Rating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

Adam More and Steven Worth live in New York and have been partners for six years.  Steven is a writer for the free weekly, the Gay New York Times, and Adam is a highly regarded wedding planner.  The two have lots of extended family (including a brother and sister who are dating one another) and are frequent wedding guests of their friends and family.  Steven has noticed Adam is a little out of sorts, but even he is surprised one day when Adam decides he no longer wants to plan weddings — not until gay couples are given the same marriage rights as everyone else.  Steven is totally supportive, and even jokes they should stop attending weddings as well.  He is not really serious, however, and he never expects that Adam will agree that they have a total wedding boycott.

After a casual mention of this ban to a gay waiter sparks a boycottt among the restaurant staff working an upcoming wedding, Adam gets the idea to reach out to others in the wedding industry — all those gay (or just supportive) florists, stylists, organists, caterers, waiters, etc, who keep weddings running but can’t have one of their own. Before the guys know it, a movement is born, fueled in part by Steven’s columns.  Yet neither man is prepared for their resolve to be tested when their Adam’s sister and Steven’s brother decide to get married.  Adam is committed to the cause and determined not to help plan or attend the festivities, but Steven is much more unsure and can’t imagine missing such an important event in his brother’s life.  As each decision and action snowballs and public awareness of their boycott grows, things become tense between them as the effects of their decisions take on an even bigger role than either had imagined.

The Marrying Kind is a really interesting story in that it deals with the really serious topic of marriage equality but is told with a lot of lightness and humor.  The story is told from Steven’s POV, almost as if he is talking directly at us.  As a formerly overweight child, Steven still has some confidence and self-image problems that give him an amusing and self-depracating look at life.  He is the child of Romanian parents and his family is still quite steeped in that culture.  And despite his love for her, his frequent exasperation with his mother in particular provides a great source of comedy.  Steven is full of witty observations and amusing anecdotes that keep the story lively, preventing it from getting too bogged down by the political message. At the same time, the importance of marriage equality is never downplayed and the book really gives us a lot of perspective on the many ways this issue affects gay couples.

The book also does a really nice job of developing the characters of Adam and Steven.  We can feel their love for one another and how well they fit together.  Each has an extensive (and at times trying) family and it is clear how their familial and cultural backgrounds have really shaped them.  This is most noticeable with Steven and we get a lot of great insight into Romanian food, culture, and beliefs that I really enjoyed (and boy do I want one of those spinach pies!).  And the book is filled with really interesting and nicely developed secondary characters, including their siblings, mothers, and coworkers.

I do think the story slowed a little towards the middle for me.  On one hand, I think it is useful to see how Adam and Steven’s actions snowball; what starts out as two men making a personal statement evolves into a much larger movement affecting a huge group of people.  Neither man initially realizes the widespread impact of their actions, so it is important to see how things grow.  But I think this could have been tightened up to keep things moving along a bit more briskly.

It is worth mentioning that this book is not technically a romance.  I would say it is more comedic fiction that features a loving gay couple at its center.  The primary focus of the story is not on their relationship, but on their journey in gaining recognition for gay marriage rights.  However, the relationship between Adam and Steven is a key reason behind why they begin the boycott and is affected by everything they do, making it a major part of the story.  I think fans of romance will definitely find a lot to like in this story so I wouldn’t let the specific genre throw you.

This book takes place in 2007, before marriage was legal in New York and a handful of other places across the country. Even though gay couples can be married in a few areas now, there is still a long way to go before there is true marriage equality.  As my own state is in the midst of votes on this very issue, I really enjoyed the timeliness of the story and the important message. I think O’Neill does a really great job of showcasing this critical issue, while at the same time developing an entertaining story and really likable characters.