Audio Review: Brandon Witt – The Imperfection of Swans

518hkAyiIcLAuthor: Brandon Witt
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Narrator: Kirt Graves

Summary:

Kevin Bivanti’s dream is to open a wedding dress shop, a place with the stunning gowns to make every bride-to-be feel adored. At thirty-eight, he quits a successful advertising career to buy an old brownstone in a trendy Boston neighborhood and to make his dream a reality. When one of his cosigners drops out, fate intervenes, ushering in Casper James, who hopes to open his own bakery. With Casper willing to take the risk, their ambitions meld into a wedding dress and wedding cake boutique.

Extensive renovations to the brownstone, an affair with his ex-husband, family drama with his mothers, and the anxiety of significant life changes push Kevin to the brink of a nervous breakdown. In the midst of stress and uncertainty, Casper becomes more than a business partner, a mutual attraction that adds another layer of intensity and risk.

With their dreams on the verge of reality, Kevin and Casper must find the courage to face the stress of managing their attraction, the gamble of a new business venture, and the resurgence of Kevin’s personal demons.

Review:

This review is difficult for me to put into words as I have mixed feelings after listenting to the audiobook. On the one hand, the story itself is a tearjerker, on the other, the narration was not what I expected from Kirt Graves, whom I previously loved in another well-known book released last year. And then, just when I was thinking I was out of the grip of the tangled emotional upheaval of this complex—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes heartwarming—story, the words from the author’s friend, Kevin, on whom this book is based, appeared at the end of the story and knocked me for a loop.

This is the story of Kevin Bivanti, a young man who has suffered from anxiety his whole life. What his family doesn’t realize, however, is that the tiny meals he eats and the Zanax he needs to function every day are not only due to an increased acidic content in his stomach, it’s due to an eating disorder that he successfully hides for most of the story. Spoiler used in case you are a reader who prefers to learn details through reading a review, but it will be pretty evident by the symptoms that appear as we read about Kevin’s struggles to purchase an old brownstone in an upper class area of town, obtain a mortgage, and then finally renovate the beautiful old building to house an upscale bridal gown business.

One of the key pieces needed for his dream is the financing for the new venture and when one of his backers drops out at the last minute, an unexpected bounty falls into his lap in the form of Casper James, a young man whose dream is to open a bakery. When the two join forces, they decide to open an upscale bridal boutique and bakery—one specializing in unique bridal cakes and pastries that will make other brides envious.

The road to success is paved with more than just the struggles to get the renovations done and attract designers willing to take a risk on being exclusive to their new shop, there’s a mutual attraction between the men and ultimately love and support. Of course, as the business stresses escalate, so does Kevin’s personal stress—and that culminates with a major crisis Kevin may never be able to survive.

Watching his journey to recovery and the couple’s struggles to overcome business, health, and emotional difficulties is an enriching experience. I honestly wish I enjoyed the narrator’s “voice” more than I did, but I must give him kudos for the feminine vocalizations he used for the principal females in the story. I did actually forget that they weren’t women speaking! So I wouldn’t detract from the star rating for this book for any dislike of narration. It wasn’t bad—just not what I had expected.

The author took the time to explore Kevin’s issues in detail, giving us an intimate perspective on his thinking and emotions as time progressed. Caspar’s unconditional love and acceptance was perfect, and I don’t see how Kevin would have survived without it. By the end of the story, it was evident that Kevin was now in much better emotional and physical shape and the added postscript note from him was like adding the cherry topping on the ice cream sundae. It was just perfect.

I recommend this story to those who enjoy delving into a character’s psyche as they read an often heartbreaking, emotional tale. There’s no on-page sex, so it’s not for those who require that. But there is love and acceptance and a definite emotionally supportive connection between two men who finally get their HEA by the last page. The audiobook is 10 hours long and the note from the real Kevin seems to be in his own voice. It’s definitely worth listening to this one!

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