Rating: 4.5 stars
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Collin Montes has always felt weighed down by the pressure of his responsibilities. His fraternity brothers seem to rely on him to deal with every problem, even though he isn’t technically an officer. And his uncle Monty has always placed high expectations on Collin’s shoulders, grooming him for a place in the family business and expecting Collin to follow the path through school and life that Monty has laid out.
Things become even more stressful when a fire in the Theta Alpha Gamma house injures one of the brothers and makes the house uninhabitable. But the one bright spot is that Collin meets Eric, a handsome firefighter paramedic who helps treat the injured brother. Collin and Eric have an instant spark, but the middle of an emergency is not the time to start anything. But when yet another crisis hits the house, Collin and Eric meet once again, reaffirming their interest in one another.
Eric Dixon doesn’t really know what he is doing falling for this young college student 15 years his junior, one in his former fraternity no less. But from the minute he meets Collin, there is something between them that neither man can deny. Their sexual chemistry is off the charts, but the guys just fit together in such a comfortable way, each providing strength and security to the other. A weekend together binds them with more intensity than either expected so early in a relationship.
But Collin continues to have to deal with a host of stressful problems, the biggest being his Uncle Monty and the rest of the Alumni Association. A year after the fratenity enacted an open acceptance policy of gay members, Monty and many of the alumni still think it is a bad idea. Monty claims to just be worried about the possible repercussions to the fraternity due to the negative reactions of others. And the attacks on the house seem to offer proof in Monty’s eyes that someone is retalaiting against them for their inclusive policy. Monty insists that the fratenity rescind its new policy, something the brothers are unwilling to do, and threatens to withhold funds if they do not fall in line.
With the constant dangers, increased pressures from his uncle, and additional responsibilities in the fraternity, Collin needs Eric more than ever. And Eric wants nothing more than to help care for his sweet young man and help him through all the stress. And as problems get worse and danger escalates, the men must stick with each other to get through the difficult times.
Sweet Young Thang is the third book in Tenino’s Theta Alpha Gamma series. Although Love, Hypothetically is the second book in the series, this story follows more closely from book one, Frat Boy & Toppy, as it features the fraternity and many of the same side characters. We first meet Collin in FB&T (he is the one who gives Brad the ambush shower blow job) and I found him a likable and really sympathetic character even then. We don’t get to know him very well in the first book, but we can see he is a lonely guy, one who still isn’t ready to come out despite the new policy and Brad’s out status. I felt for him as the object of his crush had already found his true love in Sebastian and was so glad to see Collin find his happiness here with Eric.
Tenino really helps us see the pressure Collin is under throughout the story. His phone rings day and night; everyone seems to think they can not survive without his input into every problem. His uncle is a pushy tyrant, but has always been a father figure to Collin and Collin doesn’t know how to say no to him. In fact, fear of Monty’s disappointment is what keeps Collin in the closet. We can really see how Eric’s unwavering support give Collin so much strength. He has a sense of peace and calm with Eric that he gets nowhere else, with everyone else just placing demands on him. For his part, Eric is like this big sexy bear. He is protective and loving and lives a fairly simple life. Despite their age difference, the connection between the two is obvious right away and they make such a lovely couple.
When I read a book by Anne Tenino, I know I will usuallly get two things: heat and humor. And this book doesn’t disappoint on either one. Oh my word are these men sexy together. They are burning up the page and the chemistry between them is amazing. Collin is a fan of tiny, colorful underwear and the men make good use of enjoying that. And the scene where Eric uses his photography skills to take pictures of first Collin and then both of them together? Whew! There is a lot more to these guys than just sex. We clearly see how they comfort and support one another. But yes, the sex is plenty hot.
Tenino also gives us lots of her trademark humor. I had some LOL moments here and lots of grins as I was reading. One of the recurring jokes is about the fraternity brothers navigating their new open and inclusive policy. They are all so excited about being “sensitive” and accepting of their gay members that they sometimes go overboard. Here is Collin trying to settle them down when someone sends out revealing pictures of one of the fraternity’s gay members giving a blow job and they want to rush in and defend his honor:
Shit. How to explain this? “It’s a little different for guys, right? I mean, if that was you getting your dick sucked by a girl—not your girlfriend; pretend you can’t even see her face—you wouldn’t feel shamed, right?”
Billings looked at Collin like he was the dense one. “Well, no . . . but my girlfriend would kill me, dude.”
Jesus H. “Okay! Imagine this—a picture of Jules goes around the internet of him getting his dick sucked—” Collin held up his hand, stalling the questions he could see coming. “I don’t know how we know it’s Jules. Pretend he has his name tattooed on his dick, whatever, but it’s Jules getting his dick sucked. What would you guys think of Jules?”
“That he’s a fucking dork for getting his name tattooed on his dick. What’s he gonna do, misplace it?” Flounder asked.
“I don’t have my name tattooed on my dick!” Jules stomped on the floor.
Collin ignored that for the good of his stress level.
“I’d think he’s a fucking stud,” Gomer yelled. “And lucky.”
Finally! “Do you get it, now? Jock doesn’t need to look for revenge, okay? He just needs to be left alone about this for now. And he needs you guys not to be total douche bags and make him feel like a freak because he likes to suck dick and not, you know,” Collin waved his hand in the air. “Do that other thing.”
“Eat pussy,” Turbo supplied helpfully.
“So . . .” Danny began, clearly thinking. That can’t be good.
“Shouldn’t we, like, congratulate him for getting some?” When Collin just stared, he went on, beginning to look faintly green. “I mean, tell him that that guy’s dick looked—” He paused, swallowing. “Uh, juicy, ’n’all . . .”
“For fuck’s sake, no!” Collin said.
Danny looked hurt, lower lip poking out. “Man, I’m just trying to be sensitive the best I can. This sensitivity shit is hard.” He looked at Kyle. “And that fucking sensitivity training class—”
“Danny,” Collin snapped. “Whenever sensitivity is called for in the future, I think you should ask yourself, ‘What would Tim Gunn do?’”
Comprehension—or something—dawned, and slowly Danny began to nod. Collin glanced around, and other guys were nodding too. Shit, he should have started with the Tim Gunn thing.
I swear, that is my new mantra for whenever I find myself navigating difficult social waters. What would Tim Gunn do? I have no doubt whatever he would come up with would be infinitely better than my own ideas. (And I just love that they guys are obsessed with Project Runway!)
I did have some small things that bugged me here though. First, I found myself a little frustrated with the whole side plot involving the Alumni Association and their attempts to influence the membership policy. It just felt perhaps a bit too contrived as a way to bring conflict between Collin and Monty. I mean, I get that many fraternties have unofficial “dont ask, don’t tell” policies toward gays (or worse) and that not everyone would have been in favor of their new open membership policy. But what does this Alumni Association expect at this point, suddenly they are going to remove their policy allowing gays? Doesn’t that seem like a PR nightmare? For a guy like Monty who only cares about appearances, he is really encouraging them to officially rescind their openness policy? And where is the school and the greek council and the fraternity’s national group in all this? It just seemed like a weird abuse of power to have this battle going on between the active and alumni memmbers. Of course, I was never in a sorority so maybe this all is totally realistic, I don’t know. I just found it distracting from the romance bwetween Collin and Eric and from the suspense/mystery plot. Speaking of the mystery, I think a bit more could have developed here. I was actually quite interested in the why of it all and that part kept me guessing, but the person behind the attacks was clear to me from the very start.
I also think some of the side threads could have been tightened up here. This is a fairly long story with lots of small things happening that might not all have been needed. For example, there is a side plot featuring Tank and his gay brother, Jock, who transfers to the school. This leads to a whole storyline about Jock, how he got kicked off his old school’s hockey team, the guys from his school who are trying to out him with the fraternity, etc. I am just not sure that all this added anything to the book. The only thing I can imagine is that we are setting Jock up for his own story. But in such a long book, I am not sure we needed so much time on a side character in a subplot that doesn’t really add much to the main story.
But those are small things and I truly enjoyed this story. Tenino is one of my favorite writers and this was such a great addition to the series. Sexy, fun, and very romantic. I really loved this one and would definitely recommend it to you guys.
Cover review: I loved this cover as well. It works even better when yo uhave read the book, as it includes elements from Eric’s passion for photography, as well as Collin’s famous tiny purple briefs. Really well done.