When Trevor Daniels is asked to compete in a reality signing competition looking for the next boy band, he is somewhat wary. Last year Trevor competed with his college a cappella group in a different show and his life has been totally turned upside down since then. He came out to his ultra-religious family, who have totally rejected him, and he learned he has diabetes. But Trevor is graduating college with no job and no money, so he decides to take a chance on the show, if only for the free room and board it provides.
When Trevor gets to Vancouver for the filming, he discovers he has been placed in the “cute, gay boy” group, Stand Out. Not only that, but the producers want to amp up the cuteness factor by having Trevor pretend to be boyfriends with Jalen Smith, another group member. The guys even have to share a room since the other two members of their group are a real life couple. The whole idea stresses Trevor out, especially since he definitely finds Jalen attractive. But Trevor still hasn’t emotionally come to terms with being gay, and his sexual encounters are always of the random hook up variety, followed immediately by soul crushing guilt for acting on his desire for men.
Putting on a show for the cameras is hard, but Jalen is a nice guy and determined to help take care of Trevor, especially when he learns that Trevor is hiding his diabetes from the show producers. Over time, the guys are drawn to one another more and more, eventually acting on their attraction. But both men have been told to pretend for the cameras, and even though each knows his own feelings are real, neither is quite sure that the other isn’t still just acting. As things heat up with the show, Jalen and Trevor’s relationship continues to grow, but the stress is also getting bigger. Both young men must admit their feelings for one another if they have any hope to be together long term, but they also must deal with Trevor’s health issues and figure out how to handle life after the show if they have any hope of a future together.
Love Me Tenor is the second book in Annabeth Albert’s Perfect Harmony series, following Treble Maker. We meet Trevor in that first book, but other than some passing mention of the events in that story, this really stands alone perfectly fine. That said, I loved Treble Maker and it was one of my favorite books of 2015, so I’d definitely recommend picking it up.
This is another great story set amid the backdrop of a singing reality show. The show isn’t as major a part of the book as in Treble Maker, and instead is a more of a backdrop to get these guys together. Even if you are not a big reality show fan, I think the set up works well here and connects this book nicely with the first in the series.
Albert does a great job helping us get to know Trevor and Jalen. Each has a well-developed back story that makes it easy to understand their insecurities and issues, but without being too much info dump. Trevor has really been struggling since coming out to his family and having them reject him. He is incredibly hurt, but he also misses them so much. And growing up in such a religious environment has really impacted his confidence and given him an incredible sense of guilt about partaking in any kind of sex. As a result, Trevor tends towards encounters with straight guys who use him, rarely even getting off until he is alone, and feeling horrible guilt when it is all over. So with Jalen we see Trevor slowly learn to accept his feelings, to be able to find happiness with Jalen without the guilt. On top of that, the rejection has taken its toll on his self confidence, and he has a hard time trusting that people he loves won’t leave him. So opening up fully to Jalen isn’t easy. It all takes time, but we get a nice growth for Trevor over the course of the book.
Jalen has things more seemingly together, but he too has issues of confidence. He needs to take care of people so badly, to be needed, and so he jumps right in to take care of Trevor. So Jalen has a particularly hard time when Trevor won’t open up to him, and takes it especially hard when Trevor doesn’t take care of himself the way Jalen thinks he should.
These two guys are really just sweet together, as well as definitely sexy. They are both in their first real relationship and learning to figure out how to work together. Set amidst the backdrop of the reality show, it gives some nice conflict as the guys deal with navigating their relationship on camera, and trying to figure out what is real and what is for the audience. I enjoyed this one quite a lot and am really liking this series. I would definitely recommend both Love Me Tenor and Treble Maker, especially to those who like young love stories and a reality show setting.