“There’s things that happen in a person’s life that are so scorched in the memory and burned into the heart that there’s no forgetting them.”–John Boyne
Sweet Young Thang is the third and best (so far) in the Theta Alpha Gamma series. Collin Montes’s father died when he was young. His Uncle Monty stepped in and filled the role of father-figure. He over-filled the role! Monty took over much of Collin’s life, including his education, extracurricular activities, which fraternity he would join in college and his career plans. Collin has never known any different, so he doesn’t know he is being used to further his Uncle’s business interests.
When TAG (Theta Alpha Gamma) becomes the first fraternity on campus to pass a rule that says it will accept openly gay members, Collin has to do some convincing to get his Uncle to support it. As a very active member of the Alumni Association, which funds some of the current fraternity’s activities, Uncle Monty could make life very difficult for TAG in general and Collin in particular if he wants to. Collin must assure his Uncle that there will be no repercussions from the passing of the gay-friendly policy.
Would we meet Collin’s love interest if there weren’t repercussions? Not likely! Someone rigs the hot water heater in the frat’s basement to go off like a rocket. Then someone unsuccessfully plants a bomb in their basement. These events may or may not be linked to each other or to the new policy, but they bring firefighter-paramedic Eric Dixon to the scene when one of Collin’s fraternity brothers is injured in the water heater explosion. Instant chemistry. Although there is a fifteen year age difference between them, Eric and Collin can’t stop thinking about each other and trying to seek one another out.
Eric’s insistence that he be the one to keep Collin safe leads to them spending more time together and love quickly follows. Collin is still in the closet and as the situation develops, he begins to realize that he will have to come out to everyone involved. He also begins to see, with Eric’s help, exactly how manipulative Uncle Monty has been his entire life.
Anne Tenino certainly was creative and liberal in her use of pet names. Sweetie, sweetness, sweet young thang, cuddle bear. Sometimes it was a little too much, sometimes just right. Best new word ever: “bearadise”.
The best parts of the book for me weren’t between Eric and Collin, but when the whole fraternity was involved. It was hilarious. All the references Ms. Tenino put in to the “sensitivity training” that the guys had evidently had to better enable them to welcome their gay brothers into the fold smoothly. The interaction was realistic for a group of college age young men whose biggest concern for a portion of the book was where the funding for their kegerator was going to come from. I was laughing out loud. And their continual viewing of Project Runway was priceless. “What would Tim Gunn do?” became a mantra.
The relationship between Eric and Collin didn’t resonate with me as much as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them and they were believable and very hot together, I just didn’t click with them emotionally. But Ms. Tenino more than made up for it by including such a colorful and varied cast of supporting characters, from Uncle Monty to Tank (and his baby brother Jock) and Danny.
I can’t wait to see what Anne Tenino gives us next with the Theta Alpha Gamma boys. I also can’t wait to see what new phrase will be stuck in my head after the next book!
Reviewed by: Tina