The Marrying Kind

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Title: The Marrying Kind
Author: Ken O’Neill
Cover artist: Sheri
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Buy link: The Marrying Kind
Length: Novel/264 PDF pages
Genre: Contemporary GBLT/Romantic Comedy
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by LadyM

Review summary: I’m borrowing a clairvoyance hat from Steven’s mother to predict that this book will reach many readers, become a wonderful gift among friends and even the awards are not out of the question.

Blurb: Wedding planner Adam More has an epiphany: He has devoted all his life’s energy to creating events that he and his partner Steven are forbidden by federal law for having for themselves. So Adam decides to make a change. Organizing a boycott of the wedding industry, Steven and Adam call on gay organists, hairdressers, cater-waiters, priests, and hairdressers everywhere to get out of the business and to stop going to weddings, too. In this screwball, romantic comedy both the movement they’ve begun and their relationship are put in jeopardy when Steven’s brother proposes to Adam’s sister and they must decide whether they’re attending or sending regrets.

Review:

I was initially attracted to this book because the blurb reminded me of the movie Wedding Wars (the similarities remain superficial), because this is the author’s first book and the theme of the book could not be more relevant. I am glad to say that the book surpassed my every expectation.

This is not a romance, but it is romantic and it is a book about love – love between partners and family love. While the theme is serious, the narrative tone is light and humorous which actually helped the message of the book – it never felt preachy and the serious parts had much more impact. The story is also heartwarming and touching. You will laugh and, if you are anything like me, you will sniffle a bit. The characters are fantastic – three-dimensional and believable. You know these people.

The story is set in 2007, before New York legalized gay marriage. The narrator is Steven Worth, a 33-year-old neurotic, self-deprecating, dilatory columnist for the Gay New York Times. He is in a six-year relationship with Adam More, a hardworking wedding planner. He enjoys their happy domesticity and likes cleaning and cooking for his man. The men are in love, content, surrounded by supportive friends and family. They even played matchmakers for their siblings – Steven’s brother Peter and Adam’s sister Amanda.

But, Adam lately suffers from bizarre nightmares; he is distracted and rarely smiles. Steven is concerned until Adam comes home one day to announce that he is giving up his wedding business. He’d had enough of planning other people’s weddings. Until he and Steven can legally wed, he will not plan or attend another wedding or buy wedding gifts. Steven uses his column to invite other GLBT people in the business to join the boycott and the response is overwhelming. But then Peter and Amanda announce their wedding and things get complicated. Hilarity and heartbreak ensue.

At first, Steven and Adam enjoy the attention and the free time they can spend together, but soon they have to face the consequences: people getting fired, Adam’s declining business, turbulent relations with family and friends. Steven has more and more trouble to reconcile the cause with family obligations and Adam’s behavior turns obsessive, so much so that he starts hurting their mutual friends. These things start affecting their relationship and even threaten to destroy it.

There are so many things that worked in this novel that this little review cannot possibly cover them all. I adored Steven’s voice and the way his memories of his childhood and relationship with Adam gave us almost a complete picture of their lives. He is an endearingly neurotic, honest, witty narrator with a few lingering hang-ups from his youth and complex, but loving relationships with his family. His love for Adam clearly jumped off the pages. Also, from Onda, Steven’s Romanian-American mother, to Brad, his first boyfriend and boss, from Amanda, Adam’s sister, to Gail, Steven’s colleague and best friend, O’Neill’s characterization is fantastic. As I said at the beginning, you know these people or, at least, you know people like them: a middle aged man obsessed with weight and youth like Brad or a relative – both exasperating and charming like Onda. Trust me, I live a border away from Romania and, yes, people like her do exist. :D In addition, humor is such a cultural and personal affair that it’s tricky for an author to reach a wide audience successfully. I am happy to say that O’Neill’s humor worked perfectly for me, even though I live on a different continent.

I have to admit that I couldn’t see how the author would resolve the central conflict. The little things – little hurts and snubs – pile up until both men have to ask themselves: Where do you draw the line when facing injustice? Do you stay true to the cause that is essential to your life or to your family which was always supportive to you? What are you willing to sacrifice? Obviously, something’s got to give. While the cynic in me wanted to protest (feebly) that things rarely work out so well in real life, that people are rarely that understanding, the romantic in me thought that O’Neill chose the perfect ending for his book and his characters. I loved it! Especially after one particularly moving scene towards the end of the book that will surely tug at your heartstrings and underline the painful injustice gay couples suffer every day.

I have one niggle that kept me from giving the book the highest rating. While I never doubted men’s feelings, I found Adam’s transformation from how Steven initially described him to obsessive activist a bit hard to swallow. Perhaps his point of view would have helped there, but then The Marrying Kind wouldn’t be the same book. Still, I would have liked to know what was happening in his head. I suspect that this book will get even better on the second (and third) reading though, so don’t be surprised if you come back one day in the near future to find the rating raised.

At first, I wanted to include a few quotes in my review to illustrate the humor and wonderful little touches that made this book so appealing (like references to the men’s favorite movies, etc.), but I decided against it so you can experience the complexity of the book yourself. The Marrying Kind is a humorous and heartfelt story that speaks about serious issues in a very accessible way. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a few hours. And, if you want to help marriage equality – give or lend this story to someone. I am looking forward Mr. O’Neill’s next book.

Highly, highly recommended.

37 thoughts on “The Marrying Kind

  1. Sirius

    I saw this book reviewed on Dear author couple days ago and already decided to get it, but your review helps to be very sure :). Thanks.

    1. LadyM Post author

      Sirius, it’s a wonderful book. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. Let me know what you think. :)

    1. LadyM

      Wave, this is a perfect book for traveling. Your flight will pass in the blink of an eye. And then you can reread it on the flight back. XD

      Let me know what you think. :)

  2. Tom

    I’ve been looking forward to the review on this one, me loves a rom-com. Great review LadyM. :thanks: :bravo: (Thanks for the Amazon buy link too :wink:)

    1. LadyM

      I hope you will enjoy this lovely little book, Tom, as much as I did. Try to free a few hours for reading though – I know I didn’t want to put it down. :)

  3. Deedles

    ARRRGGH! Heartstring tugging and humor? You people are eeevil! My book budget for June is already a distant memory. Oh well, I can stand to lose a hundred pounds so who needs food. Amazon here I come, again.

    1. LadyM

      :evil: :evil: :evil:

      This is us – devils united! :wink:

      That aside, I know exactly how you feel. There are so many great books and so little time and money. But, I hope you’ll find The Marrying Kind worth both. :)

  4. jeayci

    Thanks, LadyM, this sounds awesome! I’ve been in kind of a reading-funk lately. I think I’ve already managed to break through it, but this sounds like just the book to do that the next time it happens (if I can wait that long to read it :lol: )

    1. LadyM

      If you manage to wait, you have more will than I do. ^^

      This is certainly the book to put a stop on the reading funk. It’s warm and it’s funny, definitely a rereading material. I hope you’ll like it! :)

  5. Enny

    The book sounds great but $ 10.99 for an ebook is crazy. Much to my regret, I’ll give it a pass. :sad:

    Thank you for the review though.

    1. Lasha

      I have to agree, Enny. I won’t pay over $7.99 for an ebook, not even for Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.

    2. jeayci

      Yikes, that’s insane! :shock: I hadn’t thought to check the price first. A little further investigation reveals that it’s “only” $9.99 at Amazon and Sony. I normally won’t spend that much on an ebook, but since I have a gift certificate, I just might.

    3. LadyM

      Yes, the price is a bit too much for an e-book, I agree. Hopefully, there will be some discounts in the future.

  6. Anke

    Yes, the review sounds intriguing, but the price – not so. Especially as this is a new author. I have difficulties paying that for well-established authors, but a newbie – even more. I’ll be waiting for either FW or ARe with their free-for-10.

    1. LadyM

      Anke, though the book is still currently unavailable, ARe does carry the books of this publisher (I checked), so this sounds like a good plan. I hope you will enjoy the book. :)

  7. Ken O'Neill

    Hi
    I am the author. Thanks for the kind words. I hope some of you who are unable to buy the book will consider requesting it at your local library. It would be very helpful for the book and if your library stocks it you can read it for free. Thanks!

    1. LadyM

      Hi, Ken! Thanks for stopping by. That is actually a very good solution for our U.S.-based readers. :)

    2. jeayci

      That’s a great suggestion, thank you! I (the biggest library fanatic on the planet :god: ) have in recent months found myself forgetting about them sometimes. :eek: I’ve gotten so into ebooks, I almost forget paper is an option. It’s good to be reminded. :smile:

      1. Tom K

        My local library offers e-book readers to it’s members in addition to traditional books! If you don’t have a reader of your own, it might be this would be an option through your library as well!

        Congrats Ken on a successful first novel!

    3. Wave

      Ken
      This is a great idea to request the book from your local library. Unfortunately many of us do not live in the US. I myself live in Canada and most of our libraries take a long time before buying books, especially from new authors. I think the same thing could be said for libraries in other countries.

      1. Gaycrow

        Here in my part of Australia, there aren’t many gay books in libraries at all.

        I don’t have a Kindle, and can’t access the US Sony store, even though I have a Sony eReader, so it does limit my buying options. :sad:

        The price seems too high for me right now, so I’ll wait and see if it crops up at a lower price in the future.

  8. Josh Lanyon

    I feel sort of depressed when I read some of the comments about ebook pricing.

    Here’s how Amazon originally planned on pricing digital ebooks:

    Novels – $9.99
    Novellas – $4.99
    Short stories – $2.99

    To support/pressure that pricing they only pay 70% royalties to authors who stay within those pricing guidelines. Authors who charge over OR under drop down to a 30% royalty rate.

    A 30% royalty rate means you need to sell thousands of books to earn a sustainable income. Most authors in this genre do not sell thousands of titles. They rely on producing many titles and selling a few hundred copies each.

    Once you get on that hamster wheel, it’s hard to get off.

    The most disheartening part of this equation is that it is neither Amazon nor readers who are responsible for driving current book prices down to rock bottom and creating the current climate where a story isn’t worth the price of a muffin or a giant soft drink. The responsibility rests with authors — and indie publishers — who hoped to give their unknown product an edge in a flooded marketplace.

    So the .99 cent novel was born. And an expectation was created that if a novel was only worth .99… well a short story ought to be a lot less. Even free.

    Where this is all headed, I have no idea. But I do know that Amazon still encourages authors to price their work below $9.99 and above $2.99 — to price their work as though it had some value.

    I don’t think you can even buy a box of tissues for .99 cents, can you?

    1. jeayci

      I wonder if some of the issue around pricing is what it’s being compared relative to? The discussions and news articles I’ve seen have the Big 6 publishers and Amazon setting ebook pricing relative to hardbacks.

      However, I haven’t bought hardbacks… well, ever. I was going to say “in years” but realized I never liked them. They’re too big to read comfortably, so I’ve only bought them very, very rarely. Assuming, that is, we’re talking fiction. And I am assuming fiction for this discussion, as I think non-fiction stakes out different territory.

      So I’m personally comparing ebook pricing to mass market paperback pricing. Thus, my expectation was set at $4.99 – $7.99 for a novel. I always thought trade paperbacks were overpriced, with a very few exceptions.

      I’ve come to prefer ebooks, but despite my preference I don’t see them having sufficient “value added” to be worth more than the average paperback.

      And yes, I have bought a box of tissues for .99 cents. I was about to say that their value, however, is significantly less than any good book; then I thought about which I’d prefer when I have a head cold. :lol:

      1. Josh Lanyon

        I think paperback pricing makes sense. I can’t imagine pricing a novel over 7.99, let alone $9.99.

        Granted, I don’t undervalue my short stories. If I was throwing short stories away at .99 cents, I might price my novels higher to make up for it.

        You have to make up the difference somewhere.

        And I guess it is different when there is no print book — when the ebook release has to pay for everything.

        But I have no idea how it’s all going to shake out. We’re all making it up as we go along. ;-)

      2. Josh Lanyon

        And yes, I have bought a box of tissues for .99 cents. I was about to say that their value, however, is significantly less than any good book; then I thought about which I’d prefer when I have a head cold

        Yeah, but those are those sandpaper tissues that shred your poor nostrils and turn into feathers when you sneeze into them.

        Or am I the only one who explode-sneezes? :-D

    2. Enny

      I spend around $ 200 each month on books and I’d rather buy my clothes second hand in order to do that. Books are nourishment to the soul and I need them as much as I need food (btw, the German government seems to think so too as there is a reduced VAT on both).

      I agree that some books are ridiculously cheap. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why someone would sell a really good novel at such a low price. A good book someone spent hours and hours on should be worth more than a cup of coffee.

      I’ve seen comments on Goodreads about your fantastic story Perfect Day being too expensive and I was like :???: :wallbash: :strike:

      But there is a limit to what I’m prepared to spend on a book by an unknown author and it seems that others would agree with me. Making an e-book too expensive will result in people lending the book from a library or buying the book at third party resellers, so the author and publishers will ultimately earn less. The challenge is getting the balance right and coming up with incentives for readers to buy the books directly from the publisher’s website.

      Btw, I can only buy at Amazon.de and there the book cost € 8.20 which translates to $ 10.50. :sad:

      1. Josh Lanyon

        I’ve seen comments on Goodreads about your fantastic story Perfect Day being too expensive

        I totally understand having to budget. In my household steak is a treat. I don’t like hamburger but we can’t afford steak all the time. I know some readers will not be able to afford my stories — that’s why I do lots of giveaways and freebies to help them out.

        We all have to do what makes economic sense.

        I won’t gouge readers but I won’t undervalue my work either. I’m hopeful that eventually this will all shake out to pricing that makes sense for everybody.

      2. Josh Lanyon

        I spend around $ 200 each month on books and I’d rather buy my clothes second hand in order to do that.

        That’s a healthy book budget!

        I’m trying not to buy any books till I read everything I have. That’s my commitment to budgeting. We’ll see how that works out.

    3. Charming

      OK; but there is a big difference between expecting ebook novels to cost 99¢ and being willing to pay $10.99.

    1. LadyM

      Hi, Josh! Thank you for stopping by. I dare to say that this is a perfect book for your sabbatical. :)

      It’s hard to reconcile the needs of publishers, sellers, authors and readers, especially in this economic climate. At the end of the day, what really matters to us is whether we can afford the book or not. Sometimes, we will make an exception for a trusted author and sacrifice something else (like Enny), but most likely we will just pass the book over. There has to be a balance in order to, if not make everyone happy, make everyone satisfied.

      1. Josh Lanyon

        Yes! This is where the idea of low, low pricing comes from. The idea is you lure in the reader with a free short story and then they buy your standard-priced book.

        But to compete in a crowded market place many new authors had to (or believed they had to) resort to dirt cheap novellas and novels. Which then creates an expectation that this is all anybody’s work is worth.

        I like free stuff too! But I also expect to pay a fair price for the things I want the rest of the time.

    1. Josh Lanyon

      If the book is selling for less somewhere else, both Amazon and B&N will knock the pricing down to match.

      Usually they won’t change the publisher’s pricing unless the book is competing unfavorably. So it may be that the publisher shaved the Amazon price to maximize royalties. The majority of sales will come from Amazon.

  9. Wave

    I missed this discusion earlier about ebook pricing. As someone who spends a lot of money on ebooks because I have run out of space to store print, I understand the concerns raised by everyone: Writers who want a fair return for their investment of time and talent, as well as those of us who purchase these books and are looking for value for money. However it is not a black and white issue.

    There is such a wide variance between book sizes (short stories vs. novellas vs novels) that I did a post over a year ago on this topic which revealed that, as I suspected, not all “novels” and *novellas* are equal. Apart from the issue of quality and name recognition, I found that many publishers were charging different rates for books that were supposedly the same size. Here’s a link to the post if you want to read it as well as the comments which were quite enlightening:

    http://tinyurl.com/47badof

    Each publisher has its own criteria for classifying a book as a novel or novella and you may not get what you’re paying for. PDF page count is useless because that depends on a number of factors, including line spacing, margins, font etc. However all of this has nothing to do with the author, although he or she might benefit if his/her book is classified as a novel at one publisher depending on their word count, while another might classify it as a novella.

    Unfortunately some publishers do not issue word counts (Dreamspinner, Loose Id are two examples that I can recall off the top of my head), while others such as Amber Allure and Carina do. Amazon does not issue word or page count unless the book is also sold in print; in that case Amazon will provide a page count. Usually purchasers have to wait until some books are sold through ARe to get the word count, which is the only real criteria for clasifying a book as a novel or novella.

    The Marrying Kind is 88K words which is almost double what most publishers classify as a novel so I think the cost of $9.99 represents value for money in terms of story length if you want to use that as part of your purchase criteria. If the content is great and you enjoy the book then it’s more than worth the price.

    This aside, we get hung up on cost sometimes when most of us buy books because we love a particular author and will buy their books, whatever the cost. This is strictly a matter of personal taste. I have paid as much as $12 for a novel and as little as $2.99 (ebooks) – both of which were sold on Amazon. It’s all in the luck of the draw.

    I believe in paying a fair price for a book. Since reading is one of the pleasures I enjoy more than a lot of others I don’t mind spending money for a book that will give me hours and hours of enjoyment. Compare the price of books to other entertainment. Have you priced what it costs to go to the movies these days or a reasonable bottle of wine or going out to dinner?

    1. Deedles

      Well said. Fifty years ago at the age of six I discovered the bookmobile. I’ve had a love affair with reading ever since. I really don’t care how much I spend, within reason, on a book. I however can’t find these kind of romances in my local library. I did find John Morgan Wilson there, but he depressed me. So far I’ve only been disappointed in one book that I have purchased and one out of four-hundred aint bad. The only thing I have against e-books is I can’t read them in the tub. I appreciate anyone who can write and take me away to other worlds. Thanks a lot.

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