I think this is by far my favorite of the Theta Alpha Gamma series by Anne Tenino and it’s definitely one of the best written of the series. I of course requested a copy from the publisher, Riptide Publishing as soon as I found out there was a new release in the series. It didn’t hurt that the cover had the cutest of all the guys in the series so far. Prepare yourself, a Goodreads observation/rant is about to follow, if you want to just read about the book and not my thoughts on female M/M romance writers and readers skip the next two paragraphs.
When I put in my star rating on Goodreads, I noticed that the overwhelming majority of the first page were female readers. I decided to look at the first 100, but there were only 60 written reviews, which I ignored for their general idiocy, and of those 52 of them were female. This really isn’t that shocking, as I’ve mentioned it before and I remember reading about it while studying for my Gender Studies degree, but I’m starting to find it really interesting which ones I like and which ones the female readers like. It’s almost always opposite and I’m not sure what that says about me, the females or about the writer.
If I had to guess I’d say it has something to do with a female desire for more sex in the novels and my desire for less sex in the novels. This novel I felt walked a great line and there were only three major sex scenes and insinuations of others, so roughly one scene per 100 pages, whereas I’ll have to look back to see those that have more sex in them to see if those are higher rated by women. Who knows, but I thought it was an interesting observation!
Now to actually talk about the book! I was definitely a bit thrown off at first as the first three-to-four chapters overlap the last few chapters of Good Boy and it just took too long for me to figure it out. But other than that, I thought the story was a bit more evolved and better written than the first few in the series. I thoroughly enjoyed finding out that Toby isn’t a total ass hat and finding out that no matter what Jock’s muscle-fueled exterior says he’s just as scared as the rest of us of getting hurt and conquering his fears.
Add in Jock’s coming out experience and how we think it happened and then what we find out happens and it’s affect on his hockey career, and this book has a newe dimension you don’t generally see in these type of novels. This new perspective(?) on the outing of sports players definitely made me question whether this had ever happened or if it would. (Sorry for the vagueness.)
There were a few times where some editing could’ve dropped the book a good chunk of pages, I’m specifically thinking about the beer terrorism, but in general I felt the book was a good length and it allowed us to see the evolution of Toby and Jock’s relationship. I was constantly frustrated with Jock’s inability to come to terms with a portion of his sexuality, but let’s face it so many gay men face the same issues and really need some sort of help/guidance in over coming it. Misogyny and internalized homophobia are huge problems within the gay-male community and I felt Tenino’s handling of the issues were excellent. And that last scene, even though it was a bit hokey, was perfect to me.
I mean we know I’m ridiculously hopeless when it comes to romance novels and that last scene was so over the top that I couldn’t help but think “OMG yes this is amazing,” while simultaneously laughing at the cheesiness of it. And that’s where Tenino hits her stride, she found her humor stride in this novel. I remember the others in the series being humorous, but I constantly found myself laughing throughout the novel and not because of its cheesiness, but somehow Tenino got into the minds of idiot teenage frat boys and their antics and shared that humor brilliantly.
Recommendation: If you’re going to read one in this series, I’d recommend this one! You’d miss a bit of back story and might not know who some of the characters are that reappear momentarily, but this book’s story is by far the most mature and the most interesting, for me at least!
Opening Line: “‘So…’ Toby began, balancing his beer cap on the side of his index finger flicking it toward the trash can with his thumb.”
Closing Line: “Toby grinned at him. ‘You’re gonna make me feel like a man.'” (Whited out.)