Have you ever hugged a book after you finished reading it? I have. The latest book to get a loving squeeze from me is Running With Lions by Julian Winters.
I was walking down an aisle at this year’s BoonCon when I felt this strange magnetic pull. My head just snapped over to the Interlude Press booth and my eyes zeroed in on this book with a warm yellow cover and colorful characters. I saw a big banner advertising the same cover and a few people huddled around the shelf where the books were sitting.
My first thought when I picked it up was “Are those soccer jerseys?” That immediately piqued my interest because I love soccer. Granted, I haven’t kept up with the sport in years, but it’s one of my favorite things to watch on television, and I can’t wait for the World Cup to start later this month. Anyway, going back to my new favorite book here, I turned to the back of it, read the synopsis, and felt a “I have a good feeling about this” vibe.
Read if for yourself, if you haven’t done so already:
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 realizes 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.
I bought it without hesitation, and to my surprise, I was told that the author was going to have a signing. It was as if the stars had aligned the right way for once!
Julian Winters is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. His joy and smile are contagious, and I knew right away that I wanted to follow him on social media and keep a close eye on his writing career because I desperately want another book from him.
Running With Lions is, quite plain and simply, fantastic. The soccer training, the natural way in which the main characters fall in love, the friendships, the support systems. It all felt so refreshing and genuine to me. Not many people know this, but I am bisexual. I’m a bisexual with a lot of insecurities, so the thoughts and feelings Sebastian experienced and went through are some of the things I often feel about myself. Needless to say, I instantly made a connection with this character and became fully invested in his story.
Also, let’s face it. The B in LGBTQ is often looked over, not taken seriously, or underrepresented in media. If you’ve been craving bisexual content, then this is the book for you. If you’ve been craving a well-written sports romance, then this is the book for you. If you just want to feel the warm and fuzzy feelings that come with falling in love, then this is the book for you.
And believe me, once you’re done reading it, you’re going to want to hug it, read it over again, and beg for a sequel.
Book Cover: Interlude Press