Jeff Irwin is short, timid, and studious. A bit of a social outcast, he lives quietly in the shadows of the popular kids at his school, his life ruled by his ever-present fear of rejection or failure.
Enter high school football hero Brett Willson and the chance for Jeff to embark upon the challenge of educating the world's dumbest jock.
But what develops between Brett and Jeff proves far more challenging than any tutoring session. In 1983, rural Michigan isn't ready to embrace love between two men, never mind two teenage boys. If they're going to make a go of it, Jeff will have to come out of his shell - and Brett will have to prove he's more than just a dumb jock.
©2013 Jeff Erno (P)2015 Dreamspinner Press
Goodreads reviewer and blogger... also dentist and wife/mom when I get the time!
Yes, I rounded down. I really hated this book.
It's been awhile since I've stumbled across a book that gave me as strong of a gut reaction as this story. Every fiber of my being just said NO while I was listening to this one (more on the audio aspect of the book later). However, looking at my friends' reviews, I seem to be in the vast minority. What am I missing here, folks???
What is odd is that on the surface, this book has many of the things that I like in my books. I'm into age gaps, I'm into power-plays, and I'm into light D/s themes. However, I should specify that I'm into these things in my ADULT books. ADULT. These elements take on a whole different light in the YA setting of this story.
This book is about a 14 year old high school freshman and a 17 year old high school junior. The 14 year old, Jeff, is described pretty well. He is a skinny, thin, geeky pre-pubescent boy who is unsure of himself and his sexuality. He has a very messed up home life, and he is fragile in many, many ways. Brett is a 17 year old post-pubescent young man, one with a pretty stable home life, popularity, and looks on his side.
While a three year age difference may not be a lot, when you have a person described as basically a boy being intimate with someone described as basically a man... well, it squicked me out. A lot.
Combine that physical difference (Jeff's voice hasn't even changed yet in the story!) with the D/s themes and things get veeerrrrry weird. Brett called Jeff "pup" and "sport" all the time, which felt nasty to me. Puppy play with kids barely in their teens?? No thank you. Jeff also described himself as "puny" and "inferior", but not in a play-way like I would expect in an adult D/s book. Jeff had real self-esteem issues, and I didn't like seeing that mixed in with D/s themes. The whole kink vibe felt soooo verrrryyyy wroooonnnng.
It wasn't just the kinkiness or the power differences that bothered me, but also the characters themselves. Jeff was a whiny, annoying doormat who gave Brett second chances followed by third and forth chances. He was extremely vulnerable and irritating, and I didn't enjoy being in his head one bit. Brett was just an ass. We didn't get his POV, but I honestly didn't understand him at all. Like, AT ALL. He was hot and cold, totally unreadable, and made no sense as a character.
The side character were also so clichéd. The absentee father, the beleaguered mother, the gay teacher, the bullies... it was like a hit list of everything to include in your YA book. So done before, you know?
To top it off, the plot was a rambling, disordered series of events that loosely could be considered a story arc. For me, it dragged on and on, and it lacked proper structure and editing.
But the kicker was the audiobook narration. Tommy O'Brien really phoned this one in with a stilted, wooden narration with no differentiation between the characters' voices. It made for a really difficult listening experience.
After over 7.5 hours of listening to the audiobook and forcing myself to finish, I just don't have it in me to be charitable. I didn't like this story, and I'll hesitate to try another Jeff Erno book again.
**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
This is a YA book – so you can expect that this has a fairly predictable message – but it’s a sweet and good one. Nerd loves jock. Jock surprises nerd and loves him back. Everyone has to grow up and be brave.
I think there was a lot of “fantasy” type stuff in here – meaning, that people didn’t necessarily act like I think they would IRL. But… that being said – they could act that way… especially since this is only one perspective- Jeff’s.
I appreciated the lengths the author went to really get inside Jeff’s head and let this story out as one of hope for all those bullied along in high school.
There are some interesting components to this – as a YA book. 1) Off page sex – both are underage and it fits, but it’s there. 2) a bit of a Dom/sub thing – not overworked or “inappropriate” per se – interesting setting for it, though.
Tommy O’Brien is not my favorite narrator but he did a nice job with the narration, neither really adding nor detracting from the overall experience.
I think my overall impression was one of “good”. It was good. It didn’t “wow” me or make me think “how awful”. It was good. Certainly enough to make me consider more from the series when I’m in a YA mood.
I love it when a book can make me laugh and cry and Jeff Erno was a master of it in this book. The start of the book was slow and I almost gave up on it about 10% into it because I thought it was too unbelievable how the romance is initiated and progresses, but then it really picked up. Once their romance gets started it is a fun roller coaster that made me feel along with the characters.
I was a little torn about this book not because it wasn’t written well, because it was, but because there were times when I didn’t particularly like one of the main characters. However, at the same time I rooted for them to work things out regardless.
The main characters here are Jeff Irwin and Brett Wilson, teenagers who live in different social stratospheres in school. Jeff is the stereotypical nerd and Brett the quintessential jock and they have very little in common, or so they believe.
Jeff and Brett meet and become friends when Jeff is basically blackmailed by the coach into tutoring Jeff in English. Jeff knows he’s gay but doesn’t tell anyone and he develops a major crush on Brett. He doesn’t think Brett could ever feel the same way, despite how close they become.
Jeff is thrilled when Brett admits he has feelings for Jeff and has messed around with guys before, despite posing as the straight jock at school. They begin a sexual and romantic relationship and this is where I had some issues with the story.
Brett doesn’t treat Jeff all that great in the big scheme of things. Several times, Jeff performs oral sex on Brett and there isn’t a reciprocation. It felt more like Brett was using Jeff for sexual gratification and there were times I wondered exactly if Brett was just using him.
The use of the pup as Brett’s nickname for Jeff was shown as a cute appellation, but I didn’t see it that way. Following a guy around like a puppy dog, doing whatever he asks, and going along with whatever he says is not a good thing and certainly isn’t true love. Yes, these are teenagers who tend to do this sort of things and that’s why I didn’t focus on it too much.
By the time Brett bails on Jeff despite promising a romantic night alone I was convinced there was no way they could be an HEA, which would’ve been realistic. However, the author does give the characters their HEA and while I loved Brett’s public proclamation of live, I wasn’t 100 % convinced they could make it long term.
There’s an epilogue that shows the boys years later that I believe could’ve been left out, though some readers might enjoy that sort of things. The chances of a 14 year old boy finding the love of his life AND staying with him forever is extremely slim.
Despite my reservations, I enjoyed Dumb Jock a great deal. Not only did the author create two fresh characters in Brett and Jeff, he also portrayed several interesting supporting characters, including Jeff’s friends and family.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to this book to anyone looking for a fresh, sweet young adult tale.
Tommy O’Brien did a great job with Jeff, from whose perspective the book is written. Jeff’s inner voice felt like that of an actual teenager and never once did he feel older than 14 years old.
O’Brien did very well with Brett, as well as all the supporting characters, of which there are many. With many male narrators I cringe when they do female voices because they rely on attempting higher voices and it comes off as fake. That was not the case here. O’Brien is a talented narrator and I won’t hesitate listening books performed by him in the future.
This story kind of surprised me since i thougth i bought another coming-out of the closet in high school stories. And i did - but not the uncomplicated predictable feel happy story i anticipated. First, the MC is VERY young and the almost dom-sub relationship in the story kind of makes you think he is indeed too young for this kind of story. Second - at times you really want to hit the older jock (the other mc) very hard and tell the kid he deserves so much better. Third - without revealing too much - it actually made me cry real tears. I think it makes it very high on my list of best listens - especially in this "young coming out" genre simply due to the emotional ups and downs it gave me and the fact that i still - almost at the end of the story - wasnt sure how it would end and not even sure i knew how i wanted it to end. Narrator is not someone i listened to before, but he is good and at times does an exceptional job.
Reading and listen to books for me is one of the keys to a happy life.
This is so common of a theme for a gay coming out story. They always make me cry, some more than others. I was surprised that this one got to me though, I didn't feel that it was going to be that good or maybe I just thought I would not allow this one to get to me, but it did. HS was a lost time for me. I stayed deep in the closet in 1960s, in Oakland, CA. I had so many crushes, that I kept to myself, and I barely graduate from HS. I was surely very depressed & also I was dealing with going to Vietnam and war. I became the very first person that my draft board ever gave a CO status to. Since then I have spent 40 years in the medical field savings my patients from the horrors of illness if I could or comforting them in their dying. People still hate me because I am gay, and stories like this one brings up the sadness of my youth and how alone I had to be because of other people's hatred of me. I always wonder if they ever realize the harm & pain they inflicted on a lonely young man that just wanted what everyone one else wanted someone to love and someone to love him back!
"Definitely Not Dumb!"
A wonderful story!
There were several, but if I'm forced to pick just one, it has to be the last chapter!
This is the first time I've listened to Tommy, Overall he did a decent job but occasionally there were a few times when it was difficult to know which character was speaking. That said I would listen to his narration again.
Definitely, but at over 7 hours long just not possible.
I laughed and cried, cheered and groaned at this story. There are several more books in this series, but as yet, not audible versions, but I'm hoping that will soon be remedied!
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