Today I’m reviewing Love Me Tenor by the wonderful Annabeth Albert. (I have a particular fondness for anyone with two names in one. I’m not sure why. It’s just all nostalgic and homey and junk, so…Annabeth. I think I was predisposed to want to like her book, and then the book didn’t suck, which was great.)
Oh, my god. On a personal note, it has been a rather hellish couple of weeks for me. My Sugar Plum had a hip replacement. (He’s 32. Slipping on children’s toys is fucking lethal. I think the lesson here is really avoid children, and having them. The same thing happened to Bo Jackson, according to my husband’s physical therapist. I mean, not the kid’s toy. That was unique to Sugar Plum, as far as I can tell. The hip replacement.) At any rate, I intended to have this particular book reviewed weeks ago, but didn’t.
Totally my bad.
And holy shit, it’s a wonderful book. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want any spoilers, just stop reading my review right now and go get this book. Just do it. Shoo. Go one-click on Amazon to your heart’s content.
Okay then, for everyone else, this book is a little heftier than medium length at about 270 pages. It also includes the first chapter (I think?) of the next book in the series, which I normally wouldn’t count as much of a bonus (it’s advertising after all), but it teases the story for a character I really wanted to know more about from this book. I mean, double dirty wanted to know more about. And there’s a stripper involved.
I’m sold already. There’s just something about strippers that turns my crank.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Warnings for this book: there are creepy religious zealots, medical situations, hospital visits…and I think that’s about it.
Let’s take a look at the blurb then get to the good stuff:
There’s no way he’ll shake this off…
Trevor Daniels is feeling aimless. A recent college grad, he’s not sure what to do with his useless degree, and his family all but abandoned him after he revealed the truth about himself. But a friend’s suggestion that he take his chances on a reality show aimed at finding the next big boy band strikes a chord with him—until the show’s producers convince him to act like he’s in a relationship with a guy who’s not at all his type. It isn’t exactly love at first sight for Jalen Smith either—but lust just might push them in an unexpected direction. If only their secrets weren’t even more twisted than their sheets, threatening to cost them the win—and each other…
You can find the sample here.
Okay, so do you ever have a thing? I mean, like that thing you don’t like to tell anyone else about because you’re embarrassed about it? (Yes, I mean other than the five thousand perfectly wonderful smut books stuffed onto your Kindle and in your sock drawer.) My thing is reality television. In particular, I loved the earlier, ridiculous shit that MTV churned out. I will admit here, under the cover of darkness to the Internet and the free world, that I was a serious Rock of Love addict. I can’t even. I was also heavily involved in the earlier seasons of American Idol. (Well, I voted for Sanjaya at any rate. Repeatedly. Until they tossed him off the show in spite of his landslide of votes.) This book was about a music reality television show.
Can it get any better than that?
The author did that aspect of the book so very well I could completely see it as a real show, a selling show, that everyone could get hooked into that loves that kind of crap. I think this is an amazing sticking point for the entire book. Had this faux show aspect of the book been done unbelievably it would have collapsed the rest of the story because it was the scaffolding the entire work was built on.
Kudos. It was wonderful. I bought it hook, line and sinker. There’s so much to love about Next Direction.
Jalen and Trevor. Can I say enough about them? The characters were built so well. They were done realistically, and even the elements about the characters that could have come off as over the top—specifically Trevor’s family or Jalen’s for that matter—just blended right together with the rest of the story. The background was seamlessly woven in with the rest of the story. I have this wonderful, layered picture of how both characters grew up without ever having felt overwhelmed with info dump at any point. It’s the mark of a good writer that I just feel like I know these two people now.
All of the characters were very well rounded, even tertiary characters. Michelin, for one. (Although, for the life of me, one of the few complaints I had about the book were his name. I can’t read it without giggling.) He’s the backer for the show Trevor and Jalen are competing on, and we’re left with the idea of this wistful guy who never quite got what he wanted out of life. The other guys in Trevor and Jalen’s singing group on the show are larger than life, and the way the characters are grown, while at times is a bit campy, spins together wonderfully in the end.
One of the other things I loved about this book was the tone. For example, there’s a lot of angst toward the middle of the book, but as bad as that gets it’s never whiney. It always retains just enough hope to keep the story flowing and moving fast paced without becoming a mire the characters get stuck in.
I also liked how the subject of diabetes was handled. Trevor’s diabetes was a plot device, but never treated in such a way that it felt like a plot device. It was compelling. It was scary. I’ve never seen it done better.
There’s just so much good packed into this book.
I loved the sex. It was explosive. It was hot. The sex was different. There was so much sexy frotting. SO MUCH. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen frotting treated with such respect as a fulfilling sex act in its own right. I adored the way that Trevor and Jalen’s relationship grew organically from people tolerating each other to full out romance. They go from fake!boyfriends to ERMAHGERD in love…and it’s blissful.
And we have to work for that final fuck. I kind of like it when I feel like we’re not just given all the intimate moments immediately. It makes it really satisfying for me when the characters do finally get down to the deed.
I also greatly enjoyed the music talk in this book. As a person with an amateur music background the talk about progression and chords and sight reading delighted me to no end. At the end of the book the author includes a music list with notes about the characters that was wonderful.
The Very Few Things that Maybe I Can Kvetch About:
I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Trevor’s after sex depression. I totally get why that happened and it makes sense in context with the character, but it just wasn’t for me. And even though Jalen’s happiness at being a “fixer” is addressed more than once in the book, as in, he doesn’t just like Trevor because he has so many problems, the whole diabetes plus sex issues coupled with Jalen’s tendencies did make me squirm a couple of times. I was sort of, “…is Jalen enjoying Trevor’s problems?” I was only uncomfortable a few times, but they were real pangs of discontent. In the end it didn’t really intrude much on the book for me.
Go buy this book already. I can’t even tell you how much you need this book in your life, especially if you have that secret (or not so secret) enjoyment of reality television. Hot smexy men plus reality television. Where could you go wrong?
Pick up my newest release, The Shape of Honey!
Yulian Volkov is an entrepreneur and lone werewolf who hates the city. At a pack meeting, he learns the only member he’s attracted to is being expelled for crimes unspecified. Yulian strikes a deal with the pack leader to allow Rolly Witten to live on his farm and work in his Meadery. Although enjoying handsome Rolly’s company, Yulian must tread carefully, since Rolly doesn’t trust him and the pack doesn’t acknowledge homosexuality exists. Meanwhile, Yulian stealthily courts Rolly by teaching him the value of his wolf side.
Rolly, who’s known he was gay since he was a teen, has accepted a life of solitude—and a life of crime. He has no desire to relocate. Yet Yulian’s trust in his ability to do honest work builds his confidence. As life is settling well for them, Rolly learns a friend from his old pack had a crush on him, and he’s torn between returning his friend’s feelings or pursuing the budding relationship with Yulian. But that’s not their worst problem. Assassins are trying to take out both wolves, and they need to figure out who wants them dead or all the trust and happiness they’re building together won’t matter.