Thursday, October 18, 2012

DOUBLE-REVIEW: "Frat Boy and Toppy" and "Love Hypothetically" by Anne Tenino

Frat Boy and Toppy by Anne Tenino
(Theta Alpha Gamma #1)

RATING: 3 Stars

SUMMARY: Brad is great at meeting other people's expectations.  But his own?  Not so much.  Take the gay thing.  Okay, so yeah, it took a morning meeting with a frat brother's hairy, naked ass for him to admit it, but he knows the truth about himself now.  Let the gay life commence. 

Unfortunately, it's not that easy.  He hasn't quite determined how to come out to anyone even Sebastian, the geeky-hot TA in his history class.  Sebastian is everything Brad is not.  Intellectual, suave, hairy.  Out.  And he doesn't seem interested in Brad even when Brad makes a fool of himself trying to catch his notice.

Score one for foolery: Sebastian does more than notice Brad; he takes him to bed.  Brad's been with plenty of girls, but, with Sebastian, the sex is something else entirely--hot, mind-blowing, affirming, and a little domineering in a way that drives him wild.  But when great sex turns into something more--dare he admit the "L" word?  Brad must face the crushing realization that Sebastian doesn't feel the same.  Unless, of course, he does.  After all even grad students can be idiots about matters of the heart.

This was a very cute, and spicy, romance between two opposites that just clicked.  This was the first book I've read by Ms. Tenino and it definitely won't be my last.  The writing was clear and easy to read without seeming simplisitic.

The two main characters were alot of fun to read about.  I love it when authors take stereotypes and turn them on their heads which is exactly what happened here.  Brad "Frat Boy" seems like a normal college boy who houses a love of Home Economics and discovers a deeper obsession with his history teaching assistant, Sebastian.  What I really liked about his characters was how fully he embraced his new lifestyle.  He was a little hesitant about coming out to his fraternity, but never seemed ashamed of his feelings.

Sebastian was a little harder to know and seemed a bit standoffish at the beginning.  The sexy TA has been comfortable with his sexuality for years yet seems to shy away from anything beyond physical intimacy.  This creates quite a bit of drama between these two men as they navigate their feelings for each other.  I was pleasantly surprised by the way that Tenino handled the roles of Brad and Sebastian.  It was really interesting that Sebastian, who was already out, was much less comfortable with the emotional side of the relationship than Brad.   

I will also say that there is not a lack of sex scenes in this book.  They were very hot and well-written, but sometimes I felt like there was too much.  The emotional part of the story really grabbed my attention and I wanted there to be more of a balance.  That being said, I still found this to be an enjoyable read with great characters and a tender love story.


Love Hypothetically by Anne Tenino
(Theta Alpha Gamma #2)

RATING: 3 Stars

SUMMARY: Paul's been called many things--graduate student, humanities tutor, jock hater, even broke--but forgiving isn't one of them.  When the new women's softball coach specifically requests Paul to tutor his athletes, Paul's forced to put aside his strict "no athletes" policy for the sake of his paycheck.

Enter Trevor Gardiner, former Major League Baseball player and Paul's high school boyfriend. Yeah, that one--the guy who sacrificed Paul for the safety of his closet and his future career.  But, Trevor's come out and retired from baseball.  And now he's looking for forgiveness and a second chance.

There's no earthly reason Paul should give him one, but he keeps letting the man state his case. And touch him.  And take him sailing.  The waters are far from smooth, though, and Paul says awful things to Trevor he isn't sure he means.  Now Paul has to decide: apologize and forgive Trevor for everything or chalk it up as revenge and move on.

This is a companion novella to Tenino's Frat Boy and Toppy which means that the characters overlap, but I don't think the first book needs to be read in order to enjoy this one.  Like the first Theta Alpha Gamma book, I really liked Tenino's writing and her depiction of her characters.  I especially enjoyed the "lovers reunited" story line since it is one of my favorites.

I wasn't sure whether I would like Paul as a main character especially after the way he treated Brad and Sebastian in the first book in the series, but he grew on me.  He has definite social issues and is aware of these shortcomings.  It is obvious that Trevor's treatment of him in high school left scars so I was willing to give him a little leeway.  I always admire characters who acknowledge their flaws and try to learn from them.  His small journey to emotional maturity is really great to read about. 

As a reader, I didn't get a lot of background on Trevor beyond the former MLB player who comes out of the closet and searches for his high school boyfriend.  I understood the fear behind his actions towards Paul in high school, but it still made me predestined to not like him.  Since the entire story was written in Paul's point of view, I never felt like I knew what Trevor was really thinking.  That being said, I did enjoy his courting of Paul and found the boat scene to be really sweet.  

This was a completely different story than Frat Boy and Toppy which tells me that Tenino is comfortable with a variety of plots and characters.  I do wish that the story was longer because as soon as I felt like I was getting to know Paul and Trevor, it was over.  But, I think this is a mark in the book's favor since I wanted more.  I definitely recommend this duology of books for people who enjoy sweet and hot male/male romances.


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