Author: Xavier Mayne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 310
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Can a computer program understand love better than the human heart?
Archer, the AI at the dating service Q*pid, realizes humans don’t always make the best choices, so it begins making some unconventional choices for them.
Fox Kincade is the last of his group of friends to be single, so he’s delighted when he discovers a new match in his Q*pid app—one that, according to the new AI wizardry, should be the love of his life. Instead of the woman he’s expecting, he’s paired with Drew Larsen, a shy, somewhat nerdy PhD student who has also grown discouraged with romance.
Drew and Fox have little in common—aside from the fact that they’re both straight. Or so they thought. But as the guys get to know each other, they realize Archer might have the right idea. Their path isn’t smooth, because both need to overcome every idea they have about themselves and what true love might look like. But with the help of Archer—and some friends who have stuck with Fox and Drew through the thick and thin of their relationship trials—they might find their way into each other’s hearts.
Wealthy “improbably handsome” Fox runs his dating life by spreadsheet, rating every aspect of the date in order to find that illusive perfect woman and comparing post-date stats with his best friend Chad. Starving doctorate student Drew seems to meet the strangest women, and the closest female in his life is his delightfully eccentric upstairs neighbor Mrs. Schwartzmann. Drew’s sad googling of “Why can’t I find the right person and fall in love?” results in:
…articles on how his dating problems were the direct and unmistakable result of low testosterone, damaged self-esteem, cow hormones in his drinking water, misaligned chakras, a boggy prostrate, and an imperfect relationship with God.
Each man uses the dating service Q*pid where developer Veera is experimenting with AI in order to make better matches. Her contention (like Dr. House) is that everybody lies and creates a dating profile of whom they wish they were. This algorithm “gathers information about them not based on what they say, but rather what they do” based on the user’s social media activity. When the AI interface ignores the customer’s specific gender perimeters for potential matches, Drew and Fox are matched as being 99.5% compatible.
Xavier Mayne has created a humorous very sweet story here, paired with an interesting premise and two great main characters. I loved Drew’s kindness towards Mrs. Schwartzmann and his self-awareness and sense of humor. Fox is a tougher nut to crack but as the plot develops and very slowly moves into the romantic relationship between Fox and Drew, Fox finally breaks down his barriers.
This story is framed by scenes with the Q*pid staff (and one particularly irritating coworker) and while other readers may feel this slows down the flow of the story, I personally geeked out on all the details.
Where I’m not sure the story completely succeeds is in the “gay for out / out for you” plotting. This reads like an old school “Gay for You” with two ostensibly straight guys who have no unfulfilled yen for men. There are references to watching porn, and hints that either they are watching gay porn, or clearly focusing on the male only (the Q*pid interface allows it to watch eye movements, and analyze every aspect of their social media) but nothing definitive. The romantic aspect of their relationship works well, as their dissimilar personalities mesh so wonderfully, but the sexual aspect isn’t as clearly developed (mostly because it takes the majority of the story to get Fox to admit that he can, and does, love Drew.)
I adore Xavier Mayne’s writing style and loved the humor and wit (and especially Mrs. Schwartzmann’s past which is wildly embellished and genuinely funny and heartwarming). The GFY is a bit of a hard sell at first, but the love story is so carefully crafted that the ending came way too soon. Honestly, I would have loved to read another 50 pages or so about how their relationship develops and grows rather than fast-forwarding to the final chapter (although it really is a sweet HEA.) 4 stars.
My whole world – the whole universe – suddenly makes sense. It’s all fallen into place because you appeared. For the first time in my life I know I’m in the right place. Out of all the billions of planets orbiting billions of stars, I’m standing on the one you’re on. And this is exactly the place I was meant to be.