Review: Textual Relations by Cate Ashwood

Evolutionary psychology professor Henry Hathaway is ready to spend his birthday the same way he does every year: a good teeth cleaning followed by dinner with his brother. But when he receives a wrong-number text confirming the details of a date, he does what any considerate person would—he goes to meet them and explain why they've been stood up.

Asher Wescott hadn't expected his blind date to go well, because when do they ever? Henry shows up instead, and things are suddenly looking up.

Socially awkward and attached to his routines, Henry is nevertheless one of the most charming and kind men Asher has met in a long time.

Too bad he's not Henry's type.

An accidental date, an impulsive kiss, and a few conflicted feelings later, can Asher get Henry to see the world—and him—in a different light?

This story is, in a word, adorable.

It’s a quiet story and I appreciated that. Angst can be overrated and sometimes I just like to read a tale of character driven self-discovery and love without a lot of extra noise. Textual Relations is told from Henry’s perspective and he’s not the most socially aware guy around. It’s not surprising when you get to know him through the descriptions of his routines, but it’s obvious he’s a good guy. He’s just a bit introverted and has trouble making real connections with other people.

He gets an accidental text on his birthday and because of the aforementioned “good guyness” he doesn’t want to leave the person waiting on their blind date hanging. So, Henry meets Asher, Asher meets Henry and the two of them end up having an amazing first not-a-date. Sure, Henry is clueless, but it’s in an incredibly charming and understandable way. To be fair, he did mention to Asher about an ex-girlfriend and a modicum of surprise that Asher was gay, so while their time together definitely reeked of a date, a really good date, I could see why Henry didn’t put it together given what I’d learned of him so far.

Asher was smitten with Henry from the beginning and I did love that he was the pursuer once we learned a little bit more of Asher’s past. He wasn’t a player per se, but he was not one to stick around for anything. The world is full of places to go and things to do for Asher, basically the opposite of Henry, and the fact that he wanted more of Henry was perfect. Being that the story is told completely through Henry’s eyes, I didn’t get as much of Asher as I would have liked. At the same time, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything vital, I just really liked him.

If the story were told from both POV’s though, it would have been a different story and it would have to be much longer. I liked it just how it was set up though, because it made Henry and his evolution the focus. And while it may have been a bit fairy tale I definitely got the message from him that labels can keep a person from getting to where they need to be. Henry’s only real turmoil came when he analyzed himself and tried to figure out “what he was”. Understandable considering his line of work, but when he let that go and just focused on how happy he was with Asher and how life and love could be full of passion he really came into himself.

Henry grounded Asher and Asher inspired Henry and I loved reading all their interactions and banter. Textual Relations will go in my comfort read file to be pulled out again when I need a warm fuzzy and some purely joyful self-discovery.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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