A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Friendly Fire by Cari Z and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I really enjoyed the narration of this audiobook by Nick J. Russo.  I say that up front because listening to the story unfold is always a different experience from reading the book, and in the hands of a talented and experienced narrator, an average or above average story can be even more enjoyable. That’s the case here as I set out to listen to what I thought would be an interesting story but turned out to be so much better than I expected. 

Elliot McKenzie is the CEO of a highly popular social media corporation, Charmed Life.  Ostensibly, it’s for those who want to learn from past mistakes and make their lives as good as their potential.  Against all odds, he’s succeeded, and on the surface one would think he’d be pretty full of himself, but Elliot is not like that.  He’s quite down to earth and he certainly relies heavily on his staff, including his assistant, Serena.  So when she finds out he’s been getting threats, she’s on him to call the cops—something he won’t do because his sister is running for DA for the second time around and she lost the first race because of his arrest on the eve of the last election.  He won’t let bad publicity affect her this time—under any circumstances—so Serena convinces him to hire her sister’s ex-husband, a former Army Ranger who now works for a security firm.

Lennox West suffers from severe PTSD, so much so, that he’s afraid to spend too much time with his teen daughter, leading to an even further estrangement with his ex and with his daughter.  He’s trying though—going to therapy and making an effort to hold a steady job and to spend brief periods of time with the young girl.  When he meets Elliot McKenzie, life as he knew it changes drastically.  Elliot is not what he seems to be on the outside and he captures Lennox’s attention and holds it. That the sparks are mutual leads to some pretty hot sex for the two and lays the foundation for a closeness that Lennox is certainly not used to.

When accidents and threats and outright attempts on Elliot’s life keep throwing the men together and the mystery gets heavier as it appears that more than one culprit is involved, the men risk losing their independence as they see they need each other.  Does it help that Elliot’s presence in his life seems to increase the time Lennox gets to spend with his daughter? Definitely. 

The story is highly enjoyable as told by Nick J. Russo who uses a deep, rough, slightly Southern accent for Lennox and a well-paced, business-like, professional tone for Elliot’s voice.  The women in the story don’t sound the least bit fake, and in fact, at times I forgot a man was doing their voices.  My enjoyment only increased as the mystery got more complex, the men got closer, Lennox got to spend more time with his daughter, and the threats and danger to Elliot escalated out of control.  My only downside was that the couple didn’t commit to a solid future together.  Possibly the author has plans to bring them back in a sequel, and that’s something I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing.  So though the guys are together at the end, I’d call it more of a HFN rather than a HEA—still good—just not where I wanted them. 

I definitely recommend this to those who like a murder mystery—in this case attempted murder—in a contemporary MM romance with well-rounded, interesting characters.  It’s likely obvious by now, but if I must say so outright, I highly recommend the audiobook version. 


Cover art by LC Chase depicts the rear view of a man holding a gun down at his side. Done in black on gray and with a smudged look—somewhat like a watercolor effect—the only part of the cover that stands out from a distance is the bright “fire” red title of the book.  I don’t think the cover adds any appeal at all and would not induce me to purchase it.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 8 hours and 5 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Audible.com Release Date: August 10, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English

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