Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Clockwork Tangerine by Rhys Ford ~ Audiobook narrated by Greg Tremblay

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Clockwork TangerineWhen Marcus Stenhill, Viscount of Westwood, set out to purchase a specialty tea for his mother, he had no idea his life was about to change. Walking along the streets of St. Francisco, a major city rivaling London during Queen Victoria’s reign, he encounters a group of thugs beating up a young man and immediately stops them before they kill him.

When he discovers that the person he saved is Robin Harris, the man who invented the mechanical stinger that killed his father, he’s taken aback. The man is much younger, and much more handsome, than he would have thought. In fact, Robin must have only been a child during the uprising in which his father was killed. The battle between those who believe in science and those who believe in the arcane was waging strong at that time. Now, all Marcus wants to do is take the young man someplace safe where he can get him treatment for his wounds. As far as Marcus is concerned, the past is the past.

He discovers that Robin has found a way to combine the use of arcane and mechanical elements to provide artificial limbs and eyes to those in need. In fact, Robin was returning from fitting artificial legs on a young boy when he was attacked. Though it takes a while, Marcus is finally able to convince Robin that he is friend, not foe. In fact, one of the unexpected supporters in Marcus’s case is his mother, who not only can forgive Robin for his inadvertent role in her husband’s death, but embraces his abilities and becomes a staunch supporter of his efforts.

This is a very short audiobook. Too short—I wanted more, more, more of this couple and their world. Maybe we’ll be lucky and Rhys Ford will revisit it someday, expanding on this little tidbit of goodness. Narrated by Greg Tremblay, the story unfolds magically. Between Rhys Ford’s inimitable writing style, and Greg Tremblay’s beautiful and varied vocalizations, this audiobook was a real treat.

The characters were wonderfully described, including the secondary characters. The dowager was actually my favorite of all. What a great woman she was! The romance between Marcus and Robin built slowly, or as slowly as it could in a novella. When they finally got to the point where Marcus made love to Robin, the scene was romantic and brought new joy to Robin’s life in a way he had never anticipated.

I highly recommend this one, especially to those who enjoy steampunk. A delicious afternoon treat—and no calories!

~~~

Cover art by Reese Notley depicts the inner workings of a clock with a young man superimposed in the forefront, looking up at a mechanical insect. The artwork creatively depicts all the main points of the story.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 3 pages, 2 hrs 10 mins
Published May 12th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published February 18th 2014)
Original TitleClockwork Tangerine
ASINB01FIA7N4C
Edition LanguageEnglish

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Dinner at Fiorello’s by Rick R. Reed ~ Audiobook narrated by Joel Leslie

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5    ★★★★★

DinneratFiorellosAUDLGHenry Appleby is considered by many to be a spoiled little rich kid living in the lap of luxury with his wealthy parents, enjoying the good life. But Henry has a burning desire, deep in his soul, to become a chef. Not something his parents would approve of, he’s sure. However, for Henry, food expresses emotions and memories and he wants to be able to bring those emotions to others through his cooking. So when he spots an ad for an all-around helper at Fiorello’s, a small Italian restaurant, he decides to go for it—against his father’s wishes. His father had already arranged a summer job for Henry as an apprentice in his law firm, a prelude to Henry entering college in the fall and ultimately following in his father’s footsteps to become an attorney.

The first day on the job, Henry meets Vito Carelli, the tall, dark, brooding chef who never cracks a smile but who produces the most amazing food. Unknown to Henry, Vito lost his husband and young son to an auto accident a little over a year ago, and now life has lost its meaning, and he has all he can do to put one foot in front of the other to survive the hollowness in his heart.

Though Henry is attracted right from the first day, every attempt to befriend Vito, or even flirt with him, is met with a stony glare. Until one night Henry’s world is turned upside down when he discovers his mom is having an affair. Then one thing leads to another, and he’s outted to both parents, and Vito is the only person willing to listen and help the young man whose heart may be as broken as his own.

I loved this story. It’s a bittersweet romance, with the focus more on the characters than on the sexual attraction, and that makes it so much more than the usual. It starts out slowly, backfilling the history of each character, giving them life and dimension. But by about halfway through, I found myself longing to hear more, to experience their dynamic, and to wallow in the heartbreak that is Vito’s grief, and I realized that I didn’t want to pause it for any reason. (To heck with real life responsibilities!) Joel Leslie’s outstanding narration gives life to the characters. Vito’s sexy, deep, Italian-accented voice and Henry’s light, youthful vibe fit the characters perfectly and make it believable when the characters themselves, while ultimately attracted, acknowledge their age difference and the necessity of going slow as they see where their relationship may lead. Throughout the story, he narrates not only the words, but the emotion—sometimes raw and poignant though it may be.

The supporting cast of characters—from Henry’s parents and housekeeper to Rosalie, the owner of Fiorello’s and Carmella, the lusty hostess with an eye for the men—each has his or her own voice given character by the author and infused with life by Joel Leslie.

It’s not often that I’m so affected by a story that the characters stay with me long after I finish, but that’s the case here. I finished this book a few days ago, and I still feel Vito’s pain at his loss. The agony of his grief was so realistically written and so realistically performed by the narrator that I, too, feel as if I’ve lost someone important to my life.

I highly recommend this story, in audiobook if you can do it, but e-book if you can’t. It’s a beautiful love story, not just showing the early stages of what may become love for Henry and Vito, but the love Vito holds for his son and his husband—a love that transcends their death. Don’t miss a chance to pick this one up.

~~~~~~~~~~

Cover Art by Reese Dante features a head shot of gorgeous Vito in the foreground with a profile of youthful Henry in the background. It’s beautifully done and perfect for the story.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press |   iTunes | Audible | Amazon

Audiobook Details:

NarratorJoel Leslie
Length7 hours and 11 minutes