Title: The Imperfection of Swans
Author: Brandon Witt
Narrator: Kirt Graves
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 9 hours and 52 minutes
At a Glance: I do so like Brandon Witt when he takes the gloves off and tries to break our hearts.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Kevin Bivanti’s dream is to open a wedding dress shop, a place with the stunning gowns to make every bride-to-be feel adored. At thirty-eight, he quits a successful advertising career to buy an old brownstone in a trendy Boston neighborhood and to make his dream a reality. When one of his cosigners drops out, fate intervenes, ushering in Casper James, who hopes to open his own bakery. With Casper willing to take the risk, their ambitions meld into a wedding dress and wedding cake boutique.
Extensive renovations to the brownstone, an affair with his ex-husband, family drama with his mothers, and the anxiety of significant life changes push Kevin to the brink of a nervous breakdown. In the midst of stress and uncertainty, Casper becomes more than a business partner, a mutual attraction that adds another layer of intensity and risk.
With their dreams on the verge of reality, Kevin and Casper must find the courage to face the stress of managing their attraction, the gamble of a new business venture, and the resurgence of Kevin’s personal demons.
Review: The Audio: When a novel has both strong narrative that reflects the inner feelings and psyche of its characters, as well as intense dialogue sections, the narrator’s job is increasingly more difficult to do. Once again, Kirt Graves proves he is more than capable of voicing both long, introspective passages while maintaining different vocal registers for a bevy of characters. Between the softer, slightly breathy tones he adopts for the female characters and the harder, deeper nuances with which he sets apart the various masculine cast members in this novel, Mr. Graves controls the story with what seems to be effortless ability.
However, Kirt Graves’ real strength shined in his ability to vocally embody the panic and despair that Kevin lives each day inside his head. In the passages where Kevin’s thoughts run wild, Mr. Graves uses just the tonality and cadence of his voice to express the absolute terror that grips Kevin. I was particularly impressed during the narration sequences at the gym, during what I consider to be the tipping point for Kevin. This is where we heard Kevin literally crumble and every moment of narration in this chapter stripped away his veneer until all that was left was the trembling voice on the audio that could barely keep itself together. It was here that Graves became the master storyteller, and his voice holds the audience captive.
Each time I hear this particular voice artist, my admiration for his abilities grows. Kirt Graves is a strong voice in the audio field, and one who can be depended upon to handle the toughest of emotionally charged stories with finesse.
The Story: When Kevin and Casper go out on a financial limb, with the help of Kevin’s family, and invest in the wedding business of their dreams, falling in love with each other will only complicate an already stressful time. If that isn’t enough, when Casper finally realizes the secret Kevin has kept under wraps for twenty-plus years, it is nearly the killing blow of the business, their partnership, and their love. Now, it will be up to Kevin to decide if he can truly acknowledge his inner demons and the disease that holds him captive before it is too late.
I do so like Brandon Witt when he takes the gloves off and tries to break our hearts. His stories are intense, truthful and gritty, but still manage to leave one hopeful and positive. His characters, by novels’ end, can be found focusing on a happier future than the tortured past that once held them. Make no mistake, The Imperfection of Swans deals with a subject matter that I have often heard plagues many men in the dating world, where beauty and fit bodies are the goal. For Kevin, it is this belief, along with his obsession for perfection and order in his life, that drives him to the brink before the story’s end. Thank goodness the author places gentle and loving Casper in his path so that Kevin can find a true anchor to hold him in pace when his life goes spinning out of control.
You can buy The Imperfection of Swans here: