Good conversation is really important to me, but I never seem to realize how important it is until I feel its absence, so it makes sense, then, that well written, organic dialogue can either make or break a book for me. That also applies to the interior monologue of the first person narrative; the internal conversation of the narrator is every bit as integral a part of me liking a book as is the conversation between the characters, which is what sabotaged Sounds of Love for me; what the characters said and the way in which they said it, ultimately chafed away at my ability to enjoy this story.
There were some wonderful parts to the book, though, which is what makes this one difficult to review. I very much enjoyed the predator turns prey aspect of the relationship between Jordan and Sebastian. Jordan is a serial practitioner of the one-and-done encounter. He pursues, he gets what he wants, then he retreats to the safety of his emotional detachment. When he meets Sebastian, Jordan plays his role perfectly, but what he didn’t expect was an unreceptive audience. He plays with and taunts Sebastian like a cat plays with a mouse, but he didn’t count on the mouse playing the game too, which made it all the more satisfying to see Jordan knocked into unfamiliar territory when he realizes he wants Sebastian in more ways than simply physically.
I liked Sebastian a great deal too. An illness when he was a child may have robbed him of his ability to hear sounds, but it didn’t diminish his ability to “hear” in other ways. Sebastian was dignity in the face of adversity, but it wasn’t his deafness that was the true obstacle. Rather, it was the limitations and labels others tried to place upon him because of his deafness that he was continually forced to overcome, including those from his own parents, who left Sebastian at more of a disadvantage than his inability to hear did. Underestimating Sebastian, however, was a mistake that Jordan quickly corrected once he realized Sebastian was as good at reading body language as he was at reading lips, and that there was absolutely nothing that would make Sebastian an easy mark for Jordan’s advances.
So, it all comes back to the dialogue, and to a certain extent, the author’s writing style, which I didn’t connect with. Jordan’s voice was, at times, one I just wanted to silence, for lack of a better way to say it. He talked when he should’ve been listening. He talked when he should’ve focused on what was going on around him. And I say “talked,” meaning that his inner voice didn’t know when to be still. Narrating the contents and layout of the room when he should’ve been getting about the business of foreplay didn’t work for me and is only one example of the way in which the running commentary detracted from the scenes. And things a grown man says to a fifteen-year-old boy, even in jest, shouldn’t be said simply because they aren’t funny.
Add to that a good bit of repetitious reflection on Jordan’s part, and this is one I’m afraid I can’t really recommend.