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Not every gay teen yearns for fashion and popular culture. Some boys are pure country folk and like the feel of flannel and the smell of the farm. And they're neither lithe nor muscle-bound but stocky boys, the ones who develop hairy chests, arms, and faces years earlier than their peers. One such seventeen-year-old is Travis Ferrell, shy among most of the other kids at school, but proud of his West Virginia roots. He has not yet admitted his passion for handsome guys--and his idea of what handsome is and what handsome does is not much different from him. Soon he'll learn that he's not unique; gay culture has a name for young men like him. Cubs. Lambda Literary Award-winning author Jeff Mann has written a touching romance for the outsider in us all.



Book Cover

  • Generic but attractive


  • Read all at once (normal)


  • Within the first few pages, the author counters any stereotypes the reader may have about Travis being a 'dumb farmer' because he's learning Latin
  • That Travis doesn't have the typical body type of every other M/M romance character, and his insecurities make sense
  • Travis' best friends are mostly lesbians who are positively portrayed - an unfortunately novel concept
  • The Wiccan/pagan overtones were an intriguing juxtaposition with being in Baptist country
  • Travis' reaction to discovering 'bears' and 'cubs'
  • Although the book is scene-free, I like that the author lets us see the foreplay and the acts are fade-to-black*
  • That Travis and Mike had the safe sex talk, and weren't left to stereotypically thoughtlessly fumble like every other teen

Character Depth

  • Chest deep

Mood Upon Completion

  • Sad
  • Hoping for a sequel****


  • Very few/no typos

Sex Scenes

  • Scene-free


  • Plentiful use of the word 'retard' - which I understand is more a sign of their region and ignorance, and not that they think less of those different from them**
  • That they both had been drinking and decided to engage in bondage‚Ķvery irresponsible
  • Is the bar Foxfire or Firefox?
  • Travis seems to be a bit bi-phobic (with the whole 'he'll leave me for a woman' insecurity), but I'm not sure how much is just ignorance since he doesn't really know any bi people***
  • For most of the book, Mike kept bringing up his insecurities, yet didn't seem to take any steps to change his situation
  • The ending

Emotional Depth

  • Moderately emotional

Content Warnings

  • BDSM (namely B/D, D/s)
  • Dub-con (major, one, past)
  • Abuse (physical/emotional, major, one, past and present)

*Not because I want to see everything between underage characters in graphic detail – eww – but because it shows their love for each other and how they’re exploring. Too many books cut out the exploration, and I think it’s important for young people of all orientations to see that porn and sex with another person aren’t the same thing – and sometimes fade-to-black scenes just convey that whole don’t need to know/will find out when they get older, parental feeling. In addition to the safe sex talk, it’s clear to me that this author values his young readers enough to be moderately educational while not overbearing, so thank you to the author for understanding this.

**Also, if you don’t even want to read the n-word, it’s in here plenty; however, it’s used by the main characters to refer to what racists are calling black people, not them saying it about or to black people directly.

***Please note that I am NOT making excuses for these characters; being from the South, I understand more than most how they tend to be the the last to get everything – Target, Whole Foods, new ideas – compared to elsewhere.

****This story was written in 2014, though – so it looks like we won’t get a conclusion.

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