Poster Boy

Poster Boy

Anne Tenino

The fifth in the Theta Alpha Gamma (TAG) fraternity series is a delicious romp with the frat boys in France, taking classes and causing hilarious concern as they forget the problems back home Calapooya College where their frat house burned down.

TAG member Tank’s brother Jock, a gifted hockey player, was outed at his former college when a photo of him and another guy in a compromising position was sent to Jock’s coach. Afterward the coach kicked Jock off the team, ostensibly for partying which broke school rules, but really for being gay.

Consequently, Tank convinced Jock to transfer to Calapooya and the fraternity which had adopted a gay-friendly membership policy. While the pro hockey teams that had been courting him and other groups want to make a poster boy of Jock, he adamantly refuses to do so, mainly because he’s just recently admitted to himself and his family that he’s gay. Straight Tank introduces his brother to Brad, who clues Jock into what it’s like to be gay and have sex with another guy. Brad also introduces Jock to history grad student Toby, who’s had a lot of lovers at the campus. Toby, however, is having problems with his master’s thesis and is about to be kicked out of school, so while he’s attracted to Jock and feels a special pull to him, Toby’s trying to get himself together so he can graduate.

When Jock decides to go to the Provence campus for the end of the spring semester to get away from the media attention his outing has caused and Toby agrees to chaperone the TAG members in order to get some writing on his thesis done, the stage is set for frat boy fun while inexperienced Jock gets together with very experienced Toby.

This is the best of the Theta Alpha Gamma series, primarily because both Jock and Toby are such likeable characters and the problems they are wrestling with are so immediate and important.

Poor Jock, who is forced out of the closet and into a media nightmare, admits to being overly aggressive and having anger issues. He feels hemmed in on all sides with others wanting to turn him into a poster boy for gays in sports. While he knows all about sports, he has no clue about being gay.

Toby, on the other hand, has become jaded because of all the hookups he’s had through the years and weary of the couples who surround him. Sure, he too would like to have someone to love who will love him, but he’s too busy trying to keep his head above water to cultivate a real relationship which might one day become permanent.

Then there are the TAG frat boys who Tenino portrays so well that readers will laugh at their boys-loose-in-the-French-countryside antics. Even a stay in jail is seen as a plus by the TAG team.

What has been an uneven series seems to have evened out to become a delightful entry in the gay romance subgenre.