Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Can a computer program understand love better than the human heart?
Archer, the AI at the dating service Q*pid, realizes humans don’t always make the best choices, so it begins making some unconventional choices for them.
Fox Kincade is the last of his group of friends to be single, so he’s delighted when he discovers a new match in his Q*pid app—one that, according to the new AI wizardry, should be the love of his life. Instead of the woman he’s expecting, he’s paired with Drew Larsen, a shy, somewhat nerdy PhD student who has also grown discouraged with romance.
Drew and Fox have little in common—aside from the fact that they’re both straight. Or so they thought. But as the guys get to know each other, they realize Archer might have the right idea. Their path isn’t smooth, because both need to overcome every idea they have about themselves and what true love might look like. But with the help of Archer—and some friends who have stuck with Fox and Drew through the thick and thin of their relationship trials—they might find their way into each other’s hearts.
Q*Pid by Xavier Mayne and Rudy Sanda was one of those stories I both liked and was left feeling sort of bereft of that happy warm feeling that I get from the romances and stories that I truly love and connect with. The writing was well done, the story layered, and the narrator did an excellent job with all the characters and storytelling. Sigh.
So where exactly was the issue?
I’m not sure. I like the slow burn stories and boy, was this one. Both men identify as straight for most of the story, the only “being” certain they are a perfect match is a AI called Archer, the IA forQ*Pid, who “bends” his creator’s rules and invents an algorithm that goes beyond their client’s checklists into their actual needs and wants. And then paired them up with their actual mate, regardless of gender. A company no no and a shock to these men and their perceptions about their sexuality.
The sections where Archer and Veera, his creator, although interesting, and the rest of her team, have a tendency to bog down the flow of the story. It picks up once they stop “popping in” often, interrupting the already molasses slow flow of Drew and Fox’s steps towards a relationship. We do need to understand what when wrong or right with Archer but the dynamics within Veera’s team is messy, nasty (and however realistic) takes away from the romance.
The character of Fox is almost another problem in itself. It takes an inordinate amount of time to actually like him. And his friend or maybe it’s the voice assigned to his friend by the narrator. Turned me off totally. Fox is locked down tight by his background, history and riches. The author has written him as difficult to identify with, surface hard, and far too obnoxious. Less personality than Archer at the start. It’s not until he’s halfway into his “non dating” of Drew that he softens and his character changes enough that you can see his potential as a mate for Drew who has been a “real person” from the beginning.
Perhaps that’s it. There’s been a real imbalance throughout most of the story, with our affections resting squarely on Drew’s side, including that of his neighbor. Everything with Drew feels authentic. Role on over to Fox? Not so much. It take a while for that to even out, and that happens only towards the last part of the story.
It was Drew that had my heart and he had it from start to finish. Wish that I could say the same about Fox and their romance. I think this story came really close on many levels but it just didn’t check all my romance boxes in the end.
Rudy Sanda did a wonderful job with the voices. The only exception being Fox’s best friend. Chad. For some reason I found that one extremely irritating and hard to listen to.
Q*Pid by Xavier Mayne and Rudy Sanda (Narrator) ended up being a sweet contemporary romance with some terrific touches. I liked the narrator and thought the writing was great. If this sounds like something you would like, than I recommend it for your listening pleasure.
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas. Great cover and I think it’s eye catching in model and colors.
Audible Audio, 12 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published August 28th 2018)
Edition Language English