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Publisher's Summary

The first time NFL quarterback Heath Harris meets Sam Crawford, it’s just them, a luxury yacht, and a few days of fun in the sun. Sam turns out to be nothing like Heath expects. He’s kind and funny and irreverent - and also unbelievably, shockingly sexy. For three short, glorious, life-changing days, there are no rules.

The second time they meet, Sam has just been traded to Heath’s team, and instead of lovers, now they’re rivals. Heath has spent the last five years working desperately to be the best quarterback the Riptide could ever need, but when injuries threaten to derail his career, Sam is right there, standing on the sideline. Ready to take over, and ready to ruin everything Heath has given his life for.

Rival. Enemy. Teammate. Friend. Lover.

As their orbits collide, sparks fly, and Heath struggles to find the right label and the right box to shove Sam into, hoping to keep him contained. But Sam - and Heath’s feelings - refuse to cooperate.

Sam might not be just one of those things, he might be all of them, and so much more.

©2020 Beth Bolden (P)2020 Beth Bolden

What listeners say about The Rivalry

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story

Heath and Sam are rivals on the same football team and are both in the closet. They have to find a way to work thru their own issues to be together. This was a good story although it did drag in a few places. The narration was fantastic!! Darcy Stark did a great job!

1 person found this helpful

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Great Football romance

Powerful football romance, more angry that I normally like but it fits with this story so I didn’t mind. Heath and Sam are wonderful characters and it’s fun to see the little flashes of characters from other Beth Bolden books. The narration is fine, but the story is the highlight here

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Alot of Angst

This book me a few days to get through. It wasn't that I didn't like it. It was just that the lead protagonist was such a mess. And a bit repetitive. I mean I loved him but there were so many hurdles he had to overcome it was kind of... exhausting. Not a lot of depth. Push me, pull you

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Great listen.

Now I don't like sports but I do love listening to a good sports romance story. I really like Health and Sam's story. They didn't have an easy time to their happy ending but I really like their journey. Darcy Stark did a great job with this narration. He brings a lot of feelings into this story that just pulled me right into this story.

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Sweet and steamy

Many thanks to GayRomanceReviews.com for the free review copy 3.5 Stars I definitely picked this because of the cover but once I dived into it, I found that it was more than just a pretty cover. It covered some heavy(ish) themes such as exploring your sexuality and how to come out to your loved ones. There was just a bit of steam but not a ton but I didn't mind. Although the love between Sam and Heath was a little insta-lovey, it was still really sweet. Overall, this was a slightly steamy and very sweet gay sports romance.

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A Football Romance

I like sports romances. Not really sure why; I don't follow any sport in real life. I haven't read too many though, so I asked to receive a free review copy of 'The Rivalry' and am now leaving a voluntary review. Heath, a professional football player with extreme repression issues, meets Sam, a player for a different team, when they spend a few days on the same yacht cruise. They assume their hook-up is over afterwards, despite having developed feelings for each other. Sam is later traded to Heath's team and their close proximity causes Heath's tamped-down emotions to bubble over. And not necessarily for the better. On my angst-o-meter this book is pretty high, but the well-written plot by Bolden gives it great context. The actions and reactions of the characters are logical and progress at a realistic pace. Heath's mania over keeping absolute control over his football career make it impossible for him to feel any emotion but anger. Thankfully, Sam is the support he needs to kick-start his journey to finding his true self. Wonderful character growth is shown in Heath's quest for acceptance and love. Darcy Stark narrates the dialogue extremely well. His character voices are distinct. The expository narration was a bit formal and over-enunciated. Overall, his reading style is great. Recommended.

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First time, sorta friends/enemies to lovers

The first mistake these fellas made was not communicating, but fear can make it hard to do. Fear, old hangups, and not communicating were big hurdles for Sam and Heath. Dealing with the fallout of coming out is a bigger one. I loved the chemistry between Sam and Heath. Even when they weren’t communicating completely, they still saw through each other’s masks they put on. I enjoyed this mish-mash of tropes that were in this story. It worked, in my opinion. It worked really well. I have read/listened to other series by the author, and this one is as enjoyable as the others. It’s easy to get attached to the main characters, and sucked into their story. Darcy Stock did a good job with the book. True, there wasn’t a lot of differentiation between the character’s voices, but I never found it problematic. I was able to follow along just fine. He did a good job with putting emotions into his narration, and was pleasant to listen to.

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Very good

Thoroughly enjoyed the audio version of The Rivalry by Beth Bolden! I love sport romances even though I hate sports in real life and mm football romances are close to the top of the list for me. I liked the ebook version of this story but Darcy Stark did a lovely job narrating this and making it shine.

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Incredible ❤️

I loved this book!! I think that the author dealt well with the fears that a professional athlete would have "coming" out. The struggle to be yourself and still protect your privacy was done very well by Beth Bolden. What a fantastic listen and it has bee added to my. relisten list!

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Great Listen

For me I loved the narration, he did a really great job with the characters. The story got a little draggy here and there but overall the development of it is great I just wish we got a little more of them and the fallout at the end.

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  • Lex Buchanan
  • 11-16-20

Great Romance-to-Spice Ratio

I really liked the tension and emotional turmoil in this story! Listeners are kept on edge and eager for more! There was a perfect amount of spicy:romance ratio, and the ending was perfectly perfect. I liked how there was more emphasis on certain aspects than others, and how the mental health aspects were treated so well. Stark did a good job with this piece, though I’m not a die hard Stark fan, I would listen to him again.

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  • Tanya
  • 11-09-20

DNF

I tried..i really really tried. I love Beth Bolden but this narrator is really hit or miss with me. Between the narration and Beth's writing style leads this to not be a match for me.

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  • alias11
  • 09-25-20

Angst, anxiety, and hot romance

There is so much going on in this book that it's just amazing. Heath's angst and confusion were emotionally wrenching. As the star quarterback. he admits he has more money than he could ever spend, after growing up poor and abused, yet he lives in fear of losing his place and needing to control everything in his life. He is intense, moody, and demanding. Sam sees through that and he knows there is something deeper to Heath, but Heath won't let him in. Both men struggle for the love they want, but "Football players aren't gay." The love between them is so hot, but can they ever be brave enough to claim it? I so felt for Sam, too, being in love and never getting the openness and emotion he wanted from Heath except in bed. It twisted my heart until the final resolution. Wonderful, complex characters and story. I'm not a big fan of sports stories, buy this one was a lot more about the people than the sports, and I loved it. Darcy Stark is a fantastic narrator and he perfectly captured the feelings and emotions of Heath and Sam. I received a free copy of this audiobook at my request and am voluntarily leaving this honest review.

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  • KBR
  • 09-25-20

The Rivalry - enjoyed

I’ll start with the narration. I liked the narrator, but it felt a bit melodramatic for me, which threw me off a bit. I enjoyed the story itself, but it felt a bit laggy here and there. I liked the overall, though, and there are good characters and chemistry. It’s a good listen. I’d doubt I’ll revisit, but I won’t say never.

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  • Susie Umphers
  • 09-24-20

Emotional, hot and a great performance

Are the two main characters in this story five star hot together? Definitely. Is the football story plot interesting? Definitely. But, this story is so much more than that and I didn't expect it to be. Heath is obviously meant to be the main focus of the story. His past, his inability to let go even though there is nothing he wants more than to find that one magical person he can be open with and just give in and ask for what he wants/needs these are the things we initially notice and respond to. Sam, however, is the really interesting character for me. I adored the way he immediately "got" that there were things all bottled up inside Heath that needed to come out and the way he adjusted himself to provide that for Heath without ever becoming a doormat or not standing up and asking for what he needed as well. Sam took care of himself first, even when that hurt both of them, but that gave Heath the strength to get the help he needed and let Sam in. This story grabs you from the first chapter and is one book length heart twisting ride through pain to a very hard earned and well deserved happy ever after. I felt wrung out after I finished it and all the best ways possible. I thought Darcy Stark's performance was perfect for this story. He sounded like the young men this story was about, the different voices were distinctive and well done and I thought he got the emotional intensity right in all its variations. I look forward to more books he performs.

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  • Magnus
  • 09-24-20

Fantastic

Another super story from Beth Bolden. Sam and Heath were great characters to get to know, was totally invested in journey together. Darcy Stark did a great job with the narration, gave the characters that extra spark. Have also added The Rainbow Clause to my TBR list. This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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  • Elle Kay
  • 09-23-20

Football romance at it's finest

Oh, Heath. I loved him when I read the print version of the book, but Darcy Stark gave him such a grave, contained persona (& such a divine accent) that I love him even more. And with Sam, Stark allowed his light, playful manner came alive. In other words, Stark took an already brilliant book and made it shine. Bolden shines with creating beautiful broken characters, complex with layers to peel back, reveal and love. Side characters Moira and Coach Rodriguez added brilliantly to the underlying story. Bolden crafts them robustly, intertwining them with the narrative with exceptional flow. Likewise, Bran fleshes out some of Heath’s deeper layers. Excellent audio of an enjoyable love story with a little football mixed in.

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  • Pixiebell
  • 09-22-20

The Rivalry

I am not a lover of sports and I’m a couch potato but for some reason I love sports romance and this didn’t disappoint. They way the two main characters met was unique and interesting and was a great way to set up the ‘rivalry’ between the two men. This is my favourite book of Beth Bolden by far and Darcy Stark’s narration was excellent.

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  • AL
  • 09-22-20

Emotional highs like you wouldn’t believe!

Story: This story is a brilliant study in human emotions, conflicts, alpha males and difficult decisions. The emotions ride high from the very beginning and do not calm down throughout! Such an emotional treat! Narration: Darcy Stark did a great job with this one! The performance fits the emotions in the story perfectly!

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  • Allison's Book Corner
  • 09-17-20

Great

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. It was such an entertaining story. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't put it down.