Review: Q*pid by Xavier Mayne

Can a computer program understand love better than the human heart?

Archer, the AI at the dating service Q*pid, realizes humans don’t always make the best choices, so it begins making some unconventional choices for them.

Fox Kincade is the last of his group of friends to be single, so he’s delighted when he discovers a new match in his Q*pid app—one that, according to the new AI wizardry, should be the love of his life. Instead of the woman he’s expecting, he’s paired with Drew Larsen, a shy, somewhat nerdy PhD student who has also grown discouraged with romance.

Drew and Fox have little in common—aside from the fact that they’re both straight. Or so they thought. But as the guys get to know each other, they realize Archer might have the right idea. Their path isn’t smooth, because both need to overcome every idea they have about themselves and what true love might look like. But with the help of Archer—and some friends who have stuck with Fox and Drew through the thick and thin of their relationship trials—they might find their way into each other’s hearts.

I ended up having to mentally break this book down in order to rate it. There were characters and friendships that I loved and then some denial and bi-erasure that grated on all my nerves. I loved the good parts enough that I wanted to acknowledge them without the specter of the annoying bits ruining their warmth.

The story starts a little slow in reference to the relationship between Drew and Fox. It was interesting though and I honestly would have loved to read a story about Veera. Fox and Drew were very secondary at that point and the focus does shift, but you do have to put in your time to get there.

I really wasn’t a fan of Fox at first. He comes across as shallow and douchey, but his personality starts to make sense as his character is revealed, especially in relation to Drew. Drew on the other hand, was a sweetheart and I loved him right from the start. The two are opposites personified and they most likely never would have met without Archer, the dating app AI, going rogue. When the two were matched and decided to meet, just to have a laugh at the circumstances, an unlikely friendship develops which was really quite sweet.

One thing that they do have in common is the desire to love and be loved. Both have struck out repeatedly and the opportunity to commiserate with another lovelorn fella is too much to pass up. Their first “date” was such a date it wasn’t even funny and neither of them were anywhere close to admitting that it could be a thing. The burn in this one is molasses level slow, which, for a couple of straight guys who are falling in love with each other makes sense. Anything else would have been completely unbelievable.

That being said . . . the connection between Drew and Fox was completely believable. Their banter was well written and read organically. The growing affection they had was enviable and read like the beginning of a great relationship. But. They both still identified as straight. Drew was open to something new, a different path than what he thought he would travel and big props to him for his open mind. Fox wasn’t there though and was really agro about Drew trying to convince him otherwise. Ok, sure, still somewhat believable, he’s coming to terms, etc. etc. etc. I just never fully bought into them together physically. I wanted to. I really, really did, but Fox fought so hard not to be labeled as anything other than straight, it was a tough sell.

Once the two of them acknowledged their status as an actual couple, Fox was all there for Drew, but I had a tough time reconciling relationship-Fox with determinedly-hetero-Fox. After the slow start and then the slow build, the quick paced resolution Fox went through didn’t work for me. There was a real opportunity to delve into bisexuality, pansexuality, anything other than hetero, with relation to these two characters and it was an opportunity missed.

There was so much effort (successful effort) to make these three dimensional characters, so when something as relevant as their sexuality is used as nothing more than a plot device, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

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

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