Running With Lions by Julian Winters
This book was such a relief from some of the contemporaries I’ve been reading recently.
Chock-full of representation from ethnicity and religion to of course, sexuality, Running With Lions is that warm summer sports romance that I wanted from The Foxhole Court. I love gritty contemporaries with anti-hero protagonists and morally-ambiguous characters. But sometimes you just want an unproblematic cutesy story about friendship, love, and sports and that’s what you get with Running With Lions.
Like many debuts, this book wasn’t perfect. But I definitely really enjoyed it, it was just what I needed in between big fantasies.
On the get go we’re given a third person, present tense narrative which really threw me off. It’s weird, because I’ve written stories in the present tense, so I don’t know what the Hell I’m complaining about. But in the first few chapters the tense just doesn’t suit what’s going on. It’s setting everything up and having the present tense work around that is quite difficult to read. There also instances of dialogue left in without any context. I should probably find some examples, but I feel the whole passage will be out of context, so it still won’t make sense. But it feels like either the conversation was edited without being looked over or it would seem better if the story was in a more visual presentation like a show or a movie. In a book, it doesn’t seem to work.
Thankfully, the present tense rights itself and it doesn’t impact the rest of the story, so that’s nice.
A part of the story that I was really excited for was the friends to enemies to lovers plot. I’m a sucker for enemies to lovers; I don’t need a friendship in between to soften the impact. I’m happy for characters to go straight from fightin’ to fuckin’. However, if I’d read the synopsis a little more closely and ignored what other reviews, I would have seen that it isn’t friends to enemies to lovers, but more friends to estranged friends to lovers, which is just as nice, but it means the hatred that one character has for another is actually just miscommunication and misunderstanding. Emir hates Sebastian, but actually there is no justification for that. They were friends, and then they drifted apart, it happens sometimes, and I think Emir’s emotions were a bit too strong and dramatic.
But overall, Running With Lions is a real cute summer romance that I thoroughly enjoyed (and needed). We should have so many more stories like this about sports teams and friendship. I can’t wait to read more from Julian Winters, even if it isn’t always about sports!
Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie Sebastian Hughes should be excited about his senior year.
His teammates are amazing, and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood-best-friend Emir Shah shows up at summer training camp, Sebastian realises the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends spark more than just friendship between them.
Publisher: Interlude Press
Publication Date: 7th June 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆