Sanford Stewart is a pretty average guy most of the time, working a boring job in insurance and spending time with his best friend Paul. But Sandy is also the fierce drag queen Helena Handbasket, and Helena rules over Jack It, the club where she performs. Jack It has been Sandy’s safe haven since he was a baby gay trying to sneak in at age 17, and it is the place where he learned to be Helena. Sandy would do just about anything for Jack It, but that is put to the test when Mike, the club owner, comes to Sandy for help.
It turns out that the conservative mayor is planning a downtown revitalization that doesn’t include a gay club and Jack It is at risk of not having their contract renewed. Mike wants Sandy to seduce Darren Mayne, the mayor’s son, in hopes that Darren can convince his father to save the club. The problem is that Sandy hates Darren, the “Homo Jock King,” for hurting him years before. Sandy thought there was a connection between them, but Darren tore Sandy down and humiliated him, and neither Sandy nor Helena can forgive that. Nothing Darren can do now will be enough for Sandy, but Sandy reluctantly agrees to the plan in order to save the club.
Of course, nothing works out quite like planned. Darren and Sandy bicker and fight just like always, but there is a piece of Sandy that realizes he might actually not hate Darren. In fact, he might find him gorgeous and be quite attracted to Darren. But Sandy also was hurt before and he is not ready to risk his heart again. Even if it maybe looks like Darren feels the same way.
Oh, this book was so good! I have eagerly been awaiting this sequel to Klune’s Tell Me It’s Real, as I fell in love with Sandy in that book and couldn’t wait for him to get his own story. And this is perfectly delicious and totally hysterical. It is everything I wanted and more.
So if you have read Klune’s other work, in particular Tell Me It’s Real, it probably won’t surprise you that this story is laugh out loud funny. Like seriously, cracking up as I was reading. Sandy is sassy and fierce, especially as Helena. He rambles and goes on tangents and has his mind going a million places, each crazier than the next. His banter and fighting with Darren is adorably absurd and I love that Darren can just about match him for witty comebacks and fierce comments. And of course, between Paul, his boyfriend Vince, and Paul’s crazy family, things are never dull. This story is just side-splittingly funny, and trust me, be prepared for embarrassing laugh out loud moments if you are reading this in public.
What I love best here is that Klune doesn’t rely just on the humor to carry the story. There is so much more to this book, making it so rich and well developed. We get some real emotional moments here as we learn more about both Sandy and Darren. In particular we see how much Sandy was hurt by those cruel comments Darren made long ago and how he has built up this wall to protect himself. Sandy struggles with his attraction to Darren, and part of him wants so much to believe that Darren is sincere in his feelings, but the other part of him can’t help but be afraid to trust in that. Klune does a wonderful job showing Sandy’s strength and vulnerability, especially in the way he sometimes needs to hide behind Helena’s more fierce personality. We are in Sandy’s POV, so we get less of a sense of Darren, but we still get to learn about him as well and can see how much he cares about Sandy, but just doesn’t know how to break through the wall Sandy has put around his heart.
The story is also super romantic and quite sexy. The guys don’t get together until fairly late in the story, but Klune makes the most of the sexual tension between them. The scene where Darren helps Helena change after a show has more heat than many full on sex scenes I have read. We can see the longing these guys have for one another and even their bickering and Sandy’s pushing Darren away can’t hide how much they want one another. When they finally get together, it is delicious and super sexy. But what I loved the most is how I got all the heart tingles as well. It takes Sandy a while to really understand and accept Darren’s feelings, but when he realizes how much Darren truly cares for him, and how much he cares for Darren in return, you can practically hear the music swelling. It is just so epically romantic and beautifully done.
So this story was a total winner for me. I really liked Tell Me It’s Real, but The Queen & the Homo Jock King exceeded all of my expectations. It is a brilliant combination of hysterically funny, incredibly romantic, and quite sexy, all in one package. I loved every minute and highly recommend it.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.