by Elaine White January 13, 2018
by Elaine White January 13, 2018
Cover – Gorgeous!
POV – 1st person, dual character
Would I read it again – Yes!
Genre – LGBT, Steampunk, Contemporary, Romance, MM
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
I was so excited when this book came up for offer to review. I haven't read a steampunk styled story set in a contemporary world before and I loved the entire concept of a contemporary romance within a steampunk styled cafe. It seemed a perfect fit. And that's exactly what this book was, for me. It was the perfect fit for my reading tastes.
From the opening line, I was hooked. And stunned! There have been very few times when I've come across a debut novel and been blown away. Not just by the writing style, which was well crafted and had a perfect balance, but also by the lack of errors (I made NO notes on noticeable/bothersome errors whatsoever) and the sheer enjoyment of the story. Usually there's always some little niggle that points out it's a first try, some way that the book could be better. There wasn't anything here that made me feel that way.
Right from the start, there was a great balance between attention to detail and letting the reader make up their own minds. Although we were given descriptions of Zack and Brad's appearances, they weren't regularly over-emphasised, just subtle reminders here and there, that let us build our own picture for the majority of the story. As both men were relateable and people that we could know in real life, it wasn't hard to feel a connection to both characters.
When it comes to characters, I fell in love with Brad and Zack right away. Zack was my level of geekness and totally proud of that, while Brad was more of regular Joe, the guy who is stuck in a rut but doesn't know it until some big turning point. From the start, their friendship came across as something solid and special. It was obvious that these two would do anything for each other, that they loved each other (in friendship, and as more) but there was also a nice little trail of breadcrumb hints of something more. In the beginning, they only came from Zack – a slip of the tongue or a joke that felt all too real, showing his true feelings for Brad. Then the story progressed and things became much more equal and the genuine awkwardness was adorable.
As for secondary characters, I loved them all! Maude and the Professor were hilarious, always with their little anecdotes about plates or butterflies, while Aide offered some off-the-wall humour and a genuine female friend that wasn't relegated to the fag-hag status that is so often in MM books. Jake, John and their son, Skylar were adorable and a great little nudge to get Zack opening up. They all came together like one big happy, dysfunctional family. I especially loved how Skszp was used to spread awareness about the adoption of older dogs, at the end of the story.
Brad is, honestly, the catalyst for the entire story. Though they share dual POV in equal measure, Brad is the one who is constantly inspiring the huge changes and provoking Zack's craziness, which was something I never saw coming. Due to his personality, I thought for sure that Brad would be the one swept away by it all, but he really took the reigns once he knew a change had to be made. Zack, surprisingly, is the one who was so convinced things would never change that it needs Brad's forward momentum to get them anywhere, and I loved that. It was a nice change to the gay guy always being the instigator for the whole straight-to-gay transformation.
Saying that, this isn't your typical straight-to-gay, either. I love that, too. Because it offers up hints, subtle and otherwise, that things might not always be as they appear. And I love how that was handled, both in terms of Brad's thought process, but also in terms of Zach struggling not to be too obvious, trying to keep his distance and let Brad figure things out. Things don't always go right for these two, but they work out in the end.
Yes, the straight-to-gay and friends-to-lovers aspect could be called a little rushed. I admit that. But, having spent an equal amount of time in both POV's until that point, I could see it coming. There was a definite something sizzling below the surface the whole time, from before the first accidental kiss, right back to the awkward cheek-kiss of their wedding ceremony. It was always there and I could almost feel the tension building in Brad until he just HAD to act on it. It was obvious how strained things had become between them, so when it resulted in sudden and instant lust, it wasn't a surprise, because it had been growing and struggling to contain itself for a while. So, no, I didn't take any stars off my rating for the slightly quick progression, nor do I feel like it did the story a disservice. It felt right for these two, who have spent their entire lives together. Plus, it formulated a switch a Brad's brain that made the awkward boner's boner incident so hilarious, but also allowed for a switch in roles that sent him from the helpless lost lamb in need of comfort back into a strong, powerful rolemodel role that helped Zack with his own challenges. I loved the switch and it felt natural to me. Especially once it became quite clear that these two were innocent virgins who had waited their entire lives for each other, without ever realising it! Kismet just doesn't even begin to explain it.
I keep saying “I love...” but that's because I do. So I don't hesitate to say that I love how Brad's heart condition was handled. It wasn't some random back story concocted to make Brad weak, or to show that big, strong guys can be hampered by illness at young ages, too. It was a real plot point that was used repeated, where we were always aware of the danger. It wasn't a plot point used simply to give Zack and Brad a reason to get married, either, which was what I'd feared when I began reading. It was a genuine health condition, used in a genuine way. As someone with a persistent health condition that needs to be monitored, I loved seeing that Brad thought of his meds, his insurance, how he would live, how he could keep a healthy diet, without a job. But I also loved that Zack was ever aware of those things, too. He constantly made Brad decaf coffee, even if it was inconvenient, because he understood and never questioned the need to protect his heart. His pacemaker scar was mentioned, thought never overly emphasized, it wasn't ignored, either.
Overall, this really is The Perfect Cup. Super cute, fun, lovely, and full of humour, it's exactly what I needed to break me out of my reading slump. Light, warm, full of heart and hope, it's exactly what the blurb promises it will be “the perfect pick-me-up, second only to a shot of Zack's espresso!” Read it. You won't be disappointed.
There were so many that it was hard to choose, but I finally whittled it down to just a few.
““I don't want to ruin his love life.”
“Well, that's not really a problem for me...” I trailed off. I didn't explain further, considering the explanation went something like: Brad, you're my longest-held crush and though I know you aren't into guys, just getting to live with you would be more than I could wish for!”
“They say you change when you get married, but for me it felt like I had become the person I was meant to be all along.”
“Lord help me, I married a nerd.”
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