Story Rating: 3.5 stars
Audio Rating: 3.75 stars
Narrator: Ry Forrest
Length: 5 hours, 18 minutes
Artie Haynes is a closeted handyman who works hard to support himself and to help out his parents financially, too. He loves his fish, adores his landlord, and has a remarkable curiosity about the classical music he hears played in the concert hall he’s helping to refurbish. It turns out the pianist is a local prodigy, Francois Desmarais, and Artie’s newest job is to help construct a guest house on Francois’ property.
Francois is an adult, but he’s led a very sheltered life. Homeschooled and agoraphobic, Francois has even more quirks than Artie—and even bigger secrets. Artie is a big guy and he catches Francois’ eye not least because Artie is able to sweet talk Francois’ demanding mother into agreement on a good many things. Francois is charmed by Artie, and Artie is charmed by Francois’ music—Artie would ever dream that a rich, talented composer would find him remotely attractive. Artie believes he’s nothing special, but the people who love him are more generous in their esteem.
Love You So Special is the third book in the Love You So series, but fully enjoyable on its own. This is a sweet little story that got a wee bit melodramatic for me. Francois’ agoraphobia is a real thing, and Artie becomes a bit of a protector to Francois—both at home and at the concert hall. Together they make sense, even though Artie is afraid to come out. The melodrama stemmed from some stalkers who can’t leave Francois be. So, it didn’t make sense when Francois had a tantrum that led to him being in real jeopardy.
The audiobook is solid, with great pacing and good narration. Francois and his mother are French, though it seemed they had lived in California most of Francois’ life, so the fact that the narrator gave both their voices a rather thick accent was puzzling. Expect Francois’ voice to be a prime English-as-a-Second-Language example. Having not read the book, I can only assume that the writing supported the idea. It got a little nagging on the ear after a time, for me. I still really like Ry Forrest, who has performed all three of the audiobooks in this series, though this was not my favorite one.
The romance between Francois and Artie is a slow burn with some mild misunderstandings. Artie’s afraid to lose his family and job if he comes out, but finds that the love of such a great man is worth the cost—and he gets to save more than the day in the end: he saves his relationships with his folks, and finds a path to true happiness. Francois does a LOT of growing up, and becomes more savvy about his career and his emotional struggles. The love between him and his mother—and with Artie—become the center of his world, and he’s more than happy to love a man who makes him feel so special. It’s a quick listen, and I’m always ready for another Love You So book, if more are planned.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.