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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

Not a Romance, but Worth a Read

The Marrying Kind - Ken  O'Neill

I picked this up because it was on sale for $0.99 and it looked intriguing, though I figured that, being gay myself, I was already a member of the proverbial choir. Pleasantly, this book, while certainly On Message, isn't preachy. Adam and Steven (get it?--Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve!) are a committed couple in their mid-30s, living together in Manhattan with their feline "kids." Adam is a wedding planner; Steven writes for a gay weekly. They grow more and more depressed planning and attending weddings for straight friends and relatives, until finally they decide they just can't take it anymore: until they, too, can marry, they will not plan, attend, or send gifts to any more weddings. Using the bully pulpit that is Steven's column, they put the word out about their wedding boycott, and soon other gay party planners, florists, caterers, hair stylists, cater waiters, etc., join the movement. This feels just great, of course, until Steven's brother becomes engaged to Adam's sister, and Adam and Steven's decision to stick to their principles causes a painful and bitter rift between them and their families.

 

I recommend this book (at least so long as you can buy it for less than a buck) to all straight people who might be contemplating inviting a gay friend or relative to your wedding, because even if you and your friends aren't political, you should at least have some sensitivity that the invitation might be painful, and a bigger role (being a member of the wedding party, for example) might be even more painful. (That's not to say you shouldn't send the invite, but be a little sensitive, and don't, under any circumstances, DO NOT refer to your gay friend's long term partner as "and guest" on the invite!) Think of it as something similar to inviting a dear friend to a baby shower when you know she's struggled with infertility or suffered a miscarriage: you want to include her, but if she finds it too painful to join your celebration, lay off because it isn't about you.

 

Steven and Adam are a sweet, supportive couple. Steven is a funny, endearingly neurotic narrator. They seemed really authentic to me, especially because the things I disliked about them are things that annoy me about some of my own gay male friends. (Tip: you may have accepted Fashion as your personal lord and savior, but my eyes glaze over when you start name-dropping designers the same way your eyes do when the Jehovah's Witnesses show up at the door.) I liked that they both loved their families and wanted to be happy for them, and I was frustrated that their generally-supportive relatives just did not Get It for so long.

 

I really, really liked that the story didn't pit the couple against their family in a way that made the lovers sympathetic and the straight relatives insensitive clods: all of the main characters were nuanced and multifaceted. The straight siblings initially think Adam and Steven are being self-absorbed attention whores for refusing to support their Big Day, which is valid because sometimes they are self-absorbed attention whores...just not about this. Steven plans his brother's stag party, at a strip club, thinking he's being selfless because of course HE has no interest in a strip club, only to realize that he didn't give any thought to what his brother would actually want.

 

My biggest frustration with this book was the lack of editing. Maybe some readers care more than I do about the protagonists' fashion choices and gym regimens, but I wager *no one* cares about the steel cut oats they have for breakfast and how often they clean out their closets. There is some extraneous, boring minutia that the reader will need to skim, but otherwise, it's worth the read--especially at this price!