Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dumb Jock by Jeff Erno

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.

2nd Edition
First Edition published by Xlibris, February 2009.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 1
Buy Links

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Dreamspinner Press

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Jeff Erno is a new-to-me author. To be honest, I found the way Dumb Jock was written to be more like fanfiction (the Q&A at the end of the novel summed this up). Not that that's a bad thing, because I truly did enjoy the novel. In the way, it was written more like a stream of consciousness. Jeff's narration – during a scene with action/dialogue – would go on a tangent, branching off in several directions, before finally returning back to the scene itself. The only issue with this form of writing style is, how I'd be involved with whatever Jeff was explaining, I'd forget what was happening in the now.

Jeff is a new freshman. Studious yet emotional, he's targeted easily by both his fellow students and faculty. Coming from a broken home, with an alcoholic father, a struggling mother, and an absentee brother, Jeff has a hard enough time of it – it only adds insult to injury that he's blackmailed into helping the school's Dumb Jock in English in order to get a passing grade in gym class.

Taking place in (what I believe to be) the late eighties, in a time much more different than the world we live in today, there were real fears to be out and proud. Dumb Jock revolves around these fears, issues, Jeff's family situation, and a love he develops throughout the course of the novel. I do believe being 38 years old, from a small town, helped me empathize with Jeff. My childhood was around the time changes were taking place, yet there was still rampant homophobia to be found, with my teen years flowing more into as it is today. The fear, the struggle, the feeling of cowardice when coming out, because back then, the consequences were terrifying, sometimes even life-threatening. So I was able to sympathize with Jeff while simultaneously empathizing with Brett.

While I struggled with the writing style (where I will admit, I found myself skimming more than a few times as Jeff's mind wandered in several different directions before returning to the scene), I enjoyed the overall story. I thought there was a good message, accuracy with the era and locale, and a good ending to soften the emotional blows felt throughout.

I'm a sucker for an emotional rollercoaster, writers who emotionally extort me, and the gut-wrenching sensation of some of the scenes held within Dumb Jock.

My curiosity is piqued – I look forward to giving this author another go, to see if the writing style flows in more of a polished way in future books.

*I do believe readers of MM romance will have a difficult time connecting with the story if they're expecting something that reads as if it were written today, especially readers 30 or younger. There is a considerable age-gap for high school kids. Yet again, this isn't out of the norm for the era or locale. 14-year-old (turned 15) with a 17-year-old. Older mind, younger body vs younger mind, older body, in a small town where they felt alone and only had each other. Just a slight warning, in case it's a hard limit for specific readers.

Jeff Erno is a gay man who writes gay-themed fiction. His stories include m/m romances, young adult themes, BDSM, paranormal & sci-fi, and mysteries. Jeff Erno grew up in rural northern-Michigan and is very much a country boy at heart. He came out as gay in his early twenties and began writing gay-themed stories in the late 1990s. Initially he wrote for his own enjoyment, then one day posted some of his work on a free amateur website. The positive feedback he received spurred him to continue. By the time he received his first publishing contract, he'd completed four novel-length stories. Many of Jeff's stories are set in his small, northern-Michigan hometown, Boyne City. He's passionate about combating teen bullying and LGBT homelessness. He loves decorating cakes, cooking, crafts, and PFLAG. And he's never written a story without a happy ending.

Connect with Jeff

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Dumb Jock (Dumb Jock #1) by Jeff Erno to read and review.

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