All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher

All the Wrong PlacesRate: 4 stars
Publication day: 
June 13, 2016
240 pages  
Riptide Publishing

Three cheating girlfriends in a row have given skateboarder Brennan Cross the same excuse: he wasn’t meeting their needs. Desperate and humiliated, he goes to the professionals at the local sex shop for advice.

Zafir Hamady, a sales clerk at Red Hot Bluewater, has an unusual theory: he doesn’t think Brennan is a bad lover. In fact, he doesn’t think Brennan is heterosexual. Or sexual at all, for that matter. He also can’t stop thinking about Brennan. But even if he’s right and Brennan really is asexual, that doesn’t mean Zafir has a chance. Brennan’s never dated a man, and Zafir’s never met anyone who’s game for a Muslim single father with a smart mouth and a GED.

Brennan’s always thought of himself as straight. But when sex is explicitly out of the mix, he finds himself drawn to Zafir for the qualities and interests they share. And Zafir can’t help enjoying Brennan’s company and the growing bond between Brennan and his son. They work well together, but with so many issues between them, doubts creep in, and Brennan’s struggle with his identity could push away the one person he didn’t know he could love.

My View: This is my first read with two asexual main characters. I enjoyed how each of them was different and how the author managed to deal with their distinctions without making it feel forced or cookie-cut. The topic is handled with care and enough information to have a clear idea of the topic without generalizations or preachings.

The way Zafir took charge of their relationship from the beginning showed a mature character, comfortable with his identity after learning how to deal with it over the years. Their friendship was exceptionally crafted, and the reader gets to care for them deeply. It’s easy to forget they aren’t the traditional romance troupe. Their relationship is realistic and deals with everyday issues like childcare and making ends meet.

Brennan’s susceptivity for skateboard-related accidents makes him endearing, as well as, his patience to take care of Zafir’s son. He matures during the story. We can see how he started doubting himself and how, with the help of Zafir, he was able to discover how the puzzle pieces of his life work together. The way he reacted when his relationship with Zafir, his sexuality, and his identity were challenged was too dramatic for my taste.

The secondary characters add levity to the story. This is the 14 installment in this series, but the first book of it I have read. This book works as a stand-alone, and the mentions and presence of previous main characters are minimal. Overall, a well-written book about a not so common topic.

What I liked the most: The friendship between Zafir and Brennan.

I wanted more: Time to see how their relationship develops after their reconciliation.

Who should read it: Everyone interested in a different type of relationship between men.

ARC provided by Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 


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