“Points become games become sets become tournaments, and it’s all so tightly connected that any point can become the turning point. It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours, and any hour can be our finest. Or darkest.” – Andre Agassi
Brian Scagill is Britain’s number one tennis player, groomed and driven hard not to settle for anything less than becoming the number one player in the world. Lexi Horvat is a Croatian expat who no one would’ve guessed would advance as far as he did in the tournament during which they met. Neither of the men are technically out players, but neither of them has ever denied who he is to protect himself from the scrutiny of being a gay athlete either, and Ace is their story, from their first meeting, through the wins and losses and on to a relationship that quickly becomes public after an on-court kiss makes it pretty obvious to the world that Brian and Lexi are more than competitors and so much more than friends.
Brian is the cog in the money and fame-making machine of an overbearing and manipulative mother, and a manager who’s fine with Brian as long as he’s winning games and making headlines on the court—but winning games then kissing another man is definitely not the sort of on court press Leo wants. And Lexi is definitely not the sort of dalliance Brian’s mother believes he ought to engage in, for a variety of reasons, one of them being that Lexi interferes with her dream of Brian finding a suitable wife.
Through the fishbowl life of being a public figure to the manipulations and machinations of people who believe they know what’s better for him than Brian does for himself, not only do Brian and Lexi have to navigate the complications of their profession, but they also are fighting against something they’re not even aware of until it’s too late.
I’m going to be entirely honest: I’m not a tennis fan and am only slightly familiar with the rules of the game, just the basics, really, so for me there were parts of the book that went entirely beyond my interest in the sport. There was plenty of detailed description of the game—the scoring, the volleying back and forth, the crowd reactions—that I’m sure might have been much more exciting were I a fan of tennis, though I can admire Kate Aaron’s ability to bring it to life on the page. Tennis enthusiasts will love it.
I can also say that the author did a great job of helping me to dislike, and outright loath, a few of the characters in the book, but she also made me love more than a few as well, so it was a great balance of emotion while watching Brian and Lexi be sabotaged at nearly every turn, then triumph off the court rather than on when it becomes clear to them that life is about so much more than the way one chooses to make a living.
Ace is a Love-Love game (you knew it was coming) of romance that tennis enthusiasts should truly enjoy.