Dana reviews Starting With the Unexpected by Andi Van
A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Starting With the Unexpected (Book 1 of Beginnings and Endings)
Author: Andi Van
Genre: MM Romance (contemporary)
Length: Approx 60,000 (novel)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Blurb: Zachary Blaise is having a weird week, even by his standards. Though he’s gay, the radio personality has somehow been dumped via text by a girl named Marian that he’s never even met. On top of that, he’s developed a massive crush on Marcus, the new waiter at his favorite diner, which his best friend thinks is hilarious.
Marcus’s week hasn’t been his best either. He’s been betrayed by those closest to him, and although he isn’t the guilty party, Marcus is the one getting harassed.
Impossibly, things are about to get even weirder. Marian has secrets, and those secrets are going to make some serious ripples in Zach’s life. When Marian and Marcus turn out to be the same person, Zach stumbles down a rabbit hole of abusive ex-boyfriends, psychotic relatives, and revelations from his own past. If he can survive the chaos, the journey might prove worth the effort.
Review: After reading the blurb, I have to admit, I was downright confused at what was going to happen in this book.It ended up being very unexpected as the title suggests. Starting with the Unexpected was a sweet but not sappy contemporary story that begins with misdialed texts and mistaken identities. I really enjoyed it.
There is little conflict between the main characters that stands in the way of their being together. Their chemistry is great. Both have similar pasts though Marcus’s is a bit more extreme. Zach doesn’t have much contact with his brother after coming out, and Marcus is considered the black sheep of his crazy family. Which means he’s pretty darn normal. Zach is cynical about the loss of communication though, while Marcus is hopeful, Wanting things to be made right even at the risk of his safety.
For most of the book it appears the trouble that the couple does experience is caused by a obsessive ex of Marcus’s but is actually created by someone more surprising. I just have to say that Marcus is quite a wonderful character after discovering more about what his family is like. For Zach the situation actually helps reconcile him with his brother and that is good, because his family is awesome and becomes Marcus’s as well. The addition of supporting characters like Zach’s straight room mate Jordan and his radio station work partner, Kat bring a lot of humor to the story and leave it feeling very well rounded.
For the release of Starting With the Unexpected, I have a 5-part story starring Zach, Marcus, and Zach’s best friend Jordan. No spoilers, I promise, aside from Zach and Marcus being together which…really isn’t a spoiler. It’s kind of a given. Anyway, there will be a new part at each stop of the blog tour this week. This is the last stop of the tour, but you can see the entire schedule (with links) at http://andivan.com/?p=457.
I’m giving away one paperback copy and two ebook copies of Starting With the Unexpected – winners will be selected at random on the 19th, after waving a rubber chicken over my computer and chanting in a dead language. You can find the giveaway at https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ac169bf81.
Anticipated Chaos [Part Five]
“Morning, boys,” Gloria said in her usual perky voice when we dragged ourselves into the diner. “How did it go?”
Marcus whimpered and gave his coworker a hug. “You know the guy who comes in and asks if we offer vegan options and then orders three sides of bacon? He seems perfectly normal now.”
Gloria gave us a worried look as she patted my boyfriend on the back. “It’s okay, hon. I’ll put you guys in the far end where no scary people will bother you.”
“We tried to tell him,” Jordan informed her as she managed to get Marcus to let go of her.
Gloria nodded. “I believe you.” She grabbed menus and gave us a wave. “Come on. Let’s get you boys fed and see if we can reduce the trauma for him.”
“I need coffee,” Jordan said with a sniffle. “And maybe therapy.”
I heard Gloria make a noise that sounded suspiciously like she was trying to bite back a laugh, but she managed to contain herself as she led us to a booth near the employee entrance. I prodded Marcus to slide in first, then sat down next to him.
“I’ll be right back with drinks,” Gloria promised. “Same as always?”
“Same as always,” Jordan confirmed. “Thanks, Glo.”
“Seriously, are you okay?” I asked Marcus after Gloria left.
He looked at me as if I’d taken leave of my senses, then turned his attention to Jordan. “How the hell do you continue to do that job without losing your sanity?”
“Sanity’s overrated,” Jordan answered immediately. “Besides, I’ve lived with Zach for years. I’ve got a high tolerance for the bizarre.”
“Bite me,” I told him before I was distracted by the employee entrance opening. “Oh, hey,” I said gleefully when I saw who it was. “It’s the bushy banger of Beetle babes. Did you even get any sleep before coming in to work?”
The poor kid gave me a mortified look and rushed for the kitchen without comment, ignoring Jordan’s howls of laughter. “Manscaping is your friend,” I called after him as he made his hasty retreat.
“Do I even want to know?” Gloria asked as she returned with our drinks.
“No,” Marcus said firmly before he practically swallowed his entire cup of coffee in one gulp, not even bothering with sugar and cream.
I cackled, then bobbed my eyebrows at Gloria. “Your dishwasher has been a naughty boy.”
“A cougar sunk her claws into him,” Jordan added, grinning. “In a very public manner.”
Marcus whimpered, then hid his face in his hands, elbows resting on the table.
“Normal morning, then?” Gloria asked.
“Normal morning,” Jordan agreed. “I know it’s out of season, but is there any chance you guys can still make those pumpkin pancakes you were making in the fall? I’m really craving pumpkin for some reason.”
“Stop it,” Marcus said into his hands, his voice muffled.
Jordan snickered. “Fine, I’ll behave. How about my usual?”
“Pancakes, eggs, and enough hash browns to sink a small ship coming up,” Gloria said with a grin before taking my order and coaxing one out of poor Marcus.
When she’d left the table, I reached over and ran my fingers through my boyfriend’s hair. “Feeling a little better, gorgeous?”
He let his hands drop from his face with a sigh. “I thought you guys were kidding when you talked about all the weird shit that happens. I mean, it’s newspaper delivery. What can be more normal than that?”
“There is no such thing as normal with my job,” Jordan said, smiling when Gloria came back to the table long enough to refill Marcus’s cup.
I was glad to see that Marcus took the time to doctor his coffee in his usual manner before taking a sip. “Yeah, I see that now,” he agreed before setting his mug down again. He stared into it for a moment, then looked up to offer Jordan a grin. “So, think you can top that next week?”
“Oh, next week?” Jordan asked as an answering grin settled on his face. “You’ll love it. Next week is when we start planning the great lawn flamingo migration. It’ll be awesome.”
Andi Van lives near San Diego with a small fluffy thing named Koi, a baseball bat that’s forever being used for things other than baseball, and a fondness for rum and caffeine (though not necessarily together).
Andi is fluent in three languages (English, sarcasm, and profanity), and takes pride in a highly developed—if somewhat bizarre—sense of humor.