The Understatement of the Year

The Understatement of the Year

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What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then he's made an art of hiding his sexual orientation from everyone. Including himself. So it's a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless.

For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team's new left wing could destroy Graham's life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it's worse than usual, because the media has latched on to the story of the only "out" player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused. And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn't exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won't even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his friend/boyfriend/whatever isn't doing so well. He drinks too much and can't focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self-destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won't be easy is the understatement of the year.

Warning: Unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky T-shirts, and a poker-playing grandmother.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781721345465
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Series: Ivy Years Series , #3
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.62(d)

About the Author

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author and was recently honored by Romance Writers of America with a RITA award in contemporary romance. She holds a BA in Economics from Yale University. She's a fan of hockey, skiing and short author bios.

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The Understatement of the Year: (Ivy Years #3) 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
MsChris1161 More than 1 year ago
What an incredible read! UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR by Sarina Bowen is a powerful and masterfully written story about two young men who had been best friends since they were young, slowly fell in love with each other as teenagers, then were suddenly torn apart by a tragic event and now five years later find themselves playing for the same college hockey team. Even though they haven't set eyes on each other in five years all the positive and negative emotions between them are suddenly forced to the forefront for them to deal with and hopefully work out. This book was impossible to put down. My heart went out to these young men right from the beginning and cheered for them all the way to the last page. I think Ms. Bowen did an amazing job of portraying Graham and Rikker's struggles with college life, the hockey team atmosphere and pressure, the fear of the hate and discrimination, as well as their hidden longings and heartache. I can't say enough times how well written this story is, how quickly I was drawn into the feelings and situation of the main characters - not just Graham and Rikker, but Bella too for loving someone she has no idea can never feel the same way about her because he lost his heart a long time ago - and how invested I felt in their seemingly impossible situation working out with a happy ending. There was never a doubt how much they still felt for one another, but as Rikker says to Graham, "Getting along together was never the problem with you and me," he said. "We're both easy. It's just the rest of the world that's hard." There are so many dynamics between the various characters in this book, all so young and just trying to find their way in the world. Graham, because he's so deep in the closet terrified of admitting his sexuality even to himself, he sleeps around with women, including Bella, drinks too much and every decision in his life is made to avoid any chance someone might think he's anything other than a testosterone filled, hetero defenseman on Harkness University's hockey team. Rikker, who's been outed as gay at the college he previously attended, kicked off their hockey team, and now dealing with living as a gay athlete the public eye and with the resentment of some of his teammates for the unwanted stigma this brings. And then there's Bella, the team manager, who tries so hard to get close to Graham because she's fallen for him, yet hides it behind their cloak of friendship to avoid the pain of his rejection. Beyond all of this there is just so much more to the story, but I don't want to give it away. Some parts were quite humorous, but all of it touched my heart. I shed so many tears. Some good, some ugly. It was just so wonderful to read, and must be experienced. 5 stars ~Complimentary copy received for a honest review.
Lara-IT More than 1 year ago
[DBML Event: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review] Book #3 in The Ivy Years series (could be easily read as a standalone) Wow..this book was just wow... I loved it! And every hour of (beautiful) sleep I lost for it was really worth it! Graham and Rikker relationship was sad and sweet at the same time. In the beginning however it was mostly sad. Graham is full of guilt for what he let happen to Rik when they were young and he's also very afraid to admit he is gay so he tries his hardest to never talk to him and never met his eyes. Rikker, for his part, has to deal with being the new guy (again) in town and in particular being the new gay guy in a hockey's team...not so easy! He's also both angry and depressed with Graham's behavior but he takes the high route and tries to not challenge him on it when they're with the other teammates - when they're alone though it's another story - . I really admired him for this!  Rikker is a good guy through and through and, during their 'secret' relationship, he is very patient and understanding with Graham. How could I not like him?! It takes a while to Graham to confront his still alive attraction to Rik; it takes him longer to do something about it and, even then, he is so afraid of what he is and what could happens if they're outed that he forces so many “rules” to their relationship to almost lose it all.  For all his hang-ups, I really liked Graham: he's probably my favorite between the twos MC. He is also a victim of hate and prejudice but, differently to Rik's case, he wasn't forced to face his being gay at sixteen and as a consequence he let himself be ruled by fear. He hides himself from the world - by drinking too much at times, and just enough at others; putting on shields and forcing himself to act straight - but mostly he hides from himself. His struggle was quite painful for me to watch but, in the end, I was so proud of his efforts! The scene with his mother (if you read the book you'll know what part I'm talking about) was touching and beautiful for its simplicity. There's really not a thing I would change about The Understatement of the Year! I loved this story! At last, I'd really like to thank again the author for the opportunity to read her book for free (THANK YOU!!!) and I hope she appreciates my honest review 
MoonAngel23 More than 1 year ago
I can sum this up for you in three simple words-I LOVED IT! Or maybe I should say I abso-freaking-lutley loved it. From the writing to the characters to the storyline...I couldn't have asked for a better M/M romance story. I flew through this thanks to being totally riveted to every word. Just like it says in the synopsis, you're going to get a heartbreaking story. The fact that Rikker is out and Graham is very much NOT, you know from the start you're in for a lot of tension. And you get plenty of it-along with spurts of passion that will frustrate you because you know Graham is going to crawl right back in his closet. But what's meant to be is meant to be, and though you'll go through a roller coaster of emotion the whole way through, in the end it is worth it. And when you get to the most pivotal scene of the story near the end in the locker room, well...that's when the fact that this really is a moving love story will be made perfectly clear (if you don't already figure that out before then). The characters...every single one of them are so well developed and perfect in their roles. Rikker and Graham couldn't have been written any better, and you will find yourself hoping, praying, even demanding that they get their HEA. It's great to see Corey and Hartley again (from The Year We Fell Down)-I love that Hartley is so supportive. Skippy is an amazing supporting character-funny and a bit flamboyant. And Rikker's grandmother-loved, loved, loved her! And of course you have that one character you just want to slap-Big-D (AKA to me as Mr. Intolerance...the ass). One character that I would be really interested in seeing get his own story is Trevi-something about him just begs to have his story told. My final verdict--5 hot, emotional and infinitely re-readable stars! Whether or not you are an M/M fan, this story is an amazing read and is VERY worth your time. Recommended for 18+ due to language and adult scenes.
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Sarina Bowen's Ivy Years series and was so, so, SO thrilled to get a copy of The Understatement of the Year super early in August. I got the book, started it and finished it the same day. I didn't even stop to eat dinner. I was so taken with and invested in Graham and Rikker's story I couldn't walk away until I finished it. There is so much good about this book and I'm going to attempt to tell you all of it, without spoiling it and without totally fangirling either.  The Understatement of the Year is the first M/M romance I've read. Now that I've read one this incredible I'm wondering why I waited so long. I don't want to harp too much on the gay aspect of the book, even though it plays an obviously huge role in the things that happen. Why? Because I don't want to separate it from other amazing NA books. It's not a fantastic *gay* romance. It's an all-around fantastic romance that just happens to be between two men. I have a lot of gay friends. I have since college, so you might say I'm pretty familiar with relationships between two men. And I have to say, Sarina totally hit the nail on the head with this book. It was so realistic. The struggles over their feelings and coping when one person is out and the other isn't were both so powerful and real.  I loved Graham. I loved Rikker. I loved them even more together. I like that they had a history as friends, even if their whole history wasn't all puppies and rainbows. The things they went through in high school definitely shaped the way they were today – Graham retreating to the closet and Rikker being far more comfortable with himself and his sexuality, even if he doesn't always love being in the spotlight as the gay hockey player poster boy. I loved following along as they reconnected as friends and even more so as they realized the old feelings are nowhere close to being gone. Of course, they encounter their fair share of bigoted pricks along the way, but they also realize they have a lot of people supporting them.  Holy hell, this book was full of feels. And trust me, I felt every single one of them. It was so easy to get completely wrapped up in Graham and Rikker's story. They were easy to root for, even through the tough times. They were just so right together. It was obvious in every look, touch and action. This led to some serious sexual tension and, when things heated up, they REALLY heated up.  Each book in Sarina's Ivy Years series has been wonderful in its own way, but The Understatement of the Year is officially my new favorite. I applaud Sarina for taking a chance with this book and giving us Graham and Rikker's story – and for doing it in such a relatable and real way. I hated giving up Graham and Rikker at the end. I love these guys. It was also wonderful to get a little update on the characters from earlier on in the series – namely Corey (!!!) and Hartley – in this book. If I wasn't already in love with Hartley, I would have totally fallen for him after reading The Understatement of the Year. He's just such an amazing, stand-up guy. I adore him.  Everyone should read this book. It's one of my favorites of the year. It had a great message about finding yourself and surrounding yourself with the people who love you just as you are. It was neither easy nor angsty, but instead just absolutely perfect, sexy and full of feels. I can't think of one thing I would change about this book. (Except to make it longer, but not because it was unfinished, but because I'm greedy.)  I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Shellbelle1 More than 1 year ago
Understatement of The Year by Sarina Bowen is a 6 STAR book! The Ivy Years series by Sarina Bowen has been phenomenal.  Each book has addressed some very different and difficult subject matters.  They were written with compassion and great care.  The characters are larger than life and jump off the pages.  The reader's completely connect with their stories, their emotions, and their lives.  The Understatement Of The Year has followed in the same excellent standard that the previous books in the Ivy Years has set. The Understatement Of The Year approaches the very difficult subject of homosexuality in the world of sports.  Not only did it lay out the difficulties of a college athlete being gay, it also showed the difficulties of "coming out of the closet". John Rikker was kicked out of his former college and kicked off the hockey team because his homosexuality was exposed.  Harkness College, known for being a liberal school, accepted John Rikker in the middle of hockey season.  Not only is John a very gifted athlete, he is the first athlete to be outed in college hockey.  This has put him on the media's radar.  It has also put in him a position where he has to prove himself as an all-star athlete to his teammates.  It's hard enough being the new guy on the team, add being gay and it makes the welcoming committee very sparse.  To add ugly to ugly, Michael Graham is on his new team. Michael and John have a history.  They were best friends in middle school and high school.  They also discovered their sexuality together.  A very bad incident separated the two of them.  John was sent away to live with his grandmother.  There he was able to become open about his sexuality.  For Michael Graham it was quite a different story.  He denied his homosexuality to himself and all those around him.  Now he's threatened that John is going to expose his secret. This book not only focused on the discrimination of being gay, it also showed a very emotional side side of being a homosexual.  The emotions from hiding your secrets, denying yourself love, and fighting the very person you are is gut wrenching.  Also the emotions that go along with being the odd man out, having your life on display, and having to go far and beyond to prove your worth as a player, friend, and human being will tear the reader up.  Add a secret affair, an emotional romance, and self discovery and you have the perfect book. The Understatement Of The Year is one of those "must read" books.  I absolutely loved this book and can honestly say is my favorite in The Ivy Years series. Sarina Bowen is a gifted writer.  Her writing is not only romantic, it is highly emotional.  Each story reflects the glory of the human spirit.  She tackles some very difficult and unique subject matter and gives her characters a life that jumps off the pages.  Her delivery of an emotional romance is phenomenal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
About 241 pages. M/m. HEA. Not a unique plot line, but the story unfolded beautifully. Very well written with strong characters and good character development. Secondary characters and story lines added depth. One of my new favorites! Highly reccomend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the characters and the story line. What I did not care for was the abbreviated love scenes. In my experience, almost all women who read M/M want details. A few times, when I was really looking forward to the love scenes, I was met with "afterwards", and then the story continued. Talk about being left high and dry! Like others who read M/M, i expected explicit detail, and was really disappointed. Otherwise the story was sweet, suspenseful, and the love that built between the guys was satisfying. Please in the future add more love scenes with detail so as not to have frustrated readers!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good
Margaret123321 More than 1 year ago
What a great read!! This is the first book I read in The Ivy Years series, and it can most definitely be read as a standalone. But now I definitely want to read the rest of this series!! I really enjoyed reading . The characters feel so real, and I really think Bella might be my favorite. I mean, I love Rikker's character, and Graham really grew on me, but there's something about Bella's character, how understanding and confident and compassionate she is that really made me like her character. She's the kind of friend that everyone wishes to have. I like the back story behind Rikker and Graham, and it really helped me to understand the internal conflict Graham faces throughout the book. Honestly, it made me so sad when I got inside Graham's head, because he has a lot to deal with, and he feels like there's no one he can talk to. He was so alone, and it made my heart hurt. Rikker is seriously like the perfect boyfriend. I like how we get to know his past and get to meet Skippy and Ross and other old friends, but I love him and Graham together. Well, that's not entirely true. There are a couple times I wondered how healthy their relationship was, and I worried for both of them. But relationships take work, especially when one is wayy deep in the closet and the other is having their sexual orientation broadcasted because he's the first out gay player in Division One college hockey. Yeah, both guys had a lot of crap to work through, and while it hurt at times to see how much they were struggling, it made the good times even sweeter. I really like the hockey aspect to the story, and, aw hell, who am I kidding, I love the whole freaking book. The only complaint I have is that I wish it was longer!! I'm going to need to read Bella's story now (The Shameless Hour/b>), because, not only is it about Bella, I want to get to read a little bit more about Rikker and Graham! Sarina Bowen, you got on my radar because of the Him series you wrote with Elle Kennedy, and you are staying on my radar because of how much love I have for this book. Can't wait to read the rest of your work!!
rainfire13 More than 1 year ago
A Wonderful Find! I stumbled upon the Ivy Years series and decided to give it a try. While all of the books were wonderful with excellent stories and well written characters, The Understatement of the Year was truly the best. Although it should be obvious from the description it is a m/m romance. This book really stood out among other m/m romances I have read, however, and I implore you to give it a try even if it is not something you would normally read. Having John Rikker walk into the locker room on the first day of hockey practice is the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen in Michael Graham's mind. Graham and Rikker had once been friends and much more, but after a horrible incident five years ago Rikker was shipped off to live with his grandmother. Graham was forever traumatized, burying himself so deeply in the closet that he is afraid to let himself know about the true him, let alone anyone else. Kicked off of his last team after the coach found out about his sexual orientation, Rikker is just looking to start over at Harkness playing the game he loves. He knows Graham plays there too, but he hopes to put the past behind them and find some kind of working relationship. However, it is easier said then done because Graham won't even look at him and the team reacts to having an out player join their ranks. I cannot even describe how truly spectacular this book was which is saying something because The Year We Fell Down and the Year We Hid Away were equally as wonderful. Graham and Rikker's story is so real and the emotions so unbearably deep. It's a book that made me both smile and cry as it took me along for the ride. Watching Graham struggle with everything that he is and everything he believes about himself was particularly hard, but so rewarding, while Rikker was such a strong character struggling to carry so much weight on his shoulders. Bowen tackles the daily difficulties of college, sports, friendships, and relationships along with deeper themes of fear, discrimination, and hate. With the return of favorites like Hartley and the appearance of great new characters like Rikker's grandmother and the fabulous Bella, Sarina Bowen continues to deliver in what is already a wonderful series. She has created an unforgettable romance and The Understatement of the Year was truly my favorite in the series!
Singofrit More than 1 year ago
The third Ivy Years book centers around Graham and Rikker, who used to be best friends in high school, but whose friendship abruptly ended due to a traumatic event. When Rikker transfers to the same University as Graham, Graham pretends to not know him and does everything in his power to avoid him. But the feelings these two had for each other as still as strong, so despite a rocky beginning, Graham finally gives in, but is desperate to keep their relationship a secret. Will all the sneaking around finally drive a wedge between them? This book does a good job of raising the issue of homophobia and shows both the worst and the best of how people react to same-sex relationships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so good. A little fragemented at times but i still loved it. I wish the author would write a sequel to the bool with the same main character (please do the same for books one and two of the series). I'd love to know what happens with them during the next year of college.
Rhonda_J_728 More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read in the Ivy Years series, and it won't be my last! This is a beautifully written story.
Maria-Rose More than 1 year ago
First of all, I have to say that if I could give this book 6 stars I would. This is the emotional and heartbreaking story of two gay young men, Michael Graham and John Rikker who share a secret relationship in high school, are torn apart by violence and are reunited in college, to the dismay of Graham who is in the closet and hasn't spoken to his high school boyfriend since the night of their separation. Rikker has been exposed as a gay man, a fact that had him kicked off his previous hockey team and picked up by Harkness College. He knows Graham is a key player on the team and doesn't know what kind of reception he will get - but the cold avoidance by Graham seems par for the course. Only, when the two of them are alone, the sparks still fly between them. Can a relationship that was once so special heal their emotional wounds and bring them back together? Is it possible that the author was a gay male teenager in a former life? Because being a straight female, I can only imagine that the scenario in this book is repeated in high schools and colleges across the country, maybe not the exact circumstances but the decisions, the gay bashing, the difficult choices of revealing or hiding ones sexual identity. I would expect that the feelings of the parties involved would be exactly as portrayed in this story. Rikker is reluctantly out of the closet, but owns up to his sexual orientation because he has no choice. He's used to the snide remarks, the avoidance and in some cases the extra attention paid by those who do care for him. It's his life and he's going to make the most of it. He's portrayed as a now confident man with a thick skin, one who plays a darn good game of hockey and that's what he want to be known for, not as a spokesman for gay athletes. Graham on the other hand cringes with the knowledge of how he abandoned Rikker when the going got tough in high school, ashamed of how he reacted and never came to Rikker's defense. He is seriously afraid that Rikker will out him in some fashion and he will be forced to admit to his family and friends that he is gay - something he is used to hiding well by dating women and never standing up for gay rights. He fights his attraction to Rikker every step of the way. But attracted he is, and with the sexual chemistry between them it is inevitable that their mostly chaste explorations in high school will explode into an adult sexual relationship revealing the intense emotions they have had to hold back. Now as adults, in the privacy of a college dorm room, they are free to explore this and it is intense and written so well that one feels as though they are a voyeur watching their passion unfold. It is one thing to write a sex scene involving a male and female - it is totally different to write one between two healthy, strong and dominant males. The dynamic is so different and yet equally riveting. There are several secondary characters that have a strong influence on the plot and direction of the story - friends and family who for good or bad have made these men into who they are today. The realities of playing college hockey and the action scenes involved in the sport were equally well written and engaging. Overall I found this to be a riveting read. With themes of forgiveness and redemption, scenes of humor, tension, sex and romance, it's a wonderful testament to the reality that everyone is deserving of love.