Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 02/29/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Humor/Comedy, M/M Romance
Sequel to Tell Me It’s Real
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Sanford Stewart sure doesn’t. In fact, he pretty much believes in the exact opposite, thanks to the Homo Jock King. It seems Darren Mayne lives for nothing more than to create chaos in Sandy’s perfectly ordered life, just for the hell of it. Sandy despises him, and nothing will ever change his mind.
Or so he tells himself.
It’s not until the owner of Jack It—the club where Sandy performs as drag queen Helena Handbasket—comes to him with a desperate proposition that Sandy realizes he might have to put his feelings about Darren aside. Because Jack It will close unless someone can convince Andrew Taylor, the mayor of Tucson, to keep it open.
Someone like Darren, the mayor’s illegitimate son.
The foolproof plan is this: seduce Darren and push him to convince his father to renew Jack It’s contract with the city.
Note the five-star rating. I admit that TJ Klune’s books just do something to me. So, in spite of flaws, that I admit exist, I can’t lower my love for his writing. There is such creativity, such flamboyant use of words and images, such expert telegraphing of emotions. The Queen and the Homo Jock King is technically the sequel to Tell Me It’s Real, but it really isn’t necessary to have read that book. Here is a paragraph lifted from my own comments on the earlier book: “’Tell Me It’s Real’ offers the expected (and, I suspect, from his fans, looked-for) overthinking with the additional ingredients of marvelously fast pacing and unexpected, offbeat humor. I guess it’s easier to embrace frustrating characters when they make you laugh.” Ok, so ditto for this book.
The Queen of the title is Sanford Stewart, mild-mannered, thirty-one-year-old insurance claims adjuster. His fierce alter-ego is Helena Handbasket, reigning queen of Jack It, the only real gay dance bar in Tucson, Arizona. The Homo Jock King is Sandy’s arch-nemesis, Darren Mayne, illegitimate son of the evil Republican mayor of Tucson and half-brother of Sandy’s best friend’s boyfriend.
Did you follow all that?
No matter. You’ll figure it out.
Equal parts farce, rom-com, and sit-com, Klune’s latest is laugh-out-loud funny and emotionally satisfying. There is not a great deal of actual sex in the book, but an enormous amount of sex-related talk, often involving both Sandy and Darren’s friends and family. The sex-talk is hilarious, and the climactic sex scene is shattering.
Klune has broken all sorts of unwritten taboos in the m/m world with his books. His last book, How to be a Normal Person, is possibly the first asexual romance (and, yes, it works). Without being ham-fisted, Klune zeroes in on the difference between transvestites and transsexuals and non-binary gender; he rejects slut-shaming and kink-shaming and any kind of thoughtless judging of others. He celebrates both the joys and the awkwardness of safe gay sex, while poking fun at the self-admitted absurdity of gay clubs and drag performances. He also raises up drag queens as the heroes they are, because the jewel in this book’s crown is Sandy/Helena. Never have I understood a drag queen so completely, because Klune makes us become Sandy, and to see the world through his (stubborn, blinkered, wounded) eyes.
The supporting cast in this substantial book is large and brilliantly drawn. Very rarely does Klune slip into archetypes, but gives us richly three-dimensional people that we don’t have to like, but at least are forced to understand.
And, yes, the tone of the book is extremely like the tone of the fantasy/paranormal goof The Lightning-Struck Heart, which I also loved. Klune sounds like Klune when he’s in his comic mode (his non-comic mode is rather different, if equally complex). It’s sort of the way that, in a Woody Allen movie, everybody talks like Woody Allen. Star power. The Master’s Voice. Whatever.
My only complaint, and this holds true for MOST m/m writers today (Harper Fox and the other Brit writers being exceptions): the inability to correctly use “and me” rather than “and I.” So frustrating. It is a simple grammatical rule that seems to have been forgotten by all but mainstream publishing house editors in this world. And I hate mainstream publishing house editors.
But that’s small potatoes. TJ Klune is my gay writer crush. I confess it is totally age-inappropriate, but I have no shame.
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.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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