Scoring Points
Grade : B-

H.L. Day’s Scoring Points is part of a multi-author series set in the world of Formula 1 racing – which isn’t a sport I’ve seen featured in a romance novel before. (It must have been done – I just haven’t read it!) The series includes books by popular m/m authors including Lisa Henry, Charlie Novak and R.J Scott, and although there are crossover characters, each book is a standalone and they can be read in any order.

Scoring Points is an enemies-to-lovers story between two team principals (the boss of a Formula 1 team) that spans two decades. Kurt Whitford and Giovanni Rossi first met when they were fifteen and were both karting in Formula A. It only took one look at Gio for Kurt to realise he was in trouble; he’s known he likes boys rather than girls since he was twelve and is determined to remain in the closet, not only because he dreams of driving for a Formula 1 team some day (and, like many sports, F1 isn’t known for being queer-friendly) and because he fears his distant father’s reaction. Desperate not to give himself away, Kurt goes for immediate hostility, hoping that Gio will leave him alone if he’s rude to him – and later, at the end of the race (in which Kurt believes Gio deliberately sabotaged him), Kurt furiously punches Gio in the face.

This pattern of behaviour continues for the next few years on the karting circuit, Kurt prickly, uptight and angry, looking for every opportunity to throw a punch and conceal his attraction, and Gio calmly relaxed and trying to be friendly – which, he’s quickly realised – is the best way to push Kurt’s buttons. The thing is, Gio really would like to be friends – and possibly more – with Kurt, but every attempt he makes is harshly rebuffed.

When they’re both nineteen, and have both reached the conclusion that a distinguished career in motor racing isn’t going to happen for either of them, things change. At an end-of-season party, they both get a bit tipsy, one thing leads to another and they wind up in bed together. Their chemistry is explosive – it always has been – and Gio is pleasantly basking in the afterglow and thinking about how they can continue to see each other after this when Kurt leaps from the bed, showers (alone) gets dressed and heads for the door. Gio can’t deny he’d been expecting something like this given how uptight Kurt is, but he hadn’t expected him to accuse Gio of deliberately getting him drunk or to deny that he’s gay and tell Gio he was just a hole to fuck before walking out – of the room and Gio’s life.

Seventeen years pass. Two years ago, Gio achieved his dream of becoming the youngest principal in Formula 1, leading his Fibonacci team to victory the year before and intending to do so again. Then comes the news that Kurt Whitford has become principal of one of their closest rivals, Nebula, and Gio is surprised at how annoyed he is – that had always been his dream, not Kurt’s – and wondering how long it’ll be before their paths cross.

I liked a lot about Scoring Points, but it didn’t work quite as well for me as some of the author’s other recent work. I like enemies-to-lovers as a rule, and the love/hate animosity that flares between Kurt and Gio any time they’re in the same room is really well written and leaps off the page. When they do finally break their destructive pattern – with Kurt holding out an olive branch – and are able to admit they want to give things between them a go, their relationship turns honest and tender and kinda sweet, and I liked them as a couple. In addition to their always sizzling chemistry, there’s a real sense of affection between them together with some lovely good-natured teasing - but I couldn’t ignore the fact that up to this point, Kurt is such a dick to Gio pretty much all the time - and for no real reason other than his own selfish fears. The author tries to paint Gio as equally at fault, but doesn’t really succeed – Gio is farely the instigator of any of their arguments and mostly just reacts to Kurt’s spitefulness by pushing his buttons. I didn’t like that Kurt punches Gio in the face at least three times during the course of the story (Gio never retaliates); it doesn’t matter that they’re both men, that’s not okay. I did struggle a bit with the fact that their seventeen year separation hadn’t at the very least mellowed them a bit or taken the edge off their animosity – but maybe that’s because I’ve never believed in holding grudges, and hating someone for any length of time seems like an awful waste of time and effort. I did have to roll my eyes when Kurt tells Gio that he’s compared every sexual encounter he’s ever had to having sex with Gio when they were nineteen and found it wanting – that’s got to be one of the worst romance clichés.

I liked the way the story is structured, with Kurt and Gio’s past being gradually revealed in a series of flashbacks interspersed with the present day story. The high-pressure world of elite motor racing is really well portrayed and integrated into the story, and there’s a strong secondary cast, including Kristie – Kurt’s pop star (fake) girlfriend, who is also a really good friend to him – and Aaron, a former F1 champion and mutual friend of both Kurt and Gio, who is the one to talk some badly needed sense into both of them.

Scoring Points is a bit of a mixed bag, but its strengths – the unusual and nicely detailed setting and the terrific chemistry between the leads - outweigh its weaknesses, and I enjoyed it enough to offer a qualified recommendation.

Reviewed by Caz Owens
Grade : B-

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : July 3, 2023

Publication Date: 06/2023

Recent Comments …

Caz Owens

I’m a musician, teacher and mother of two gorgeous young women who are without doubt, my finest achievement :)I’ve gravitated away from my first love – historical romance – over the last few years and now read mostly m/m romances in a variety of sub-genres. I’ve found many fantastic new authors to enjoy courtesy of audiobooks - I probably listen to as many books as I read these days – mostly through glomming favourite narrators and following them into different genres.And when I find books I LOVE, I want to shout about them from the (metaphorical) rooftops to help other readers and listeners to discover them, too.
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