Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Sebastian “Toppy” DeWitt is feeling the stress. He is working double time to finish his thesis. And there are the post graduation decisions of where to apply for a position that is also adding to the pressure and worry that is his life these days. Lucky for him that his boyfriend, Brad “Frat Boy” Feller, is there to cook, clean, and take care of everything else while Sebastian concentrates. True, they don’t seem to have time for each other during the day or even see each other at night other than to fall into bed. Sebastian is sure once he finishes his thesis and graduates then everything will go back to normal. Or will it?
Brad Feller is feeling lonely and a little bit neglected. He knows how important it is that Sebastian finish his thesis but while parts of their life together, their sex life, is hot and working, nothing else is. Sebastian went home to see his father and didn’t suggest that Brad come with him. And they never talk about their future after graduation. The strain Brad feels and the stress Sebastian is under is starting to put cracks in their relationship, fractures that Sebastian seems unaware of.
When an old frat brother with romantic ties to Brad needs temporary shelter and moves in with them after a fire in the frat house it shatters their fragile status quo. Amidst bouts of jealousy, anxiety and guilt, Sebastian realizes that things need to change if he is to keep the one man he loves and needs above all others or lose him forever.
Frat Boy and Toppy, the first in the Theta Alpha Gamma series, was the first book to introduce me to Anne Tenino. It made me a fan of this author and the series as well. And while I enjoyed the love stories of the other men in the series, Paul and Trevor as well as Collin and Eric, it is the combination of Sebastian and Brad that have remained my first love. So I was delighted to see a return to this marvelously quirky couple to see how they were doing and where they had gone in their relationship.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out that they stumbled into one relationship trap after another with equal amounts of cluelessness and inexperience piled on top of every day pressures that is helping to derail their happily ever after. I say unsurprisingly because this was a pair that was unexpected and surprising to begin with. Brad, the ultimate frat boy on the outside, was large, somewhat clumsy, gentle, and searching when he first met Sebastian in class. Sebastian, the TA, was intelligent, impatient, allergic to relationships, fixated on scholarship and kind of imperious. Not exactly two men you would expect to meet, combust, and eventually fall deeply in love with each other. But they did and it was wonderful. Anne Tenino mades this complex mixture of personalities and quirks not only real, but a loving, layered relationship that the readers absolutely connects with all the way through their story.
So it’s heartbreaking to see how much that promising relationship has stagnated in the months following the end of Frat Boy and Toppy. In the timeline of events that happen at the college and the TAG house, Good Boy exists side by side with Sweet Young Thang, the story that chronicles the fire at the TAG house and the reason that necessitates Collin’s stay, albeit temporarily, with Brad and Sebastian. It gives the reader the full back story as to the events that are occurring around the oblivious Sebastian with his complete focus on himself and his thesis. In Sweet Young Thang, we have the large canvas of the college and the fraternity house which in Good Boy is narrowed down to Brad and Sebastian’s apartment and the malfunctioning state of their love affair.
Anne Tenino does a wonderful job of getting us inside each man’s head as individual insecurities (Brad’s) and current preoccupations (Sebastian’s) start to tear apart the relationship each man treasures. Here is anexcerpt with Brad:
But after Brad abandoned Collin at the dinner table and chased his boyfriend into their bedroom, he didn’t find him. The bathroom doorway had been left open a crack, and he could hear Sebastian brushing his teeth, so he sat on the end of the bed to wait. And stew in some of his inner workings.
Aside from being pissed off in general at that whole weird dinner scene a few minutes ago—did Sebastian really have to go being a prick to Collin when the dude had had such a shitty day?—his instincts were poking at his stomach, telling him something seemed to have changed tonight with his boyfriend. Maybe now Brad could get some answers about what the fuck was going through his head, and why he’d been kind of preoccupied since Christmas, and when he’d decided to try having a relationship through a tin can and a string.
And I can ask him why he didn’t want me to meet his dad.
Shut up. Stupid little voice in his heart always had to push for more. We’ve haven’t even been together a year. He had to wait for the right time. Relationships progressed, right? Take the whole thing with Collin just now. Nine months ago, Sebastian had barely reacted when Collin had sucked Brad off in the locker room shower, but tonight he’d seemed, like, jealous. Watching him stalk off, something in Brad’s chest had gone ping. An alert, telling him Sebastian had finally fucking noticed him again.
Which was a relief, because cooking and back rubs and all the other things he’d been doing to get Sebastian to open up to him had made him feel like a dog begging for treats. ’Cause some nights Sebastian ate dinner without mentioning a damn thing about the food, just talking about his fucking thesis, and some nights he didn’t say anything at all. And some nights, when they actually had sex, he did Brad like he only needed someone to get off with.
All along, no matter how many times Brad reminded himself that Sebastian was just preoccupied with school, trying to be accepted to a good doctoral program, he’d been terrified that in reality, relationships just happened like this. Half a year in and things became about satisfying the physical needs and not about the emotional crap. It didn’t explain why it had all changed at once, but what did he know? Maybe that was normal, too.
I think everyone has heard those little voices inside from time to time, those internal arguments that start to undermine self confidence and deepen our need for reassurance. Brad is a little part of everyone and it makes him not only endearing but completely relatable. I love Brad. The snarky, self obsessed Sebastian is also someone I connected with. He thinks he is doing whats best for them both without actually communicating his thoughts and feelings to his lover. He has isolated himself without realizing it, a precarious situation in a relationship and it takes the arrival of Collin to jumpstart Sebastian’s interaction with Brad once more.
Good Boy is funny, heartbreaking, sexy, and ultimately quite wonderful. I love this couple and hope Anne Tenino will revisit their love affair and relationship once more. You just know somehow Sebastian will find a way to derail it once more before they get their happily ever after that they both need and want so much. We want it for them too and that’s why I will be here with each and every new installment in the Theta Alpha Gamma series. Join me will you?
This is how it starts….
Sebastian hadn’t taken a break for hours. He came out of his research-induced haze to find that his foot had fallen asleep, and when he moved his leg, his back made an alarming sound somewhere between a creak and a pop. Dammit, he’d sat hunched over the computer for too long again. Maybe later Brad would give him a massage to work out some of his aches.
Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read:
Cover Art by L.C. Chase, lcchase.com/design.htm