When I started reading this series, I had every intention of completing an individual review for each novel. However, as I read through the different books, I realized that each was very similar in structure as well as meaning. Therefore, I am going to review them all together.
Title: Dumb Jock Series
Author: Jeff Erno
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Rating: 3.75 of 5 Stars
Dumb Jock: Book One
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.
Another Dumb Jock: Book Two
Jeff Irwin and Brett Willson raised a fine son, Adam, in their unconventional, judgment-free family. But being the son of two dads has its challenges. Although Adam loves them, he’s determined to prove he’s not gay, like they are. To this end he’s become the star pitcher of his high school baseball team, a true jock.
Then Adam is suspended after he gets into a fight at school, and his dads find out his grades are slipping. Determined to put him back on track, they hire him a tutor: a short, nerdy kid named Trevor. Despite his resistance, soon enough Adam’s worst nightmare comes true when he finds himself attracted to Trevor. This gives him a choice: follow his heart or become just another dumb jock.
Appearances Matter: Book Three
At age sixteen, Todd Hoffman is a social outcast. He lives with his mother in a rundown mobile home and doesn’t wear the nice clothes or drive fancy cars like the other students. He has one outlet: he secretly writes fan fiction about a boy falling in love with another boy he’s crushing on, and posts it online.
When Galen Caulfield, Todd’s real life object of affection, notices him and asks him out, Todd feels like he’s living his fantasy. Soon enough he realizes that fantasy and reality are two very different propositions.
Galen is the high school soccer team captain, clearly out of Todd’s league. On top of that, he’s popular, good-looking, and confident, so everyone thinks he’s straight. Now it’s up to Todd to decide whether Galen is the boy of his dreams or just another dumb jock.
Dumb Jock:The Musical: Book Four
Evan Drake needs to be a role model to his younger brother Brandon, and although he’s a star on his high school basketball team, there’s more to him than meets the eye. He’s interested in many things, including drama and singing, and when he joins drama club, he meets Noah Sheridan, and he’s pretty interested in him, too.
Noah is a super smart, cute but nerdy kid who has written a high school play about two gay students who attended Boyne City High twenty years ago, and who, in real life, fell in love with each other. When the drama department elects to use the play for their high school musical, Noah urges Evan to audition for the lead role. Evan ultimately decides he wants to be in the play, but when he shows up to audition, it sends shockwaves throughout the school. His teammates are furious, and so is his best friend Bryan. As Evan and Noah grow closer, Bryan gets more traitorous, and it seems he wants nothing more than to see his former friend broken down.
Two Dumb Jocks: Book Five
Rejected by his family for coming out, Bryan Helverson boards a plane for Tampa, Florida, where he plans to attend college. Brett and Jeff’s family embrace him when he arrives, and his new “brothers,” Adam and Trevor, help him assimilate into the community.
While playing tennis with Trevor at the country club, Bryan meets aspiring pro tennis player Greg Lewis. But after a few minutes it’s easy to see the arrogant jock is not on Bryan’s menu, and he quickly dismisses the man. Forgetting he ever met Greg is not an option, though, when Bryan is hired as a waiter at the country club’s restaurant, and Greg is assigned to train him. Unexpected romance blossoms just as Bryan discovers one of Greg’s ex-boyfriends also works at the restaurant.
Greg is not the person Bryan first took him for, though. His true ambition is to become a doctor. And as their romance grows serious, Bryan discovers Greg’s mom suffers from the same debilitating depression that plagues Bryan. Unfortunately, just as Bryan is making giant strides with managing his depression, Greg’s ex—as manipulative as he is abusive—takes a battered Bryan back to point A and threatens to destroy his relationship with Greg.
The Dumb Jock series by Jeff Erno is about so much more than the title suggests. Yes, each novel has an athlete as a MC (sometimes 2) and yes each athlete is initially thought to be the stereotypical dumb jock. But as I read each of these novels, I realized there was a hidden depth to each character and the author used this on purpose to show that you should never judge a book by its cover.
Each story was very similar in its makeup. There was a popular rich kid who in some way needed the assistance of the nerdy poor kid (or some very similar variation). There were hardships and prejudices to overcome. But together, the young men grow into loving relationships that show the world where to stick it. In addition, each story addressed some tragic events and serious life lessons were imparted. Things such as alcoholism, depression, abuse, rape, and bullying are addressed. Through the story structure and the character interactions, the author teaches lessons of understanding, acceptance, and endurance. These are good books for showing what a wonderful place the world could be if we all just let go of the hate and love one another.
Each of the 5 books are linked to the initial two MCs, Jeff and Brett in some way. Below, I will talk about each one individually for a bit.
Dumb Jock – This is Jeff and Brett’s story. Set in the 1980, this one focuses on coming of age in a time where men were men and manliness was valued. I liked the messages presented in this tale, but I had a hard time with the way Jeff was presented. I also felt like there was so much missing between the end of the story and the epilogue.
Another Dumb Jock – this is the story of Adam and Trevor. This is linked to the original as Adam is Jeff and Brett’s son. This story was set in modern times and was more lighthearted than the first.
Appearances Matters – this was the story of Galen and Todd, friends of Adam and Trevor in school. This one was a bit redundant of the first two, even using some of the same phrasing and life lessons. The thing I like most about this one, was that it delivered some seriousness while remaining upbeat.
Dumb Jock: The Musical – this one was a bit of a stretch for me. It felt forced and a bit over the top. This is the story of Evan and Noah. Noah used Jeff and Brett’s life as the subject matter for the yearly school drama production. It felt kinda like the author was stretching to make this series last. However, I did like the outcome and loved that the characters themselves echoed my feelings about the first novel.
Two Dumb Jocks – This is the fifth installment and is perhaps the one that touches on the most sensitive subjects of depression and rape. This is the story of Greg and Bryan and is connected in the fact that Bryan is living with Jeff and Brett while he is restarting his life after contemplating suicide and being disowned by his family (this occurred in the previous novel). This one was sad but still ended up happily. It also united all of the MCs from all 5 books together in one place.
Overall, I liked this series. I did not care for the redundancy, but I liked the stories themselves and liked that the author used his works to teach others about making the world a more accepting place.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
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