Rating: 4 stars out of 5
I had a difficult time trying to decide how to review this because I loved some of it and I didn’t love some of it. Let’s see if I can come up with a coherent explanation. Veera, a very intelligent woman, has come up with a new way of artificial intelligence. She has designed a system, dubbed Archer, that will look past the typical “get to know you questions” of online dating and really look at you to find your perfect match. This means allowing Archer access to everything you do online (a security nightmare no matter what they say and it made my skin crawl) to see what you actually are interested in, not what you say you are. I did have to laugh when we see the chosen people clicking like on puppies and babies and kittens just to make a “cute” presence online known. Tut, tut, boys, Archer is smarter than that.
So we have Fox, the only one of his friends still unattached, who has a standard email rejection letter for women he dates who don’t make the number criteria in the spreadsheet he has, which is the most bizarre thing. “Numbers of attempts to pay the dinner check, and height of heels in inches, and number of visible piercings, and done.” He’s rejected women he likes this way and so is still alone. So the novelty of the Q*Pid trial appeals to him.
Then we have Drew, a quiet, shy, adorable grad student who has an unlikely bestie in Mrs. Schwartzmann but seems to attract the strangest of women. On seeing his coffee table, his last date “As soon as she stepped into my apartment and saw it, she kind of freaked out. She said something about how cheap coffee tables are a product of third-world sweat shops and she leapt on top of it and started stomping on it.” This did not stop him from sleeping with her but relationship wise, it’s a no. Drew also signs up for the Q*Pid trial, hoping to meet someone a little less chaotic.
When the app goes live, it begins pairing people up. Both Fox and Drew are astonished to find out Archer has matched them. Has to be a mistake, neither one has ever been attracted to men before. Veera is nervous but she’s also sort of ticked because Ross, one of the team members, is a total naysayer. He questions why anyone would voluntarily give them access to everything online (I also questioned the same thing) and he is 100% positive this will not only fail but bring lawsuits as well. The day it goes live, he studies his phone, “Just checking to see whether the first violation of privacy suits has been filed yet.”
Secondary characters, Fox’s friend Chad and particularly Mrs Schwartzmann are likeable and loyal. Mrs. Schwartzmann, with her saving food and water for doomsday, made me smile. She is supportive of Drew and he of her, it was a sweet relationship. “Entirely without warning, Drew heard her voice in his head, “I cannot be anything other than what I am.” This is when Drew decides to be completely honest about his profile (and the fact that he watches porn). This actually took a lot of courage because as soon as he decides to watch porn, the laptop camera comes on. Seems kinky. He is matched with someone who seems perfect and it is to Mrs Schwartzmann he admits, “She was exactly what I thought I wanted, and yet she turned out to be not at all what I wanted.” And here we go. I’ll just say, Mrs. Schwartzmann’s response made me want to hug her.
Chad is Fox’s best friend and he’s there for him, trying to make Fox see what is in front of him. I felt bad for Fox at one point, as he is talking about the group that used to go to the diner together and slowly dwindled down to just him as people paired off. “I hate to be the one to break it to you, but we didn’t stop hanging out every night. We stopped hanging out.” Chad, though, is supportive, funny, ridiculous and ridiculously in love with his wife. Both Chad and Mrs Schwartzmann were winners for me.
Back to Fox and Drew. Despite the shock of being paired with a man, they end up meeting and hit it off so well they decide being friends is exactly what they need. They are both lonely, Fox with all his money and Drew with all his academics. They are also both caught being real in front of their laptop cameras, meaning Archer sees. “Why can’t I find the right person and fall in love?” made me want to hug Drew. They are worlds apart financially. Fox lives in a penthouse and drives a BMW, Drew is a grad student. “My people eat ramen twenty-nine times out of thirty.”
We get to see the building of a true friendship with Drew and Fox, as they get to know each other, swim in the river of denial and yet keep coming back to each other for hanging out, cause obviously these are not dates.
I wanted to know what happened with Miyoko, as this was a big thing for Fox and it really wasn’t addressed. I wanted to hug Drew for really putting himself out there more than once, even when Fox was being an idiot. When Fox is so in denial and just keeps looking for that “perfect woman”, Drew is a little broken hearted but he’s open to the fact that what he thought about himself may not be complete. When Fox is matched with his “perfect woman”, a score in the high 90s, (Drew and Fox have a 99.5 compatibility rating), he is appalled to realize that it wasn’t at all what he wanted. He was bored, he was twitchy and he felt like he was sitting with his sister. Luckily, she agreed. Sometimes what we think we want isn’t what we need.
I liked this book immensely. The writing was strong, although there were a few times I had to look up an unfamiliar word. I appreciated that finding out you are not as clear on your sexuality as you always thought you were wasn’t a simple thing to deal with. Did I want to slap Fox with his response to Drew at one point? You bet, I was SO pissed at him. Naked wrestling took care of Fox’s idea that Drew was female. I loved that scene.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a slow burn, sort of “what are we doing” type of story with likeable secondary characters and MC that, especially in the case of Drew, you are really pulling for.
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas. Its ok. Obviously a hard concept to get across and this is a cute cover, bright and eye catching.
ebook, 310 pages
Expected publication: August 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press