Marek and Adrian dated in high school, but a bitter breakup led them to choose different paths. Adrian is out and proud while Marek is in the closet. Adrian embraces his eccentricity while Marek clings to a conservative image. And while Marek worked hard to build a successful life and financial stability by climbing the corporate ladder, Adrian threw caution to the wind and has spent the last five years backpacking across the world.
Now Adrian is back in Warsaw, Poland, but while Marek thinks they will have a hookup and have a blast from the past, Adrian is just looking for a place to crash. Worse still, Adrian turns up at Marek’s advertising agency for help with his outrageous new business venture, and if Marek wants to get promoted, he might have to work with the guy who broke his heart.
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While I am far more used to KA Merikan's more gritty style, I also have been known to enjoy their more sweet romances, like I Love You More Than Pierogi. KA Merikan just have a way of painting a vivid landscape so that you feel like you're actually experiencing the story, rather than just reading it.
The MC's in I Love You More Than Pierogi start out very different. Merek is image conscious, snobby and superficial, while Adrian is worldly, laid back and likable. I admit I was wondering just how the authors were going to fit them together and make me like them both. They managed, though, so I call it a win.
For the first half, or so, I just wanted Marek to remove the stick from his bum because it was clearly making him cranky. He wasn't even the slightest bit likable. He ran hot and cold...ok, tepid and cold...well, mostly cold, and I just wanted to shake him. I had such a hard time relating to him, that although I understood his motivations, I just didn't like him, pretty much at all. It was like he was in an abusive relationship with himself and he refused to see anything outside of it. And I understand that a lot of his attitudes are very cultural, so I fully admit the disconnect there, with me being American. I just don't understand why some people try so hard to fit in with people that only make them miserable. Be they family, coworkers or society.
Adrian, on the other hand, chose to be himself. After coming out, he chose to walk away from his small town and see what the rest of the world offered. He seemed to be relaxed and knew the value of his own worth. He actually cared about people and had spent the last 5 years travelling around helping those less fortunate. He saw a lot of the world and it made him humble for things he took for granted growing up. I liked Adrian, right away. He and Marek are very different people at their core, though. Adrian chose to leave his home town and his home country and all the oppressive attitudes he grew up with, while Marek chose instead to break up with Adrian and stay home.
I am a bit surprised that Adrian contacted Marek, though. Marek broke things off with Adrian in a most awful way, and the sad thing is, he didn't appear to have changed at all in the five years that Adrian had been away. He's miserable, but has no plans at all of changing that. He works a soul-sucking job where his boss openly snorts cocaine and is just as openly homophobic. I get why Marek isn't out, there, but truthfully, I don't get why he just accepts that it has to be that way. But then I really don't know how things are in Poland, either. I grew up in the US, and while I've certainly lived in some places that weren't all that accepting, I've been mostly lucky. I kept telling myself, though, that there had to be more to Marek, than met the eye at first. And I was right. In reality, he was a scared boy, wanting like crazy to fit in, but never really feeling like he's succeeded.
And Adrian also, had forgotten what it was like to live in such an oppressive environment, much less work in one. Sure, many people in the cities are accepting, but just as many aren't. So Adrian, maybe, had a few unreasonable expectations of his own.
In the end, though, Marek found the courage to set himself free. And I loved it so hard. I cheered and wanted to hug him. I was right - that stick was making him cranky. Once removed, he was actually an ok guy.
So, in spite of my initial reaction to Marek, I'd say read this book! You'll get to experience a little bit of Poland and some delicious sounding food and you'll get to see a young man really find his way. It really was lovely to see.
ARC of I Love You More Than Pierogi was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
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