Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 2.5 stars
Narrator: Jonathan David
Length: 4 hours, 51 minutes
Zach is the host of a local radio show and uses many of his real life antics for show topics. He has a new topic to discuss when he receives a text over the weekend from someone named Mari who is breaking up with him. Zach has not only never met Mari, but he doesn’t even date women. He would like to date Marcus, the new server at his favorite diner, however.
Marcus instantly recognizes Zach from the morning show and, while he’s attracted to him, he just broke up with his cheating boyfriend and said boyfriend won’t leave him alone. Marcus then decides to reveal the truth and tell Zach that he was the one that had accidentally texted him. Zach doesn’t want to be a rebound and the guys form a friendship. But everyone knows the guys are in a relationship even before they do, but with abusive exes and Marcus’ deluded family in their way, the guys have a lot to survive before they can have their happy ending.
Starting with the Unexpected is a light read despite taking on some less than light themes. The guys meet in an unexpected way with a random text that provides Zach with the type of stories that fill his hours on his morning show. Zach was an easy character to get involved with right away. He’s secure with himself and his blue hair and he has an easy banter with his best friend and roommate, but his love life hasn’t been as successful.
Marcus and Zach have fun together and have an easy style to their relationship. Their banter is young and while it’s clear when they are joking around, there was an air of immaturity to them. While Zach’s family is incredibly supportive of him, Marcus’ entire family has always been against him and this adds to many areas of friction as the guys develop a relationship.
I liked the scenes of the guys together, but there were a few areas that didn’t pull together as well for me. We don’t spend a lot of time with them as they build a relationship and we are told more than once that weeks have gone by. Marcus’ family plays a big role here and while his family didn’t approve of him being gay, it was never clear for me why Marcus’ family was so vicious toward him. The most important aspect for me was the way in which the guys met, which is clearly stated in the blurb for the book so it’s not a spoiler. Marcus was texting his boyfriend that he was breaking up with him and sent the text to the wrong number. With the way most common texting works with someone you communicate with all of the time, it wasn’t explained how this was a possibility to have happened and this supposed meet-cute of theirs didn’t hold together well for me and the lack of explanation stayed with me throughout the entire book.
The book stayed mainly on the surface for me and didn’t dig deep, which is fine at times for a lighter read. However, there were areas that were too specific to discuss in detail without giving plot points away that worked out just too easily at the end with no depth to some of the characters. So overall, this was an okay read for me. While there were areas that didn’t work as well, there were also areas that were light and sweet.
Jonathan David narrated this book and I am going to state right up front that I am not going to offer a recommendation for the production or the narrator. To start, the entire audio was too fast. While listening to the audio at the preferred 1x speed, the narrator did speak incredibly fast, but the case for me here was that it did seem that the entire performance was either recorded at the wrong speed or was altered on the back end in post production. This made for a headache inducing listening experience at times. Also, for the most part, the narrator just read the book and there was no differentiation in voices. This then made it difficult to know which character was speaking and again the speed with which it was delivered worked against that aspect as well. For the female voices the narrator did try to differentiate, but this was the area that he shouldn’t have as his voice just got higher and he would use the voice a person uses to mimic someone and it was cringe worthy and bordering on insulting. There were a few parts that were palatable, but the majority of it was not, and if this book interests you I would then suggest the ebook version.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.