Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Volume two in a collection of novellas that take place in With a Kick, an innovative ice cream shop where they make ice creams with liquor for an extra “kick.”
The first story is Pluck and Play featuring Curtis, a young man who’s had his ups and downs in life—mostly downs—but works hard to be a Jack-of-all-trades to many. Basically, if you need an odd job done, it’s Curtis you call. Friends with the staff at With a Kick, Curtis stops in when he has time between deliveries and sometimes even to make a delivery there. It’s on one of those visits he notices the handsome cowboy playing a guitar on the street corner.
Riley is making his living as a busker. His cowboy boots, hat, and accent identify him as American. His ability to carry a tune isn’t the best, or is it the shite music he plays? Curtis can’t decide, but he does decide he’s attracted to the man. Through a series of good days and bad, the two get to know one another and start a sexual relationship, until Curtis’s former lover—and abuser—comes calling. He blackmails Curtis into owing him money for a van Curtis bought from him. But what Curtis doesn’t realize is that instead of having no one to turn to, he has a ton of people willing to back him up, and they are led by Riley and by Brian, Phiz’s boyfriend (Slap and Tickle) and including Eddy and Nuri (A Twist and Two Balls).
The story is heartwarming, funny, and very British. Performed by the inimitable voice of Joel Leslie, it couldn’t be more entertaining. Riley even gets an ice cream named after him, one with bourbon and chocolate crunchies and named Pluck and Play.
The second book on the audio is Double Scoop, which features Patrick, the With a Kick shop owner, and Lee, his young assistant. Lee has been in love with Patrick for a long time, but it isn’t until a freak accident occurs that he finally has his chance to spend the night with the older man. Unfortunately, Patrick is so worried about how Lee might feel the next day that he overthinks everything and constantly puts his foot in his mouth. If he’d just say what’s on his mind he and Lee might have a chance.
Most of the story revolves around Patrick and his misunderstandings—both the ones he perceives and the ones he creates. It makes for a great story, even though I really wanted to whack him in the head a few times to knock some sense into him. The gang of friends, including those who show up in the first story, comes to the rescue in this one, too, as everyone chips in to not only settle affairs at the shop but to assist Patrick and Lee and show them how very much they belong together from now into the future.
I love the voices Joel Leslie brings to this audiobook, not only for the MCs but also for the host of secondary characters. He makes it fun and interesting and an audio I definitely didn’t want to have to shut down when real life intruded. I recommend not only this collection but also collection number one in audiobook format for many hours of listening pleasure.
The cover by Lou Harper is in the same theme as that of volume one and features a handsome young man with a sweet treat, obviously created at the With a Kick ice cream shop, in the bottom right corner.
Listening Length: 8 hours and 58 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Publisher: Jocular Press
Audible.com Release Date: April 5, 2019
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English, English