Sweet Young Thang (Theta Alpha Gamma #3), Anne Tenino

Sweet Young ThangRating: 3.5 Stars

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Genre: Gay Romance

Tags: Contemporary, Mystery, College Age, Series

Length: 419 Pages

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Riptide Publishing, amazon.com



Collin Montes played a huge role in his fraternity (Theta Alpha Gamma, aka TAG) at Calapooya College accepting openly gay and bisexual pledges. His frat brother Brad helped him to get the ball rolling when he himself came out to the shock of other members not long before. Collin’s Uncle Monty is the president of the TAG Alumni Association and makes it clear that he and the other alumni are not pleased with the frat’s new acceptance policy.  There is fear by some of the alumni (commonly described as the ‘Good Ol’ Rich Boys’ club) that by accepting gay and bisexual members that TAG will gain a bad reputation and might turn into a fraternity that gets bashed for its new acceptance policy. A threat to remove alumni funding is not just implied, it’s promised.  

A fire and eventual bomb at the frat house confirms Monty’s suspicions (he thinks) and he strongly encourages his nephew to push his frat brothers to change the policy back to what was in place before Brad’s coming out moment. The old policy was basically a don’t ask, don’t tell situation when it came to gay and bisexual members. Collin refuses to try to have the policy changed back as he himself has a personal stake in it. Collin is gay but in the closet to his family and (he thinks to) his friends and frat brothers. Only when he meets someone worth coming out for does he realize that staying in the closet is no longer an option, not with his friends and mother and most importantly his uncle… his uncle who has practically raised him since his father died when he was four. Monty has controlled every aspect of Collin’s life from what schools he attended to even his college major. The plan is for Collin to graduate university and work for the family company. Collin has never questioned Monty as he always believed that the man had his best interests at heart. Only later when Monty shows his true colors does Collin see him for what and who he truly is.

Firefighter paramedic Eric Dixon is called out to the scene of a fire at his old fraternity. One of the current members has been injured as a result of the fire (and an explosion caused by it) and while Eric doesn’t do anything unethical with the patient’s care, he does take notice of a young man close by… a young man he falls instantly in lust with. When there is a bomb scare in the uninhabitable frat house later, Eric sees the man again but with all the chaos of the scene, the young man disappears once again. Only later does he finally meet Collin and hook up with him. 

There is a large age difference between Eric and Collin.  Eric is thirty-six and Collin is only twenty-one.  Normally I am all about substantial age differences but I had a few issues with it in this case. Collin, while responsible, came across at times as much younger than his twenty-one years. I have three sons varying in age from nineteen and twenty-five so I am very familiar with how a twenty-one-year old male acts. Also, Eric.  Eric is only thirty-six but you would swear he is much older in the way he is described at times. Having gray hair at an early age is one thing but I felt that Eric came across as a bit too stodgy with some of the comments he made. As he and Collin quickly begin their relationship (not just sexual but with feelings… over the course of a week) comments are made about Collin, a twenty-one-year old college student, and his phone and emails. I considered it to be a bit odd because I know thirty-six year olds who are more obsessed with technology than even teenagers. I am quite a bit older than that myself and I completely related to Collin, not Eric, in that regard.

The book started out good.  I love the slight mystery with the fire and the bomb.  I like how Collin and Eric met.  I even liked Collin’s bastard Uncle Monty. The secondary characters I love as I am a huge fan of the other books in this series. Kyle (a fraternity brother) will forever go down in my reading history as the greatest straight friend ever (who helped with one of the greatest coming out scenes ever in Frat Boy and Toppy).  However, there are a few things that seriously bugged me while reading this book. The endearments and pet names mainly. I am a southern girl (born and raised in Mobile, Alabama) so endearments are part of my every day life. If I go one day without hearing one or using one then something would seriously be wrong in my world. It’s the norm in my part of the country.  But Eric went entirely too far with his endearments to Collin.  To the point where instead of enjoying the story I was making fun of the character.. even during very serious parts of the book.

Sexy Eyes. Sweet Thing.  Sweet Thang. His Boy. Sweetness. Sweet Boy.  His Sweet Boy.

… to name a few.

We’re not talking a few times here.  It was on every single page several times. If Eric wasn’t calling Collin one of these pet names he was thinking them in his head. His boyfriend is also used a lot by both characters and Collin is big on “His Sexy Man” or “My Sexy Man”.

This is the third story in the Theta Alpha Gamma series and before I started this book I went back to Frat Boy and Toppy to reacquaint myself with Collin as he played a big part in Brad and Sebastian’s story. My skimming turned into my reading almost the entire book all over again. Frat Boy and Toppy is one of my favorite books and I have read it many times.  It even made my favorites list on this blog for books published 2012. Each time a new book in the series comes out I am eager to jump into it and Sweet Thang was no exception even if I am definitely not a fan of the cover or even the title. I wanted to enjoy this addition to the series and I did enjoy it. I liked Collin in the first book and I liked him again in his own.  I even liked Eric though I did find the relationship to be a bit on the ‘daddy’ side with him and Collin. I’m okay with that as I’m a fan of those types of books as well.  What I didn’t enjoy were (as I said) the distracting use of endearments and pet names.  I feel that the constant use of them took away from the rest of the story.  

Another thing that bothered me early on was the author bringing in a little discord between Brad and Sebastian from Frat Boy and Toppy. When I read a book centered around a couple I want their HEA to come at the end of their book. I love seeing characters from earlier books revisited in later ones but not if it’s to disrupt their relationship.  Only later into Sweet Young Thang did I see where the author was going with them. I realized that it had to be brought up as Collin played a part in their relationship early on.  For awhile there I was nervous because again, Brad and Sebastian are one of my favorite M/M couples.

The mystery of the bad guy was figured out early on but not the reasons for it. I enjoyed watching Eric and Collin as they moved from hooking up to a real couple. There is a major sweetness with these two and even if it was much too sweet at times I really did like watching them get where they needed to be at the end.

The secondary characters are perfect. From Kyle (the perfect straight friend) to all the others in the fraternity house, some of which had me laughing out loud. Uncle Monty is a true control freak and is written perfectly as such. The fraternity aspects of the story are not very realistic in some instances but that was okay because it was all humorous and I got a big kick out of some of the antics. The mystery/suspense was written well though not much real time was given to it. The resolution was nice. There is also a slight history between Eric and Uncle Monty that I wish would have been more realized.  I do think that the book could have been cut in half in length and still been a good story. Even with what I consider to be too much length, I enjoyed it as I am a big fan of the Theta Alpha Gamma Series. A new gay character is introduced so I look forward to seeing where the author takes him and his story. I only hope that the use of overly sweet pet names and endearments aren’t in any future books.  I’m fine with sweetheart or dear or honey or even babySweetness and sweet thing and my sweet boy were a bit much when used to excess.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  The love story is an insta-love situation as everything that happens between Collin and Eric occurs over the period of one week.  Normally I’m not a fan of insta-love but with everything else going on the story seemed like it all happened over a longer period of time. The sex between Collin and Eric is hot, frequent and written extremely well. It was nice seeing Brad and Sebastian again even if the author had me worried for a little while there. Thankfully their issues were resolved rather quickly.  I love how everything finally came to a head with Collin and his Uncle Monty even if I do feel that it was slightly rushed.

I look forward to number four in the series.

This book was provided by Net Galley and Riptide Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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