I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
You can also find me on my main blog.
I've been waiting for this book for, like, forever (or so it feels, at least. Sorry, Anne, no pressure), and when it finally, FINALLY, hit my inbox, I immediately started reading. Because, you know, Tierney was one of the MCs. Tierney, whom I loved to hate in Too Stupid To Live, who was a jackass and a jerk, and just generally awful.
I could hardly wait for this guy to get his comeuppance, to get that kick in the nuts that he so much deserves.
But then I started reading. And I changed my mind about Tierney. Oh, don't get me wrong, for quite a bit of the book he's still acting much like a jackass, and a jerk, but now we get an explanation as to WHY.
And holy shitballs, people, if Anne Tenino didn't hit it out of the park with this one.
Because Tierney - he's a mess. He's a self-destructive, rude and appalling mess. He thinks he's in love with Ian, and damn Sam for snatching him up before Tierney could get his head out of his ass (and come out of the closet). He thinks that having anal sex, being on the receiving end, makes one "the woman" in the relationship. Also being gay is totally wrong, even if Tierney knows he's gay - he has to fight it because Grandpa will not approve, and Grandpa rules the Terrebonne family with an iron fist.
But then Grandpa meets his maker, and Tierney loses his shit completely. Not even the fifth of Bourbon (or ten) are able to drown out the clamoring in his head that maybe now he can be who he wants to be.
Did I mention he's a mess?
Ever since the bashing at the end of TSTL, that ended with Sam and Miller in the hospital, Dalton, who works for Ian as an admin assistant, has been a bit more friendly with Sam. He's met Tierney and doesn't much like the man - to him, the guy is a crass, rude and obnoxious asshole, but Dalton also has an ability to see beyond the crude exterior.
His relationship history isn't something he's proud of, and his propensity to fall for rich, closeted and/or cheating men at first makes him keep Tierney at arm's length. Sure, he offers Tierney a shoulder to lean on, because he feels sorry for the guy, but keeps telling himself that it can't go any further.
Until it does.
Anne Tenino has crafted a novel about growth, coming clean, and forging your own path, revealing who you are to those around you, and finding yourself on the way. While this book doesn't have as many sexy times as TSTL, and the romance between Tierney and Dalton grows slowly, the two men fit well together, and I believed their relationship. There are emotional moments between them that made my breath hitch, because I could just feel their connection.
It also never felt over the top. Especially Tierney could have easily turned into a caricature, but there is depth to him that's not immediately clear. As the reader gets further and further into his head, sees what he sees through his eyes, it becomes clear that Tierney is fighting demons he's kept hidden for a long time.
Dalton too has an opportunity to grow, to get more clarity about himself, and the author made his fears and hesitations very believable.
Of course, there are plenty of fun moments too. Sam, hopelessly romantic, continues to view most of life as the pages of a romance novel. The author's uncanny humor doesn't interrupt the more emotional moments - no, it enhances them.
This was a five star read for me. From the moment I started reading, until the very last page, I laughed and giggled, but also winced, and there were a few tears in my eyes (damn onions) whenever Tierney reveals yet another of his layers.
There's a bit of a subplot having to do with the bashing that lends a bit of mystery to the novel, and left me somewhat shocked when the reveal came about. Didn't see that coming.
Superbly done, Anne. I can hardly wait for Miller's story.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author. A positive review was not promised in return. **