Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years #3) [Michael Graham & John Rikker] by Sarina Bowen

I'm floored, AGAIN, by Sarina. This book was just amazing! I loved every bit of it! I loved both Michael Graham and John Rikker even though and maybe because they are so different yet perfect for each other. I really enjoyed the plot line, how their relationship was building and I would have loved another short novella or how it all worked out in the end. I might be saying that because it was somehow missing but most likely it's more about me being reluctant to leave this couple behind! 

Just a side note for those who haven't read the other books in the series, first off, this book can be read as a standalone, secondly it shares the same time line as the second book in the series which still doesn't really matter since we didn't know either Graham or Rikker in the previous books and they are mentioned in about a sentence near the ending of the second book as Bridger (the MC in the second book) is mentioned briefly in this one. The main hero from the first book - Hartley - does appear quite a lot in this one but you don't have to read his book to understand him/this book. 
Another side note concerning this book - unlike the previous ones having a M/F relationships this one is a M/M one. 

As I said - I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. I'm so happy I gave this series a go. Truthfully I'm trying to decide which of the three (and a half) books I loved the most and I feel like I can't go there. It's blasphemy! hehe 

Rikker and Graham known each other from childhood. They have been best friends as kids and teenagers and at some point they sort of became lovers. Since they were in high school it wasn't a good time to come out of the closet and I think for both of them it was confusing when it wasn't just the two of them alone. At the age of 15 they have a "fall out", Rikker leaves town and they never speak to each other again. Well, up until Rikker mysteriously appears in Graham's College as the new member of the Hockey Team. 

This book is told from both Graham and Rikker's POV which is one of the reasons it is so heartbreaking. While Rikker moved out of town to live with his loving and accepting Grandmother, he "came out of the closet", had a long relationship in his past and was pretty much open about the fact he is gay, having no real problem with the matter. Graham on the other hand knows inside that he is gay but he never really admitted it to himself and surly to anyone else. He goes out with girls (usually when he is drunk..) and does his best to ensure no one realizes his sexual interests.. 

When Rikker appears at the locker room the both of them are not sure how to handle each other. Graham is mortified. He hasn't forgiven himself for what happened in their "fall out" and Rikker isn't sure how to handle Graham who keeps avoiding him at all costs. 

Add to the mix - Bella - Graham's best friend as well as the team manager who is secretly in love with him and is is very concerned with Graham's strange and irrational behavior. She likes Rikker, the new gay addition to the team (finally someone to talk to about the hotness of those guys, right? not exactly..) but she doesn't understand what's going on between the two of them and why they are so determined to be as far away from each other as possible. I'm SO happy that there is going to be a fourth book in the series of Bella (somewhere in 2015). Wonder who the main hero would be! 

Little by little we see the both of them get somehow close to each other again, but while Rikker has no problem with his sexuality, for Graham this is VERY difficult. While he knows it's hard for Rikker he is unwilling to "come out of the closet" as well. Until a major event, actually two major events, change it all and brings this story to a beautiful ending. 

You'd think that since Graham is keeping Rikker at arms length he would be less identifiable yet, the way Sarina presents Graham to us, I just felt sorry for him, I felt his ache and understood it even as I felt sorry for Rikker that he had to deal with Graham's behavior. Naturally I got Rikker as well, and loved him even more for doing all he can to get what Graham allows him to get (which isn't a lot..). 

The both of them are portrayed amazingly realistic, IMO anyway. The struggles they went through felt so genuine to me, and the way everything clicked into place in the end just left me with a stupid smile on my face just like the other books in the series. Sarina has a gift of bringing us a sensitive beautiful engaging love story that even at it's darkest there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is a positivism that just shines through. For me, all Sarina's books were impossible to put down and after reading this series it's obvious to me I'm going to read anything and everything she published / will publish in the future.  

HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as are the other books in the series. 

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 281 pages, 30 September - 1 October 2014 / On GoodReads


Sarina Bowen built one hell of an imaginary College where the main characters of her series Ivy Years live and study. They all have one thing in common - They LOVE Hockey and most of them play or used to play. 

I love all her characters, each is unique in his/her own way and bring a story that is much more than the usual "coming of age" we read in New Adult series. But while the issues are more interesting / difficult / heart breaking the general feel of the series, both in the characters and the plot line is positive which I really enjoyed. It wasn't dark and gloomy it always felt, to me, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel where all your friends or family are happy to be of aid even while others / problems (try to) stand in your way. 

Just a side note - Except for the 3rd installment being M/M, the others novels in the series are M/F.  

The series continues with a SPIN-OFF, it's somewhere  between New Adult and Contemporary Romance, the characters being a little bit older and not in college. The series centers on the NHL team "Brooklyn Bruisers", each book tells the HEA of one of the players, the first one being two characters we've met in the Ivy Years. 


1. The Year We Fell Down [Corey Callahan & Adam Hartely] (Published 24 March 2014) ★★★★★
2. The Year We Hid Away [Scarlet Crowley/Shannon Ellison & Bridger McCaulley] (Published 1 June 2014) ★★★★★
2.5 Blonde Date [Katie Vichery & Andrew Baschnagel] (Published 6 July 2014) ★★★★★
3. The Understatement of the Year [Michael Graham & John Rikker] (Published 29 September 2014) ★★★★★
4. The Shameless Hour [Bella Hall & Rafael Santiago] (Published 14 April 2015) ★★★★★
5. The Fifteenth Minute [Lianne Challice & Daniel "DJ" Trevi(Published 13 October 2015) ★★★★★
5.5 Studly Period [Josephine Allister & Pepe Gerault] (Published as 8 Part Free Serial between 20/03/18 to 08/05/18) ★★★★★ 
6. Extra Credit: Three Ivy Years Novellas (Published 3 March 2019) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    Previously published - Blonde Date [Katie Vichery & Andrew Baschnagel]

    Previously published - Studly Period [Josephine Allister & Pepe Gerault]
    New addition - Yesterday [Michael Graham & John Rikker]

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