Sunday, March 22, 2015

ARC Review: Yes by Brad Boney


On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Ian Parker is looking for a reboot. He may be the proud owner of a trendy coffee shop in Austin called La Tazza Magica, but his love life has been MIA for years. During a trip to Denver with his best friend, Mark, Ian buys an enchanted chocolate from a mysterious candy store—then wakes up from a nap two decades younger. After the initial shock, Ian realizes a quirk of the universe has given him a second chance and, with Mark’s help, he devises a plan to start over.

With a new lease on life, Ian sets his sights on handsome architect Bartley James, a regular customer at La Tazza. He pursues Bartley as Ian’s twenty-one-year-old alter ego, Ryan, with decidedly unexpected results. Joining Ryan on his adventures are Matthew, the dreamy new barista, Jeremy, the geeky high-school math teacher, and Sam, the pizza delivery boy. Even as misunderstandings and expectations collide, Ian remains determined to right his past mistakes and find his off-ramp to happiness.

Dani's rating:

The blurb lead me to believe that this book is a standalone, but that is not entirely the case. Characters from Boney's three other books play a fairly big role in Yes.

I have read The Nothingness of Ben and The Return, but not The Eskimo Slugger, and there were moments I was confused, as Topher and Stanton's relationship had clearly progressed beyond the end of The Return.

In other words, this book is part of the Walsh brothers universe and best read as part of a series.

Quentin, Ben's younger brother, is now in college and is a regular at a coffee shop owned by Ian, a 40-year-old man who has given up on romance. Even though he has a successful business, a nice home, and some good friends, Ian feels disconnected and doesn't dare ask out the younger, gorgeous Bartley, who frequents the shop.

The summary of the story is in the blurb, so I'm not going to go into more detail regarding the enchanted, THC-laced chocolate kiss called Manick Butter (hint: it's an anagram) that Ian eats right after he makes a wish on his 40th birthday.

Boney always includes magic and a sense of the spiritual in his books. I find his plots to be creative, and his books undoubtedly make me think. This one's no different.

Ian gets his wish, but does turning back time and being allowed to make different choices guarantee happiness? Ian has made mistakes, including one that had dire consequences. And who wouldn't want to wake up 20 years younger?

When he wakes up as a 21-year-old, Ian jumps into making wrong decisions almost immediately. He has to pretend to be his nephew Ryan in order to fool his employees and friends, but Bartley, the one person he most wants to impress, doesn't respond to Ian/Ryan's advances.

What bothered me here is that immediately upon becoming his alter ego Ryan, Ian jumps on Grindr and has a hookup at his house. He then has sex with one of his employees sans condom. They both confirm that they have tested negative and go at it. THE HELL? And this from a man who wants to be with Bartley and who should understand that just one bad decision can change your life forever.

There is almost no steam in this book. The couple scenes that are included involve Ian having sex with other men, NOT Bartley. Indeed, Bartley and Ian have only a couple scenes together and do no more than kiss, which is disappointing.

Boney is a strong writer and incredibly well-versed in pop culture. He loves to include random information in his books to the point that in Yes he builds in a game of Trivial Pursuit that goes on for pages. I got a kick out of that.

Ultimately, this is an uplifting story about appreciating what we DO have and making the best out of the life we made for ourselves.

We can't turn back time, but we can LIVE in each moment.

I applaud Boney for writing about two men who aren't perfect by societal standards. However, I just didn't feel the connection between the MCs and found Ian's behavior as Ryan truly troubling.

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