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I’m just so surprised by this story. Ariel Tachna has proven not only her writing chops but also her immense creativity and ease with angst and danger and drama and emotion in her gripping series Lang Downs and Partnership in Blood. I’d even read her other Dreamspun Desire book so I definitely had an expectation that ran toward the creative and angsty.
This is the exact opposite.
It’s like expecting a Bloody Mary and being served warm tap water instead.
The story, told from Navashen’s POV is more like “a day in the life of” memoir than an exciting or heartfelt romance. Navashen tells us about moving home, finding a new house, furnishing the house, picking out a restaurant, meeting new friends, talking to his family, etcetera, etcetera. Using way more detail than calls for we are walked through his relocation and new home set-up. None of which is terribly exciting or angst ridden.
His character reads fairly “blah” in that he had some “issues” with poverty growing up and some potential issues with his Indian family but those aren’t actually even a thing (much) anymore. They color his decisions but have not made him an interesting character.
Brent is even worse. There is nothing noteworthy about his character at all up until the very end when we learn he was married to a woman whose family didn’t approve of Brent and that ultimately ended their marriage for them.
Brent and Navashen don’t even begin to date until 80% into the story and then at 90% they break up! Only to reunite in the final pages.
I never felt a bit of chemistry between these two and the ease with which Brent walked away speaks loudly for how little the two are invested in one another. I have no idea what Brent sees in Navashen (not that there’s anything wrong with him but we aren’t really shown why the two hit it off.) Also, Navashen seems like he’s interested in Brent only because he’s the better option to being alone.
(End of spoiler)
Navashen’s brother and mother are the only “interesting” characters and they didn’t have enough to them to carry the story.
Listening to this was probably worse than reading it only because in addition to being not very interesting, John Solo made Brent sound like a smarmy used car salesman and he kinda made my skin crawl. I expected some accents with all these unique characters but there weren’t any, so that didn’t help the situation either.
All in all this was very disappointing and I’m sorry to say I just can’t recommend either the book or the audiobook.
2 of 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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*Audible code provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement. *
Navashen grew up poor, living in government funded housing. He was transferred to a different school because of his intelligence and used that experience to motivate himself to become more. Through hard work, he earned scholarships and grants and became a doctor. He continued working hard to gain experience until he was able to return to his hometown and take a position in NICU. He contacts an old school friend, Brent who is now a real estate agent, to help him find a home. Navashen and Brent hit it off and Brent takes him under his wing. He finds him the perfect house that will allow Navashen's younger brother to live with him. Brent collects people and has a large friend base. He loves to spend time with people and is a matchmaker. He invites Navashen and his brother to many different activities to help them make friends and uses the chance to introduce Navashen to single men. But Navashen isn't interested in any of those men, he's only interested in Brent, although he doesn't see how his busy life will allow for a relationship. Between his busy work schedule, on call schedule, his brother and his very traditional Indian parents, Navashen doesn't foresee any man accepting what little time he can spare.
I really loved Navashen! He was so focused on making something of his life, but not just for himself. He wanted to provide a better life to his parents, but more importantly, for his brother. His younger brother, Akshat, was born prematurely and suffered disabilities due to that, both physically and mentally. He has not reached his potential because his mother treats him like a toddler instead of the 25-year-old man that he is. Navashen has plans and is strong enough to stand up to his mother to help Akshat grow. As much as his focus is on becoming a doctor and helping take care of the neediest of patients, his end goal is to give Akshat a real chance at life. I absolutely connected with this story, and truthfully found myself teary eyed several different times listening to this.
I also loved Brent! He was so outgoing, personable and considerate. He brought Akshat into his life and became friends with him just like he did everyone he ever encountered in his life. Brent was bisexual and has a failed marriage in his past so he's afraid to get involved again. There is a part where Brent isn't the perfect guy anymore, and it's an understandable situation, but it was hard and made me want to yell at him. Well, I was alone in my car, I may have yelled a little at him but he did redeem himself!
This story is narrated by John Solo and I thought he did a great job. His storytelling was well paced and there weren't a lot of blank air space. He did a great job with all the various characters, though I wasn't a fan of the voice used for Navashen's mother. I didn't always realize it was her speaking until I was told. But, otherwise, fantastic job!
A Matchless Man is Book 2 in the Lexington Lovers series, but can be listened to on its own. I really enjoyed this audio, and plan to get Book 1 and Book 2 so I can read them. I really hope there is more to come from the various guys I met in this book. I highly recommend the audio of this book and even though I haven't read it (yet), I would imagine I'll feel the exact same way about the book!
Overall: 5 stars
Performance: 5 stars
Story: 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Lovely story with a sweet, almost innocent romance. Navashen selflessly cares for his brother and Brent is a great friend to them both. I just wished there were more scenes between Nav and Brent.
John Solo's narration is excellent as always.