Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a brand-spanking-new contemporary M/M romance from Annabeth Albert. LOVE ME TENOR is the second book in the Perfect Harmony series, and you know I adored TREBLE MAKER so I jumped at the chance to read this one.
Drop down to check out my review, an extended excerpt and get in on the $20 Amazon GC giveaway!
About the book:
Trevor Daniels is feeling aimless. A recent college grad, he’s not sure what to do with his useless degree, and his family all but abandoned him after he revealed the truth about himself. But a friend’s suggestion that he take his chances on a reality show aimed at finding the next big boy band strikes a chord with him—until the show’s producers convince him to act like he’s in a relationship with a guy who’s not at all his type. It isn’t exactly love at first sight for Jalen Smith either—but lust just might push them in an unexpected direction. If only their secrets weren’t even more twisted than their sheets, threatening to cost them the win—and each other…
How about a taste?
“You brought your luggage?” The receptionist looked at Trevor like he’d brought a snake to the movie studio offices instead of a rolling suitcase and a backpack.
“My flight was late. And then customs—”
“Fine.” She held up a hand, shimmery with the sort of nail art Trevor’s sisters weren’t allowed to wear. “You can have a seat.” She motioned to a seating area with square leather and chrome chairs and a metallic-looking shag rug.
“Wait. Is my group here yet? Stand Out!?”
“Let me check.” She glanced at a pink sheet on a clipboard. “No.” She made a shooing motion back in the direction of the waiting area.
The receptionist disappeared back down a hallway, teetering on shoes that put her a good six inches taller than Trevor. The building was kind of a letdown. The whole complex was a series of gigantic gray warehouses, but the inside of this one was like any other office building in America. Or Canada. He’d only been in Vancouver a couple of hours and kept forgetting he wasn’t in the States anymore.
His bag made a loud clickety-clack sound as he dragged it across the tile floor to the seating area, but the only occupant in the chairs didn’t even glance up. The guy was about Trevor’s age, maybe a bit younger. His eyes were half-closed, like waiting for producers to call his name was just so boring. He had that jock sprawl, maximizing every inch of the low chair. Trevor took a seat with a good view of the guy. Indifferent eye candy was his favorite kind.
He had this thing for straight guys, particularly jocks. Jocks were his personal kryptonite; they made his knees turn into magnets, headed straight for the floor. And the guy across from him was the deadly, heart-stopping red kryptonite brand of jock. His build was perfect—not too tall, because Trevor was picky about that—but jacked like a Chevy with a lift kit. Hell, even the dude’s neck was ripped. Jock’s foot moved back and forth in motion with the music pumping in his ears from pricey Beats headphones.
Because dude’s eyes were shut, Trevor felt free to continue his inventory of hotness. Baggy shorts. T-shirt for a wrestling team. Wrestling. Trevor had to shift around on the slick leather couch before continuing his appraisal. Cheap white socks, but black shoes that probably cost more than Trevor’s bike. Rich elitist jock? Yes, please.
The outfit was notable because Trevor would have figured most guys coming to a TV studio would want to dress up a little. He had, but of course now his pressed khakis and dress shirt seemed horribly overdressed compared to jock boy and the receptionist wearing a cutoff denim skirt and a tank top that seemed to be made out of nothing more than knotted rope.
Maybe dude wasn’t there to be on TV. Or if he was, maybe he was there for a different show from the music reality show Trevor was on. He certainly didn’t look like the boy band type. Dude looked ready for an MMA-fighter type show, or maybe working as a stunt double. But if he wasn’t on Trevor’s show, that meant—
“You done checking me out or you need me to turn to the other side?” Jock’s eyes snapped open. They were a startling shade of hazel, almost amber. And at the moment, they were filled with undisguised irritation.
Oh, crap. Trevor gulped hard. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He dug out his phone, giving himself something to look down at. He’d been caught before and it almost never ended well. With any luck, Dawn would show up soon and he would never have to see jock boy again.
“Oh, don’t be shy.” Jock boy had a killer whisper: husky with a hint of command to it. He said it with the air of someone who knew exactly how hot he was. And now he was going to make Trevor pay for noticing.
Trevor didn’t look up from his phone, but inside he was squirming in his chair. In a different situation, he’d be more than happy to let this play out until he was on his knees in the restroom with jock boy berating him, but he’d sworn to turn over a new leaf. Plus there was always the risk that jock wanted all the verbal abuse and none of the fun. No more gambling.
“Yeah. That’s what I figured.” The other guy snorted.
“Trevor! You made it!” Dawn came barreling across the lobby, red hair streaming behind her. She was flanked by two nearly identical blond giants—one wore a blue polo shirt and khaki pants, the other a brown polo and blue pants. Both had the same bored smirk on their faces.
“What are you doing with your luggage?” Dawn’s smile was replaced by a frown, like Trevor was some clueless kid making her day more difficult. “Why didn’t you give it to the receptionist? They’re sending all the contestants’ stuff over to the house while we tape the intro segments.”
“Here. I’ll take it.” Blond giant number one grabbed Trevor’s bags, tossing them like they were a set of hand weights.
“Jalen!” Dawn stepped around Trevor to hug jock boy, who stood up to greet her. “It’s about time. I was starting to freak!”
Just his luck. Dawn hung on Jalen the jock like they were old friends, tugging his headphones down to his neck and rubbing his closely cropped black hair. Oh, geez. Jalen looked a bit young to be Dawn’s boy toy; she had to be in her late twenties. But no matter what Jalen was to Dawn, he was now a giant pain in the neck to Trevor. A sick feeling gathered in his gut and his hands tightened.
“Did you meet Jalen already, Trevor?” she asked.
“No,” Trevor said carefully. The tension in his muscles climbed to trampoline spring tight—any second now Jalen was going to call him out for creeping on him.
“We’re acquainted,” Jalen drawled at the same time.
“Um. Okay.” Dawn frowned but luckily kept talking before Jalen could reveal way more than Trevor wanted. “So this is Carter. And over there is Carson.”
Twins. They had to be twins right? Trevor was already in too much shit for gaping and didn’t want to stare hard enough to figure it out.
“So, are we ready to become the next boy band?” Carter spoke like some dude on an infomercial, each word carefully articulated for maximum impact. “I am so ready to win this thing.”
The riot in Trevor’s stomach grew worse. Win? With Jalen the jock? As in Trevor was now in the same group as jock boy? And the blond giants? For the next six weeks?
“Yeah. Let’s do this.” Carson came back over. Like Carter, he had a macho, commanding voice, probably a baritone when he sang. Heck. Trevor really didn’t want to be the only tenor on a team of One Direction wannabes.
“Okay Stand Out!, let’s go film your intro.” Dawn motioned for them to follow her down the hall.
Oh, hell. He was really going to be on camera, in a boy band, right freaking now.
This is the second book in a series, and fully enjoyable on its own.
Trevor hails from a conservative Christian family which has rejected him due to his sexuality. He’s weeks from graduating college and his whole life already seems a bust. He’s cut off from his family and his planned job as music director in his father’s church. He has no prospects, no home and less than $100 in his bank account when he gets a call to take part in a “boy band” reality show. Trevor was part of an acapella group in college, and even participated in a previous reality show with that group the summer before–one of this new show’s producers is the one calling him back, and well, he has the choice between homelessness and six weeks of room and board in the reality show house. Plus, if the group he’s with wins…well!
Okay, it’s not gonna be easy, especially when Trevor learns that he’s part of a “gay” band. And, not just part…he’s the “other half” of a couple, to a guy he has never met.
Jalen is doing this show as a favor to his foster sister, and he doesn’t mind singing so much, but he hasn’t had any formal training, and he’s not sure what to make of Trevor, his “boo.” Jalen’s a beefcake mix of Black-Hispanic-Hawaiian genes, and though he isn’t tall, he dwarfs 5′ 5″ Trevor. They are pressed into sharing a room in the house, and that’s not all they share. Okay, well, that is all they share at first, but the pressure cooker of the competition soon draws them close.
Trevor has such a negative view of himself, it’s upsetting. He’s never been good enough for his family, his music group, his instructors, etc. He’s also so very hard on himself for looking too femme, with a high vocal range that also makes him feel femme. He has NO desire to be femme, but it’s kinda default, on account of his stature, and his self-loathing really affects him, holds him back from being the best he can be. Jalen is such a nurturer. As Jalen gets a glimpse into Trevor’s world, all he wants is to keep Trevor safe. It’s not easy, due to a developing medical problem that worsens as the story winds on. The big crisis comes just when it looks like Jalen and Trevor and their group are poised to win the whole thing.
There are some spectacular feels in this book. Trevor’s capacity for self-loathing seems deep and wide, but Jalen’s steadfast affection, and eventual love, is able to slowly draw Trevor into a positive mindset. There is some rather deep shame kink here–some I hadn’t read before–and I liked the way it was handled. The whole “different strokes” take was interesting and kept me engaged, as I hoped that Trevor would work past it. The playful banter was so spot on, and the insight from both Trevor and Jalen’s POVs were compelling. The competition didn’t play such a role in this book, as very little of the story takes place before an audience and there are no weekly eliminations, so the bulk of the narrative was focused on the characters and their love story, and how it developed.
There are good secondary characters, too. Carter and Carson–the other half of the “band” are not pleasant at first, but we get a good look in on them when the going gets rough. I liked how Trevor and Carter interacted when it looked like the whole plan was going up in smoke. Jalen’s sister is a good gal, despite the prickly situation of being a boss in the show.
I totally loved this one, and am not nearly ready to wait goodness knows how long for the NEXT book in this series now that I broke my rule and read the (included) first chapter of book three… ARRGH!
Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children. Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.