Book Reviews

Playing Offside (Sporting Secrets 1) by Jax Calder

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Athletes/Coaches / Romance
Reviewed by Barb on 03-September-2021

Book Blurb

Falling for the guy whose starting spot you're after? Never a good idea.

Aiden Jones, aka the Ice King, is one of the best rugby players in the world. He got there by working hard and sacrificing a lot, including denying a large part of himself. But there’s plenty of time to be the poster boy for gay rugby players after he retires. At the moment, he’s focused on passing a long-standing points record to cement his legacy, and he’s not about to surrender his starting spot to the cocky loudmouth who just joined the training squad, no matter how talented the kid might be.


Tyler can’t believe he’s made it into the New Zealand rugby training squad after only his first professional rugby season. Now management has decided that it’s a good idea for him to room with Aiden Jones, who Tyler’s had a long-range crush on for years. And although Aiden is icy to him both on and off the field, Tyler figures with a little charm, he can melt the Ice King. But even he’s not prepared for how heated things become between them. Now Tyler’s falling for the same guy whose starting spot he’s gunning for. But all is fair in both love and sport, right?


Book Review

This story captures the flavor and feel of being in New Zealand at a rugby tournament so beautifully that I want to do “down under” for my next vacation. Maybe someday… For now, new-to-me author Jax Calder provided a sweet secret romance between two well-known, but closeted, New Zealand national rugby squad players that led to plenty of action on and off the field.


Aiden Jones, known as the Ice King, wants to break the record for most career points and he’s close to achieving his goal this season but he needs to step up his game so he won’t lose his starting position to the upstart, loudmouth first-season player, Tyler Bannings. Tyler has had a crush on Aiden since he was a teen and not only wants Aiden’s spot but also wants his respect. When the two are assigned to room together at training camp, what starts off as hostility ends in mad passion, and the stage is set for their year-long hidden and forbidden affair.


Over time, Aiden finds it harder to maintain his cool as Tyler’s performance improves and it looks like he may indeed take over Aiden’s starting position. And yet, the two continue to see each other secretly, sometimes going to great lengths to do so and it looks like they may get away with it until… Well, telling would be a spoiler, so all I can say is that readers will likely enjoy this story with its twists and turns as much as I did.


The author truly captured the spirit and action of rugby play at the professional level. The main characters were well-developed, and I found myself rooting for each of them, individually and as a couple. The secondary characters, including Aiden’s teammates, added to the overall story and provided emotional support. And though the men faced an untenable situation, the author gave me a believable and quite emotional ending, and of course, the chance for their HEA. I definitely recommend this story and I’m looking forward to the next in the series. 





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the author via GRRT  for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 294 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 26-August-2021
Price $0.99 ebook, $9.95 paperback
Buy Link