Rating: 2.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Lando is a full-time author who returns to write at a small cafe where he used to work. The people there are his friends and they allow him to commandeer a table with his laptop, papers, and books, and provide him tea, sandwiches, and snacks. Today should have been like any other day, until Lando and a tall, dark and handsome stranger crash into one another, sending hot coffee all over Lando’s legs. He’s more startled than hurt, but still. And then the stranger has the gall to ask for his number?

Hesketh works at an event planning company and he’s usually much more smooth and coordinated than to either spill his drink on cute redheads or to blurt out a request for numbers. Rebuffed, Hesketh decides to try again, asking the staff at the cafe what Lando likes to drink. From there, it’s a solid week of courting, of small gifts and tokens … and yet no sign from Lando that he’s interested. It isn’t until a birthday party at a club that the two men meet one another again and the miscommunication is resolved. One of them, at least.

Asking for a Friend is a book about miscommunication. Lando and Hesketh are rarely on the same page about anything and, when they do talk, nothing is ever really said, which allows for even more confusion, hurt feelings, and much hand wringing. Added to this is the heavy amount of telling instead of showing, and the book ended up feeling so shallow I was unable to ever invest in either the characters or the plot. I never had to wonder what a character was thinking or feeling because it was always laid out clearly on the page. It also felt like every other character was able to look over my shoulder and read the same thing, because they always knew what everyone was feeling … until it was convenient to the plot for them not to.

Hesketh stalks Lando for a week or so, each day offering a small trinket or gift. The first gift a box of tea, and Lando notices there’s no phone number, so he can’t call Hesketh to thank him. Only for Hesketh to then get angry that Lando hadn’t seen the number he’s hidden … pretty damn well, since Lando would have to open the cellophane keeping the tea box fresh and then open the tea in order to find it. Honestly, it felt like cheating, like there was never a way for Lando to win; it was predestined that Hesketh would be ‘right’ in that Lando didn’t work hard enough for the number.

Lando has been cheated on numerous time by previous lovers, and ghosted and dumped. When Hesketh goes days without contacting him after Lando confesses his love, Lando is understandably upset. And yet it’s Lando who has to apologize, Lando who has to make the big gesture. It felt disingenuous and forced, and not in keeping with the characters. And I, personally, hate it when friends of the characters get the pair back together after a fight because they somehow know better than either character what they want.

The characters here felt like puppets, moving when their strings were pulled. The plot takes one of my least favorite tropes and did nothing to make the trope work. The writing is simple and easy to read, but the pace was a bit fast and light for my taste, and I felt like much was rushed through to get to the next misunderstanding. All in all, this is not a book I recommend, but I will keep an eye on the author to see if another story and a different trope might work better for me.

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