In The Shape of a Heart the focus shifts from Zach to Keith letting them have their emotional development. Zach is the mourning owner of a coffee-bookstore (and this gave me a pang in my heart, people who knows me since a bit know why...). Mourning since two years before he lost his lover Jay, and he is still grieving from the loss. Like often in these cases, Zach is basking in his pain and has no intention to let the memories go; who suffered a lost like him, recognizes all the signs, like when you are always expecting for your lover to enter the room, and when you think something, your first reaction is to tell it to him, only for suddenly realizing that he is not there, and to be stabbed again by the pain of the loss. But that pain is almost welcomed, since it's the only sign that you are still alive, that you are not dead like the man you still love.
And since you cling to these feelings like your safe anchor, Zach doesn't welcome well Keith in his life. Keith apparently is younger (apparently since he is really 29 years old to the 38 years old of Zach) and pain-free. He is always smiling, gentle and caring, and for Zach every smile is a stab more. Zach doesn't want to care for Keith, since it would mean to betray his lost lover Jay.
Keith is the new bartender of the coffee-shop. Zach was the librarian and Jay the coffee maker, and so, when Jay passed away, the coffee shop languished away. Now Rhonna, Zach's partner, hires Keith and Zach has no really reason to go against this decision if not that looking at the man is too painful.
As I said, at first the focus is Zach, he seems the only to have a past, and a painful one, but little by little we realize that Keith is not a simple character as he appears. At first it doesn't ring wrong that he is hired to be a bartender, since the reader thinks him to be young, and maybe he is still a student and this is a job to makes the ends meet. But then we realize that he is not so young, and that he is obviously too skilled for the work, and so who is he really?
The story is nice, but as always when the story is nice but not so long, I have a regret: the second part, soon after we are starting to realize that Keith is more complex than expected, it seems a bit rushed. All right, usually I'm not very fond of the fully drama stories, but I really believe that this one would be gain the up-level from nice to very good, with only some pages more. And maybe Keith's character suffers a bit from the lack of those pages more.
But nevertheless, it's for sure above the average of most of the story around, the sex is very good, just that bit of naughty that makes it arousing but not embarrassing, and the characters are also good.
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott