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I found this book a little bit challenging to review, struggling to separate the story from the narration because I actually listened to the audio book (narrated by Charlie Belmont) rather than reading the story.
The reason I found it challenging was because I found the story a little slow moving and it was hard to determine if this was mainly driven by the story itself or from the speed of the narration. I have a feeling that if I had been reading this myself and at my own fairly rapid pace, it may not have felt quite so drawn out. I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and say the slowness was mainly due to the narration speed (from past experience I usually find the pace of audio books a little bit slow for my liking).
The story follows Mark, incredibly shy with a diagnosed condition that has prevented him forming relationships, who moves in with his sister-in-law to support her through the last months of her pregnancy while his brother is deployed overseas. Mark meets Seth and they are attracted but his condition means Mark needs to overcome some hurdles if they are to be together.
I liked that Mark had finally found a man worth trying to break through his own barriers for. I liked that Seth took things slowly and was prepared to handle a unique relationship that didn't consist of a lot of face-to-face time. It was quite interesting to see Seth relate to his rescue greyhound and encourage the dog to trust and venture into the world and see the same occur with Mark.
I wanted to love Mark but for some reason, although understanding the difficulties he faced in life, I found him slightly annoying. There was a repetitiveness to his thoughts and actions that irritated me slightly (plus all the references to 'he blinked', 'Mark blinked at him'...)
The other characters were engaging - Seth, sister-in-law Lisa, friend Claire and brother Pete. Plus the dogs were cute!
So all in all, quite a nice and sweet story with some lovely lines...
"Besides you're not a greyhound Mark. You're a bulldog. Tough and wary, loyal as all get-out, not easy to get close to and you know, that intrigued me but once inside what do I find but this huge heart. I'd be the crazy one to walk away from you." He grinned. "And by the way, you should hope it's an extension of my dog thing. I make long term commitments to my greyhounds." Sorry if the punctuation is wrong but I am listening to it being said, not reading it!
This was a pretty good book. It involved a good looking guy who was smart and stable but very shy. He was crippling shy. He's also gay, and has huge issues dealing with other gay men he finds attractive. He's been accomplishing his sexual need in an unfulfilled manner at gay bars behind alleys and such. His younger brother is heading off to Afghanistan and his pregnant wife is experiencing complications. Enter Mark, he moves in with his sis in law to 'take care of her'. While there, he finds himself deeply attracted to Seth, a former dancer who now teaches Zumba at the local gym. He pretends to be his brother (the one in Afghanistan) in an attempt to not reveal much of himself to Seth due to his crippling shyness. He eventually starts corresponding with Seth via email, which leads to phone conversations and eventually physical contract. Over time, Mark's shyness slowly fades and his love for Seth, and surprisingly Seth's love for him slowly develops.
I have to tell you that this was one of the slowest moving coming out stories. I truly enjoyed Seth's parts of the novel. He was such a good guy. He wasn't perfect even if people saw him as such. He went out of his way to make Mark comfortable with himself and with the growing attraction between him and Mark. I have to say, I have yet to meet so patient a guy.
I really enjoyed their process, but wished it sped up a bit. I also wanted to know what happened with the brother who was stationed in Afghanistan. AND the other couple... I really hate unexplained endings. But, I was happy that Mark finally came to terms with himself. We can only wish that for ourselves and others.
Charlie Belmont is one of my favorite male narrators, so I'm always pleased with his performance, and this book is no different.