Reviewed by Mandi
Mark Apolostolos is super smart, in very good shape and knows he is attractive but all he has in his life is his dog. Mark has a crippling shyness disorder, so when he sees someone he is attracted too, he literally can’t speak. He goes into a panic attack and must rush away to compose himself.
Depression settled an arm around his shoulders like the old friend it was. Self-loathing swamped him and he felt trapped. Within his head he could be so articulate. Funny, even. But put him in front of an attractive man and all he could do was mumble and grope. Nice.
He has seen a therapist who recommended medication, but with the awful side effects, Mark doesn’t think it is worth it. Instead, he goes to gay bars, picks up random strangers without speaking to them, and usually gets down on his knees for them in some dark alley. He goes home feeling shamed and lonely, but has a hard time not repeating this cycle.
Things start to change though when his brother he is very close to, gets deployed to Afghanistan leaving behind a very pregnant wife. Since Mark teaches college math online courses, he is able to move in with his Sister in-law to help her through the last few months of her pregnancy. When she asks him to come to her Zumba class with her, he meets the very attractive Zumba instructor, Seth. Seth was a professional dancer before a knee injury prevented him from dancing at an elite level. When Mark sees Seth, a massive panic attack sets in but very, very slowly, Seth helps Mark overcome his panic, one step at a time, and a romance develops.
When this review request came through my email, as soon as I read “crippling shyness” I was sold. There is something so enticing about a big, strong hero that can’t communicate with anyone he finds attractive. And I loved that the author doesn’t make his disability disappear just because he falls in love. He struggles the entire book, even at the end although there is happily ever after, he is nowhere near 100% improved. Improvement does come once Mark starts to accept he is a gay man. He kind of has to come out to himself, and then his brother, and then slowly to others in public. Once Seth realizes Mark isn’t a jerk, just extremely shy, he never pushes him. They both have dogs they are very fond of so they are often at the park at the same time. Once Seth knows of Mark’s condition, he sits across the park so Mark can see him, but they talk on the phone and then the next day, Seth might be one bench closer. They also email each other and get to know each other that way. He never gets frustrated with Mark, and a very sweet romance unfolds. Both heroes are very good-hearted and warm and you just root for them to be together. Even after Mark jumps through the hurdles and ends up physically with Seth, he still struggles.
I do wish we had gotten to know Seth a little more. This is all told in Mark’s point of view and Seth has issues himself. He feels worthless now that he is no longer able to dance. But watching Mark struggle, Seth realizes he can confront his own demons as well.
Moving in Rhythm sweet and romantic and has a different premise with the shyness disorder. I highly recommend it.