Narrator: Tommy O’Brien
Length: 7 hours, 54 minutes
Tom Morgan is still getting over his break up with his ex, Jerry, after Jerry cheated on him. Worse yet, Jerry’s new boyfriend, Stanley, is throwing a party for Jerry and Tom is invited. Tom suffers from severe social anxiety disorder, and the idea of going to a party terrifies him (a fact he knows delights Stanley). Things get even worse when Stanley sends his younger brother, Frank, over to Tom’s house before the party. Frank just moved from his father’s farm in Indiana out to San Diego, and unbelievably, Frank is even more shy than Tom. The two can barely manage to hold a conversation, but they do bond over beers and their mutual hatred for Stanley.
When circumstances lead to Frank moving in with Tom, the two quickly grow close, falling in love. They being to settle into a life together in San Diego, when news reaches of Frank’s father’s ill health. Determined to be there for his man, Tom heads back to Indiana with Frank, ill-behaved chihuahua Pedro in tow. There Tom finds farm life even more challenging than he imagined. Between the pecking chickens, the endless piles of animal poop, and a vicious 1,400 pound pig, the experience is exhausting and overwhelming. Yet Tom will do anything for Frank, especially as his father Joe gets weaker and weaker. The men all know it is just a matter of time, and Frank and Tom are determined to do whatever they can to ease Joe’s passing and make his last days comfortable.
Just as Tom and Frank are finally getting into a routine on the farm, however, Stanley shows up to cause trouble. After not bothering to be there for Joe, nor to help out on the farm, Stanley is looking for his share of the inheritance after Joe’s death. He is determined to get his money and make them all as miserable as possible in the process. Frank and Tom are doing their best to power through and focus on the farm and Joe. Hopefully the love they have for each other will see them through the tough times ahead to a happy future together.
Shy is a cute and entertaining story with a nice dose of humor. Tom is our POV character and he has just the right amount of internal sarcasm, self deprecation, and floundering to keep us entertained, even as times get rough. He and Frank are pretty adorable together, sweet and sexy, especially when they first meet and are barely able to talk to one another. But that passes as the men get to know one another and quickly fall for each other. I’ll admit the love happens super fast, like within weeks they are totally in love and fully committed to a life together. The story kind of needs that kind of speed, because it then shifts to their time on the farm and the guys need to be pretty committed by then for Tom to follow Frank home. But I would have liked to see a little more time for things to develop between them before they fall so hard. Still, this first portion of the book is fun and entertaining, definitely lively, and with lots of humor.
The story takes a more serious turn as the guys head back to Indiana and have to face the reality of endless farm chores and Frank’s dying father. It is not all somber, however. Tom’s never ending ability to get injured in the craziest of ways, combined with his basic ineptitude for farm life, makes for many humorous moments. But there are also more intense times as they sit with Joe and care for him, even as the man is wasting away and clearly dying. And of course, when Stanley shows up things get even more intense. But even with that, the story keeps a nice balance of humor and seriousness, and Frank and Tom continue to be sweet and sexy together.
Aside from the rapid falling in love, I did have a couple of other small things. First, the story gives a lot of attention to the guys’ social anxiety disorder in the first half while they are in San Diego. It is almost paralyzing and a source of much of the conflict in the story. It is pretty much a constant thread running through this part of the book. Then when they get to the farm, it is basically dropped. Part of that is because the guys are pretty much alone on the farm, so I get why they aren’t dealing with their shyness. But it just felt a little strange to have so much focus on this area (including the title) for part of the book, then suddenly it is a non-issue. I’ll also admit to be a kind of bothered by one aspect of the ending. I think it is meant to be absurd, but it came across as kind of horrifying, to be honest, though it does resolve things neatly. I just felt it was too cavalier and really wrenched me out of the story. But other than that, I liked the way things worked out in the end.
I listened to this story in audio format and I really enjoyed narrator Tommy O’Brien. The more I listen to audio, the more I realize how much of an impact the narrator can make. I am also finding I either like a narrator, or can’t even listen to him. So I am happy say that I liked O’Brien’s narration and for the most part found it pleasant and easy listening. The pacing is good, his voice is entertaining, and he managed to get the humorous bits worked in well. I will say that most of the voices are pretty much the same; there is not much differentiation between Tom and Frank, nor most of the other characters. Surprisingly, I didn’t have much trouble following along or keeping track of conversations. It helps that a lot of the story is told to us from Tom’s head and he is a very clear narrator of the story. There are also times when O’Brien’s crisp diction led to an almost robotic sound, and on occasion the inflection seemed odd on certain words. But overall his narration fit nicely with the story and I wouldn’t hesitate to listen to another of his audio books.
So this is an entertaining story that I think would be appealing both in audio and written form. Inman works in some nice humor and a bit of absurdity, which provides a nice balance with the heavier times. I liked Frank and Tom, and even the ever peeing Pedro. It is a sweet story and a nice audiobook.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.