Review of Love, Hypothetically (Theta Alpha Gamma series) by Anna Tenino

Rating: 4.25 stars

Paul’s life is not going as well as he had hoped.  He’s been kicked out of his apartment, actually Sebastian’s apartment, because he insulted his friend’s boyfriend.  He lost Sebastian’s friendship too because when it came down to it, he was actually cruel to Brad the boyfriend, not just insulting.  But he had to look out for Sebastian’s best interests didn’t he?  After all Brad was one of those awful jock frat boys that can’t be trusted except that he turned out that he could plus Sebastian loved Brad.  So no more friend and no more apartment.  Now Paul is reduced once more to dorm living at Calapooya College and scouring for tutor gigs to earn extra money.  Then he gets a call to meet with the new girls softball coach who needs a tutor for the team and gets the shock of his life.

Trevor Gardiner was once a Major League baseball player until he retired and came out of the closet.  Trevor is also the reason that Paul hates jocks and frat boys.  Nine years earlier, the two had been secretly in love in high school until they were caught with their pants down in the boys locker room.  Faced with the rest of his team,the high school coach, and his future as a ball player, Trevor threw Paul under the bus, saying that  Paul had come on to him, outing Paul in the process.  Paul’s subsequent years in school were hellish until he escaped to college.

Now Trevor is the new softball coach at Calapooya College.  More than anything he wants Paul’s forgiveness for his actions in high school.  He also wants them to try again as a couple, something that Paul definitely does not want. Or does he.  Can Trevor’s apologies overcome years of pain and hurt or will Paul get the revenge he has always dreamed about.

Frat Boy and Toppy, the first in the Theta Alpha Gamma series, was an absolute delight of a read so I was really looking forward to the next in the series.  Love, Hypothetically meets my expectations for another great time to be had exploring love among the disparate groups on campus and clears up some issues I wondered about in the first book.  Paul is a carryover from the first book where he was one of Sebastian’s roommates when Brad entered the picture and he was the one whose unwavering dismissal of Brad as anything other than a boy toy so angered Sebastian that he threw  Paul out of the house and cut him out as a friend as well.  Paul was the one character whose hostility towards jocks and Brad in particular was never explained and it made him a little one dimensional. Love, Hypothetically answers the question why all the jock hatred from Paul?

Tenino makes it clear that Paul had ample reason to despise the jock mentality based on Trevor’s betrayal and his outing of Paul in high school, an event  Paul has never recovered from.  All of Paul’s fears, hurt and distrust stem from that one traumatic event and he has turned it into a hatred of all things fraternity and jock orientated. Tenino takes Paul from a one layered persona and gives him a depth of background and emotion that makes him totally relatable and easy to empathize with.  Paul’s snarky attitude and bitter quips can be embraced when you know they stem from a deeper hurt.  I liked the fact that there was no instant forgiveness or instant love factored into the story.  Instead Tenino has Paul  examine the past, even if hypothetically, to see if he can get through the emotions and memories he has carried all these years to arrive at a new possible future.  Not an easy thing to achieve and Tenino lets us see that and that she does so with humor and snappy dialog is to her credit.  I will admit to a spew moment when Paul decides to go ahead with his 12 step program for Pricks and ends up on Sebastian and Brad’s doorstep with his awkward apologies in hand.   It doesn’t exactly flow smoothly out of his mouth because well, he’s Paul.  It turns out kind of snippy, awkward, and has to be pulled out of him.  It is a great scene that kept me chuckling even after I finished the book.

That’s another thing Anne Tenino does so well.  She treats serious issues, liking being outed in school, with the gravity it deserves but never loses sight that humor and laughter help get through the memories and a bad situation while never taking away from the pain it causes.  We have laughs that help alleviate our fears and pain all delivered with a deft touch that keeps me coming back for more.  Whether the humor is delivered situationally or through dialog, it always works.

Tenino creates characters for her stories that come across as completely human, warts, intolerance, fears, snippiness, loyalty and love all included.  It makes them easy to understand and sometimes easy to get frustrated with.  But above all her characters are easy to cheer for and hope for their happiness.  It will also keep me coming back for more. More of the Theta Alpha Gamma series, more Anne Tenino.  Read the books, I think you will find yourself agreeing with me.

Cover art by LC Chase.  Clean, bright and easy on the eyes. I really like this cover but not as well as Frat Boy and Toppy.

Frat Boy and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma series #1).  Read my review here.

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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