Jaxson Dane is a 23-year old, self-proclaimed geek and comic book lover. He is also a virgin, never having worked up the nerve to really pursue anything with a guy. Jaxson doesn’t think much of his own appeal, and is sure most guys won’t be interested in him. One day, Jaxson is having some “intimate fun” when he ends up with a sex toy stuck someplace no one wants one stuck, leading to a humiliating trip to the ER (accompanied by his twin sister and best friend, just to make it all the more embarrassing). The one saving grace is the hot nurse on duty, though Jaxson is too mortified to do much other than ogle.
Jaxson figures he will never see the guy again, but when Tyler Mason shows up at one of their family dinners, Jaxson is both thrilled and horrified. Jaxson’s family is fairly atypical to say the least — not one of them has a filter and pretty much everything is open for conversation… including Jaxson’s virginity. Though Jaxson just wants to run and hide, it turns out that Tyler is both understanding and friendly and helps ease some of Jaxson’s embarrassment. In fact, as the guys get to know each other, it becomes clear that the attraction between them is mutual. But Tyler has a lot to manage in his life, as he is unexpectedly raising his late brother’s 13-year-old son, and Tyler worries he can’t manage both a new relationship and his new parental duties. Added to that are Jaxson’s own anxieties, about his appeal to Tyler, about pursuing a relationship, and about his career. Now Tyler and Jaxson have to figure out if their fears are going to stand in their way, or if they want to try to build a connection together.
Sex Ed is a humorous, light story that incorporates some nice, silly fun. It also features some of my favorite tropes with a geeky, virgin hero and there is lots of fun superhero and comic book geekery built into the story as well. Heller does a nice job here combining the humor with some more serious themes and that helps to give the story some depth even with a lot of the craziness going on here. The guys have a fun meet cute as they encounter each other in the ER and I think they work well together. Tyler is generally patient and understanding with Jaxson, taking things at his pace and making sure he is comfortable as they move forward in their sexual relationship (in fact, despite the blurb and suggestiveness of the cover, this isn’t a particularly sex heavy book and the physical relationship between the men develops relatively slowly). I also really liked the dynamic between Tyler and his nephew Colton and how much priority Tyler puts on his role as a new parent. Colton is snarky and charming (though seemingly mature beyond his years) and I liked the connection between Tyler and Colton, as well as how they bring Jaxson into the relationship.
I will say that your feelings about this book will likely depend largely on whether the humor works for you or not. There is a large cast of secondary characters, including Jaxson’s parents; his twin sister, Sophie; his best friend, Ethan; his extended family; and his friends from work. All of them are loud, outrageous, and have zero filter. Conversation frequently revolves around all of their sex lives and they think nothing of discussing intimate details of their lives (or each other’s lives) in any and all situations. Over dinner they discuss their use of butt plugs, penis size, their own sex lives, each other’s sex lives, etc. They also all meddle incredibly in Jaxson’s personal life, including forcing him to come out because his mother was basically tired of pretending she didn’t know, and getting all up in his business when they realize he is still a virgin. Just as an example, his coworker decides Jaxson needs to go to a club to meet a guy (aka get laid) and Sophie and Ethan go along. This is her advice to Jaxson: “Stop being a fucking pussy. It’s time you put your asshole on display so some cocksucker can put his prize into the depths of the dark beyond.” There is also extensive bickering between Sophie and Ethan (he has a huge crush on her) where he drops creepy pickup lines and the two of them insult each other outrageously and constantly.
So… they’re a lot. They are supposed to be outrageous and crazy and over the top, and there is a lot I found entertaining. But there were times it was just way too much and I wanted to scream at them to have some freaking boundaries and for Jaxson to tell them to back the hell off already. I also found that the antics of these side characters overshadowed a lot of the story for me and Jaxson and Tyler’s relationship gets buried under page after page of the family craziness, particularly Ethan and Sophie. If there had been some payoff here in terms of relationship development from the two of them, maybe it would have worked better, but instead it is just them fighting over and over. Reading people insult each other non-stop just wasn’t that funny for me (nor am I a huge fan of “pussy” as an insult and it’s used frequently).
There is also a scene that bothered me where they are at the club and someone drugs Jaxson’s drink and he is out on the dance floor being all uninhibited. He is totally out of it and Tyler realizes Jaxson’s drink was drugged. This is while Tyler still thinks nothing can happen between them because of his responsibilities to Colton, but he takes the chance to enjoy some time with Jaxson by grinding up against him on the dance floor. Now Jaxson is drugged, he has no idea it is Tyler behind him (he thinks it is a stranger), and yet Tyler is getting himself all turned on talking dirty to and grinding against a guy who he knows is totally out of it. It just made me very uncomfortable.
I’ll also note that looking at Heller’s backlist, it appears that she has a series that features Jaxson’s mom, Moxie. The books were published around four years ago and focus on Moxie meeting Jaxson’s dad and their relationship. Chronologically, the first book of that series takes at least 23 years ago because it is before Jaxson is born. It probably explains why the family has such a big role here, and if you enjoy Moxie in this story, you may want to check out her books as well.
So like I said, I did find much of this story entertaining and I enjoyed Jaxson and Tyler together. Heller combines humor and more serious elements together well and there is a nice warmth here. It is clear thee people all love and care about each other. But not all the humor worked for me and things were at times just too outrageous or stole too much focus from Tyler and Jaxson for me. However, overall I fell on the side of enjoying this one, and particularly if it hits your humorous sweet spot, this is a light, fun read.