Rating: 4 stars
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In the year since his parents died, author Clay Saxon has kept them close by living in his childhood home and dedicating himself to running their bookshop. Outside of interacting with a few close friends/coworkers, he keeps to himself and lacks any motivation to write. All this changes when a somewhat standoffish patron comes in. Instantly attracted and utterly beguiled by Mr. Yellow Sweater’s voice, Clay’s a bit dismayed when his attempts at flirty banter only seem to aggravate the other man; however, he’s pleasantly surprised when the man quotes Clay’s less than well-received sophomore book to him before making a brisk exit.
When Syrus Albie read Clay’s book, he felt truly seen and understood for the first time in his life. Having read it ten times, he considers it a travesty that it hasn’t been produced in audio and offers his production and narration services—before accidentally meeting the author in person and embarrassing himself. However, as the two converse over email, they make a connection that quickly sparks into more. Although unexpected, Clay and Syrus quickly discover that they just may be what each other needs.
To Whom It May Concern is a short and sweet standalone set in the For Him series about two lonely people finding something they didn’t know they needed within someone else. Although Clay is laid back and friendly, he’s been closed off since his parents died, uninterested in anyone outside his established circle until he meets Syrus. Everything about Syrus calls to Clay on some level and he finds himself in serious crush mode within days of talking to him. Syrus, on the other hand, is intensely introverted, dislikes most people, and prefers to be alone, but there is something about Clay (beyond him writing Syrus’ favorite book) that makes him want to get to know the easy-going author.
There is enough character development that both MCs feel relatable and believable; I empathized with Syrus’ difficulty connecting with people, including family members, and dealing with social norms, as well as Clay’s quiet grief that he hides behind a smile and commitment to keeping his parents’ dream (the bookstore) flourishing. The incorporation of characters from the series is seamless; as secondary characters, they do their job supporting/fleshing out Syrus and Clay and are engaging enough to spark interest in their book without distracting from the MCs in this one.
My main issue is that since this is a getting together story and Syrus and Clay’s HFN happens within three weeks of meeting, there is not much of their relationship development on page. Syrus reads as neurodivergent, but there is nothing explicitly stated in the text; there is some exploration of his difficulties in social situations, having anxiety and needing to control his environment, but only quick peeks in regards to navigating his first romantic relationship. Additionally, after establishing Clay’s continual melancholy and need to cling to mementos of his parents, nothing is mentioned after he and Syrus start dating. To me, it comes across as the relationship curing his grief, but I guess since Clay’s in the first blush of romance, it’s understandable.
I also find the ending to be a bit abrupt. I guess this makes some sense as apparently their story will be continued in the author’s newsletter as a serial, but since I like the characters, I wish I got to see a bit more of their relationship progression in their actual book. That being said, To Whom It May Concern is a no angst, opposites attract story I’d recommend for those in the mood for something relatively light, short, and hopeful.