I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
by Anne Tenino
Released: January 14, 2013
Series: Romancelandia #1
Published by Riptide Publishing
Genres: Contemporary Romance
“TSTL was a very cleverly written romance novel, incorporating excellent wit, humor, character and relationship development, and beautiful and uber-hot love scenes. I highly recommend this to anyone who reads m/m romance, and would even recommend it to those who just read hetero romance. It’s definitely a book that can hook one onto the genre. I absolutely loved it!” ~ Under the Covers
Oh, this was such an amazing book – I had a smile on my face practically the whole time I was reading it! Anne Tenino has absolutely outdone herself, and she continues to remain an auto-buy author for me. Her writing incorporates all the elements I love: well developed characters; no insta-love; clever wit and great humor; very sexy smexy time; and an excellent HEA.
Sam is a self-proclaimed “too-tall, too-skinny, not-very-attractive, very-obviously-gay dork,” and he totally, completely endeared himself to me from the get-go. Like so many of us readers, Sam is addicted to romance novels, and a hot highlander in a kilt is his weakness (yes, Sam is VERY smart!). Through a little bit of chance, and probably a lot of fate, Sam meets his “hero,” Ian, while hurrying home with a romance novel featuring a kilted hottie in tow. It doesn’t take long before Sam starts imagining Ian as his very own kilted highlander. And as fate would have it, they end up at a party together, where the sparks and hormones begin to fly. But Ian has had a troubled history with coming out and having relationships, and while he is trying to start afresh with his life, getting into a relationship is not in his plans. In fact, he comes across pretty crass as he makes it clear that Sam is not normally his type. Sam, who too has had a difficult time with relationships in the past, feels just the opposite. He is completely besotted with Ian, but with even that being the case, he does a lot to protect his heart, feeling that there is no way that Ian could ever feel the same way about him.
Throughout this book, Tenino very cleverly tells the tale of Sam and Ian’s story by having Sam think about his own situation with Ian as if it were a romance novel (ha!) and breaking it down for the reader. Doing so, Sam realizes that Ian is his TGH (Tortured, Gothic Hero), but that he himself is TSTL (Too Stupid To Live). Resigned to the fact of the matter, Sam continues to behave in such a way that he might eventually get an HEA with Ian. And this enlightenment and resignation lead to one of THE hottest blowjobs I have read in the genre. *PHEW*!!!
Well, even against Ian’s own plans, there is just something about Sam…so much so that Ian can’t stop thinking about him. And it is so much fun to watch the development of both Sam and Ian each individually, and as a couple as well. At one point when Ian finally admits to Sam that he has feelings for him, Sam’s thoughts about it sum it up perfectly: “Oh my God, how sweet was this shy, nervous guy where that uncaring bastard used to be?” Then to watch their courtship is just wonderful. Yes, of course their sexual chemistry together is off-the-charts hot, but we also get to see them in places other than just the bedroom, like shopping, or Ian picking Sam up from work just because he misses him and wants more time together. And back to the off-the-charts hot, all I gotta say is: Ian. Kilt. Laird. *THUD* Whoa! What a scene, on so many levels – the sex is BEYOND hot; the thought that Ian put into the evening, knowing how Sam loves romance novels, was outstanding; and this scene took their relationship to a whole new level. So well done!
And throughout their relationship, we see Sam who is sweet and kind, but also so very insecure of himself, to the point where he just can’t believe that Ian would ever fall for him. When Ian does start to fall, though, and his brittleness thaws, he really becomes that sweet hero that we all fall in love with. Again, Sam sums it up so perfectly: “But he wasn’t a bad boy, not really. Ian was amazing; loving and careful of Sam’s feelings and his insecurities. He defended [Sam’s] honor.” And oh how he did. We see so much growth in Sam, too. Yes, he is super insecure, but we see his strength in pushing for what he wants, and acting in ways to both protect his heart, but putting it out there to take a chance on an HEA love. And Sam is just the cutest MC ever…I absolutely love all his quirks: how he thinks about everything in terms of a romance novel; how he falls asleep immediately post-coital (I absolutely cracked up when Ian wondered to himself how Sam jerks off in the shower); his relationship with and reliance on his BFF, Nik (who, along with Jurgeon (Sam’s cousin), is awesome!); how funny he is when doped up on painkillers; and how incredibly hot he was when the traditional “roles” got reversed.
Following in the steps of the traditional romance novel, Sam and Ian even had their “Big Mis,” or their big misunderstanding. And like all wonderful HEA couples, they fought for it, and they came out on the right side of love.
TSTL was a very cleverly written romance novel, incorporating excellent wit, humor, character and relationship development, and beautiful and uber-hot love scenes. I highly recommend this to anyone who reads m/m romance, and would even recommend it to those who just read hetero romance. It’s definitely a book that can hook one onto the genre. I absolutely loved it!
Lastly, I have a favorite quote. It is from the end of the book, so stop reading now if you don’t want to be spoiled. But being that TSTL follows the structure that makes up a romance novel, you should already know that it ends with an HEA. 😉
“And no more of that Too Stupid to Live stuff,” Ian whispered against his mouth.He felt Sam smile
against his lips. “Being TSTL isn’t so bad. I forgot one thing about it.”
Ian kissed him quickly, tired of waiting, but wanting to know, “Yeah? What’s that?”
Sam kissed him back. “The TSTL character always gets their man and their happily ever after.”
*ARC provided by publisher
Did you like this review? If so, please tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Through Amazon forums and Goodreads, I met a lot of amazing women with that same passion, including the lovely ladies who started UTC.While those genres will always be two of my favorites, I have discovered that M/M romance is my primary love.That kiss between Qhuinn and Blay in Phury's book (you BDB lovers know what I'm talking about!) sealed the deal for me.I love a story where love is hard fought and hard won.I am also a firm believer that EVERYONE deserves love and a happy ending, and the beauty in achieving that is what keeps me coming back for more.
I have amassed quite a collection of book boyfriends through the years, with the top two being John Matthew and Jamie Fraser.**le sigh**In the M/M genre, my best buddy is Randy Jensen.Two of my favorite tropes are Friends to Lovers and Out for You, and I enjoy just about any subgenre - PNR, UF, contemporary, historical, RomCom, Young Adult, Erotica, Mystery/Thriller - in my M/M romance.As long as it is written well, eventually gives me an HEA, and makes me have all the feels, I am one happy girl.