Let the gay life commence.
Brad is great at meeting other people’s expectations. But his own? Not so much. Take the gay thing. Okay, so yeah. It took a morning meeting with a frat brother’s hairy, naked ass for him to admit it, but he knows the truth about himself now. Let the gay life commence.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. He hasn’t quite determined how to come out to anyone, even Sebastian, the geeky-hot TA in his history class. Sebastian is everything Brad is not. Intellectual, suave, hairy. Out. And he doesn’t seem interested in Brad, even when Brad makes a fool of himself trying to catch his notice.
Score one for foolery: Sebastian does more than notice Brad; he takes him to bed. Brad’s been with plenty of girls, but with Sebastian, the sex is something else entirely—hot, mind-blowing, affirming, and a little domineering in a way that drives him wild. But when great sex turns into something more—dare he admit the “L” word?—Brad must face the crushing realization that Sebastian doesn’t feel the same. Unless, of course, he does. After all, even grad students can be idiots about matters of the heart.
- 3 Read lists
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Alpha Character, Coming of Age, Coming Out / Closeted, First Time, Geek and Jock, Healing Power of Sex
Word Count: 50000
Setting: Eugene, Oregon
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
He got Kyle up the front stairs, and when he opened the door, Julian was standing in the entry again. Why was he always there?
Jules looked at them, then zeroed in on Kyle, his brow wrinkling. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Uh,” Kyle said.
“Got overheated,” Brad said.
Jules’ brow wrinkles grew. “It’s, like, fifty-five degrees out there.”
“He was in the sauna.” Brad began steadily working his way around Jules, pushing Kyle toward the stairs.
“I thought he was just going to get some gum.”
“He decided to take a sauna while he chewed it.”
“That’s just weird,” Jules muttered. Then he pulled a feather duster out of his back pocket and started knocking dust off the tops of the many framed pictures of past and present frat members.READ MORE
Jules was just weird. Brad prodded Kyle up the stairs thinking about the best way to get the guy to snap out of the shock and make sure he kept his fucking mouth shut until Brad was prepared for his queerness to be general knowledge.
“Brad’s gay,” Kyle blurted as soon as they walked into their room and found Collin there, a pile of clean laundry on his bed in front of him.
“Kyle!” Brad yelled.
“You told him?” Collin asked at the same time.
“He saw me with Sebastian.”
“Collin knows?” Kyle asked. “You told him before you told me?”
Brad scowled at him. He might have had more sympathy if Kyle hadn’t just tried to tell Collin himself.
“I found out kinda like you did,” Collin told his laundry. “By accident.”
“I need to sit down.” Kyle stumbled to his desk chair.
Brad followed and stood over him. “Dude, you cannot go around telling people. I’m going to tell the rest of the guys—”
“You are?” Collin asked sharply.
“I’m going to tell the rest of the guys about me.” Subtle emphasis on “me.” He turned back to Kyle. “But I’m doing it when I’m ready. I’m not fucking having you wandering around telling everyone.”
“Dude.” Kyle sounded even more hurt. “I wouldn’t do that to you, bud. I’d never tell.”
“You just walked in here and announced it to Collin!”
“Oh, yeah. I think it was the shock,” Kyle said slowly. “Won’t happen again, swear.”
Brad eyed him for a minute while Kyle looked up at him in earnest. “It can’t. If I don’t control how this comes out, it could get ugly.”
Some kind of understanding settled over Kyle. He nodded firmly and sat up straighter.
It still took the guy forever to get his mind around it. At least, it seemed like forever as Brad sat in his desk chair listened to Kyle’s random thoughts on his gayness. They bubbled up out of him like gas out of a tar pit.
Brad was annoyed and bored as shit within ten minutes.
Apparently, Collin was, too. “It’s not like he’s the only gay guy in the frat.”
“There are other gay guys in this frat?”
Collin shrugged and looked away, still folding laundry. Kyle stared at him a minute longer, then turned to Brad, face slack in surprise. “Are there? Other gay guys in this frat?”
Brad shrugged, managing a much less self-conscious one than Collin. “Statistically there have to be, man.”
“Yeah, but do you know any?”
Collin froze with a pair of holey briefs in his hand and whipped his head around. Kyle didn’t notice, focused solely on Brad. For his part, Brad gave Kyle his most forbidding expression. “I don’t come and tell, dude.”
“You fucked him?” Kyle’s voice rose so high Brad thought it might crack. “This other gay guy?”
Shit. “Why are you hets all so intercourse-centric? There’s a lot more to sex than sticking it in and wiggling it around.” Brad felt like he was forcibly broadening Kyle’s mind with, like, a can opener.
Kyle’s mouth dropped open. “Hets? Intercourse-centric? Who are you?”
“Same guy I’ve always been. This is just a part of me you’ve never seen before.” He crossed his arms over his chest and eyed Kyle steadily.
Kyle shut his mouth with a snap and swallowed audibly. “Okay. Okay, so, there’s hand jobs and blowjobs and fucking, right?”
Brad snorted. “That’s a good start.”
“What else is there?”
Brad tilted his chair back. He never got to be the tutor, so he planned to make the most of it. “Well, there’s frottage. Or, as the French say it, ‘frot-AZH.’ A lot of guys start there.” He supposed. Based on his research.
Collin smirked. Kyle’s eyes widened. “Frottage?”
“Rubbing off on someone. It’s really great when one guy has his hand around both—”
“Dude!” Kyle shouted, palm to Brad and doing the closed-eyed cringe. “No details. Only the basics, man.” Collin started coughing hysterically into the pair of socks he’d just balled up. Kyle turned to him. “Got to you, too, huh?”
Collin only hacked harder.
Kyle shook his head slowly. “I think you made him inhale something, man. That was cruel.”
“He’ll be fine.”
Once Collin had recovered himself, Kyle broached the subject again. “So, uh. That’s it, right?”
Brad grinned. “You know, your asshole—”
“Don’tusethatword!” Kyle was doing a whole-body cringe this time. Brad chanced a look at Collin, who was desperately trying not to laugh and refusing to meet Brad’s eyes.
He got his smile under control and cleared his throat. “Sorry. You know, your anus . . .” he paused to see if Kyle had any objections. Kyle made a pained “go ahead” motion with his hand. “Your anus is one of the most sensitive parts of your body. It’s more sensitive than a lot of your dick. ’Course, if you’d never been circumcised and still had a frenulum, that wouldn’t be the case.”
“Dude! How do you know I’m circumcised? Have you been checking me out?” Brad raised an eyebrow and regarded him steadily until Kyle muttered, “Yeah, never mind.”
“There are lots of things you can do to your anus—or someone else can do—that are pretty fucking awesome. And that’s not even mentioning the prostate.”
“Oh, God,” Kyle whined. He planted his elbows on his knees and hid his face in his hands.
Some devil made him do it. Brad winked at Collin before saying, “And of course, there’s getting fucked.”
Kyle’s hands fisted in his hair. “But you don’t do that, right?”
Brad just sat there, the chair creaking as he rocked it back and forth on its hind legs.
Collin cleared his throat. “You bottom?”
Brad nodded precisely. “All the time.” He didn’t know why he wanted these guys to know. Well, he did. It pissed him off that people would just figure, since he was the jock and Sebastian was the brain, that Brad must be fucking him.
Even Collin thought so, it was obvious by the way his eyes bugged out.
Kyle lifted his head and looked to Collin. “Did he say what I think he just said?”
“Yeah. He did. Um . . . excuse me, I think I need to go take a shower.” Collin grabbed a clean pair of briefs and a T-shirt off the bed and scrambled out the door, holding his clothes in front of his groin.
Kyle frowned at Brad reproachfully. “Dude. You can’t say shit like that to just anyone. You scared the hell out of Collin. I’m your best friend; I can come to terms with this shit—” Kyle cleared his throat “—given time. But Collin, man, and the other guys . . .”
Well, that was enough bullshit for one day. “Kyle, I don’t really give a fuck anymore. I’m not hiding it, and if the other guys want to kick me out of the frat, they can go right ahead. After I tell them.” He let the front legs of his chair hit the floor and stood up. “And just so we’re clear, Sebastian’s my best friend.”
Kyle stared silently while Brad grabbed his cell and his keys off his desk and checked his backpack to make sure it had his books. He slung the strap over his shoulder, smiled perfunctorily at Kyle, clapped him on the shoulder, and walked out. “Going to the library. See ya.”
Dear Ms. Tenino.
I loved this book. Just loved it. I read it in one sitting, finally going to sleep at 3am on Friday night, damn you. In retrospect, it has flaws, but I didn’t notice them as I was reading.
Brad is a football player and in a frat. I really REALLY love the way the book starts:
One of Brad’s frat brothers bent over naked in the locker room showers early one Thursday morning, and he thought, “I’d tap that.”
He stood there frozen, skin stinging from the pelletized water, soap suds streaming down his chest while his world made a . . . What did they call that? Paradigm shift.
Dammit, dammit, dammit. He’d been trying to avoid this. Admitting it to himself. Consciously. His subconscious had been admitting it for a while in his sleep. Emitting it.
Brad flicked another quick look at Collin. Yeah, he still had a delectable ass. Dammit.
Brad had spent years trying to avoid the “G” word, but denial was suddenly circling the drain. He stared at the water pouring down at his feet, and thought about hanging on to the security that came with telling himself he wasn’t into guys. But it was pointless, right? It wasn’t going to go away. Trying not to know it now was like trying to make the soap suds go back in the bar.
Frat Boy and Toppy by Anne TeninoBrad gets to the point where he just wants to figure it out, get it right for once. So he accepts that he’s gay and starts chasing his delectable history TA, Sebastian. Now, this is where I start getting really picky — do TAs just grade papers? Maybe in some schools? Are you going to have a Ph.D. student at a College? I don’t think so. And no one, NO ONE *EVER* enjoys grading. Ever. Or if they do, I wish they’d come and grade mine, dammit.
But details about academic life aside, Sebastian is hot, Brad’s hooked, and he has to work up the courage to come on to Sebastian. This takes a full quarter of the book, but I wasn’t at all bored. During that time, Brad comes out to his completely accepting family, figured out that despite his size and looks, he’s probably a bottom, comes out to an ex-girlfriend, plagiarizes a paper to try to catch Sebastian’s attention.
Once Sebastian and Brad get together, the sex is smoking hot, the relationship is interesting, and the humor is just nonstop. That’s the thing about this book — it’s laugh-out-loud funny without trying too hard to be so (and without really being excerpt-able, despite reading through the whole book again to try to find a suitable excerpt ;). Sebastian watches everything with a sort of amused, affectionate disdain, so bits of the book from his perspective were fun. And Brad is just…wonderful. He’s not particularly smart (although he’s not stupid), and watching him figure out how to be gay is just an amazing journey. He’s stubborn and intense and committed to being authentic. SUCH a great character. Just a taste:
On Saturday morning, Brad woke up early and watched Sebastian sleep. He knew it was dorky and he tried to stop, but he couldn’t seem to look away. He’d done it last Saturday, too.
He was lucky. Really fucking lucky. He wanted to just stay here forever. But he had to get back to his room and do some laundry, as well as inventory the damned kitchen at the frat house and get ready for the stupid pledge ceremony.
He sighed. He’d rather be here with his boyfriend. Who seemed to be waking up. Just before he thought Sebastian was going to open his eyes, he rolled over and scooted backward into Sebastian’s body. He didn’t want to get caught staring at the shape of Sebastian’s jaw or his long eyelashes in the sunlight, but he could rub up on him some.
Retrospective niggles (I have no idea why this part of the review came out in bullet format, but it’s better to have it written than to fight it, so here you go):
Sebastian did not read like a 28 year old. It would have made more sense to me if he’d been doing his M.A. and he were 24 or so. But a 28 year old Ph.D. student seemed a bit more of a stretch to me with the character as written.
Once the relationship starts, there’s not much narrative tension, except the tension that’s still about Brad figuring out who he is. Which was engaging and fun, don’t get me wrong, but not relationship-focused so much.
The Black Moment is very slightly contrived and not exceptionally well explained. When Brad and Sebastian fight, I had to read it two or three times to really figure out exactly what was drawing them apart. Once I’d figured it out, I believed in the problem — it was subtle but strong and had been foreshadowed throughout the book. But it took me a while to get there.
Once they split, there’s a bit too much “gathering of the support network,” as Brad puts it, before they get back together…a few too many conversations with other people before they get together to figure things out together. The book started to seem like an ensemble piece, except the ensemble didn’t really gather at the end, so that was odd.
And the final scene ends abruptly. We’ve had pages of Brad coming out to his frat, and when he and Sebastian go upstairs…the rest of the house isn’t mentioned again at all. But then, I’m a big believer in epilogues, or slightly more drawn-out endings, post reconciliation. In my opinion, there needed to be an extra scene from the next morning, or with Brad’s brother banging on their door, telling them to quiet down, or something.
But all that aside, I loved this book. I loved the gentle humor. I loved the characters — all of them, but especially Brad. And I loved the subtle overturning of some m/m expectations (another list!):
No coming out angst from friends or family.
Big bad football player Brad is a bottom and LOVES it.
The characters act rationally when Brad finds himself with his dick down someone else’s (ie: not Sebastian) throat. He tells Sebastian, they work things out and even use it as an opportunity to take the relationship to another level. It was interesting to see the not-Sebastian sex scene and then wonderful to see how it was dealt with between Brad and Sebastian.
The mild kink sneaks up on both characters as an additional facet to their relationship that shows how perfect they are together, rather than being something one of them needed because he’s SuperDom looking for PerfectSub.
I can’t wait for more from you. I really hope you give Collin his story.
P.S. Your blurb’s awful (SUCH a strange shift from second to third paragraph and it doesn’t capture the true tension of the novel), the cover’s pretty (nice abs) but strange (what IS that living room supposed to represent?), and the title’s horrible. But hey, YMMV.