Head’s Up: This review is about a m/m romance novel rated way up in the NC-17s. Just so no one gets surprised…
I have not been a long time reader of romance novels, mostly because I’ve always considered the market to be dominated by heterosexual literature that I’ve got no interest in. However, I’ve started taking my first steps into feeling out the m/m romance world (that primarily is found in the online publishing environment). One of my first selections was a recent publication by Anne Tenino, Frat Boy and Toppy.
Frat Boy and Toppy is a classic jock-falls-for-nerd-and-vice-versa with a gay twist. The frat boy Brad is taking a classical Greek history class where he falls for the TA Sebastian. However, Brad hasn’t yet realized he’s gay (spoiler: he is). When he finds himself attracted to Sebastian, his role as a stud of the hetero frat is put on the line and he has to decide between being the fake persona he’s cultivated or giving into his lust for Sebastian and all things gay.
Where this novel really flies is its take on sex scenes. Varied, fun to read, titillating, and erotic as hell, Tenino knows how to make a point when it comes to sexy time. The sex scenes integrate well into the story and never seem shoe-horned in just because they audience would probably like their to be more raunch (not that Tenino is skipping on the raunch…). The flow of these scenes is echoed through the pace that rarely falters over the length of the story.
Sure, there are some clangy moments in the writing (the water in the shower in the opening scene is described as “pelletized,” which is weird and unsmooth [like pellets]), but overall, the story recovers nicely from these stylistic blunders. Further, some of the characters (namely Sebastian’s bitchy roommate) come across as one-dimensional and hateful for no discernible reason. Also, if you get invested in the story like I did, you’re going to wish that thirty more pages had been written so you knew how it all ended up!
Despite these minor issues, the book is a fun read that doesn’t take very long. For someone new to m/m romance, this was a good starting point, and I can’t wait to see what I’ll be able to find in the future.
JMF Rating: 6/10
Full disclaimer: This is a review of a galley received from the publisher through the NetGalley ARC distribution process. If you would like more information, please visit www.netgalley.com.