Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I want to say at the start that this book is beautiful. Impeccably researched, detailed in Japanese culture, anime and manga and featuring a love story which goes beyond the normal physical expressions into something soul deep.
However, as beautifully written as this book is, it’s not a five star read for me only for the simple reason that the whole Japanese culture element of it isn’t something I’m personally interested in and, as it anchored the whole narrative, I wasn’t as engaged in it as someone who does have a fascination with it probably would be.
However, it is so rare to get a love story which, even within the LGBTQ+ world, that isn’t a conventional one that it was a delight to read. Here Heidi Cullinan does it with some style as she depicts how someone identifying on the ace/gray spectrum finds the perfect person to become his.
The Greek myth of Galatea and Pygmalion – so famously turned into a play by Sir George Bernard Shaw and then into My Fair Lady, starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn – forms the basis of this romance as business student and future lawyer Skylar Stone takes on the project of putting reluctant Xander Fairchild’s art out into the world as part of his senior project.
Xander is anti-social, the artist responsible for the manga comic produced at the college they both attend, and a bit of an enigma. He’s also perfect for Skylar as he sees beneath the frat boy to the scared and confused young man beneath.
This story is so well written, the sensuality and eroticism of watching the two fall in love is superbly done, there is no “sex” in this book but there absolutely is a whole host of making love as Xander discovers just how much he can be turned on by watching Skylar find himself aroused by a simple touch.
The painting scene alone is an exercise on how to make something incredibly sexy and stimulating without the trappings of penetration in any form and their romance oozes intimate connections and passionate loving which fits perfectly within the sexuality of the protagonists.
#ARC received from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review
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