A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review:Summer Lessons (Winter Ball #2) by Amy Lane and Nick J. Russo (Narrator


Rating 5 stars out of 5

I finished this several days ago, and I still remember every moment of the story. I loved the story itself, especially the author’s description of this young boy growing up in a loving, supportive family, where Mom has to lace the Kool-Aid to survive Mason’s fascination with his penis once he discovers all the wonderful things it can do. Honestly, only a mother with a rich sense of humor—and perhaps maybe a similar life experience—can so humorously describe that life with a young boy. Kudos, Ms. Lane! And to make this story even better—a feat that hardly seemed possible since it was already so great—add in the narration by Nick J. Russo and Mason’s story comes to life with fantastic vocalizations.

Sadly, as Mason grows older, he fails to lose his awkward tendency to shoot from the mouth before his brain engages. That’s cost him many potential boyfriends and now in his thirties, he’s far from finding a life partner. All he wants is kindness and love and someone who enjoys sex as much as he does. After all—penis! What’s not to like? He’s an exec now at the firm where Skip, the MC from Winter Ball, is working. To get him out of his shell and out to the playing field where he might meet a nice guy, Skip and Mason’s brother Dane drag him out to learn how to play soccer with their team.

There he meets a cute guy named Terry. Terry is much younger and still lives with his mother—a woman who gives nasty mothers a run for the money as top contender. She’s thrown all her responsibilities his way all his life. After all, she’s on welfare due to being burdened with a baby when she was just a kid. How could she get out of that slump? She’s put the burden of the household on his shoulders all his life so he finds it pretty hard to get out. But aside from that and the guilt he carries about carving out time to have his own time for fun, he manages to play on this soccer team and he finds Mason pretty hot. Awkward and clumsy, but hot, and though Terry doesn’t like to admit he’s gay, he is, and Mason realizes he may have found the man of his heart. Now, if only he can find the patience to let Terry come to that same conclusion and to let Terry make the moves he needs to get away from his mother.

In the meantime, Mason is dealing with Dane’s lifelong battle with manic depression—the reason Mason chose to live with Dane while Dane finishes college in a town far from their family. Mason assures that Dane stays on track with his meds, but when he goes off and his behaviors change, it comes at the worst time as Terry is finally making a move away from his mother but not cementing his relationship with Mason. The man finds the patience of a saint to continue to work with his brother and to allow Terry to spread his wings and fly. He can only hope and pray that he’ll find his way back to Mason.

Mason is one of my favorite characters, ever. I love the voice given to him by the narrator and the emotions imparted by the author. If anyone ever deserved love, it’s this smart, humble man with a sense of humor, a tendency to awkward conversations, and a heart as big as the great outdoors. Terry is the perfect companion to him and I love the way he developed as a character throughout the story. The deep voice given by Nick Russo was so individual and so right for the character as well. I’m very impressed with this audiobook version and I would highly recommend it. Though it’s book two, and the characters from book one play a minor role in this, it can definitely be read as a standalone.

The cover by Anne Cain is a simple design, yet manages to capture the three activities that dominate the outdoor summer fun experienced in the book: soccer, golf, and swimming. Simple, colorful and appropriate.

4.5 stars for the story plus an extra boost due to the outstanding narration = 5 stars for this one!

Sales Links

Dreamspinner Press |

Audiobook Details:

8 hrs 25 mins

Audible Audio

Published March 31st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published November 25th 2016)
Original TitleSummer Lessons
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesWinter Ball #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Like a Lover by Jay Northcote – audiobook narrated by Mark Steadman


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 like-a-lover-audiobookJosh has a plan: get through uni with a good degree and no debts. Focused on his goals, he’s working as an escort to pay his way. He enjoys the no-strings sex and doesn’t have the time or inclination for a relationship. Falling in love definitely isn’t part of the deal—especially not with a client.

When Rupert meets Josh in a bar, he’s smitten on sight. He’s never paid for sex before, but when Josh propositions him, he can’t resist. He should have known one night would never be enough. Luckily for him, he has an inheritance to support his addiction to Josh, because his job in IT wouldn’t cover the cost.

With each appointment the lines get increasingly blurred. Something is developing between them that feels more like a relationship than a business transaction, but they come from different worlds and to go from client-and-escort to lovers seems impossible. If they want a future together, Josh and Rupert have a lot to overcome.

This book is a complete story and can be read as a standalone.

Josh happens to be a flatmate of Jez and Mac, the young men we met in Helping Hand. Josh always seemed to have his act together, out and proud, with plenty of dates, staying out late at night a few times a week, and no one suspected that his real job as a rentboy.  He decided to pursue a professional interest in what he’s good at so he’d not only have rent and food, he’d also have tuition fees so that he could finish uni on his own since his deadbeat father refused to help him.

When his favorite client stands him up, he settles for hooking up with a good-looking guy who caught his attention at the bar where he was waiting, and the two pursue an evening of sexy times in the hotel room the first client had prepaid.  From here, Rupert, the new client, continues to pursue Josh, paying him every time, even though he’s starting to fall for his rentboy.  The issue is that Josh is also falling for Rupert and is afraid that they can’t have a future based on their rocky foundation.

I enjoyed this audiobook immensely.  Not only was the story very good, the narration was outstanding. Mark Steadman brought the characters to life.  All characters, including Rupert’s high society mother, had different voices, and that’s a treat I enjoy but don’t always find.  Both MCs were well-developed and I found myself coaching each on how to win the other over.  Thankfully, I live alone because I found myself literally talking to them when they were too obtuse to move forward. 

I recommend this to all who enjoy a lighthearted MM UK-based romance.  Kudos to both the author and the narrator.  By all means, pick this one up in audio.

The cover features a black-and-white close-up photo of the side profile of a handsome, young, bare-chested man, who fits the description of Josh perfectly.

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Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, Listening Length: 4 hours and 47 minutes
Published August 15th 2016 by Jaybird Press (first published August 14th 2015)
Original TitleLike a Lover
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHousemates #2 settingPlymouth, England (United Kingdom)