Title: Tell Me It’s Real
Author: T.J. Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 15, 2013
Page Count: 350
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
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 quasi bipolar 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.
All the stars for this hilarious piece of writing.
TJ Klune is one of my top favourite authors for a reason. He creates characters that stay with me forever. And I don’t mean just the main characters. In this book, not only did I fall in love with Paul, but with Vince, Sandy/Helena Handbasket, the random woman at the stoplight, Paul’s parents, his grandma, and especially Johnny Depp, the parrot. Get the picture? They are all unforgettable characters that make you feel like they’re real life people, not some made up names for a story.
So. I can guarantee you that you will find Paul Auster offensive, irritating to varying degrees, sometimes obnoxious, and even unlikeable. Nice way to sell the book huh? Bear with me though. The story is told from Paul’s first person POV. Let me tell you, being in that guy’s head for a book this long is quite a challenge. Because he is not politically correct and his thought pattern follows no rhyme or reason. He sputters the most ridiculous things often spurred by his social anxiety and shyness.
So imagine what happens when this chubby, insecure man is being hit on by the hunk Vince Taylor. Laugh out loud situations happen, that’s what. I mean that literally. I read that on the bus and burst out laughing in front of a bunch of people who probably thought I was high because I didn’t chuckle. Oh no. I. Could. Not. Stop. Laughing. So, there’s laughter, a very original take on the nursing-you-back-to-health trope, smexy times (funny more than steamy), and true romance that overcomes all obstacles. Even if one of the MCs thinks they speak Asian in Asia and there are fortune cookie factories that he wants to visit.
What almost steals the show is Paul’s best friend and drag queen extraordinaire, Sandy, aka Helena Handbasket. Sandy is a fiercely loyal friend to Paul but pretty demure in his everyday life. When he is Helena, however, better watch out because he will whip anyone into shape. Helena and leather daddy Charlie have quite the presence in the book as Helena is the star of a drag show.
I am not going to talk about plot details because it would ruin the experience. Honestly, right when you think that things couldn’t possibly get more ridiculous, it’s like Tj Klune jumps out from behind a curtain and goes “gotcha sucker!” So buckle up and enjoy the ride. There are emotional aspects in the story so don’t fret. This is a romance, after all, and we get a glorious HEA with all the sprinkles on top.
A note for the writing. I have read almost all of this author’s books and I have to say that it doesn’t make a lick of difference what the subject matter is. He could be writing about a parrot yelling out “fudge pucker!” or an emotional scene about grief and pain. It’s sublime. The words just flow out in a way that -at least for me- makes hours go by without realizing it.
Highly, highly recommend.