Title: The Imperfection of Swans
Author: Brandon Witt
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 18, 2016
Page Count: 284
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
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.
What a story. It felt really long, in the good and bad sense. I loved how slowly change came about but I was longing for certain plot parts to get with the programme faster as well. This is a well-written story that I would say is mainly about hope, seeing your dreams come true, family, and being healthy. Of course there’s romance but it seemed secondary to the main characters’ individual growth.
So. Kevin. It’s a little chilling that Kevin is a real person, featured on the cover of the book. Is he gorgeous or what?!!!The story is based on him and knowing that while reading made things a lot more intense and real for me. Kevin leaves a successful career in advertising to chase his dream of opening a wedding gown store. Casper, a successful pastry chef, becomes a partner in this business venture. Kevin had a lot of issues, namely anxiety, stomach problems, and an eating disorder. All those were explored very nicely in the story and were presented in a very realistic way. Nothing was OTT and more importantly, nothing was cured magically form one minute to the next when the love interest showed up. Bravo for that author.
Casper. I wish I had him in my kitchen baking all those amazing cakes. Man this book made me crave dessert like you wouldn’t believe!!! Casper is a very wholesome character, always there to support Kevin, and an overall down-to-earth guy. He seemed to balance everything out when Kevin spiralled out of control. Not that Kevin depended on him, mind you, but Casper had a very matter-of-fact way of dealing with truths that Kevin often didn’t. So, Kevin threw a tantrum? Casper would say it like it is and offer some reality stat. I loved him.
The flirting between the two main characters happened early on but inconsistently and Kevin was still messing around with his ex as far as 33% into the book. 63% in, and they were barely acknowledging that there’s attraction between them. So, you can tell this is a really slow-burn. Also, there is no actual on-page sex in this book. Their first time is fade to black and later on there are some very very very vague descriptions of them having sex but nothing titillating in the least. I have to say I was disappointed in that, mainly because I was waiting for so freaking long for it. And if it was just the sex that was fade to black, I would have been fine with it I think. But even the first stay at a hotel when we could have caught a glimpse of them being intimate, talking about something more personal, hugging or something was fade-to-black. So, no dice.
Another aspect of the book that I was annoyed by was the repetition of the whole “if it wasn’t for you, this would never have happened” (meaning the business venture). Both characters said this to each other what felt like multiple times for a good chunk of the book. I felt like saying “right boys, you about done patting each other’s backs yet?!” Similarly, the whole “I can’t believe it’s real, this feels so real, it’s finally real…” thing got soooooo old. I realise that this business venture was pretty significant for both characters but it was almost like they were running out of original dialogue at times and kept reverting to talking shop all the time. Those parts of the book were boring after the initial excitement of setting up the store wore off.
The family members that support Kevin are strong side-characters, written in a way that evokes different emotions. Case in point, I absolutely despised Renata. She wasn’t terrible and showed that she loved Kevin in her own, perfectionist, I-expect-the-world-of-you way, but I couldn’t warm up to her at all. Noelle on the other hand…she was absolutely lovely and I often wondered what kept her with Renata to be honest.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this and it had a little bit of everything in it, as the blurb suggests: Family drama, ex drama (in a good way), mental health, and a budding romance. No sex on page was a bummer, but I still mostly enjoyed reading this, pet peeves aside.