few years later to Franklin University when they’re crossing paths again, and neither can get that one night, or each other, out of their heads.
Even though the chemistry between them is evident, they both decide to stay as friends for now, and focus on building that relationship. Which would be fine, if both of them weren’t so attracted to each other. Watching their friendship grow was fun, but it was even more enjoyable to watch that push and pull of their romantic feelings getting in the way at every turn.
I was also living for the constant embarrassment from Talon and Miller. Like, I’m pretty sure those two had children just so they could tease and embarrass them in front of everyone. They may be adults now, but they’re the same loveable and dorky guys I remember from the Fake Boyfriends series. Despite their incessant teasing though, they have a close relationship with both Peyton and his brother Brady, and it melted my heart to watch their dynamic. I need a scene between Peyton, Brady, Miller, Talon, and all the guys and their partners from the Fake Boyfriends series. Imagine the snark!
Another part of Football Royalty that I immensely enjoyed was the friendship between Levi and Brady. Brady was definitely loyal to Peyton, and would do anything for him, but he was also protective of Levi in his own way, and stood up for him when no one else would. Some of my favorite scenes were between Levi, Brady, and Felix (whose book I still need to read!). I absolutely cannot wait for Brady to get his own book. The second that one comes out, no one bother me because I will be finishing it in one sitting, much like I did with this one!
I still don’t understand football any better in Football Royalty than I did in Fake Boyfriends, but I am a sucker for a sports romance no matter the sport, and this one did not disappoint. The usual mix of tender and hilarious moments Eden Finley is known for balancing fantastically were present, and all done so well.
This one was a lot of fun, and I’m so glad I had the chance to read it.
Thank you to Gay Romance Reviews for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!
Add it to your TBR!
We move closer in the coffee cart line, my wet shirt from my spilled coffee sticking to my skin.
“So, what will you have to drink?” My tone is airy and light, but in a forced kind of way and not at all calm and collected like the night we hooked up.
It’s hard to believe the guy with so much game back then grew up to be a bumbling idiot.
Peyton looks hesitant, like he wants to fight having me buy him a coffee, and I can’t say that I blame him. If all of his socials have anything to say, it’s not like he bats for my team. He’s always posting photos of him and his teammates with girls, and I’ve tried to search for homoerotic subtext in the photos with any guy other than his brother, but even I know that’s grasping at straws.
And last night, when I caught sight of Peyton at Shenanigans, kissing the bartender, it all but confirmed my suspicion.
While I lied through my teeth about our hookup only being fun but not earth-shattering, it seems Peyton didn’t have the same revelation I did: I’m gay AF.
“I haven’t decided yet, but I need to make this quick. My place is just off campus, and I’d like to change before my next class starts in an hour.”
Disappointment that shouldn’t belong here punches me in the gut. “Sure.” I hope my tone can pass for nonchalant, but I doubt it.
“You’re welcome to come back with me.” He eyes me, and every inch his gaze touches burns like fire. “You could probably fit my clothes now you’re not so scrawny.”
Damn. As easy as that, the tension leaves my shoulders. “I wasn’t scrawny in high school either, you dick.”
“You were scrawny, but you’ve definitely … uh … filled out.” He eyes me again but is trying to be subtler this time.
The totally wrong thing to say here is he can fill me out anytime because that wouldn’t go down well. I’d go down well. On him. But no. Straight boy is straight.
If the universe loved me at all, he’d be bi, but that’s wishful thinking on my part.
We get to the front of the line, and I order another latte—or in this fucked-up Franklin U system, a “study juice”—and point to Peyton. “And whatever he wants.”
“I’ll get the same, but with two pumps of caramel.”
“Is that allowed on your team diet?” I ask while I tap my card to pay.
“Who are you, my brother?”
“Eww, fucking hope not.”
Oh. Right. No mentioning the thing that was fun but not really but totally mind-blowing and the thing that changed the direction of my life. Not mentioning it. At all.
When I don’t elaborate, Peyton relaxes.
“Besides. I was at practice at 6:00 a.m. I need to survive the full day of classes somehow.”
“With a side of caffeine for your sugar?”
“Yep. It’s the only way I can make it drinkable.”
We’re given our order, and I let Peyton lead us.
We drink our coffees in silence because after all these years, there are no words.
“So, you’ve been on campus this long and I haven’t seen you?” he asks.
Oh, look at that, my throat is dry, and I need more coffee. I sip slowly and try to think of a reasonable excuse for that.
“It’s a big school.”
“I saw you last night at Shenanigans, didn’t I?”
I play dumb. “Oh, were you there?”
“I was. And you were right across from where I was standing.” Yeah, he’s not letting me get away with that.
“Okay, fine. I saw you there with your girlfriend, and I didn’t want to interrupt.”
Peyton laughs. “Not my girlfriend.”
Hope blooms in my gut … And then he keeps speaking.
“I don’t have time for relationships.”
“Ah. Player on and off the field, huh?”
He scoffs. “Hardly. I’m too focused on my career to mess with anyone’s emotions.”
Except mine. Which he’s unwittingly doing. Gah, I want to ask him straight up if he’s into dudes, but then I have to remind myself that Peyton Miller is not the reason I’m in California.
And I’ll prove it by being honest with him. “I knew we’d run into each other eventually, and I did see you last night, but …” I bite my lip. “I kind of chickened out of talking to you.”
“Oh, so you went with spilling hot coffee on me instead. I have to say, a simple hello would have worked.”
“I wanted to make it memorable,” I quip.
“First-degree burns are memorable, I guess.”
Enter the Giveaway:
To celebrate the release of Football Royalty, Eden is giving away an eBook of winner’s choice from her published works!
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About the Author:
Eden Finley is an Amazon bestselling author who writes steamy contemporary romances that are full of snark and light-hearted fluff.
She doesn’t take anything too seriously and lives to create an escape from real life for her readers. The ideas always begin with a wackadoodle premise, and she does her best to turn them into romances with heart.
She’s also an Australian girl and apologizes for her Australianisms that sometimes don’t make sense to anyone else.
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