Narrator: Jason Frazier
Length: 5 hours, 51 minutes
Julian Hallowell has been in love with his roommate Danny for the past year, but he knows there will never be anything between them. He has tried actively pursuing Danny, and he has tried ignoring his feelings, but neither is working. Not to mention that Danny is too busy dating 20-somethings to be interested in the kind of real relationship Julian wants.
When Julian meets Andy, he decides to give dating a shot. Julian dreams of true love and a happily ever after, and even if it can’t be with Danny, he is not giving up. As things move forward with Andy, however, his relationship with Danny becomes more strained and tense. Julian still cares for Danny, but even their friendship seems to be falling apart. Now Julian must figure out if he wants to move forward with Andy, or if he is going to hold out hope that there is still a chance for love with Danny.
Ok, so this is a bit of a love triangle here, and if you don’t want to know who Julian ends up with, you probably don’t want to read too much further as there is no real way to discuss the book without commenting on it. I think most folks will be able to tell almost immediately upon starting the book where things are going, but just in case, I’m making the spoiler clear here. So forewarned, yes?
As You Are combines many of the things I love about Ethan Day’s writing — fun story, lots of humor, quirky characters, and some sweet, mushy love. Julian is such a fun character. Admittedly he doesn’t totally have things together. It took him about double time to get his college degree, yet he is still kind of aimless, working as a bartender and kind of floating along. His parents still mostly support him and he doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of direction. I’ll admit the idea that he eats out for lunch at the same restaurant (complete with drinks) every day with his best friend when he is barely supporting himself bugged me a bit. But somehow he is still so likable despite the occasional craziness. I think it is because down deep, Julian just really wants love and a happily ever after. He dreams about having a real relationship and is so sincere and earnest about it. Not to mention he is sharp tongued and clever and cracked me up.
The story sets up this sort of love triangle between Julian, Danny, and Andy. We can tell right away Julian and Danny are meant for each other. I don’t think too many people will read this book and wonder who the ultimate pairing will be. But it takes Julian attempting to move forward with Andy for things between him and Danny to really work out. I did feel that at times the story pushes a little too hard to make Andy the less palatable choice. He is politically conservative and religious and Danny freaks out completely about both. This despite how nice and practically perfect a guy Andy is, and the fact that these issues aren’t really coming between them in any way. Not that those couldn’t ultimately be real conflicts, but their relationship development isn’t really dealt with in enough depth to really explore how these issues might really affect things between them. It seems more like a plot point to make sure we don’t feel too bad when Andy is ultimately passed over. But since I was on Team Danny from the start, and I assume most readers will be as well, I didn’t mind too much.
That brings me to my only other real issue, in that it takes an awfully long time for things to settle down between Julian and Danny. We know pretty much from the start they are meant to be together, and there isn’t a whole lot of story here beyond waiting for them ultimately to get together. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it all. There are great secondary characters in Julian’s mom and best friend Gaby, I loved the tension (sexual and otherwise) between Danny and Julian, and I found this a really fun read. But these guys don’t actually get together until the very end of the book. I always find I want to see my heroes as a couple before the story ends, and see them being happy together, and here I felt I missed that as they finally recognize their feelings for one another and then the story ends.
I read this book way years ago, but picked it up again in audio format. I really enjoyed the narration by Jason Frazier. He does a great job embodying the characters and giving life to their voices. I think both Julian and Danny are narrated really well. Danny, in particular, has a crazy sexy drawl that so fits his character. It is like a “just tumbled out of bed after a wild night of sex” voice. I also think the side characters were also quite well done and distinct, something that is hard with a large cast, and again we get a really good sense of their characters. My only complaints were first Andy, who sounded a bit too much like Danny to me. It was especially problematic when they were in the same scene. Second, I also disliked Gaby’s voice. Most of the time she sounded whiny and campy and I found it made her come across as more bitchy and waspish than I think she is supposed to be. But in general, I really thought the voices were great.
Frazier also does a great job really giving the feeling of the scene through his narration. Whatever the emotion — amused, angry, turned on — Frazier does a great job building it into his reading so you can real feel what is going on in the story through the narration. In particular he does a very hot, breathy sex voice and those scenes were very well done. So overall, great narration with good voices, great pacing, and a really great matching of tone to the story. I will definitely keep my eyes open for more of his audiobooks.
So this is a fun book with really likable characters you can’t help but root for. I enjoyed it when I first read it and I really enjoyed it in audio format. I would recommend either version for a light read with a lot of humor and heart.
P.S. Both Ethan Day and Jason Frazier stopped by the blog a couple weeks ago and their post includes both an audio excerpt and an audio interview with Frazier, so stop by and check that out!