Tied Together by Z.B. Heller #LGBT #Audiobook #Review

Marc reviews ‘Tied Together’ (Tied Together #1) by Z.B. Heller. This book was pubished by the author on August 27th, 2015 and is about 275 pages long. The audiobook was published on January 20th, 2017, narrated by Derrick McClain an is 6 hrs and 56 mins long.

RGR received a free review copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

Why I read this book:

The audiobook narrator offered me a review copy of this book, but told me that there were aspects of this book like a time jump and potential cheating that did not work for everyone. I have friends who could not even go near a book where cheating might be involved, but neither a time jump nor cheating are deal breakers to me if a book is well written. I agreed to listen to the story and give my honest opinion in a review.


Ryan Keller had it all when he came out in high school; accepting parents, friends and his own credit line for J. Crew. His cocky attitude and good looks got him what he wanted, including samples off the man meat buffet. Then he found his favorite dessert, Brandon. But Brandon wasn’t sending out a rainbow vibe so Ryan was sent to the land that crushes dread, the friend zone.

Brandon Ford was buried so deep down in the closet that clothes from the seventies had a better chance of coming out. His anxieties of acting on his desires could keep a therapist entertained for hours. Even though he did his best to build his emotions out of bricks, it was no use against Ryan’s charms.
Follow Ryan and Brandon’s relationship from high school, to college and beyond to find out if they will be Tied Together.

Warning: No Anaconda Turtles have been harmed in the making of this book.

Buy Links: Audible | iTunes | Amazon | Add to Goodreads


Cover:

I LOVE the cover design with the two guys kissing. It makes me smile and is one of the reasons I agreed to review this book.

Title: 

While I liked the title, it – and the tag line ‘Knot your ordinary romance’ made me wonder if there was an mpreg aspect to this story. As I had bad experiences with mpreg stories in the past, I’m glad there wasn’t. Contemporary all the way 🙂

Narration:

This is the third audiobook I listened to that was narrated by Derrick McClain and I enjoyed his performance just as much as the other two times. He is a fantastic narrator, differentiates well between the characters and really drew me into the story. I can  recommend Derrick McClain’s audiobook narrations and if you want to check out this story, I think his narration adds to the enjoyment of the book.

Story:

I had fun with this story. It was cute, funny and well-written. However it did not take long for me to understand why not everyone is a fan of this book.

There is a certain degree of fantasy many readers want. We deal with real life problems every day and sometimes it is nice to just escape reality into a nice romance. I have often said that I love books where the plot and character actions feel realistic and it has often made me care more about the characters and what happens to them. A happy ending feels greater to me, if the characters had to work hard for it. A relationship seems stronger to me, if the characters had to overcome difficult challenges.

In a way, this book is more honest and realistic than most.

Ryan Keller has everything he wants. He has accepting parents, great friends, good looks and his pick of delicious guys. He is cocky and very priviledged. Brandon Fuller has a very different background. He is not out, not even completely to himself, because it was always safer that way. He has a violent and homophobic father and his childhood sucked.

The story is all fun and games and I enjoyed it a lot, until the first challenge presented itself. When Ryan and Brandon actually made the step from friends to lovers, Ryan makes an extremely selfish demand. It is very clear that he doesn’t even take Brandon’s experiences and struggles into consideration, but acts out of self-interest. While his demand is very understandable at the right time, the timing is off and it was hard for me to understand his reasoning. I like flawed characters, because it makes them human. However it rubbed me the wrong way that Ryan spoke of love, but was so willing to put their love on the line to pressure Brandon into something he was not ready (YET!) but that he promised to be okay with in time.

What I disliked most is that his best friend actually called him out for his BS (go her!) and he agreed that he screwed up terribly, but yet he still does not take his demand back. I assume the reason for that is that while he realizes his demand is incredibly selfish, he still wants the desired and demanded result.

When he doesn’t get the result he wants, from a demand he admitted was wrong and selfish to make, he did not try to talk to the person he professed to love, but betrayed Brandon’s friendship and trust to make himself feel better. Now, in my opinion he doesn’t exactly cheat in the given circumstances, but he thinks ONLY of himself, which makes him a difficult character to like from that point on.

I don’t mind when characters make mistakes and show they have flaws. However, it is good to see them struggle with their decisions and try to do the right thing once they have figured out what they did wrong. Ryan never seemed to really think about what he was doing to Brandon and what the guy must be going through and giving up to be with him. At that point in his life, I honestly think Ryan did not deserve Brandon.

That is why I actually really appreciated the time jump. I love character development, but a situation like this can’t be fixed from one day to the next. Ryan had a sheltered and priviledged life. Always had what he needed and got what he wanted. Every person’s life is about them, but Ryan did not have enough experience and empathy to really understand someone else’s situation.

I do believe the 12 years helped Ryan to grow up and Brandon used the time to deal with his issues (quite successfully, even without the help and support of his ex boyfriend). When they eventually decide to try again, their relationship is much more adult. Still, as a reader it was difficult to forget what Ryan did and I wanted to see more self-reflection and wanted it to be a bigger deal. I wanted them to really talk it out with a lot of honesty. Well, they do deal with it in their own way and they certainly do have chemistry and the ending is wonderful and sweet. But while I actually liked Ryan in the end, I never fully accepted the character in my heart. Still, I have to give the author credit for making me like Ryan again and ending the book on such a wonderful and sweet note.

I liked the secondary characters and the plot worked well for me, beside that really shitty thing Ryan did. I think most of us have acted out of self-interest before and maybe Ryan’s actions grate so much, because at one point in our lives we might have done something similar. It is always difficult if someone holds a mirror in front of us and we see some darker aspect of ourselves reflected.

This was the first book by Z.B. Heller I read and I’m glad I gave it a try! I did enjoy myself reading this story and if you like cute and funny romances and can forgive very human flaws, you might end up really liking this book and the wonderful narration by Derrick McClaine as well. 🙂

Rating: 6.5/10 Pots of Gold (65% Recommended) – Compares to 3.25/5 Stars


Z.B. Heller

As a little girl it was always a dream for Z.B. Heller to become She-Ra Princess of Power. Since this dream was unobtainable, she spent what was probably way to long in college trying to “find herself”. Becoming an artist scratched the creative itch until the stories in her head were getting to be to loud for her to get anything else accomplished. She lives in St. Louis with her husband, son and Flemish Giant rabbit Chloe. In her spare time she likes to read, stalk celebrities on Twitter and create the type of art that people scratch their heads about.

Website

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