A to Z by Marie Sexton

Dreamspinner Press

Gay Contemporary

ISBN: 978-1-61581-415-2

Reviewed by Cassie

 

   

 

Zach stumbled into owning a video store even though he doesnít even like movies, and now heís barely scraping by.  He knows next to nothing about his own wares, and he doesnít really care about the customers.  Heís lonely, so he happily falls into a casual relationship with the shopís new landlord, Tom.  Itís not really satisfying, but he is willing to take what he can get.  Then a customer walks in, asking about movies, and suddenly Zachís offering him a job.  Angelo quickly proves to be the best employee he ever had.

Angelo Green didnít plan to get a job at A to Z video rental, but he loves working there.  Itís fun and easy, and Zach quickly becomes a friend.  Angeloís not happy to find his feelings for Zach deepening.  Zachís with that creep, Tom, and Angelo doesnít do relationships.  When Zach finally starts to get a clue, will Angelo run?

A to Z is a lovely story about two very different men learning to understand and love each other despite their differences and issues.  The story is told through alternating first-person chapters, and both Zach and Angelo are great narrators.  Zach is thirty-four, lonely, and clueless.  It took him years to get his life together after wasting his college years partying and having random sex.  He doesnít see his own appeal at all, and he has a tendency not to understand jokes that cracked me up several times.  In spite of his cluelessness, heís a good person and a loyal friend.  Angelo is a very different person.  His childhood was horrible, leading him to run away from foster care at sixteen.  Heís been taking care of himself ever since.  Heís prickly and even the idea of a relationship freaks him out.  Heís afraid of his attraction to Zach, and yet afraid of losing him at the same time.  When Zachís video store is threatened, a chance encounter with Matt and Jared (from Marie Sextonís Promises) may be their salvation, or it may destroy everything.

It was easy to root for Zach and Angelo as they work through Angeloís issues and the potential loss of Zachís livelihood.  One thing I really liked about A to Z was the storyís slow pace.  Angelo and Zach form a friendship before anything else, and thatís a pleasure to read.  They also deal with Angeloís problems slowly, without the magic fix Iíve seen in way too many romances.  The scenes between them are sometimes funny, sometimes emotional, and sometimes hot, but always enjoyable.  The glimpse into the lives of Matt and Jared was nice, too.  If youíre in the mood for a slow-paced, emotional tale with realistic conflict and a sweet ending, pick up A to Z.  You wonít regret it!

     

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