Do you believe in love at first sight?
Sanford Stewart sure doesn’t. In fact, he pretty much believes in the exact opposite, thanks to the Homo Jock King. It seems Darren Mayne lives for nothing more than to create chaos in Sandy’s perfectly ordered life, just for the hell of it. Sandy despises him, and nothing will ever change his mind.
Or so he tells himself.
It’s not until the owner of Jack It—the club where Sandy performs as drag queen Helena Handbasket—comes to him with a desperate proposition that Sandy realizes he might have to put his feelings about Darren aside. Because Jack It will close unless someone can convince Andrew Taylor, the mayor of Tucson, to keep it open.
Someone like Darren, the mayor’s illegitimate son.
The foolproof plan is this: seduce Darren and push him to convince his father to renew Jack It’s contract with the city.
Contemporary, M/M, GLBT+
350 e-book pages
At First Sight, book 2
March 2-5, 2016
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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I uhh…kinda sorta didn’t totally feel the first book in this series. I did in some ways, didn’t in others. So, I was hesitant and skeptical about this book. Not too much, though, because I pre-ordered the hell out of this bitch as soon as pre-orderability was announced.
I pre-ordered hard. So hard.
I do adore some T.J. Klune.
I also think he’s hilarious.
But–and this is totally on me–I don’t think our sense of humor is quiiiiite in sync always. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
See, I get the feeling T.J. likes to beat his readers over the head with his wise-cracking ways. I usually prefer to snuggle up to subtle humor with a quiet, flirty chuckle. It’s rare for me to belly-laugh to the point of a stitch in my side—when I do it’s not because it whacked me on the head but rather snuck up from behind and poked me in the rib. Or, you know, bodily function humor…that gets me every time. I’m not always a snob for the cerebral.
THIS book. What can I say? I laughed out loud a number of times. Loads, actually.
Because the snark of Sandy/Helena was on point. Sometimes over the top—but I knew to expect it. I was ready for it. Also, drag queens just have a way about them that is Sassy Diva of Divine Proportion (at least with the lovely and bitchy queens I’ve encountered). I don’t think there’s any other way, and nobody’s safe. I knew I was going to get tons of it from Helena.
I also knew Sandy/Helena would be one to draw everyone into his whirling dervish dramatic rants, demands, and panics and general sassy outspokenness. Basically, with that kind of strong personality the bystanders either sink or swim. To swim, or at the very least keep your head above water, you’ve got to have a wit at least nearly as quick and sharp as the reigning Queen. Also, tell her (frequently) she’s the most beautiful beauty of all the beauties in all the lands everywhere forever and ever. (Amen & Hallelujah)
Fortunately, Sandy’s circle of friends and family can keep up (mostly) and toss it all right back. Who doesn’t love a muumuu-wearing Nana who texts inappropriate WTFs, JFCs, & LOLs and has a homophobic parrot? Lordy, these characters. I swear to you I can’t decide if I want to be in that inner circle of mayhem or run screaming, clinging to my sanity lest I get lost in the melee and never find my way out.
I don’t know that I had the clearest picture of the reigning Homo Jock King, Darren. He’s quiet, maybe a little reserved, maybe a little self-conscious (masked by some assholishness) under all those finely sculpted muscles. Since this is told entirely from Sandy’s POV, and Sandy outshines the sun, I think Darren got a wee bit lost. He seems to be on the periphery, still in orbit, just…Pluto. I wanted more of him, more words from him and more of him with Sandy. Otherwise, the Queen and King together were a beautiful thing.
T.J. has this way with dialogue that can be characterized, respectfully, as epic mayhem in some situations. Really. With four or more people talking, shouting, with each other, over each other, two or more convos going on at once. At least one person having a spastic fit. At least one person divided between several conversations. Until someone says The Thing that everyone hears in all this chaos that shuts it all down into a moment of awkward silence. MASTERFUL. Especially masterful that it’s done in a way that the reader can understand and can manage to keep up.
T.J. also has this way of culminating every action and reaction, every nuanced situation, all this pandemonium gets spun with artful wizardry to a singular, definitive moment. A moment that is both small in the grand scheme of things and larger than life. A moment of simplicity that is so charged with emotion where every knot gets untangled and the glass is cleared of smudges. And we see, usually through our tears (creatively dubbed by others in T.J.’s fandom Wookie Cry Face™), with brutal and tender clarity the entire point of everything.
There were two of those moments for me in this book. I’m not giving details because that would just be all kinds of spoilery. But they were gorgeous. And I cried. Just not with Wookie Cry Face. But, yeah, real tears fell and had to get mopped up.
T.J. doesn’t often write sexed-up romance. It’s often off-page, intimated, fade-to-black business. It’s enough in his stories. That’s saying something because I do like the sex-charged sexy stuff. T.J. GOES THERE in this book, all the way to down-n-dirty smut-o-rama holy-smokes O-face. Yeah he did. It was awesome to see he has it in him–and that he did it soooo so good.
Whew. So good.
This tale is action-packed with ridiculous tropes that cause many of us to roll our eyes. Misunderstandings and non-communication when a freaking conversation could solve it all. A pretend relationship that makes no sense and is nothing but a snowball effect of lies on top of lies. It’s an enemies to lovers story which often times read as over-dramatic soap operas.
But, you know what? It all worked in crazy-good ways. Because of the characters and their perfect imperfections and unfiltered humor that bordered on the absurd. A cast of beautiful and lovable sort-of misfits who might not be your regular romance heroes but who just might instead be a little piece of us all.
This review also posted on GoodReads.