Review: Poster Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma #5) by Anne Tenino

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Poster BoyGavin Jacques Gervaise aka “Jock” was a talented college hockey player being scouted by NHL teams when one indiscretion at a party changed everything. Outed by a picture that caught Jock in the middle of a sex act, he was kicked off his college hockey team by his homophobic coach and hounded by flyers sent around campus,  Now Jock has transferred from Avalon College to Calapooya College in Oregon.  His older brother, Tank, is enrolled there and a member of a Theta Alpha Gamma fraternity.  Jock had hoped for anonymity on this campus, but those hopes were dashed when Tank outed his brother again during a frat party organized to announce their new gay friendly status.  What Jock wants is a chance to explore his new found sexuality without a spotlight focused on him.  The man he chooses to be his first is Toby Moore.  Toby and Jock’s first night together is everything and more Jock could hope for.  It is also the only night Jock expects them to have because he still has so much and so many hookups to explore.  But things never have a way of turning out exactly as planned as Jock should know.

Toby Moore is having one of those years and not in a good way.  Toby’s thesis is barely underway when it should be almost completed. And all of  Toby’s friends and former dates have found happiness and their significant others, leaving Toby as the permanent third wheel.  A new hope for someone to fill the void is broken when Jock decides he only wants a one-night stand with Toby. When Toby needs an extension on his thesis, his professor agrees with a stipulation.  Toby must act as a resident chaperone for the Theta Alpha Gamma Student Study trip to Provence, a place that should be perfect for Toby to work on his thesis and get over the pain of rejection from Jock.

But Jock’s problems at Avalon have followed him to Calpooya when that infamous flyer resurfaces at his new campus.  The solution is for Jock to go with his TAG frat boys to France and let everything smooth over in his absence.  Only Jock didn’t realize Toby was going.  Nor did Toby see Jock’s name on his students list.  Now that fate and Toby’s advisor has thrown them together, how will Toby and Jock handle their deep attraction to one another now that they live together in romantic Provence?

Anne Tenino has said that Poster Boy marks the end of the Theta Alpha Gamma series, a series about a group of men I have come to love over five stories.  While I am sad to see this wonderful series end, Poster Boy ushers them out  in a truly outrageous and wonderful manner.   I love the idea of taking this ragtag company of overage underachieving adolescents, confused jocks (literally) as well as a major player who is ready for a commitment and sending them together to France.  It’s such a pleasure to sit back and read all the comedic mayhem and sometimes surprising romantic entanglements that ensue in Anne Tenino’s absorbing plot.

As the final story, Tenino brings all her main characters out to play here.  Sebastian and Brad, Paul and Trevor, Collin and Eric, they are all here, although in varying degrees of importance to this story.  And so many of her great secondary frat characters are in play as well, like Tank, Kyle and Jules.  But her final story is saved for Toby Moore, a character we have seen in many of the preceding stories and Jock Gervaise, who was introduced at the end of book four.  I love these two men, both of whom are at such pivotal points in their lives.  Toby is having to reevaluate so many important issues at the moment.  Previously commitment phobic, now watching all his friends find love has made Toby aware that he is ready for a permanent relationship as well.  And there are no takers lining up for the job.  And its not just his love life that’s stalled but his academic one too.  Pushed onward into his current course of study by his parents, Toby’s thesis has languished under a lack of inspiration and ambition to finish as he realizes that he doesn’t know what he actually wants to do next with his life.  Stymied by his indecision, Toby is that terrific character at that stage in life that everyone can identify with and no idea how to go forward.  Tenino has taken a character that might have been less than simpatico and given him the depth and complexity that brings us totally into his corner.

Jock also has arrived at a place in his life where he has to make some major decisions for himself.  Up to now the choices he has made have been ones he has not owned up to or choices that have been made for him by others, well meaning or otherwise.  New school, new acquaintances, new frat house and an older brother he has always idolized in place to support him, a new start all around.  But the past never stays buried and Jock’s past arrives to force him to finally deal with a situation of his own making.  And all these colliding problems and issues make Jock one angry and bitter, albeit gorgeous, young man.  That state of mind is never a great launching pad for new starts or great decisions.  Tenino’s Jock is one frustrating, uncertain, and irritable young man.  His is a journey that some readers will find hard to completely empathize with because his actions will make him seem like a bit of a jerk.  I felt that way at the beginning too.  But the more I thought about his character and the background Tenino has established for him, the more his actions made sense.  How does a young boy break out of rigid preconceived notions about himself and his future?  And what does he  replace it with when all he knows is his family’s conservative background?  Jock has had his foundations broken and doesn’t have a playbook on how to establish new ones.  Even his beloved older brother has acted in a manner that Jock has not counted on.  Anyone would be angry or act like a jerk and Jock does.

Even more than his actions, something more problematic is Jock’s attitude towards topping and bottoming and how that choice might define what makes a man.  Jock’s near constant mulling over of this idea drove me to distraction.  Enough I wanted to say when it went on ad infinitum.  But again, upon more reflection, Anne Tenino has gotten it exactly right.  What Jock is obsessing over is nothing less than trying to figure out what being gay means to him and how he looks at himself (and others).  It’s that primal “who am I?” question and Jock doesn’t have the answers or have them just yet.  Brad among others try to help Jock discover the answer but really only Jock can do that and finally does.Any how, back to Jock and his fumbling about,  when you have this big a problem on the brain, then it follows that its all you think about.  So yes, Tenino having Jock work his way through the process this way is very realistic.  And our frustrations with him are authentic as well.

And while Toby and Jock  are slowly finding their way to each other, the rest of the Theta Alpha Gamma delayed adolescents or as Toby calls them, maturity challenged individuals, are scouring the french countryside for beer terrorists, scaring nuns, trying to learn french and totally cracking us up in the process.  How I adore Danny, Gomer, Ricky, Julian, Turbo, and Noah. Each is adorable in his own right.  Tenino takes the reader and the boys out to visit some wonderful sites as part of the TAG independent study abroad program.  The boys visit Les Baux and Barbegal, letting the reader in on their adventures and the wonder of those historic sites.  I loved the various locations visited, the descriptions are so vivid and precise it felt like being there.  But hilarity and communal hijinks are never far away with this group and just their appearance in a scene is enough to make the laughter bubble up in anticipation.

Poster Boy really can’t be read as a stand alone novel which might be its only drawback for some readers. Its full of characters and situations introduced in the previous stories.  So to fully appreciate the TAG fraternity, its frat brothers and the journey they have been on together, the novels should be read in the order they were written.  In Poster Boy, Anne Tenino gives them all a wonderful send off, Toby and Jock as well as Sebastian and Brad ,our foundation couple.  The author sees them all on their merry way, including an unexpected future for Danny that I loved.  The narrative flowed along pretty quickly for 375 pages and it ends where it should for this series, back in Calpooya College and the new frat house.  I had so much fun with the Theta Alpha Gamma guys and loved watching each and every one find love and a happy future.

Goodbye, boys.  It’s been a true pleasure.  And its one I absolutely recommend to  all readers to discover for themselves. Happy Reading.

Cover art by LC Chase.  Love this cover, perfect for the character and story.

Book Details:

ebook, 375 pages
Expected publication: April 21st 2014 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626491304
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/poster-boy
seriesTheta Alpha Gamma

Books in this Series are:

Frat Boy and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma, #1)
Love, Hypothetically (Theta Alpha Gamma, #2)
Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma, #3)
Good Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma, #4)
Poster Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma,#5) final story

Go Back To the Frat with Anne Tenino and her Poster Boy (Giveaway)

Standard
✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍
ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to have Anne Tenino back to talk about my favorite frat, the boys of Theta Alpha Gamma and her latest release, Poster Boy!  Welcome, Anne!
PosterBoy_TourBanner(1)

Welcome to the Poster Boy Blog Tour! *confetti* 

As you may or may not know,  Poster Boy is the fifth in the  Theta Alpha Gamma series, and (at least as far as I’m able to be sure about such things) the last TAG book. No, no, don’t be sad, be happy—we’re gonna go out in style!

PosterBoy_150x300(1)

Let’s discuss the nitty-gritty: the Blog Tour Giveaway. The prize package this time includes: one lovely “Theta Alpha Gamma Beer Terrorist Prize-Cache3Response Team” sweatshirt (I believe I have sizes M-XXL available, choice of two styles); one paperback copy of  Frat Boy and Toppy with the new cover art, signed and inscribed to the winner; a bar of soap I bought in Les Baux (was going to send olives from Sainte-Remy, but we ate them . . . sorry about that) and; of course, one penis crocheted by moi.

How does one win, you ask? By following the tour, collecting all the official “prize” words (posts will have them clearly marked), and using them as directed at the end of this post (it’s complicated).

Happy word hunting, and enjoy the tour (psssssst, this one is heavy on the cut scenes).

* * *

Poster Boy buy link.

Poster BoyIt’s all fun and games until someone puts his heart out.

When Jock meets sexy grad student Toby at a frat party, things finally start looking up. After having been outed to his hockey team and then changing schools, he figures he’s due something good—like the sex he missed out on in the closet. Toby seems like a great place to start, and their night together is an awesome introduction to the fine art of hooking up.

Toby’s heart takes a bruising after the near-perfect experience with Jock leads to . . . nothing. He’s been left on the outside as his friends pair up into blissful coupledom, and he’s in danger of never completing (or starting) his thesis. Can’t something go right?

Then Toby’s coerced into chaperoning a Theta Alpha Gamma trip to France. Not that he’s complaining. What better place to finish his thesis and get over that frat boy? Except Jock’s outing is leaked to the press, making him an unwilling gay rights martyr, and he decides France is a great escape, too. It’s a break from reality for both guys, but they soon find their connection is as real as it gets.

* * *

When I first started working on  Poster Boy, the personality of Toby was pretty much set in stone—or at least the previous books in the series. Jock was less defined, but I thought I had a pretty good handle on him.

The road to writer’s block is paved with characters that don’t conform to expectations. It’s paved with some other stuff, too, like plots that careen out of control, but today we’re discussing characters—Jock specifically. The character who derailed this book for a couple of months.

He’s mentioned in  Frat Boy and Toppy as Tank’s little brother, although he’s unnamed in that book, and we don’t see or hear from him again until  Sweet Young Thang. Right up until he walked into the frat/dorm with his big brother, I thought he was going to be a happy-ish guy, even with the specter of having been outed hanging over his head. Here’s a very early character note on him (before I started writing SYT): “. . . his first experience in college got him totally burned. By end of book he should be showing some signs of his joyous, puppy dog ways.”

Yeah.

Then he actually entered the room and everything changed. He was pissed, I could see it in my head—angry flush to his cheeks, jaw hard and set, hands fisted in his jeans pockets, staring down the world. I tried to hang on to my vision of the Jock who would turn into the big, playful, puppy dog.

That lasted about ten paragraphs. You see, Jock shows up at  Theta Alpha Gamma a week into Calapooya College’s winter term after having been kicked off his college hockey team for being gay. That’s not the official reason he was booted off, but everyone knows it’s the real one. This is a snippet of the scene where I ultimately gave up trying to make him what I’d originally thought:

“How is you being gay pertinent?” Collin kept his voice calm

Jock lifted his head and looked Collin in the eye. That’s when it became clear that while the kid felt depressed and ashamed and maybe beaten, he also had a lot of anger. “There’s a lot of blood-letting in hockey, you know.”

It took Collin a few seconds to get it. “He thinks you’re a health risk?”

Jock clenched his jaw and nodded. Then he laughed shortly and looked away. “You can even see the other guy in the photo has a condom on.”

“That is the most fucking archaic attitude I think I’ve ever heard.” Kyle said, relatively calmly for him.

Jock shrugged, looking back at the floor. “He’s an archaic guy.”

“That’s illegal.” Kyle stood up straight again. “You can’t discriminate against someone because of their HIV status, and you certainly can’t discriminate against someone because of their potential status.”

“He said that he needed to know it was possible so he could take the necessary precautions, and that I’d endangered the team.” Jock’s voice had gone flat, and he took a long swallow of beer.

He’s angry over being exposed like he was—I had to write him that way, it would be ridiculous not to—but somehow I knew right then that once he’d worked through that anger, there wasn’t going to be a happy, bouncy dude underneath. He’s in a good place by the end of Poster Boy, sure, but for Jock, being happy looks more like not being a dick than greeting the world with a smile.

Now is when I should say something like, “In the future, if a character changes like this, I’ll . . .” blah-blah-blah. The reality is this happens every freaking time. Or, if my characters behave themselves, the plot decides to go wonky. It doesn’t matter what I do—everything is subject to change. And to be honest? I love it that way. I’d be bored if I knew every step they’re going to take. So, you know? I’m glad Jock took over and directed things.

In the end, it all worked out. He ended up being the guy he needed to be, and the guy Toby needed.

* * *

Contest: For those of you playing to win the blog tour prize cache, here’s the word: swag.PosterBoy_150x300(1)

The word game—the rules are that I provide a bunch of words, and you have to create an ode to testicles. Hey, it’s fair—I gave you an ode to testicles in the book (well, part of one), you should give me one in return, using all the words from the tour. You may add any other words you need to, but it must include every word I gave out on the tour.

Of course, creative cheating might receive a pass from me . . .

At the end of the tour, send your ode to me at  anne @ annetenino.com and I will choose one lucky winner from all the entries I receive by paying one of my children some exorbitant amount to draw an ode out of a hat (or other handy receptacle). All masterpieces must be to me by May 4th, 2014 at midnight Pacific Daylight Time (GMT -7:00).

For a schedule of all tour stops, you can go here.

Oh, and:

*If the winner will be at GRL, GayRomance Northwest or the RT Booklover’s Convention, I’m also offering a lunch with me. And yes, I’ll pay. 😉

* * *

Author Bio: Raised on a steady diet of Monty Python, classical music and the visual arts, Anne Tenino was—famously—the first patient diagnosed with Compulsive Romantic Disorder. Since that day, Anne has taken on conquering the M/M world through therapeutic writing. Finding out who those guys having sex in her head are and what to do with them has been extremely liberating.

Anne’s husband finds it liberating as well, although in a somewhat different way. Her two daughters are mildly confused by Anne’s need to twist Ken dolls into odd positions. However, other than occasionally stealing Ken1’s strap-on, they let Mom do her thing without interference.

Wondering what Anne does in her spare time? Mostly she lies on the couch, eats bonbons and shirks housework.

Check out what Anne’s up to now by visiting her at:

 

 

Review: Good Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma #4) by Anne Tenino

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Good Boy coverSebastian “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:

Frat Boy and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma, #1)
Love, Hypothetically (Theta Alpha Gamma, #2)
Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma, #3)
Good Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma, #4)

Cover Art by L.C. Chase, lcchase.com/design.htm

Book Details:

ebook, 67 pages
Published October 7th 2013 by Riptide Publishing
original title Good Boy
ISBN13 9781626490680
edition language English

Review: Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3) by Anne Tenino

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Sweet Young ThangCollin Montes was instrumental in getting his fraternity, Theta Alpha Gamma, to change their  bylaws and accept gay and bisexual college men into TAG.  Several of the brothers were already out about their sexuality, most notably Brad, so this just instilled in their bylaws the acceptance acknowledged in their close knit fraternity.  But there is even another reason this change means so much to Collin and that is the fact that Collin is also gay.  Collin has kept that fact  hidden from most of his fraternity and his family.  And that includes his Uncle Monty who raised him after his father died when Collin was 5.  Uncle Monty is also the president of the TAG Alumni Association and an influential and powerful man in his own right. Uncle Monty is also a homophobe.  The TAG Alumni Association contributes a heavy sum to the running of TAG and neither Uncle Monty or the rest of the board are happy with the inclusion of Gays and Bisexuals in the fraternity.

When first a water heater is rigged to launch through the ceiling, setting off a fire at the TAG house which injures one of the brothers, and then a bomb is found,  Collin is sure that these are repercussions due to the changes in bylaws at TAG.  One of the paramedics/firemen to arrive at the house  the day of the fire is college and TAG Alumn  Eric “Dix” Dixon.  Eric sees Collin helping out his injured frat brother and the attraction between the men is instantaneous.

Older by ten years and with touches of grey in his hair, Eric is openly gay at work.  Eric has always dreamed of someone to make a home and family with but that person hasn’t appeared until now.  Collin, with his sexy eyes and gorgeous body, just may be the one Eric has been waiting for.  But there are many obstacles between their happiness and future together, from Collin’s closeted status and homophobic uncle to the person responsible for the arson and bombing of the TAG House.  As Eric and Collin fall in love, the threat to Collin and the fraternity grows greater.  Can Eric protect the man he has come to love or will homophobic hatred ruin their chance for a future together?

This is the third book in the Theta Alpha Gamma series by Anne Tenino and I loved it.  It has all the distinctive features of the others in the series.  It’s funny, it has terrific characters, and of course, it’s over the top sexy!  But this story has something more. It has a mystery as well.  Who is behind the arson and bombs at the fraternity?  A mystery is a terrific new aspect to this already wonderful series.  But let’s take a closer look at this series most common features.

Each book has focused on a member of the Theta Alpha Gamma or TAG fraternity at Calapooya University in Oregon.  First it was Brad, then Paul, and now it’s Collin’s turn.  Each young man is not only a member of TAG but gay as well, although each has arrived at that self knowledge in differing ways.  The wonderful thing about this series is that the characters and couple you have fallen in love with in the previous books are back, included in this story.  That holds especially true for Brad and Sebastian from Frat B0y and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma #1).  They are still working on their relationship and Collin plays an important part in helping them work through a few issues of their own.  But the story here belongs to Collin and Eric, as well as the rest of the fraternity brothers.

This is the first time we have really seen the men of TAG interact with each other on a deeper scale.  Tenino brings us into the frat house dynamics and the close knit brotherhood of the Theta Alpha Gamma fraternity. Once more we get to watch Tank, Ricky, Toby, Kyle, Jules and the rest support each other, no matter the problem.  I have to admit the frat house scenes that involved all the frat brothers had me giggling uncontrollably.  Whether they were being roused to action by the threat to their kegerator or watching Project Runway, these are the scenes that really brought their fraternity to goofy life.  It’s hysterically funny and yet heartwarming at the same time.  Is it a realistic depiction of life at a fraternity?  Don’t know and quite frankly don’t care. In Tenino’s more than capable hands, these quirky, crazy group of guys are alive and kicking and making us  laugh over and over again.  I just loved them.

Collin and Eric are so interesting in their own right.  Collin’s father died when he was young and although his mother is alive, his Uncle had a large part in raising him.  Collin is an intelligent young man who knows he is gay but fears losing the love of his Uncle by telling him who Collin really is.  Uncle Monty is homophobic and controlling, and that has defined Collin’s upbringing until now.  It is a joy watching Collin change as the events unfold and his relationship with Eric grows more substantial.  Eric is also an interesting character with a sexy, hidden side to him.  Trust me when I say that a photography session is one of the sexy highlights of this story.  I enjoyed their relationship and the journey towards love for them both.  I liked that Anne Tenino took into consideration their age difference when writing the relationship. Neither man is at quite the same stage as the other which is an honest aspect to this story.  I appreciated it much more than if we had gotten a case of “instant love”.

I did have a few quibbles with the story.  The person behind the attacks on the frat house is easily spotted although the motive remains hidden until the end.  I really didn’t have a problem with that aspect of the mystery because it plays out so nicely in the story.  There is an event at the end I wasn’t expecting and that was a nice touch too.  I did wish that Collin’s relationship with his Uncle had a better resolution (and his Uncle’s Alumni Association’s aspect too).  Both his Uncle and the Alumi Association had figured greatly in the story, and that was not really dealt with at the end.

A new young gay character was introduced here. Tank’s younger brother has transfered into the college and been accepted into TAG. I see his story coming next.  I can’t wait.  I love these guys and their crazy mixed up fraternity.  They have heart to go along with their beer parties.  They are funny, engaging, and I always enjoy my time with them.  I highly recommend this book and this series.  Grab them all up, starting with the first one if you are new to the series and this marvelous band of brothers.

Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and their relationships:

Frat Boy and Toppy (Theta Alpha Gamma, #1)

Love, Hypothetically (Theta Alpha Gamma, #2)

Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma, #3)

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 22nd 2013 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626490321
edition languageEnglish

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

Standard

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.