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REVIEW: Str8te Boys by Evangeline Anderson

1109Evangeline Anderson’s books are my dirty little secret, my secret shame, my love that dare not speak its name. I don’t know WHY her writing makes me feel oh so fulfilled but in such a wonderful dirty way, but it does. They’re so full of *angst* and *melodrama* and *gay for you* and all the things that usually just make me roll my eyes. But they’re quick reads, hott! as anything, rollicking good fun, and you totally don’t notice the huge gaping plot holes until after you’re done and REreading the damn thing when you go, Hur? (like I just did). Her books are the one reading habit I’m ashamed of, but it’s the squidgy, yummy shame that you just want to share with people. So let me share…

Str8te Boys is pretty much dorm porn with extra-angst. It’s a short little story–under 70 pages–but so much fun. It’s told completely from the third-person perspective of Maverick (ORLY? I mean, that name? Really?!), an arrow-straight (uh-huh) jock at the end of his senior year of college, who happens to play “gay chicken” with even straighter, party animal roommate and best friend, Duke (Again! See what I mean?!). What is gay chicken? you ask, as well you might.

The idea was for two guys to get as close to kissing as they could. The one to pull away first was the loser. Duke always won because he was a fierce competitor where any sport was concerned-’be it soccer, baseball, basketball, football, table tennis-or gay chicken.

Riiiiiight. And that’s pretty much the plot. Duke plays gay chicken with Maverick as the stakes get higher and higher, until Mav starts issuing his own dares. And as you read through your wince, eyes squinty from embarrassment (like that terrible, wonderful, can’t-not-look movie, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), the scenes just get hotter and hotter. And Maverick is all like, “What does this make me? Am I gay? No! I’m just helping out my best friend as I suck his cock! I don’t feel this way about anyone else but him! But the sex is so hott! how could I be straight?!” And Duke is…

Well, there’s the plot hole. Duke is captain-of-the-soccer-team, huge-porn-collection, totally-blind-drunk-at-parties, spent-rent-money-on-weed STRAIGHT!dammit. More-grossed-out-by-gayness-than-Mav STRAIGHT!dammit. And then not so much. Then all the angst is about how he’s been gay and in love with Mav all along, waiting for Mav to see the light. And it totally works while you’re reading, but then you think about it and go, Hur? and feel all dirty again. :)

The one thing about Anderson’s writing is that she writes men in a fascinating way. Her men sound like and think like men, but somehow I can’t ever forget that they’re being written by a woman. These are not “men” who say to each other, “Let’s talk about our feelings,” as I once read in a m/m romance (*gak*). And they’re not what DA Janet calls “heroimens,” who take SUCH good care of the heroines and paint her toenails and give her a backrub–without sex! Anderson’s men are emotionally constipated, porn-loving, beer-drinking *men*….who happen to have been sleeping with each other–completely platonically!–for two and a half years?!?! Again, I say, ORLY? When I read Anderson, I can’t shake the conviction that her men are the female-constructed fantasy of emotionally constipated, porn-loving, beer-drinking *men* blindsided by love for their best friend. I mean, of course they are–they’re written by a woman. But some women write men who just read like men (La Nora, of course, and Suzanne Brockman, K.A. Mitchell, frex). Anderson writes men who read like men constructed by a woman. Which doesn’t mean they’re not fun–they totally are–but rather than just falling into the story and coming out the other side, I’m constantly aware of the meta-narrative, the “fantasy constructed by a woman for women”-ness of the stories.

But then there’s lots of lovely groveling by both boys and it doesn’t matter anymore. And at three in the morning, when no one’s watching, I’ll open my computer and guiltily read Str8te Boys and Anderson’s ultimate gay-for-you, The Assignment again. And again. And again and again. And if that’s not the ultimate endorsement, squidgy dirty shame aside (or maybe not, maybe that’s the point), I don’t know what is.

Grade: A squidgy guilty B-

-Joan/Sarah F. (who couldn’t bring herself to actually address this to Dear Ms. Anderson, she now realizes. Hrm.)

This book can be purchased via Samhain Publishing.

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.

22 Comments

  1. whey
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 16:41:45

    Totally love “gay for you”, lol. And yes, the straight boys that can’t help doing each other, improbable or not, is Teh Best.

  2. Jennifer McKenzie
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 17:09:28

    I have a couple of authors like that who make me break my own hard and fast (no pun intended) rules about what I’ll read.
    I’ve loudly proclaimed my insistence on a HEA to the world….and read Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series anyway. (EVENTUALLY I got my HEA, but it took FOUR FREAKIN’ BOOKS. And I’m not sure whether it was really a happy ending or not….you see what I mean. TOTALLY not my usual thing).
    If I’m ever up at three a.m………

  3. Sayuri
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 17:32:24

    Aww Joan/Sarah

    Your love for Evangeline equals my love for Carol Lynne. I can’t help it. I know she essentially writes ‘chicks with dicks’ but it’s my m/m crack. I have this complusion to read her stuff.

    And Now I want to read this cause although I am not a lover of ‘gay for you’ I freakin’ also love ‘The Assignment’. I also enjoyed the m/f ‘Picture Perfect’ even with the ridONKulous ending.

    I love guilty m/m reads.

    BTW finished Caught Running. Liked it, still love the truckers more though.

    Also Jennifer….There’s a 5th Adrien English book coming. I think we’ll get the proper bo HEA then! (We’d better!)

  4. Joan/SarahF
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 17:39:56

    Sayuri, if you liked The Assignment, you’ll LOVE Str8te Boys. It’s not even really gay for you, not 100%. And even I can’t bring myself to read Carol Lynne. I’ve got two or three of hers, but the writing itself is….not good. I can’t fault Anderson’s actual writing–it’s the plots that make me plotz (harhar), but in a can’t-not-look way.

    And I adore Urban and Roux’s truckers. Yes indeed. Can’t beat them. Love that ending. Off to reread through the fever…

  5. Sayuri
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 17:42:18

    but the writing itself is….not good

    I know……… which makes the sin even bigger but I can’t stop….. I’m so ashamed.

    I have KA Mitchell’s new one, Chasing Smoke, to read. I may go and do that, try to wash away the shame…..

  6. JenB
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 18:00:23

    I adore EA’s m/m books and I don’t feel guilty about it at all. She writes it, I enjoy it, and that’s all I care about when I’m in the mood for a sexy, fun story. And did I mention SEXY? As I said on Twitter, nobody writes sexual tension or tentative touches like EA. She totally nails the “so wrong but feels so good” vibe. I love it. I eat it up like popcorn. :) I didn’t realize this was out. I’ll have to snag it. Thanks for the review!

  7. KK
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 18:09:12

    Haha, I had already bought this for my Kindle! Impulse buy, all the way. Samhain has conditioned this response from me, damn their Kindle availability!

  8. SonomaLass
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 18:19:41

    My 18-year-old talks like this about Twilight. Hmmmm.

  9. MichelleR
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 18:50:37

    Yeah, not sure I would have the courage to address it to her either. I’m so reading this next though. :) I’d already DLed it earlier, but now it’s top of my list.

  10. orannia
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 18:56:28

    A squidgy guilty B-

    I love it! I also adored The Assignment, so I may just have to hunt Str8te Boys down. I’m still expanding my m/m horizons (am currently reading Jordan Castillo Price’s PsyCop), so please feel free to suggest any authors you think I should try :)

    Thank you Sarah/Joan F :)

  11. Ally Blue
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 19:03:51

    LOL! I love this review. Even though I’m with JenB and am over the guilts these days, I can still identify with that feeling *g*

    This is a book I’ve wanted to read myself. I bought and read The Assignment in one night. It was just pure fun for me. Sounds like this would be too :)

  12. Shanna
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 22:18:26

    Thanks for the recommendation, bought it and read it tonight. So sexy, I love those “straight” boys!

  13. LG
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 22:21:44

    I loved your review, very funny. I’ve never read anything by this author or any of the authors mentioned by the various people who have commented, although I may have to try this out. I already have tons of anime and manga with characters who practically scream “I’m not gay, really, but I’ll be gay because I know you ladies in the audience love it,” so this may just be my cup of tea.

  14. Lori
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 23:03:52

    Everyone has their guilty crack books, LOL. That author who writes everything you abhor in a book or in a character, yet you pick it up again and again and adore it every time.

    I have to also admit to the “straight boys that can't help doing each other” addiction. ‘Tis yummy. It’s not my crack, per se, but yummy nonetheless. And I love EA’s books, too.

    My crack is Shannon McKenna. TSTL heroines, assholic too-alpha alphas, caracaturish villains, completely improbable unbelievable plots. And I eat it up like a triple-scoop chocolate fudge sundae on a hot summer day.

  15. Edie
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 23:16:40

    I think a lot of romance readers would have a guilty addiction somewhere..
    I have several depending on my mood..

    Probably the only one I would admit to in public would be the Shannon McKenna one.. I absolutely inhale her books when they come out.

  16. Inez Kelley
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 00:58:38

    You, Dear Author, are a pusher and have hooked me with your crack. Bought it, loved it, and now, I want more. Str8te Boys was like potato chips. You know you should stop before you ruin your dinner but damn, they hit the spot and suddenly, the whole bag is gone.

  17. MichelleR
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 07:13:19

    I adore how in no time Mav accepts that Duke doesn’t want to chase pussy — unless it refers to his plans to open a shelter for unwed and orphan kittens. :)

  18. CourtneyLee
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 12:41:18

    This review cracked me up. I love EA, too, and I’ll have to get this book. I’m a MM junkie and though I’m kind of meh on the “gay for you” theme, it can totally be addicting.

    My guilty pleasure is JM Snyder’s The Powers of Love series. Lots of shorts to snap up like candy. THe writing is pretty good and I adore the characters.

  19. Karen Scott
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 01:39:36

    I feel the exact same way about Shannon Mckenna’s books. I know I shouldn’t love them, because really, they can be verrry bad, but I fear I cannot help myself. Although, I must admit, her writing seems to be improving, and there are less car crash scenes that make my teeth hurt.
    Which may or may not be a good thing, since I didn’t even finish Ultimate Weapon, which featured a heroine who wasn’t as dumb as the previous ones.

  20. Jen
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 09:02:19

    Awesome recommendation! I took the plunge and bought the book, my first m/m book ever… The story was pretty ridiculous– and for some reason, every time EA wrote Mav or Duke, my brain saw Max and Deke– but wow was it hot! So yeah, I’m definitely up for more “gay for you” books- anybody have recommendations?

  21. amberwitch
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 09:30:46

    I wished more books were published in hardcopy. This looks like I’d enjoy it, but I don’t want ebooks.
    Regarding m/m (and BDSM) I’d recommend Manna Francis Administration series – not as a guilty pleasure though. The first four books are out in hardcopy, but most of the stories can be found at her website: http://www.mannazone.org/zone/admin/index.html

  22. Lisa Cuddy
    Apr 02, 2011 @ 22:33:25

    I agree with this review except for the “secret” part. We should all be shouting out loud how Evangeline’s books make us feel. She is brilliant. I tell everyone and anyone who will listen to me how amazing her books are. They may be dirty, but they’re no secret. At least not in my house!!!!!

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