Sweet Young Thang
Title : Sweet Young Thang
Series : TAG Universe, Book #3
Author : Anne Tenino
Publisher : Riptide Publishing (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 377 pages (e-book)
Published : July 22, 2013
Rating : ★★★★★
When Plan A fails, turn to Man A.
Thanks to Collin Montes, Theta Alpha Gamma now welcomes gay and bisexual students. Persuading his Uncle Monty, president of the TAG Alumni Association, that the open approach won’t adversely affect TAG’s reputation is Collin’s own first step toward coming out. As long as there are no repercussions, he’ll escape the closet by graduation.
Enter repercussions, stage left: someone rigs the TAG House water heater to launch through the ceiling, then plants a bomb—thankfully unsuccessful—in the fraternity’s basement. Now Collin has his hands full not only trying to convince his uncle that this might not be the work of homophobes, but also dealing with a fratful of brothers worried about their kegger fridge.
Paramedic Eric Dixon can’t stop thinking about the kid he met during a call at his former college fraternity house. The age gap between them is trumped by sexy eyes, so when Eric sees Collin again at the bomb scene, he pursues him. Soon, Eric is dreaming of being a househusband, fighting to keep Collin safe from whoever’s trying to destroy the fraternity, and helping his sweet young thang realize that repercussions sometimes have silver linings.
I do this weird thing where the more I like an author the less likely I am to read all their books. I buy them, of course, then simply have them. I guess I’m saving them up for hard times. I don’t know! Anyway, my whole point in bringing up my strange behaviors is to comment the only author with whom I’ve not done this is Anne Tenino. Again, the why of this is something I don’t know. So, I read Sweet Young Thang, the continuation of the TAG series. Collin Montes is still in TAG and still in the closet despite being at the forefront of changing their rules and regulations to be inclusive of gay, bisexual, queer, and questioning guys wanting to rush their fraternity. They can’t agree on trans members. Collin is being crushed by the weight of his Uncle Monty’s expectations. He’s justifying this by reminding himself his uncle was there for him when his father died. Eric Dixon is a firefighter paramedic and former TAG member. He’s got a job that he finds rewarding regardless of the trials and tribulations of it. He does what makes him happy. When a fire in the TAG house causes the water heater to launch and destroy the stairs resulting in a nasty injury to one of the members Eric is called to the TAG house and meets Collin. Collin is a bit distracted but does manage to notice the sexy firefighter. Eric really notices the sexy frat boy. And of course his partner Val teases him about it later. The work day continues for Eric and dealing with the current state of homelessness the fraternity now finds itself in occupies Collin. Collin feels smothered by his responsibilities. He just wants to relax. That can’t happen and Brad and Sebastian’s place! He tries to lose himself in sex with Toby, but that just isn’t what he wants. Collin just goes to sleep and wakes up to find there is a bomb at the TAG house. When it rains it pours.
Collin and Eric meet again while the police are removing the bomb from the TAG house. They are both aware they are really interested in each other, but the situation doesn’t allow them the opportunity to really get together. Eric convinces his friends to go to the local college gay bar so he can find Collin. It works! They get together for a fantastic weekend of the best sex either of them have ever had. Eric scares Collin when he admits his feelings are getting very deep very fast. The real pressure on Collin comes from his Uncle Monty. Monty wants Collin to organize the perfect Alumni weekend and he feels the fire and bomb are both a result of the inclusive policy. Monty strongly feels the policy should be reversed. Monty also wants Collin to liaise with Sparky Donaldson about the alumni weekend despite the fact Sparky had already canceled a golf game with Collin. At least the frat has found temporary housing at a dorm. Collin and Eric begin to have regular nightly phone calls. It’s really cute! Eric is falling more and more in love with Collin. While working with a male model he has wanted for quite a while he can’t concentrate because he’s worried he’s cheating on Collin. Collin doesn’t even know Eric works with models. Meanwhile Collin has gone to loggerheads with his Uncle Monty about the frat’s inclusive policies. A funding war is brewing between the frat and the Alumni Association. Let me just say when at war you never negotiate with terrorists. There is another quick crisis when Tank’s little brother Jock suddenly transfers to Calapooya and needs to join TAG purely because of it’s inclusive policies. The brothers are all very proud to be inclusive and sensitive. Finally it’s the weekend and Eric and Collin are able to get together again. After they have a photography session and lots of sex they meet each other’s group of friends. It’s tense but good.
The Fire Marshall, Mike Taggart, has been conducting his investigation into the fire this whole time. Uncle Monty catches wind of the investigation and the fact Taggart is looking into a member of the Alumni Association. The final showdown between Uncle Monty and Collin doesn’t go well. Yes, Monty really is an elitist douche. As it turns out Mike was spot on with his suspicions. Eric gets the scare of his life when he has to go out on a call that involves Collin.
This book was laugh out loud funny. It was also evocative and touching. For me, the ability to make me laugh and then tear up just a few sentences away is one of Anne Tenino’s strengths. I would rather find a way to laugh about a horrible situation than wallow in depression about it. This book had the right balance of over the top ludicrousness without making me wince at its ludicrousness. It was turned up to eleven. The reality was a group of college fraternity guys knowing they want to be better people balanced with, “What would Tim Gunn do?” The TAG guys are sensitive, but they have some real issues implementing sensitivity effectively. Their attempts are hilarious as well as educational. Collin wasn’t the only one dealing with overzealous friends trying to “help.” Mike was a great friend to Eric who also had some issues implementing his attempts at sensitivity.
Parity in well intentioned but foolish friends wasn’t the only thing Eric and Collin shared. They really had a lot of the same stuff going on just at different points in their lives. It made their relationship work despite the fifteen year age difference. They were both college educated guys with the goal of a stable relationship and an eventual family. What could have been an issue with Collin’s personal wealth was averted with realistic explanations of his childhood and the power his Uncle Monty held over him. It’s also the power Uncle Monty wields that is the real issue of the book. I typically do not like books about the closet. Whereas the closet was an issue it was Collin’s desires to live up to Monty’s expectations that really were the stressors. It’s the reality of any coming of age tale. Collin had to grow up enough to learn to live life based on his own expectations.
The next novel in the series was set up. Jock has some serious problems going on. Toby is the last of the group of friends not yet paired off into a stable relationship. That’s just going to have to change. And, in case you’re curious, Paul is still an ass.
Rated 5 stars by Faye