Title: Cardio Conditioning
Author: Andrew Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Series: Work Out, #7
Genre: M/M, Contemporary, Romance
Length: 110 pages
Source: Author in exchange for honest review
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Available @ Dreamspinner | ARe | Rainbow eBooks | Amazon
In the battle to regulate his blood sugar, Jerry March joins a new gym, but while working out his insecurity, he overdoes it on the treadmill. His insulin drops and so does Jerry. Fellow gym member Gianni Lappatura rushes to his rescue with a glass of juice and a helping hand.
A few days later, Jerry gets to return the favor. After watching Gianni’s opera-singing strip act, Jerry finds him stuck in the rain with a dead battery and saves the day. As thanks and because he thinks Jerry is cute, Gianni asks him on a date. It’s too good to be true, and Jerry soon learns his Mr. Perfect needs a bit of help of own. But Gianni’s imperfections open Jerry’s eyes to the beauty of limitations.
Let me start by saying that this is only my second read from the Work Out series by Andrew, so even though I’m a fan, this is a pretty new flavour of M/M from Mr. Grey. Having said that, I was very pleasantly surprised by both the storyline and the character history and development throughout Cardio Conditioning.
Jerry is a diabetic that has pretty much given up on finding a lover to truly love him and be able to handle his health issues due to the diabetes. I can sympathise completely. It can be very hard to find people that can handle health problems, especially ones that scare and/or limit like diabetes can. Gianni is a sculpted, sexy man that sings opera while he strips, or that’s one job he has at least. But while he is beautiful, he also has trouble finding someone that can see past his body or his job to see the man he truly is inside.
From the first introduction things are interesting with these two, lol. The first time they meet Jerry has a hypoglycaemic episode and collapses at Gianni’s feet at the gym they both use. Gianni’s used to men falling at his feet, but not like that. A week later it’s Jerry who gets to rescue the beautiful Gianni when his car won’t start in the middle of a rain storm. From there they work towards a HEA but fear, insecurity, and lack of communication tries to pull them apart.
I thoroughly enjoyed Cardio Conditioning and will be going back to grab copies of the first 6 novellas in the series! Oh, and for any Gene and Dan fans from Spot Me, they are in this one as well, which is the only other Work Out book I’ve read . If you love men, love, and HEA’s then this book is for you! Enjoy and happy New Year!
“I should probably spend time on the treadmill,” Jerry responded, looking up to where the machines were located. His doctor had told him that was where he needed to start. “I’ll catch up with you later.” Dan and Lonnie continued on into the club, and Jerry took the stairs upward. When he reached the cardio floor, he looked around for an empty machine and found one toward the middle of the line. Jerry stepped on the machine and began entering the information. Once he was done, the belt began to move slowly and he started walking. After a few minutes, Jerry increased the speed slightly and turned his attention to the televisions that hung from the ceiling.
Jerry let his thoughts wander as he walked. Someone started the machine next to him, and Jerry glanced over. He almost lost his footing when he saw it was the guy from the locker room. The man glanced at Jerry and smiled before turning his attention to the machine. Jerry took a few seconds to watch him. He liked dark men, and this guy certainly fit the bill, with long, jet-black hair that curled slightly, and the beginnings of a black beard that was sexy as hell. As the other man began to walk, Jerry looked away. After a while, he paused the machine and stepped off to get a drink. When he returned, he unpaused the treadmill.
“You should bring a water bottle,” the guy next to Jerry said, and Jerry felt the man’s voice like an earthquake.
“I know,” Jerry answered, turning toward him and getting a look into eyes as deep as the center of the earth. “I forgot to put one in my bag when I packed it.” Damn, the man was smolderingly hot, and while Jerry watched, he actually licked his full lips slightly. “Sometimes I’m in too much of a hurry.”
“Yeah, me too,” the guy agreed. “Are you new to the club? I haven’t seen you before.”
“I joined a few weeks ago, but haven’t had a lot of time to come in,” Jerry said. “I work with the guy using the pulley machine just in front of us down there, and he sort of dragged me in here. Not that it isn’t nice. It’s just that with my schedule, I don’t always have the time.”
“It happens with all of us,” the guy said, but Jerry wasn’t buying it. He looked as though he’d never missed or skimped on a workout in his life. “I’m Giancomo Lappatura; my friends call me Gianni.”
“Jerry March,” he responded with a nod, suppressing a small shiver. “Have you been a member here long?”
“Almost since they opened,” Gianni answered as he pushed buttons on his machine to speed the belt up slightly. Jerry used the few seconds he was occupied to glance at Gianni’s butt, encased in tight shorts that were stretched almost the ripping point with each step by thick, tree-trunk legs. “I work out at least an hour a day, six days a week.”
“I’m shooting for three days a week to start,” Jerry explained. Gianni nodded as he returned his attention to his workout, and Jerry went back to watching the televisions. He continued walking, but was hypersensitive to Gianni walking next to him. So much so that he didn’t notice the beginnings of the jittery feeling until his hands began to shake slightly. Jerry opened his mouth and began to breathe deeply as he slowed the belt down. He should have known better than to exercise without something in his pocket. Jerry stopped the belt and stepped off the machine. The sudden lack of movement had his head spinning, and then the entire room whirled faster and faster. Jerry closed his eyes and tried to walk toward the stairs, but he only took one, maybe two steps before his legs buckled.
Jerry knew he needed to eat. Every fiber in his body screamed for food, and he wanted it fast, but he couldn’t seem to make his legs move right. This was what sucked. Intellectually, he knew what he needed, but he wasn’t capable right now of telling people what was wrong, and his fucking muscles wouldn’t do what he wanted them to do. “Are you okay?” a deep voice asked, and Jerry forced his eyes open. He shook his head, but couldn’t seem to form words. His reactions rarely happened this quickly. He felt fingers on his wrist. “Someone bring me a juice bottle from one of the machines right away.”
Jerry’s heart pounded in his ears as his mind began to float like he was only half awake. Coherent thought seemed beyond his reach. Jerry felt his head being lifted and something pressed against his lips. Instinct took over, but of course it was the wrong one, because he thought he was drowning. “Swallow,” the deep voice said. “Take a few sips.” He did as the voice said and something cool slid down his throat. He swallowed again and again. “That’s enough for a minute.” Jerry waited, and then he was told to swallow again.
He lost all track of time, but eventually the muddle in his mind began to clear. “I’m okay,” he said softly, and he heard a bunch of people speaking around him.
“We called the paramedics,” a woman said. Jerry opened his eyes and saw the container of orange juice being held for him. Jerry reached for it and began to drink again, his mind clearing more and more as his blood sugar rose.
“I’m okay now,” Jerry said as the crowd around him parted and people in uniform worked their way through. “My blood sugar bottomed out,” he explained to the paramedics as one of them gently grasped his hand and pricked his finger. He’d done that so many times in his life that he barely felt it.
“Seventy-eight,” the paramedic said. “It’s on the way back up.”
Jerry finished the juice, and someone held out a package of crackers. Jerry began to eat them, chewing and swallowing as fast as he could. His breathing was quickly returning to normal, and the sheen of sweat that had formed on his skin evaporated and nearly chilled him. He knew all this was temporary. Slowly, he stood up. The room didn’t spin, and with each passing second, he felt better.
“Please, sir, sit down for a while. We need to make sure your blood sugar comes up enough and that you’re okay,” the paramedic said, and Jerry sat back down. It took him a second to realize that while he’d meant to sit on the floor, he was actually sitting on something else, or more accurately, someone else. Jerry turned around and stared into the chasms that were Gianni’s eyes. Jerry struggled to move and ended up plopping his ass on top of the other man’s lap.
“You’re fine,” Gianni said, his voice vibrating through Jerry’s body, settling in his groin.
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation. Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing). He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
I love to hear from readers. Comments, thoughts, and questions are always encouraged and appreciated.