Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino


Title: Sweet Young Thang
Author: Anne Tenino
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 419
Characters: Collin Montes, Eric Dixon
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 5


Blurb:

When Plan A fails, turn to Man A.

Thanks to Collin Montes, Theta Alpha Gamma now welcomes gay and bisexual students. Persuading his Uncle Monty, president of the TAG Alumni Association, that the open approach won’t adversely affect TAG’s reputation is Collin’s own first step toward coming out. As long as there are no repercussions, he’ll escape the closet by graduation.

Enter repercussions, stage left: someone rigs the TAG House water heater to launch through the ceiling, then plants a bomb—thankfully unsuccessful—in the fraternity’s basement. Now Collin has his hands full not only trying to convince his uncle that this might not be the work of homophobes, but also dealing with a fratful of brothers worried about their kegger fridge.

Paramedic Eric Dixon can’t stop thinking about the kid he met during a call at his former college fraternity house. The age gap between them is trumped by sexy eyes, so when Eric sees Collin again at the bomb scene, he pursues him. Soon, Eric is dreaming of being a househusband, fighting to keep Collin safe from whoever’s trying to destroy the fraternity, and helping his sweet young thang realize that repercussions sometimes have silver linings.

Review:

The TAG series by Ms. Tenino just keeps on improving. I’ve been waiting for Collin’s story, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The blurb pretty much covers the main plot. The TAG house has introduced a new GLBT-accepting policy, and it’s rubbing people the wrong way. It seems like everyone is just waiting for an epic fail. But a house fire and a bombing? These are the events that bring Collin the frat boy and Eric the paramedic into direct contact, and the attraction is strong. But troubles lay ahead, and someone is clearly targeting TAG—and maybe Collin too.

Now while I love the subtlety of all the romances born between Ms. Tenino’s heroes—in this story too—I do confess that I read the TAG series because of the TAG frat meetings. Every. Single. Time. Hilarity! I laugh out loud when these boys come together to discuss things. Be it Brad’s coming out (in Frat Boy and Toppy, TAG #1—best scene ever!) or the frat’s new housing situation (no more keggers?! Logic of frat brothers!), I simply adore these scenes. They flow so naturally, they’re funny and realistic and super-uplifting. When you read them, you’ll see. The best parts of the series!

In this story the romance is May-December. Collin is young and Eric is older. Collin has had meaningless sex and Eric has had a relationship with a cheater. Together, Collin and Eric form a wonderful couple. Do not mistake Collin’s youth for lack of experience, smarts or strength of will. Though we get to know a lot about Eric too, I felt that Collin was the more developed character. I liked him a lot, the loneliness he feels, the fears and doubts, and then growing to become his own man. Collin’s a hero, an idol in many ways, but he’s also such a down-to-earth kind of guy one can’t help but love him.

The plot offers a few twists, though some are easier to figure out than others. Pretty much my only complaint about this book is that some parts could have been condensed a bit because there are a few parts that read somewhat unnecessary and they slow the story down. Still, Ms. Tenino’s engaging manner of writing makes it impossible to skip even a word, so this is a minor issue.

So, overall, another great addition to the TAG series, well worth the read. Though these are standalones, I recommend people start with the first TAG book, a classic, just to get the feel of this series and the funny, smart, compelling writing.

TAG series in order:
Frat Boy and Toppy
Love, Hypothetically
Sweet Young Thang
Good Boy

Reviewed By: Susan

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Love Hypothetically by Anne Tenino


Title: Love, Hypothetically
Author: Anne Tenino
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 120
Characters: Paul, Trevor Gardiner
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 4.5


Blurb:

Hypothetical love can be a real pain in the ass.

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 at Calapooya College 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.

Review:

Ms. Tenino writes well, as usual, but this time I was left wanting a bit more. The resolution here came a bit too fast for me.

In high school, Paul and Trevor were secret lovers. Well, friends with benefits, really. Then to save his own skin, Trevor outed Paul, making his last month there pure hell. Now, nine years later, Trevor has just started working at the same college where Paul works—and he’s looking for a second chance. Paul decides to exact some scores. Perhaps a bout of revenge sex would make him feel better. But… their unresolved issues are more matters of the heart than anything else.

In the first TAG series book, Paul was a total dickhead. Now we find out why he hates jocks so much. Paul is a cynical man who can’t help but annoy people with his sharp tongue. Trevor is shy but determined to win Paul back, and he’s a mix of nervous balls of energy and shy sensuality. The strong attraction between them is still there after nearly a decade, and it complicates matters.

The pace is quick, and the dialogue is where this story shines, realistic and engaging. The plot, however, moves so fast that I was left wanting more, a deeper, more detailed background and current state of affairs. The forgiveness from both sides came really quickly, which I personally found somewhat annoying. But then again, a person who can forgive easily is by definition good. In fact, Paul’s learning curve into the intricacies of apologizing makes for some of the best scenes in the book.

All in all, another good book in the series, but IMHO it doesn’t compare with the first, Frat Boy and Toppy, which is a classic. Still, well worth the read. Recommended.

Reviewed By: Susan

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Pickup Men by LC Chase


Title: Pickup Men
Author: L.C. Chase
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 175
Characters: Marty Fairgrave, Tripp Colby
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Cowboys/Western, Erotic Romance
Kisses: 5


Blurb:

It takes a pissed-off Brahma bull named Shockwave to show rodeo pickup man Marty Fairgrave the cold hard truth about champion bull rider Tripp Colby: Tripp will never leave the safety of his closet or acknowledge Marty in public. Sometimes loving someone just isn’t enough, and after a year of hiding what they are, Marty finally sees the light—and it’s no longer shining on Tripp.
Tripp Colby would do anything for Marty. Well . . . almost. He’s never loved anyone before, and isn’t quite sure how to handle it now. But he knows Marty is his everything, and in order to win him back, Tripp will have to overcome his darkest fears and step into the light.
But no matter Tripp’s intentions, the cost might be too high and the effort too late for these two cowboys to ride off into the sunset.

Review:

This story is filled with melodrama and hindrances of all kinds. Marty’s a pickup man, rescuing rodeo cowboys from bucking bulls and raging horses, and he’s also out and proud. Tripp, his secret lover of many years, is a rodeo champion, so deep in the closet he can barely see daylight. Not even Marty’s accident can prompt him to leave the safety of his self-imposed exile. Marty decides then to cut him loose, a lost battle. Yet they’re in the same business, and can’t avoid one another. Their passion remains as strong as ever, but finding permanent solutions is hard.

There’s a lot happening here. Both men get injured for different reasons, but the wounds in their hearts are the biggest. Melodrama! But it didn’t matter that every obstacle known to man stood between them because I was simply riveted, immersed into the story fully. There’s a great deal of angst and emotional turmoil here, and it rips your heart out. The writing reflects this tremulous emotional journey.

The sexual tension between the two men is constantly present, even when they’re in the opposite sides of the room, but there’s not much sex here overall. A few scenes only, but they are explicit. Marty has friends, an admirer, and a stable family life, while Tripp has no friends, no suitors, and no family, no place to call home. The characterization puts these two men against each other, yet their natures are similar, proud and headstrong—just for different reasons. Marty’s in love, while Tripp’s caught in fear. Considering the revelations about his past, no freaking wonder!

So, a decidedly good cowboy tale, recommended to all who likes their men pure rough-stock.

Reviewed By: Susan

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Never A Hero by Marie Sexton


Title: A Tucker Springs Novel: Never a Hero
Author: Marie Sexton
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 174
Characters: Owen Meade, Nick Reynolds
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kisses: 5




Blurb:

Everyone deserves a hero.

Owen Meade is desperately in need of a hero. Raised by a mother who made him ashamed of his stutter, his sexual orientation, and his congenitally amputated arm, Owen lives like a hermit in his Tucker Springs apartment. But then hunky veterinarian Nick Reynolds moves in downstairs.

Nick is sexy and confident, and makes Owen comfortable with himself in a way nobody ever has. He also introduces Owen to his firecracker of a little sister, who was born with a similar congenital amputation but never let it stand in her way. When she signs the two of them up for piano lessons—and insists that they play together in a recital—Owen can’t find a way to say no. Especially since it gives him a good excuse to spend more time with Nick.

Owen knows he’s falling hard for his neighbor, but every time he gets close, Nick inexplicably pulls away. Battling his mother’s scorn and Nick’s secrets, Owen soon realizes that instead of waiting for a hero, it’s time to be one—for himself and for Nick.

Review:

Wow! I’ve only read a few books by Marie Sexton, but after reading this one, I suddenly have the desire to go back and read her entire back-lists of stories. Never a Hero is also the first Tucker Springs novel I’ve had the privilege to read. I will confess, that after I read it, I went back and ordered the others in this series and read them too. Each story is really special, but I will say that Never a Hero is definitely one of my favorites in the series.

What I liked about this book was the relationship between Owen and Nick. Both men have their own personal issues they must work through. Each man has been hurt and betrayed in his own way. I liked how their relationship evolved from friendship into something truly special between them. I found myself really rooting for this couple. Both Owen and Nick are easy to like, love and hope that they have their happy ending together.

We see early on that Owen has some baggage, but what was refreshing was the problem that Nick had. At first glance, Nick looks like he’s got it all going on for him. He’s successful, smart, funny and sexy as all get out! I liked how patient and kind he was to Owen and loved how Owen literally grew into a more confident man because of him. I also loved how Owen’s love for Nick also gave the ability to give his heart to him as well as forgive himself of his past.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a Tucker Springs novel. I’ve read each book and I highly recommend them. There has a home town feel to them and I love the camaraderie between all of the characters. Highly Recommended!

The Tucker Springs novels are:

Where Nerves End by LA Witt
Second Hand by Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan
Dirty Laundry by Cullinan
Covet Thy Neighbor by LA Witt
Never a Hero by Marie Sexton

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Too Stupid To Live by Anne Tenino


Title: Too Stupid to Live
Author: Anne Tenino
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 315
Characters: Sam and Ian
POV: Ian and Sam
Sub-Genre: Contemporary
Kisses: 4 Kisses


Blurb:

It isn’t true love until someone gets hurt.

Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His One True Love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, and/or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until 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. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until 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?

This title is #1 of the Romancelandia series.

This title is part of the Whitetail universe.

Review:

When I started reading, I wasn’t sure if I liked the way things were going. The characters seemed two-dimensional, with Ian appearing to be your typical “do-er” and Sam your typical “over-thinker”. However, as I kept reading, Sam’s gawky, romantic-lit mind started to appeal to me and cracks appeared in Ian’s façade, showing that he wasn’t your typical jock.

The story starts with an undecided, beaten down feel which slowly begins to change into something more positive and hopeful (but still fairly confused). I enjoyed watching Sam come out of the macho shell his father had instilled in him, and the confusion that arose from actually having to emotionally connect to people.

By the end of the story, I felt upbeat and rather attached to Ian, Sam, and their friends. I found this story to be mid-range as far as angst and events went, and overall, an enjoyable read.

Reviewed By: Alison

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Flawless by Cat Grant


Title: Flawless
Author: Cat Grant
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 91
Characters: Steve Campbell, Gil Alvarez
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance, Transgender
Kisses: 5


Blurb:

Steve Campbell used to be a player, until a mid-life crisis opened his eyes to his long-repressed love for Connor, his soon-to-be-married best friend and business partner. Coming out at thirty-eight means learning how to date all over again, and this time, Steve’s not willing to settle for empty one-night stands. He wants the real thing.

Gil Alvarez has never had it easy, struggling through childhood and rejected by his family for a body that didn’t match who he was inside. A skilled driver and mechanic, he’s working hard to make his auto shop a success. The last thing he needs is a rich white guy in a candy-apple-red Ferrari tempting him, but Steve’s ready smile and easygoing manner prove irresistible.

One brief, intimate encounter leaves them both hungry for more. Gil’s not ashamed of who he is, but he’s terrified that Steve will reject him—or worse—when he discovers what Gil can’t find the courage to tell him.

Review:

I’ve read several books by Ms. Grant and I’ve enjoyed them all. She has a way of really getting to the heart and soul of her characters and she always writes an interesting, compelling story. The blurb does an excellent job at describing what the book is about, so I won’t rehash it. Instead, I thought I’d write about why I liked this book and why I recommend it.

Since the blurb hints at what’s going on with Gil, I don’t think I’m spoiling it by confirming he is a female to male transsexual. Unfortunately, there are not enough books written about transgendered heroes and I admit I couldn’t wait to read this one! I’m very glad I did! Ms. Grant does an excellent job at portraying Gil’s fear of rejection because he is a transman. Even though Gil is afraid of being hurt, I quickly found myself admiring his strength to live the life he’s meant to live, as well as, his willingness to give Steve a chance to win his heart. Gil is definitely a memorable, honorable hero and I truly loved him.

Like Gil, Steve is another likeable, interesting character. I thought his patience and determination to be with Gil was an honorable one and I loved the way he cared for Gil. It was so easy to fall under the spell of these two men and I enjoyed every minute I spent reading about them. My only gripe about the book is that I wished it had been longer. I do hope Ms. Grant will one day revisit these characters and allow us to watch these two men really achieve the happily ever after that they truly deserve.

Flawless is a beautifully told story that lived in my heart and mind long after I finished reading the story. If you are looking for a well-told romance between two very special men, this is definitely the book for you! Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Blessed Isle by Alex Beecroft

Title: Blessed Isle
Author: Alex Beecroft
Publisher: Riptide
Pages: 103
POV: First person, switching from Harry and Garnet each chapter.
Sub-Genre: Historical Romance
Kisses: 5

 

 

Blurb:

Captain Harry Thompson has dreamed of this moment all his life. To have his own crew and ship and to set sail for King and country under His Majesty’s Royal Navy. It has been a long journey to becoming Captain, but if anyone deserved it, Harry did. So it was, on his first journey as Captain, he was hoping for things to go swimmingly, until he came along.

Enter First Lieutenant Garnet Littleton. With his brown eyes and jet black hair and voice that could melt the coldest of hearts, it was no wonder the instant Harry’s eyes set upon him he felt a weakness in his knees. And Garnet notices. Being almost complete opposites, with Harry putting duty and honour first and Garnet living life as it comes to him and having as  much possible fun with it, the two can never see eye to eye. But when their lives are all threatened by a horrible storm, things change. A fever hits the crew and people start to drop like flies and with another storm on the horizon, Captain Harry must make a choice in letting the prisoners help or surely perish with just his remaining men. It’s in these times of illness, mutiny and death that Harry and Garnet are finally able to to see not only the value of one another, but the love as well.

Review:

Let me just start by saying how much I LOVED this book. The way Beecroft writes makes it so I don’t want to stop. I had to work third shift the day I started reading it, and doing so made me only get three hours of sleep. But it was well worth it. The story is told in such a way, it plays like a movie in your head. I swear at one point I could taste the sea water in the breeze. I fell in love with both Garnet and Harry for their obvious differences. I also love the fact that Alex doesn’t give an exact say as to who is “top or bottom”. These men are men of the sea and of the military. They both fight for their lives and save one another. And without having to go into detail of the sex scenes, she still makes you feel the love and connection between both men. I will be reading a lot more by this author and I suggest the same for anyone who loves a great plot and a lot of action.

Reviewed By: Seth Azzarello

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