Book Reviews

Personal Best (Book 1) by Sean Michael at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Athletes/Coaches / May/December / Erotic Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 08-June-2018

Book Blurb

Mike Gauliet could be a world-class swimmer if he took better care of himself. He’s too good to let go, so his team coach calls in a private trainer, up-and-coming hardass Jessy Turner. Jessy locks Mike down, putting him on a strict regimen of diet and exercise that Mike resents a lot until he realizes the changes are making him a better swimmer.


Jessy finds Mike all but irresistible but keeps his distance and remains professional, focusing all his attention on what’s best for Mike and his career. The two of them resist their attraction to each other for as long as they can, but eventually they have to give into the heat between them.


When things go wrong, though, can they, and their sports careers, survive the strain?



First edition published by Torquere Press, March 2006.

Book Review

There is something almost magical about the relationship between an athlete and their coach, at least for me, and Sean Michaels has managed to capture this special aspect of intensely close cooperation when telling the story of Mike and Jessy. It takes a lot of talent and determination to be an athlete, especially one with Olympic ambitions, but it also takes quite some skill and patience to be a good coach. There are quite a few examples of real-world athletes who have ended up in a super-close relationship with their coaches, some of them even becoming lovers – and I am talking about consenting adults here, just to be clear. While Mike and Jessy are fictional characters, the elements that enable them to be successful, like their complementary personalities, are very real. By the time Sean Michael adds romance, love, lots of sex, and some kink, this first book in the ‘Personal Best’ series is very hot, easy to read, and as enjoyable for me as when I read the first edition many years ago.

Mike may be a super talented swimmer, but he is a disaster waiting to happen. He has done fairly well on raw power alone in smaller competitions, but he needs a lot of discipline if he wants to make it to the Olympics. Whether it is food or the type of exercise he does – Mike is a bundle of energy rather than a focused athlete. He hates the “restrictions” Jessy places on him as soon as they sign a contract, but he can also see how successful he is. All of that, however, matters far less to him than trust and moral support. When that goes missing after an incident that wasn’t Mike’s fault and Jessy doesn’t believe him, Mike’s world collapses.

Jessy is not known for being lenient, but he knows what he is doing as a trainer. He is dominant, relentless, and has Mike’s success as his only goal – until he admits to himself that there are deeper feelings as well. Remaining professional is important, but Mike is nineteen and clearly more than interested in sharing more than their training sessions. Jessy has a good eye for what Mike needs, in the pool as well as in the bed they soon share, but his determination to keep Mike on the straight and narrow blinds him to what is most important for both of them – trust.

There is a huge age difference between these two men (seventeen years) but that actually works well for this partnership. Jessy brings lots of experience, Mike contributes energy and drive, and both find it very easy to focus on Mike getting to the Olympics. It will be a long road with lots of competitions before they get there, but they are both determined. A major misunderstanding that is more Jessy’s fault than Mike’s almost destroys everything they have built, and I was very angry at Jessy for quite a while. He eventually redeems himself, but it is a very close call.

If you like steamy romances with just a touch of playful kink, if you want to see two men go after their goals with epic stubbornness, and if you’re looking for a read full of passion, lots and lots of very hot sex, and some very sweet shared moments, then you will probably like this novel as much as I do. I loved rereading it and look forward to the next installment!





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 200 pages/58330 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 08-June-2018
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Buy Link