Sweet Young Thang
“Sweet” is the operative word in this third installment of the Theta Alpha Gamma (TAG) fraternity series, and not in a good way. In fact, the love interest of the protagonist calls him about every possible variation of “sweet” there is, proving why at age thirty-something he’s unattached until he meets a sweet, young college boy.
After fraternity brother Brad came out at the end of Frat Boy and Toppy, TAG is the only fraternity to accept gay and bisexual members. As alumni liaison, Collin Montes is having trouble persuading his alum Uncle Monty that this is a step in the right direction, especially after an explosion and fire that levels the frat house.
Since Collin hasn’t told his family he’s gay yet, he’s sure Uncle Monty will be even less pleased to find out his sexual orientation and that his boyfriend paramedic Eric Dixon was a frat brother of Monty’s way back when. A bear-in-the-making, Eric’s only non-working pursuits are having sex with Collin and taking photographs of nude males for his online site, two other things Uncle Monty would abhor.
As the police and fire inspector try to find out who torched the TAG house and why, Collin runs interference as the alums, headed by Uncle Monty, and the frat brothers try to balance the house’s finances and to find place to live on campus. Oh, yes, and constant sex with someone who calls him “Sweetness” and every other nickname using the word “sweet” seems to be a bonus Collin loves.
Unfortunately, I didn’t love Eric as much as Collin seemed to. In fact, there were times when burly Eric used the “S” word that I wanted to throw the book at the wall – except that I read the galley on my Kindle and definitely didn’t want to throw it. I guess we can chalk this up to another way print is better than electronic.
Collin, too, was problematic for me. He was a charming mixture of adult as he led the frat brothers to temporary digs and dealt with the problems surrounding the frat’s stance on gays, but he was less believable and less charming as the shrinking flower lover and trembling nephew. He was downright laughable when he turned up at a meeting with Eric and his frat brothers told him that they all knew he was gay all along.
The biggest problem was the plot that jumped back and forth from the fire to the frat’s upheaval to Eric’s photography, all with sex, sex, and more sex thrown in as if Tenino didn’t know how to flesh out the story or knew what her story was. The minor mystery of who set the fire was blatantly obvious from the beginning, so even that didn’t help as an interesting thread.
The worst part of all is that I’ve read other Tenino books and really enjoyed them. I expected to enjoy this one also. Now I’m leery about opening my next Tenino book. Which author will I find writing the book?