Too Stupid to Live by Anne Tenino

Grade: B+
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m
Series: Romancelandia #1
Published: 1/14/13
Reviewed by Anne
247 pages

I’ve been on an Anne Tenino kick, and this book was part of her backlist I’m working through.  I think her TAG books are my favorite (start with Frat Boy and Toppy) but Too Stupid to Live was very enjoyable!  The back cover blurb bothered me, though, because it was a bit misleading.  So I’m going to edit it as I think it should be here: 

Reformed rakes make the best husbands.

Sam is too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels.   His One True Love is certainly still out there, and he knows what he’s learned from his reading is going to help him identify that man.  He’s cultivated the necessary skills to see the highlander hiding inside the jeans clad player.

That’s when he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now—possibly—ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships.  His history of hookups and hiding his sexuality is over.  He’s not sure how to do it, but he’s going to have a meaningful relationship and be honest and open about it.  If he can only find the words. 

That’s when he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong . . . can they?

So, Sam and Ian meet each other and stumble into a relationship that plays out sweetly as they try to figure out themselves and each other.  Ian is actually seeing a therapist and trying to figure out how to have a real relationship.  Sam is trying to believe that he deserves a good man.  It’s a pretty low conflict story, which I love.  Just these two men trying to sort themselves out.  It’s very cute and funny, and the sex is very hot and steamy.  

When I was typing up this review I saw that there’s a second book in the series listed as coming out later this year featuring secondary characters from this book.  I’m looking forward to it!  I should also mention that this book is linked to two short stories written by Anne Tenino,  Whitetail Rock and The Fix.  Sam was a secondary character in those books and Ian is a cousin to one of the main characters.  I don’t think it’s necessary to have read them before – but they are good stories.

Love, Hypothetically by Anne Tenino

Grade: C-

Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m
Series: Theta Alpha Gamma #2

Published: 8/27/12
Reviewed by Anne
89 pages

Paul is a graduate student and tutor.  Trevor is a new coach at the same college, and he’s got student athletes Paul will be working with.  Paul and Trevor have history.  And lots of baggage.  Horrible painful baggage. Trevor terribly wronged Paul nine years ago in high school, and he’s hoping that now Paul will forgive him.  Paul’s not sure he wants to forgive Trevor.  He might just want a little revenge.

This story was believable, but painful.  It doesn’t have a lot of the humor I expect from Anne Tenino.  Or if it’s there, I just don’t remember it because of how sad the rest of it was.  I also think I had a hard time feeling like these two were going to be ok together.  Trevor was awful to Paul in the past.  Then Paul is awful to Trevor in the present.  That’s a lot of awfulness to set aside.  In the same way that two wrongs don’t make a right, two really emotionally painful experiences don’t cancel each other out.

This story does get bonus points for a sex scene with a deflating erection.  It’s not something you read of often in romance – every man seems to be some sort of super stud.  I appreciated that scene, and it was really well written.  Actually the whole story was well written, I just didn’t enjoy it.

Poster Boy by Anne Tenino

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m
Series: Theta Alpha Gamma #5
Published: 4/21/14
Reviewed by Anne
355 ebook pages

Jock (yes, that’s his name) has recently transferred to Calapooya (college) after being horrifically outed as gay and kicked off the hockey team.  His big brother, Tank is a member of the Theta Alpha Gamma (TAG) fraternity and Jock becomes a member, too.  He’s still feeling a lot of anger and shame about how things went down at his previous college, and he’s also feeling a little lost about being openly gay.  However, he’s looking forward to getting the hang of this hooking up thing now that he’s not trying to hide anything.  That’s easier in theory than it is in practice, and he’s still not had that first encounter he’s looking for.  So, seeing Toby, who is known for sleeping around, and ridiculously attractive to Jock seems like a situation meant to be.

For his part, Toby is surrounded by happily committed couples and is starting to think maybe it’s time for him to look for something more permanent.  Jock pushes all the right buttons for him and he’s hoping to actually get to know the guy before having sex.  However, when one thing leads to another, he’s happy to proceed straight to sex with Jock.  This leaves his feelings pretty bruised, though,  when Jock thanks him for a great experience and walks out the door looking for other guys to hook up with.  Toby understands, but was hoping for more.  The two of them manage to avoid each other pretty well until circumstances push them together on a semester abroad in France, where Toby is basically an RA and Jock is one of the TAG students he’s supervising.

I loved this book and I didn’t want to put it down!  It’s really funny, but the issues Jock is facing are real and given the weight they deserve.  Once I was done and thought about it, I realized there were things that should have bothered me, but really didn’t. The biggest issue is that Jock is young – young enough to need a fake ID at a bar – and Toby is not.  Toby is a grad student working on his masters thesis.  Jock is also just barely out of the closet and Toby has been out for years.  It didn’t bother me while I was reading it, though.  Other than his new sexual freedom, Jock comes off as pretty mature.  I also felt like the ending really addressed this age difference and resolved any issues I might have had.

Besides the humor, my favorite part of the book was how Jock and Toby actually talk to each other.  Their road isn’t smooth, but they acknowledge hurting each other when it happens and they work to fix things together.  That was a joy to read.  Their relationship is sweet and hot, and the background of the hilariously immature TAG brothers kept me smiling and rolling my eyes through the whole book.  Seriously, it’s hard to explain how funny this story is!  Beer terrorists.  Testicle poems.  Toby feeling like a babysitter for a bunch of fratbros.  A very unexpected May/December romance.  (Actually, that was more sweet than funny.)  I highly recommend this book, and it’s going on my Best of 2014 list!

I can’t wait for the next book in the series, and I’m hoping it will be about Turbo, one of the TAG brothers they are all sure is straight, but seemed a little confused to me.  Here’s hoping for more TAG fun soon.  In the mean time I’m checking out Anne Tenino’s backlist!