Title: Dar and Gregg (Jock Dorm #1)
Author: Bobby Michaels
Publisher: Loose ID
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
If you think Jocks and Nerds have nothing in common, come to the Jock Dorm!
Cute, nerdish Dar has no idea what to expect when campus housing places him in the Jock Dorm. He certainly doesn’t expect his Jock-God of a roommate, tall, hunky, muscular Gregg the champion wrestler. Nor falling head over heels for him. Workouts, friendship, a little hurt and comfort, and pretty soon Dar can’t take being in love with his straight roommate.
But maybe Gregg isn’t so straight. He’s been keeping secrets of his own, like a murdered first love and a family that’s pretty much disowned him for being gay. Though he vowed never to fall again, he’s not figuring on Dar and how the cute little nerd unfreezes his fearful heart.
For once, the nerd gets the jock, but different interests are the least of their problems. They can’t keep their hands off each other, but coming out is the hardest part.
Jock Dorm Series
Dar and Gregg is the first book in prolific author Bobby Michaels’ Jock Dorm series. I will be reviewing the three-book series over the next week in order.
After starting his junior year at State a few weeks late because of a health problem, nerdy, closeted Dar is dismayed to discover that the only place Housing can now find for him to live is in the jock dorm. Upon reaching his room, he finds that it may be even more difficult than he thought as his new roommate, Gregg, is a gorgeous wrestling hunk who believes being nude is the best way to be when in one’s own space. Never thinking they could be friends — much less something more because Gregg is sure to be another straight, homophobic athlete — Dar is surprised when Gregg turns out to be not only a great, sweet guy, but also happy to become friends, work-out buddies, and secure him a job on the wrestling team as well. Unfortunately, Dar finds himself falling for Gregg and steels himself against unrequited love. As they become closer, Dar is shocked to learn that Gregg isn’t so straight; in fact, he’s gay, has a tragic past that led to him being disowned from his hyper-religious family for his orientation, and loves Dar right back. Can these two survive both the rest of their college careers and the challenges they face?
I am a big fan of Bobby Michaels from back in his Nifty days, reading just about everything he has published under the name RimPig there. If you haven’t already read something by him, there are a few things to note before diving into any of his stories, including this one. First, I find his writing to be honest, opinionated, heart-felt and more-often-than-not very sexually graphic. He makes no secret about where he stands on social and political issues, and many times his stories are commentaries on one or more subjects, such as prejudice, gay marriage, gays having/adopting children, gay coming of age/coming out, parental acceptance and support — or not — of their children’s homosexuality, religion, politics, war, the Marines, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” There is also no doubt that these are guys who love guys, with prevalent kinks including fit, athletic bodies, raunchy man scents, and rimming sessions that go on for days (note that there are other, less conventional ones on Nifty that don’t appear in his commercially-published works). Additionally, there is a healthy dose of autobiography in his stories; he has many decades of both writing and loving — his love life is legendary — and his stories usually touch upon some aspect of his many experiences. He is not to every reader’s taste, but I think his stories are worth it.
I liked this sweet, coming out story very much, and I really liked Dar’s voice as first-person narrator. He is quite a smart-ass with little censor on his mouth and very self-aware. Raised in a small town in the Midwest, he has hid his orientation for fear of backlash in the closed-minded community — including that of his parents. Transferring to and arriving at the state college a nineteen-year-old virgin and resigned to remain that way as long as he lived in the Midwest, he is surprised and unhappy to find himself not only attracted to, but falling for his assumed-to-be-straight roommate. As I said, he is self-aware and also realistic, so I liked that he realized the futility of that early on:
I was not going to get hung up on some straight jock who would probably, at best, kick me to the side of the road, or, at worst, kick my ass if he found out that I was gay. No way was that going to happen to me. I wasn’t going to pine my heart away for a guy who would spend the rest of his life breeding. Not this boy.
I also liked Gregg very much, and although a pitfall of first-person narration can be a lack of depth to the other protag, we don’t get that here. Gregg is fully-fleshed and we get a very good idea of who he is, what makes him tick and what he wants. It is obvious to us that he not only loves, but adores Dar, and is not afraid to show it. In fact, he is unafraid of showing any emotion, letting fears and tears out as necessary, something that be said of both characters.
I am glad that these two found each other and that together they could face the issues and challenges before them. It’s obvious that they are good for each other. With Gregg’s painful past and Dar’s inexperience, they find ways together to help heal, learn and move forward. It was nice to watch them be a couple, sometimes in an “us against the world” way. I also like that there is no insta-love here, with the boys taking time to become friends over the course of the fall term.
The secondary cast is also well-developed, with major players being Dar’s parents (the accepting ones in this story), wrestling Coach Evans, fellow wrestler Vince, and toward the end, Gregg’s brother Drew.
A few things/niggles:
Regarding the smexxin, note that as is common with this author, there are quite a few, very long, explicit scenes, and after a time I found myself skimming and skipping them. Not only are they often repetitive, but I thought they were distracting from the rest of the story, which is very romantic. And if you are turned off by huffing (getting off from deep smelling) odoriferous man scents, rimming and some serious dirty talking, this may not be the book for you.
Also, reading a Bobby Michaels story can, at times, be like reading a textbook. There are often long dialog paragraphs where one character is educating or explaining to another person or people about something, oftentimes gay-themed. In this case, there are several conversations Dar has with his parents about being gay and why he chose to remain closeted for as long as he did, which felt instructional as opposed to conversational. Though this generally does not bother me, some readers may not like this style.
Lastly, and though it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment, I find that books by this author can be at times saccharine, at times preachy, at times contrived — all of which are intermixed here with the good parts (of which there are many). Other readers may find this as well to varying degrees of tolerance.
If you are in the mood for a sweet romance and can handle some graphic smexxin scenes, look no further than Dar and Gregg, the first installment of the Jock Dorm series. Now on to the next book, which is about Vince, a fellow wrestler, and Drew, Gregg’s brother, both introduced here.