Book Reviews

Tell Me It's Real (At First Sight 1) by TJ Klune at BOATK Books

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance / Humor/Comedy
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 04-November-2019

Book Blurb

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Paul Auster doesn't. Paul doesn't believe in much at all. He’s thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother's homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.

Enter Vince Taylor.

Vince is everything Paul isn’t: sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.

But when Paul hits Vince with his car—in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it'd-only-be-manslaughter kind of way—he's forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself—and that is one obstacle Paul can’t quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince's family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he's perfect the way he is.



First edition published by Dreamspinner Press, February 2013.


Book Review

"Just so you know, I don't have a gargantuan penis. Shocking, I know, right? Most of the time when you hear stories like the one you're about to, the narrator is this perfect specimen of man, whether he knows it or not."

Any story that begins like that is for me, no doubt about it. Put that together with the description of Paul Auster as snarky, sarcastic, and very witty and I was completely hooked. It is scientifically proven that a strong sense of humor is the sign of higher brain functioning, so it's obvious that T.J. Klune is running at genius level. The fact the author is willing to write about people who aren't "perfect" in the standards of our society simply endear me to him and his writing even more.

Pretty much from the beginning, I fell in love with Paul. And not just because he's a snarky, sarcastic, power bottom, but because he's so very real and human. He's shy and uncomfortable around a lot of people, he's insecure about his ability to be found attractive, he adopted a two-legged dog from the pound and named him Wheels, his best friend, Sandy, is a fabulous drag queen by the name of Helena Handbasket, his parents are batshit insane, he works a crappy cubicle job, and his grandma's parrot hurls homophobic slurs at him. Paul uses his sarcasm to hide so he doesn't have to risk anything and get hurt. It's a wonderful self protection skill and Paul wields it like a sword. He also doesn't have a filter for what comes pouring out of his mouth pretty much all the time.

His thirtieth birthday he spends with Sandy at the gay club where Helena performs her act. Paul, of course, hides in the balcony area with Charlie, the eighty-year-old guy who runs the lighting and video for Helena's shows. A completely, stunningly, hot jock snags Paul's attention and even after the guy sends a drink up to him, Paul knows that there's no way this guy could ever really be looking at him. I mean, guys who look like that never look at guys like Paul. Imagine his shock and surprise when Monday morning rolls around, and the new guy in his office is none other than hottie from the club, Vince Taylor.

Watching Paul and Vince slowly begin to head toward a tenuous relationship is fabulous. Paul constantly swears it can't be real, and Vince is just confused that Paul doesn't understand that Vince likes him. Although, seeing Vince work his mojo on Wheels and Johnny Depp, Nana's homophobic parrot, was hysterical. And, of course, that included Vince meeting Paul's parents and his nana. The fact that Vince just charms everyone, people and animals, in Paul's vicinity causes no end to the humor. Vince may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he has an absolute heart of gold, amazing considering his family life. Since most of the people in his life have used him, I thought the fact that he still had that wonder and joy of a child inside him was pretty freaking remarkable. His own father told him it was a good thing he was attractive because he sure wasn't smart. Paul doesn't judge Vince and Paul listens to him when he talks, something most people don't do.

I have not laughed this much while reading a book since, well, my favorite guy wrote a great series with a snarky, sarcastic bottom and an Olympic gold medal winner. (You know who you are and what you wrote.) However, I can honestly say that I think T.J. has now won my heart for funniest story, best snarky character, best love interest, greatest best friend/drag queen/secondary character, and sweetest and best love story ever. But, there is a lot more to this story than just laughs. There is drama, but I loved how the author merged it with the funny so that even when my heart was breaking for Paul and Vince, there was still a smile hovering on my face. The evolution of their romance, and Paul learning to accept what his family and Sandy have been telling him all his life about how great he is, was really beautiful to watch. Other than making me laugh (a lot), 'Tell Me It's Real' made me feel. It reminded me how easy it is to hide behind all of our preconceived notions of ourselves and how hard it can be to let those thoughts go. The friendship Paul and his best friend have is priceless, beyond belief for both of them, and I was grateful to the author for including so much of it in the story.

I loved this book. Buy it. Read it. Re-read it, often.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 402 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 29-October-2019
Price $5.99 ebook
Buy Link