Personal Best 3 Book Cover Personal Best 3
Personal Best
Sean Michael
M/M Romance
Dreamspinner Press
March 22, 2019
190

Swimmer Mike Gauliet is on his way to an Olympic berth, sitting on the edge of fulfilling his potential and achieving the dreams his coach and lover, Jessy Turner, has for both of them.

All Mike wants to think about is swimming his laps faster than anyone else. Too bad things aren’t going exactly according to plan. Mike’s getting threats, and he’s afraid to tell Jessy and determined to handle things alone.

When the threats escalate to the point where Mike can’t hide them, though, Jessy takes over, moving Mike to a new training location, promising to keep him safe. Mike and Jessy try to go on with business as usual, but someone has such hatred for Mike that it seeps into their everyday life, straining their relationship, making Mike wonder if he even wants to swim anymore. Danger lurks around every corner, in and out of the pool, and while Mike and Jessy work with the police to discover the culprit, one attack leaves their life in shambles. Can Mike and Jessy find their attacker and get Mike back on track to a championship?

Reviewed by: Ulysses Dietz

Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team

This isn’t really a romance. This is a big sticky porn cake with a thin, sweet layer of plot icing. I did a face-palm after ten percent of the book, then decided just to take it for what it is, given that Sean Michael has written a lot of books in this genre and is a part of Dreamspinner’s stable.

So, let’s look at this as an erotic story. It is written in a professional, blessedly grammatical way, offering the kind of dialog and dialect that are plausible for the two main characters. There is a lot of bantering back and forth between the young swimmer Mike Gauliet (how young? That must have come up in an earlier book in this three-part series), and his much older coach/lover, Jessy Tyler (again, his age is vague and never specified, but there is a reference that suggests he swam with Mike’s father, so you do the math).

I’m at a disadvantage because I didn’t read the first two books, and thus might have missed out on all those details that would have made Mike and Jessy into three-dimensional characters. There is absolutely no character development in this story: Mike is submissive to Jessy’s dominant. Their love is already well established, and what we get here is a shocking disturbance in their relationship due to a frightening intrusion into their shared life. When their father/son roles are reversed by this trauma, it throws them both completely off kilter, and the author takes us through this in a way that makes sense and is believable. But the trouble is that it is all surface – it is about swimming, sex, and both men’s response to their trauma (most of which is discussed in terms of how it has interrupted the swimming and the sex).

So, let’s look at the sex. At least seventy percent of the book is sex. The author does a fine job of writing about Mike and Jessy’s twink/daddy BDSM-kinked physical relationship, offering his reader variety, lavish detail, and constant reassurance of the couple’s love for one another (I happen to appreciate that). Sean Michael is better at writing sex scenes than many authors I’ve read in the m/m world (and I’ve read many hundreds of books in this genre). The problem, in the end, is that nobody can make sex that interesting for that much of any book. It is very difficult to just sit down and read a book like this as if it were a regular novel. I can only imagine that the author’s intention is for his readers to read a little of the book, until they’re, um, done; and then wait for a while, until they, um, need it again.

Jeez.

I know there is a substantial market for this kind of story. It is not about character or plot. Within this subgenre of the gay romance world, this is a well-done book, fulfilling its author’s intention and its audience’s expectations.

It isn’t my cup of tea; but then, I’m a coffee drinker.