Rating: 4.5 stars
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Suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD), Tom Morgan fears being the center of attention in any crowd, he has a hard time meeting new people, and he most certainly hates parties. But his friend and former boyfriend, Jerry, is celebrating his birthday and Tom knows he needs to be there, if only the nausea, cold sweats, and tremors would stop plaguing him. The party might not be such a bad idea if Jerry’s current boyfriend, Stanley, aka “the dick,” didn’t always make it his goal to finds new ways of making Tom uncomfortable.
Before the party rolls around, Jerry and Stanley ask Tom to meet with Stanley’s brother, Frank. Frank Wells just moved to San Diego from a small farm town in Indiana and suffers from the same anxiety disorder as Tom. When Tom and Frank finally meet, where sparks would fly for normal people, SAD stands in their way. The attraction remains, but it takes longer for either Tom or Frank to act on it. But the commonality of their disorder creates a bond between them.
They eventually chance Jerry and Stanley’s party together for support. After Frank’s brother denies Frank’s request for help, then does his best to embarrass Frank and Tom, they walk away from both Jerry and Stanley but into each other’s arms. Tom offers Frank a place to stay and incidentally a relationship. A new relationship is not what either man had in mind when they first met, but having SAD in common makes it more comfortable to fall into their new life together.
While their relationship is still new and growing, Frank’s father, Joe, takes a turn for the worse. Frank wants to make a trip home to help care for his father who is dying of cancer, and is a little surprised and very relieved when Tom offers to make the trip with him. In the time that he’s been with Frank, Tom has also grown close to his father and finds it important to help the man he loves take care of his father and his father’s farm.
Taking care of Joe is one thing, but taking up the duties of a farmer is something Tom never saw in his future. Between a murderous boar, maniacal chickens, a farrowing hog, and stubborn cows, Tom realizes quickly what farm life is like for a city boy, and he doesn’t love it, but he loves Frank and he’s determined to do anything to make life a little easier for Frank and Joe. But just as everything begins falling into a routine, more obstacles fall into Tom and Frank’s path, and they have to learn lean on each other in order to make it through the hard times.
First, I would like to bring your attention to the cover. Have you seen this cover? It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Paul Richmond. His ability to tell a story with a lone picture is unreal. And once again, Richmond brings another story to life before readers even take a gander at the blurb. And thankfully, this story delivers what the fabulous cover art promises.
John Inman is a new author to me, and I’m quite pleased after reading this novel. Not only is it hilarious, but it is original, sweet, and very entertaining. He’s created a charming tale of love and acceptance with a funny twist.
Both Tom and Frank suffer from social anxiety disorder, which makes them quite the pair. In the beginning of the story we see them cope with the many challenges that their disorder presents, but facing those challenges together makes the anxiety somewhat easier to deal with. The second part of the book focuses on life on the farm, Frank’s relationship with his father, and the family dynamic as a whole. Whereas the entire book is entertaining, the farm life is downright hilarious.
Although Tom and Frank fall in love rather quickly, they take their time getting to know one another and adjusting to their relationship. Through the many obstacles they face, they learn more about each other and learn to trust one another. The fact that they have social anxiety disorder as a commonality sets the stage for their strong connection. Their relationship is easy and angst-free, which is a good thing since the drama in their lives comes in the form of a vindictive brother and a cheating ex-boyfriend.
I absolutely adore the characterizations in this book. Not only does Inman create such quirky, likable main characters in Tom and Frank, but he gives readers such a lovable secondary character in Joe, the ill, well-meaning, accepting, and loving father. Jerry is frustrating and annoying, but such a wonderful part of this story. And, of course, Stanley, who readers will love to hate. The personalities of each of the characters are so interesting and well developed. And not only does Inman give personality to the characters, but also to the animals – starting with Pedro, Tom’s spoiled Chihuahua, Samson the boar, Grace the hog, Mary Lou and Betty Ann the cows, and even the crazy chickens. It’s seriously wonderful writing.
The events of this story are outrageous, but just crazy enough that they’re believable. Well, that’s Tom. This author combines comedy and drama flawlessly. Outside of the comedic scenes, the dramatic storyline lies with the illness of Frank’s father and the demanding presence of Frank’s good-for-nothing brother. This story is very well constructed and well written. There was a constant smile on my face throughout most of this book, times that I laughed out loud, and even a time or two where I cried a little.
Now, I’m not usually a fan of a lot of introspection and monologue, but there are exceptions to every rule, and John Inman does it right with this book. This story is written in the first person POV of Tom, and his constant rambling is quite charming and truly comical. The combination of his personality and social anxiety disorder make for entertaining long-winded monologue.
My only complaint comes with the sexual content, i.e. the numerous blowjobs. Don’t get me wrong, they were hot, but there were so many. No sex, just blowjobs. It was a little monotonous, as that was all they did…several times. Maybe it’s more of a personal complaint. Sexual content isn’t a must in my book, but I do like variety when it is part of a story.
Overall, this is a wonderfully funny story with great characters and an entertaining, well-written storyline. I highly recommend Shy by John Inman, and look forward to reading more of this author’s work in the future.