Release Review: After The Snap: Peyton Miller

After The Snap
Peyton Miller

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Released May 9, 2016
99 cents for the first week on Amazon! 

Seth Mercer is at the top of his game when a secret threatens to topple him. Lust draws him into a dark pit and he’s unsure how to break away from a destructive force. Angry at himself, and his mistakes, he vows to never enter into another relationship again, until he has a special hook up with Colby. Colby Larsen learns the truth about his ex and is devastated. He throws himself into his work, vowing to never get emotionally involved again. When he meets Seth, Colby is unprepared for how connected they become. Seth has a secret and he can’t tell Colby. Colby can’t accept betrayal of any sort after being fooled by his cheating ex. When he finds out Seth has been hiding important information from him, will it end their relationship or draw them closer together?

Graphics from Author's Facebook page
After the Snap is Peyton Miller’s debut novel. I have a soft spot for first-timers (oh, c’mon people… minds out of the gutter now, shall we?), and it’s got a football (gridiron) theme, so that makes two things I like before I even started. Oh, and did you see the cover? I’ve read enough in the genre not to allow covers to be a deciding factor for whether I read a book or not, but… uh, yum! So that makes three things. Yeah, I know. None of these things matters a lick if the story is a pile of shit. This one happily avoids that distinction in spite of having a few freshman flaws.

Seth Mercer has made it into the NFL and feels like he must keep his sexuality a secret in order to have a chance for success. But his secret goes deeper than just being gay: during his senior year of college, he was involved with one of his coaches, a man who was also married and lied to him about it. So not only is Seth scared about having his future crushed by the secrets getting out, he also refuses to get into another relationship because of the trust issues this causes. Colby Larsen is an up-and-comer in the company where he works. After returning home early from a business trip, he breaks up with his boyfriend when he discovers him in bed with another man. When his next trip brings him across the country to San Diego, he goes to a bar looking for sex with no strings attached, an arrangement that suits Seth perfectly. But the chemistry is too strong between them; both realize they want more even though they are afraid to open up for fear of being hurt again. Between their fears, their secrets, and their ex-lovers trying to get them back, there’s no way things can be easy for Seth and Colby.

As a general rule, I dislike when the first chapter of a romance novel contains a sex scene. It always makes me think the book is going to be more erotica than romance—not that erotica is bad per se, but I don’t read it for the same reasons as I read romance. If there’s a good reason for it, though, I can get past my initial reaction. Here, the first chapter chronicles Seth’s first sexual encounter with another man, the coach I mentioned earlier. It’s a scene full of mixed emotions, not just for Seth but for the reader as well. Imagine being aroused by the hot and rough locker-room fantasy while cringing from constantly being reminded about everything that’s potentially wrong with it, and then having this uneasy feeling continue in the next several chapters that are from Seth’s point of view (POV). This sets up Seth’s character well for his high-angst internal struggle through the rest of the book, and that, in my opinion, is a valid reason to start a novel this way.

After the characters have been introduced, and Seth and Colby finally meet in the bar—over a quarter of the way into the narrative—the middle of the novel does little to advance the plot at more than a snail's pace. Sure, time is moving and things are happening, but the major players and conflicts seem to be stuck in some sort of wash-rinse-repeat cycle that lasts until the two-thirds point of the novel. The cliché sadly applies here, for at times during this novel, I felt like I was reading parts of two versions of a single scene that were thrown into two different places in this final version. This book is not short by any means, so having this lengthy period of treading water filled with multiple almost-déjà-vu moments kept making me wonder when something big was finally going to happen. While the plot seems a little slow because of this, what it does accomplish is building the sexual tension between Seth and Colby, primarily from them being so far apart for so much of the novel. At last, though, at around the 70% mark, not only do big things start to happen, but they happen at rapid-fire pace. And it’s a great ride from that point onward.

The chemistry between Seth and Colby is obvious from the minute they connect. Their interactions (and yeah, the sex scenes) are where the author’s writing shines. It’s noteworthy, especially in a first-time effort, that I can’t think of a single instance where I was confused about whose POV I was reading, nor was I ever wondering which was doing what to whom. Some of the stuff that happens when they’re in their own heads does get a little repetitive, and the scenes involving only one of them sometimes read like eyewitness reports more than something that evokes strong images and feelings for the reader, but even so, I can easily overlook these rookie problems because in addition to the lovable main characters, the story line is interesting and deals with one issue in particular that could quite well become front-page news in real life any day now. And I hope the resolution when this does happen in real life comes down as well as it did in the story.

Overall, this book is a promising debut effort. It’s not an easy or light-hearted read, and I suspect there will be some who think the pace is too slow, but like any good football player would, I suggest pushing through any struggle you might have with the book. The story is worth the work it takes to get there.

The author generously provided me a complimentary copy of After the Snap in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Peyton Miller 

Peyton Miller loves sports and loves sports romances. Growing up in the South, Friday night football was a religion, drawing more people than church on Sundays. Along with a healthy appreciation of football, Peyton enjoys baseball and hockey. When not feeding the sports beast, Peyton enjoys reading and writing.


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