Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Too Stupid To Live by Anne Tenino

Why I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  It isn't true love until someone gets hurt.

Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His One True Love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, and/or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now—possibly—ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong . . . can they?

What worked for me (and what didn't): This book was a whole lot of fun.  It's more than just funny but it is certainly that.

I have the prequel books on my reader (they're available free from ARe) but haven't read them yet (no time!).  Given my enjoyment of this story, I don't think there is any need to have read the earlier stories.  Given my enjoyment of this story, I definitely plan to read the earlier stories.

Sam is tall, skinny, obviously gay but (he thinks anyway) not cute enough to qualify as a "twink".  His self esteem has suffered significantly as a result of being poorly treated by a (now-ex) boyfriend.  He doesn't think he's attractive and he's really quite lonely.
Ian thought he was cute. No one had ever called him anything like cute before. Not even Nik, who often told him to stop worrying, he was attractive to a certain type of guy. Sam had always assumed Nik meant the kind of guy who wasn’t attractive to much of anyone, like Marley.
Sam is studying writing at College and he loves to read romance novels.  He has a particular fondness for the Highlander story and when he is hit in the head by a football during a rugby game he's inadvertently stumbled through, he thinks Ian (tall, broad and built) is the laird of his dreams.  The book pokes gentle fun at the romance genre and common tropes found in it.  It could have gone too far.  It could have made Sam look detached from reality.  Myself, I don't think it did.  I think it got the balance just right, but I can see that some others might think it's a bit too cute.
Sex didn’t feel this amazing except in romance novels. Or—hopefully—with his One True Love.
Ian was not his One True Love. Remember that.
Maybe Ian was his One True Fuck.
Ian is a former firefighter, injured in the line of duty, who has taken a job in a new city as a Health Administrator (his actual title is much longer than that).  He's decided he needs to change his life.  He needs to be more "emotionally connected".  Since his accident, he's sworn off casual sex and is trying to turn over a new leaf as far as love and relationships are concerned.  He's never been in a relationship where there's been anything at stake and he's fairly hopeless at it at first.
 He paused, inspecting Ian, probably to see if he really cared.
Shockingly, Ian did. He tried to look interested and encouraging, but since he’d never tried either of those expressions before, he had no clue if it worked.
Even though Sam regularly finds parallels between his relationship with Ian and romance novels, it was Ian who made me laugh the most in this book.  I loved how he struggled to become more emotionally connected.
He untangled himself and got up, wandering into the kitchen for a glass of water, then into the living room to sit on his couch and brood. He’d never brooded about a guy before, but how hard could it be? He kept the lights off because he thought it might help.

It was harder than he’d thought. Plus, he had no clue if he was doing it right.
Ian doesn't know the rules of either the "romance game" or getting in touch with his emotions in general and he's navigating blind.
Admitting it may be the first step to solving a problem, but Ian was at a loss as to what the next step might be. Self-fulfillment would be so much easier if everyone could agree on the necessary steps, write down the instructions, and then make sure they were widely available. Drop them from airplanes or something.
I liked how Ian didn't find Sam immediately attractive.  How he fell for Sam and Sam's looks and body were a part of that - he was very into Sam physically as well, I don't want to suggest that this was a chore for Ian.  It was not.  But it was Sam's personality that cast the first hook into Ian's heart I think.  This isn't terribly common in romance (either m/m or het) and I loved it.  Ian's comment to Sam initially that Sam wasn't "his type" may have sounded douche-y but it was true - especially when you consider that up until then, Ian's "type" had been meaningless hookups.  

Perhaps because this book so funny, the impact of homophobia and the risk to gay men from rednecks was brought home to me more strongly.  I went from chuckling to being horrified and concerned in one breath - the juxtaposition of the dark with the light certainly had an impact.

Nik, Sam's best friend, is also hilarious - at one point he and Sam are discussing various Sesame Street characters and deciding "who's the top" (definitely Bert) - which was so much fun and served very well to lighten the mood after some heaviness.

This is, of course, a romance novel.  Even though (very happily for me) Sam and Ian are together for much of the story, I knew there would come a time where their relationship was threatened - that's the romance story arc, after all.  I was kind of dreading it actually.  I liked them together so much, I was really not looking forward to them being part.  The conflict when it happened and as it unfolded, wasn't what I had expected and it fit the story very well. 

What else? There a 3 female characters in the story.  All have names and all, to one degree or another, have something important to do and were represented positively.  Female representation in m/m romance is something I really notice now so I thought it was worth a mention.

The book was also educational.  I didn't know what a guiche piercing was.  Now I do.  (warning: NSFW!)

Overall, Ian and Sam were a lot of fun and I had a blast spending time with them.

Grade: B+ (but a really high B+)


Marg said...

And now I know what a guiche piercing is and I am not sure I can unknow it!

Kaetrin said...

Ha! Made you look! :)