The Long Game by Rachel Reid is easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and I don’t think I could have asked for a more perfect sequel for Shane and Ilya! Keep reading to hear what I loved about this book so much!
The Long Game picks up a couple of years after Heated Rivalry and overlaps in time with Role Model. Shane and Ilya are at the top of their game, but even though they only live a couple of hours away from each other and spend all of the time together that they possibly can, it’s not enough. Keeping their secret is taking a toll, and while they’re just as in love with each other as ever, the two of them need to decide of their relationship is worth risking their careers for.
I don’t think this could have been a more perfect sequel. It had everything I wanted in it and was just adorable and lovely and I’m obsessed!
Reflecting on it, I did have a few concerns going in. Namely that the sequel might ruin my love of the first book. I was afraid there might be some plots I didn’t like, like a breakup or a jealousy storyline. I was also a little worried about how much it would overlap with Role Model, since I knew the two books took place during the same season. And I wasn’t excited by the idea of that near plane accident from Role Model being the impetus for Shane and Ilya finally taking their relationship public.
I don’t want to spoil what happens at all, but all of those concerns were unfounded. It was actually really nice reading about two people already in an established relationship and navigating how best to support each other and be there for each other without dramatic nonsense thrown in there. And I loved how, while the timelines overlapped, Reid didn’t spend too much time telling the same scenes from Role Model from Ilya’s point of view, and instead added new scenes that I didn’t know I needed.
There are so many great nods back to the first book that I adored seeing in The Long Game. We get to see a lot of characters come back from previous books, too, which was a lot of fun. And I could have sworn Reid said this was the last book in the series, but I really want Luca Haas to get his own story!!
I saw on Twitter that Reid described Heated Rivalry as Shane’s book and The Long Game as Ilya’s book, and I think that’s really true. I loved seeing Ilya become more of a person than a bit of a god who pops up in random places, which is kind of how I’ve seen him since Heated Rivalry. His mental health story throughout this book is lovely, and it’s so great seeing therapy on page.
I think one of the things I liked most about this, though, was how it addressed a lot of what I thought were imbalances in Shane and Ilya’s relationship. Like, Ilya did give up pretty much everything for Shane, and he doesn’t really have any friends or family to talk to outside of Shane’s circle, and I really liked that that was addressed in this book. It just made me feel a lot more invested in their joint happily ever after.
One critique I saw of the first book is that Shane is biracial and half white, half Japanese, but his heritage has no impact on the story and he basically reads as a white person, which I think is a good point. I noticed that, for better or worse, this book only mentioned his heritage once and then he basically read as a white character. It’s part of a bigger discussion that I don’t really have much to contribute to, but it’s something I wanted to mention.
My other reservation is that I’m not quite sure how I feel about the way that Shane and Ilya ultimately came out, but I’m really happy with how everything resolved as we powered towards the end! I don’t want to spoil anything, but hit me up after you’ve read the book and we can talk about it more!
I’m going to cut myself off, because otherwise this review will basically just be me squeeing about every little scene that was just too precious. It would get very long and very spoilery and not be a useful review at all! I honestly don’t think I could have asked for more from this sequel.
I was actually so excited to read it that I read maybe 20 percent and then started skipping around, because I just needed to absorb everything asap. I wound up jumping around a lot and rereading several parts before finally going back to the beginning and reading the whole thing through.
I can’t really recommend that strategy, but it basically means I’ve read this twice in two days! And I will likely reread both Heated Rivalry and The Long Game before the end of the year. Maybe just the whole series, honestly. I really enjoy these books so much, though these two and Role Model are definitely my favorites.
tl;dr: If you loved Heated Rivalry, I don’t think you’ll be at all disappointed in this sequel! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!
I received an arc of The Long Game from the publisher via Netgalley. I also preordered my own finished copy of the book.