A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Set Ablaze by K.C. Burn and Darcy Stark (narrator)

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Rating 3 stars out of 5

This is one of those reviews I hate to do because I liked the story but hated the narration and that dropped my rating. Darcy Stark just does not have the voice(s) to do this story. That’s my personal opinion, of course, but his narration ruined my enjoyment. To be honest, by midpoint, I borrowed the book through the kindle lending feature so I could finish the story by reading it.

Firefighter Hayden Hurst isn’t in the closet, but he’s not one to remind his homophobic friends that their slurs are hurtful. That may be fine for him, but when his friend Miguel’s brother, Jez Bouchet, needs a temporary roommate, Hayden finds out what it is to be out and proud. The young, flamboyant dancer is deeply offended by some of the comments made by Hayden’s friends and vows to leave as soon as he can.

But of course, before that happens, the two act on their attraction for one another and Jez never leaves. In the meantime, his former boyfriend has continued his stalking behavior all the way from New York to LA. A pro hockey player, he’s managed to get himself traded to a West Coast team so he’ll be able to harass Jez nearer to home.

The mess eventually blows up. The guys and Jez’s little pug puppy, Fang, end up together and they all live happily ever after. Not without angst and drama and some hot sex scenes, though.

I’m going to give the author the benefit of doubt and recommend this story to those who enjoy a sweet, sometimes sappy romance, with an element of danger, insta-love, and a cute pug. I enjoyed the last chapters much more than the first that were narrated on audio, so I would not recommend the audio format.

The cover by Jennifer Vance features a handsome firefighter, bare-chested, tattooed and wearing firefighter pants, the suspenders dropped to the sides—a very attractive representation of Hayden.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, Unabridged
Published August 16th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published April 24th 2018)
ASINB07GHY8HS3
Edition Language English

An Alisa Audio Review: Sweet Nothings (Amuse Bouche #1) by T. Neilson and Simon Ferrar (Narrator)

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Will a bitter bite from the past spoil a sweet romance?

Tristan Love, the youngest of seven brothers, is back in his hometown. He’s left the New York food scene and an abusive relationship behind him, but he holds his love of French pastries close to his heart and is determined to put his skills to use in a bakery of his own.

Returning to his childhood home means his meddlesome brother Simon will butt into his business, but before the bakery even opens its doors, Tristan’s delectable creations have the town’s mouths watering, and Jake, a cute mechanic, asks Tristan out. It all seems worthwhile….

That is, until the bakery burns down, Jake’s criminal past comes to light, and Tristan’s nasty ex rears his head where he is decidedly not wanted.

This was a nice story.  I liked Tristan’s determination and stubbornness to be the independent person he wants to be and with who he wants.  Jake has worked hard to turn his life around though he is constantly being looked down upon.

This was a pretty fast paced story with a few time jumps that I was unsure about.  These characters had great chemistry and weren’t afraid to support each other no matter what.  Now, Tristan’s brothers and friends warning off Jake for no reason other than having been to jail sucked and I just hurt for him when people he thought were at least kind of his friends pretty much turned their backs on him.  It wasn’t a surprise to see who the one was causing problems from the beginning.

Simon Ferrar did a nice job narrating this story.  The different voices also helped with keeping track of the story, however the whiny voice he used for Tristan just put me off from his character a bit.

Cover art by Bree Archer is nice and I liked the visual of Tristan in his bakery.

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 5hrs 49mins
Published July 13, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: Amuse Bouche #1, Dreamspun Desires

A Lila Audiobook Review: Stand by Your Manny (The Mannies #3) by Amy Lane and Peter B. Brooke (narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Learning to trust and falling in love.Sammy Lowell has his hands full juggling his music, college, some pesky health problems, and making the uncles who raised him proud. He needs help fulfilling his after-school duties with his siblings. Nobody can be in two places at once—not even Sammy!

An injury puts Cooper Hoskins in a tough spot—if he can’t work, the foster sister he’s raising can’t eat. But years in the foster system have left Cooper short on trust, and opening up to accept help isn’t easy.

Luckily, family intervenes—Cooper needs a job so he can care for Felicity, and Sammy needs someone who can see past his illness to the wonderful things he has planned for his life. Each heals the damaged places in the other’s heart. But falling in love is a big responsibility for young men deep in family already. Can the two of them get past their fear of the immediate future to see forever with each other?

Stand by Your Manny brings another chapter to a series that stands aside from others due to the timespan between installments. It is necessary to read, at least, book one in this series to have a better understanding of the characters. It’s refreshing to see a young character turn into an intelligent young man between stories.

This is a story of discovering, not only of love but of what a family constitutes. Due to Cooper’s and Sammy’s age, it’s easy to think about this book as a YA story. We get to see how hard they worked to accept help without losing their independence. They become a team without realizing it, and shortly after, start a relationship based on honesty and innocence.

I enjoyed the UST in the story. It turns into part of the characters and their slow discoveries. The enjoyment of their new found relationship and their love for their families it’s an integral part of their path. We get to experience a range of emotions that felt real, not only for the characters but for the readers.

Getting to see the previous couples is an added bonus. They played a special part on Sammy’s and Cooper’s relationship and it’s exciting to see how much they have grown and learned about each other. I really love how Channing and Tino dealt with a growing Sammy. It was adorkable.

It was disappointing that John Solo was not the narrator of this story. He did an excellent job bringing the previous two books together. In this volume, we get Peter B. Brooke as the narrator. He adds that young tone to Sammy and Cooper without jeopardizing the previous characters we love.

The cover by Bree Archer follows the pattern of the series as well as the collection, giving us a peak of Sammy and his music room.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Peter B. Brooke
Length: 6 hours 01 minutes
Published: July 17, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B07FMF4BG4
Edition Language: English

Series: The Mannies
Book #1: The Virgin Manny
Book #2: Manny Get Your Guy
Book #3: Stand by your Manny 

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Sun and Shadow (Day and Knight #2) by Dirk Greyson and Andrew McFerrin ( Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Dayton “Day” Ingram is recovering from an injury suffered in Mexico—and from his failed relationship with fellow Scorpion agent, Knight. While researching an old government document, Day realizes he might be holding the key to finding an artistic masterpiece lost since WWII.

But the Russians are looking for it too, and have a team in place in Eastern Europe hunting it down. Day and Knight are brought back together when they are charged with getting to the painting first.

Knight wants to leave Mexico and everything that happened there behind, and return to the life he had—except it wasn’t much of a life. When he’s partnered up with Day, keeping his distance proves to be challenging. But Day is as stubborn as Knight and isn’t willing to let him walk away.

Their assignment leads them through Germany and Austria with agents hot on their tail—agents willing to do whatever it takes to get to the masterpiece first. If Day and Knight can live long enough to find the painting, they might also discover something even more precious—each other.

As once again exquisitely narrated by Andrew McFerrin, Sun and Shadow by Dirk Greyson picks up the story of the partnership of Scorpion agents Dayton “Day” Ingram and Knighton “Knight” after their first meeting and mission in Mexico.  For me, it’s here that the series and chemistry really starts to gell between Day and Knight (the name of the series as well).

I enjoyed the framework of a case that Grayson employs here far more than I did the one in the first story.  It’s a sort of Monuments Men caper of stolen/missing artwork from WWII and it leads our couple on a merry  chase through Europe that’s both taut with suspense and full of excitement.  It also allows Day and Knight plenty of time to address their increasing attraction to each other and Knight’s inability to let go of his guilt over the deaths of his wife and  child.  Plus Day has a few issues of his own to work out.  All while chasing an artwork that may or maynot exist and eluding the bad guys hot on their trail.  It all works together just as you hope a hot action thriller would.

I was happy to see some forward movement here with Knight on his guilt issues. That mobius loop of his is a refrain that gets tiresome as even Day admits after a while.  Even the verbiage coming out of his mouth is almost exactly the same.  I’m not sure why it’s so hard to empathize with Knight here but somehow the author has almost made Knight’s guilt ridden rants so predictable that instead of feeling sorry for him you start to turn it off. Just the opposite I know of what Greyson what going for.  It was even trying Day’s patience there…a wonder, as he could only suggest the same things to move the man on over and over.

Anyway.

Aside from that.  I thoroughly enjoyed this action packed, swift moving tale.  The relationship between Knight and Day is progressing nicely. The sex is hot, the emotional quotient heating up as each is starting to acknowledge what they mean to each other.  Ah, those slow burn romances! It helps with your partner being shot at, the stimuli of danger, death, and intensity is a great combination.

f course, Day remains a favorite with his high intelligence, snark, sexiness, and general overall appeal.  He pulled Knight right into it for me because Knight has really grown into a wonderful character that I’m rooting for as he works through his many issues and starts to realize what his present may hold for his future.

Making this story really jump to life is that marvel of a narrator Andrew McFerrin whose talents I can’t go on about enough.  McFerrin inhabits each character so thoroughly that you believe that there is more than one narrator, and slides the story along with his enthusiasm and excitement.  I hope he narrates the entire series.  And now I’m on the lookout for more stories that he has voiced.  Honestly, it’s a joy listening in and you can’t believe how fast the pace when under the thrall of an excellent narration.

So, onto Dusk and Dawn which unfortunately isn’t out in audio yet so I’ll be picking it up in eBook and yes, audio as well once its out.    I will be interested in comparing the two formats.  I will let you know what I find.  Until then?

Grab up Sun and Shadow (Day and Knight #2) by Dirk Greyson and Andrew McFerrin ( Narrator).  It’s an excellent action packed hot action thriller with a slow burn romance that’s heating up beautifully.  Really, this series is getting better and better with each story.  I’m definitely recommending it.

Cover Art: L.C. Chase works perfectly to brand the series, the couple and the story. Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon  |  Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 7 hours and 4 minutes

Audible Audio, Audiobook
Published July 7th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published November 9th 2015)
ASINB07FMCHLLS
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDay and Knight #2

Day and Knight

Sun and Shadow

Dawn and Dusk

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Day and Knight (Day and Knight #1) by Dirk Greyson and Andrew McFerrin (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

 

As former NSA, Dayton “Day” Ingram has national security chops and now works as a technical analyst for Scorpion. He longs for fieldwork and scuttling an attack gives him his chance. He’s smart, multilingual, and a technological wizard. But his opportunity comes with a hitch. His partner, Knighton, “Knight”, is a real mystery. Despite countless hours of research, Day can find nothing on the agent including his first name.

A former Marine, Knight crawled into a bottle after losing his family. After drying out, he’s offered one last chance: along with Day, to stop a terrorist threat from the Yucatan. To get there without drawing suspicion, Day and Knight board a gay cruise, where the deeply closeted Day and equally closeted Knight must pose as a couple. Tensions run high as Knight communicates very little, and Day bristles at Knight’s heavy-handed need for control.

But after drinking too much, Day and Knight wake up in bed together. As they near their destination, they must infiltrate the terrorist camp and neutralize a plot aimed at America’s technological infrastructure. If they hope to have a life after the mission, one that might include each other, they must learn to trust and rely on each other.

Day and Knight by Dirk Greyson was an enjoyable action adventure story, the first in a new series by this author.  As I write this review, I am well into the third story, so I can happily report that the series and stories gets better with each novel.  I jumped into the series with the audiobook and I’m delighted that I did.  It’s an excellent version because Andrew McFerrin does such an incredible job with the narration that he became an automatic buy based on his superb voicing of the story and characters here.

This is the start of a partnership both on and perhaps off the job for two wounded men,Dayton “Day” Ingram and Knighton “Knight:”.  At some point we will learn his full name but for most of the stories he is referred to as Knighton or Knight.  It’s a cute concept and works well, except that  nobody ever makes a crack about their names.  Which seems exceedingly odd to me.  I think the puns and wise remarks would be flying all over the place but nope, not at all.

Knight has just climbed out of the bottle after losing his wife and child to an assassin, the result of a job he did for the Agency. Day lost his parents when he was young and was raised by his older brother, a fact that left deep marks on him. Both men are marred by loss and grief, neither has moved on completely from their pasts when they are paired together, Day for his first time as a field agent for Scorpion.

Day is here and remains throughout the stories my favorite character.  Knight feels the most “hidebound”, least disciplined, and so bogged down that I found it hard to believe that he was the Marine the author said he was.  It took a while for the whole Day/Knight combination to win me over.  The strength was in the working together on board to piece together the case that helped cement their partnership for me (and them).

The use of a gay cruise both highlighted the strong and weak points of this story.  I thought the idea of traveling undercover using a gay cruise great.  It was done perfectly by Ty and Zane on Fish & Chips (Cut & Run #3)
by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban.  Day and Knight don’t quite live up to that here.  For one,  Knight is on a loop of guilt about his wife and son.  And for every step forward he makes, he takes 20 back, which gets extremely tiresome here.  We are supposed to empathize with him but after a while it just gets old.

Day is a delight of enthusiasm, smarts, and sexiness.  He’s loving being in the field and eventually wins over his partner in multiple ways.

While the cruise works for many reasons (constant proximity to each other, launching pad to romance, gay identity), the idea of side trips to the ruins and the rest has a great deal of holes.  I hate to say more because of spoilers but all that action taking  place so close to the ship and within Mexican heritage sites?  Well, I think more of the story went towards fast paced action thriller there towards the end and perhaps less on the well pulled together geographical, researched side.  On the high side again?  Lots of fast paced high action adventure!  And another mystery to solve at the end.

This is going to be one of those slow, slow, slow burn romances.  Sex is not equating with love here because of tons of guilt and lost family.  Remember I said all those steps back, right?  And both men are firmly in the closet with their families and at work and intend to stay that way.  So Knight and Day aren’t so different after all.  It will be a long haul for them both.

Which brings me to….

An element I want to address that bothers me. Not just in this story but appears in the second one as well (yes, I’ve listened to that one too).  That’s the consistent use of outdated phrases that are, for the lack of any other term, sexist and  demeaning to the women/the female gender. I know that they are/were overused stereotyping phrases heard growing up but to hear them here? Its disappointing and a little shocking.  Listening to them  come out of the mouth of an excellent narrator made it all the worse because I haven’t heard them in a while. All those “scream like a teenage girl, run like a girl, act like a….” Today if  actually said in a crowd would get you stares and maybe an actual “asshole” or two.  So what are they doing here in an LGBT series?  Is the writer so out of step culturally or so insensitive that he can’t understand why such phrases should not only be left out but decried?  Maybe I’m being overly sensitive here but I don’t think so.  If you can’t go up to a little girl or teenage girl and say something like this to their face (and I don’t think you can), then it doesn’t belong here.  In this book, spoken by LGBT characters who know what its like to be mocked.  Maybe in a book, I could have glossed over it, but the narration highlighted it.  Here Andrew McFerrin did too great a job.

And yes, that brought my total enjoyment of the story down each time a phrase popped up and I cringed in disbelief.

I don’t remember such  glaring sexism in Dirk Greyson’s/Andrew Grey’s other works so I’m at a loss as to why they appear here.  It turns out that Dirk Greyson is another name that Andrew Grey writes under, something that was recently brought to my attention.  It did surprise me because I know he does research his stories and travels extensively, both of which aren’t really reflected here.

So without those elements, this story would have gotten a much higher rating. I really was into it and then kicked right out again.  I liked it enough to head over to the next in the series and the one after that.  It gets better.  Enough to recommend the first in the series.  I definitely recommend you seek out Andrew McFerrin’s other audio narrations.  What an outstanding job.  I will be doing the same.

Cover art: L.C. Chase. The models work well for the two characters and sets the tone and branding for the story and series.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 7 hours and 22 minutes

Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published April 12th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published May 4th 2015)
Original TitleDay and Knight
ASINB07C3CCLCR
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Day and Knight :

Day and Knight

Sun and Shadow

Dawn and Dusk

A Lucy Audiobook Review: Love You so Hard (Love You So Stories #1) by Tara Lain and Narrator: Ry Forest / Stephen Kurpis (Vitruvian Sound)

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Rated 3.5 stars out of 5

Craig is having a really bad month.  He is a strategic planner for an IT company and he’s very good at his job.  He was up for a promotion that he didn’t get because an office sleezeball stole his ideas and took all the credit so got the promotion instead.  When he decides he needs to take time away from work after hearing this news0, he starts a vacation that immediately is crappy when a well-known slimy slut tries to hit on him and ends up hitting him instead.  His beloved mother is battling Alzheimer’s and of course that isn’t getting better. It’s just not a good time.

The only bright spot is the beautiful man he has been seeing at the coffee shop.  The one with the “I would bottom you so hard” t-shirt that has featured in many of Craig’s dreams.  All that has happened to him has brought him to the realization that he needs to make some changes in his life.  When Jesse, the beautiful man, approaches Craig to talk, this is his chance.  Craig is going to make those changes and he is going to start with learning to top. He’s always been a bottom, “…no one ever let Craig top.  In thirty-two years of life, he’d never once topped.”  He also realizes that “He wasn’t even sure he bottomed hard.” Changes, changes need to be made.

So he asks graduate student Jesse to teach him to top. He was astounded to find out Jesse had noticed him before and even more shocked to find out Jesse is attracted to him and is willing to tutor him in the art of the top (from the aspect of an awesome bottom).   And so they begin.

I have to say – I really liked both Craig and Jesse.  Craig, he is such a good person who really thinks so little of himself.  “I mean, you don’t mind being with me? You know. Having people think I’m, like, your date or boyfriend or something.”  While Jesse is the younger of them at 21, Craig at 32 comes across as the younger one.   As part of their tutoring, Jesse declares that Craig’s final exam will be getting the promotion he deserved or one like it.  So he’s going full out to help Craig make changes.  Jesse is confident, sweet and knows what he wants; he is just what Craig needs. 

I liked the two of them together as well. I liked how Jesse teaches Craig it’s okay to be yourself.  “We have as much right to be lovers as anyone.”  I loved the changes that Craig was able to make and how he started to look at himself.  This was a sweet short story that made me smile.  It’s not angsty or overly serious, just some sexy fluff.

I do have to mention that narration by Ry Forest/Stephen Kurpis was really good, the voices being very close to what I would expect by the description of the characters.  Except for Ida, the waitress at the coffee shop, who for some reason had a deep gravelly voice! 

Cover art:  Reese Dante.  It’s a great cover and works perfectly for the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 3 pages
Published July 17th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 2nd 2013)
Original TitleLove You So Hard
ASINB07FMCDX34
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLove You So Stories #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: A Courageous Ride (The Bullriders #3) by Andrew Grey and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating 4 stars out of 5

Aspiring orchestra conductor Marshall is exhausted after months of auditions without a single job offer. When a friend recommends a change of scenery in the form of a dude ranch run by former bull rider Indigo Santana, Marshall heads there for a break.

Indigo and Marshall are immediately attracted, but Indigo’s confidence is shot after an injury ended his rodeo career, and he walks with a slight limp. He hasn’t been anywhere near a bull since he was hurt, and his personality makes for a pretty gruff host for a dude ranch. He’d really rather be bull riding, and the only reason he keeps guests is because his family ranch is all but bankrupt.

Though mismatched on the outside, the hearts of these two men know a kindred spirit and romance is in the air during the short time they spend together. Marshall is so relaxed, in fact, that music comes to him and he composes an orchestra movement that brings his love of both the ranch and Indigo together.

Unfortunately, he’s offered a position in New York, and with encouragement from Indigo, he decides to take it, breaking up the couple before they have a chance to get solid. Naturally, Andrew Grey finds a way to get them to see what they are missing and to come together for an HEA that underlines the importance of love and family.

John Solo does a great job narrating this story with a wide variety of vocalizations, both male and female. He swept me along with this tale of the West, and I definitely recommend it to others to enjoy in the audio format.

~~~

The cover by LC Chase depicts the upper body of a young man in dress shirt and vest with a dreamy look on his face and there’s a handsome cowboy standing behind the young man. A small photo of a bull rider in the bottom left pane completes the view. The cover is perfect for this story and it gives readers an idea of how Marshall and Indigo look.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Release Date Jul 17, 2018
Type Novels
Length 8:26

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Beneath This Mask ( Enhanced World #3) by Victoria Sue and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

As with the rest of the series, this story is spot-on, from the author’s nicely crafted plot and characterizations to the narrator’s outstanding vocalizations.

We first met Gael Peterson in the earlier books in this series. Gael is the enhanced team member whose face is scarred. In this installment, it’s his turn to get a human law enforcement team member. But Gael and Jake rub each other the wrong way, or at least, Gael takes Jake’s actions the wrong way, so Gael ends up with Drew as his partner, at least temporarily, and Jake is assigned to Vance whose new partner is on an undercover assignment and not yet available to the team.

It’s actually good that Gael and Jake aren’t partnered because they develop a friendship on their own that leads to a more romantic involvement—until Gael perceives Jake has turned against him. The intrigue and action that takes place in the main plot and in secondary scenarios is something one must pay close attention to in this audiobook. It’s not so easy to turn a few pages back to reread when one is listening, so I’m glad I was glued to my device from beginning to end, and I had already learned from past experience with these books that it’s important to listen carefully. The excitement and intrigue swept me away. Add to that the fact that I really wanted Gael to have a life partner and Jake was perfect for him. Then, there was the subplot surrounding Ethan, the young enhanced boy who only communicated with Gael, and when it looked like he was being transferred to a psych unit, it broke my heart. So as I said, I was fascinated with this story, totally wrapped up, and was by turns either heartbroken or rooting for the enhanced team like a crazed cheerleader.

The only thing I didn’t like in the story was one particular character, but his coworkers didn’t like him either so I’m in good company. And maybe the voice Nick J. Russo gave that guy had a little to do with it. Just sayin’—great narration.

And what an ending we got! There was not only a Gael and Jake HEA, but there was a perfect segue into Vance’s story, which I’m sure will be next in the series. Between the excellence of the writing and the awesome narration, this is one book, and series, I can highly recommend to friends who like an action adventure with a light paranormal twist.

~~~

The cover by Brooke Albrecht depicts a scarred face in the upper right pane, all done in shades of red, likely indicating the fire that caused the scars. And in the lower pane, a man with a machine gun is poised to take a shot. With the swirling bright colors, the cover is attractive and is tied in by those colors with the other books in the series. Very cleverly done.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

7 hours and 16 minutes.

Audible Audio, Unabridged, 8 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published January 16th 2018)
ASINB07DYK4WRV
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesEnhanced #3

A Lucy Audiobook Review: Hearts and Flour By Tara Lain/ Ry Forest (narrator), Stephen Kurpis (narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

In a word, I thought this story was adorable. Micah is a raw vegan food evangelist who owns a vegan cafe, making up for a childhood of poisoning (alcohol) that finally killed his mother. He is rabid about all things healthy and wants his customers to take it as seriously as he does. He gets upset when they “mostly” follow healthy guidelines.  To top it all off,  he goes home early and finds the cheating, pathetic loser he calls his boyfriend having sex in their bed with someone else. Very classy guy, who is then shocked that Micah is kicking him out.  Dharmaram is such a user it is ridiculous.  But poor Micah.  “And here he sat.  Alone.  Dharmaram didn’t want him.  His customers didn’t want him.”

When he begins to realize even his most loyal customers may be following some of his advice but certainly not all of it (as evidenced by the giant cupcakes he keeps catching them eating), its demoralizing for him. He decides to attend his friend Yancy’s anti-Valentine’s Day party (orgy) to get laid and forget the cheater. Here, he meets Queen, who is so pretty in a fire engine red dress that Micah first thinks he is a woman, and hot sex ensues. Queen is very reticent about meeting up again but Micah can’t forget him. When he calls Queen, they go out again and sparks again fly.

It is when Micah realizes who Queen really is, i.e. Quentin the evil cupcake baker, that the problem starts.  Despite the obvious attraction, “So masculine and ladylike at the same time.  So brazenly sexy and so innocent. You turn me on like a Ferrari ignition”, Micah can’t get past the “poison” that Quentin is selling to his customers.  As a vegetarian, even I was thinking “Micah, calm down!” but poor baby, he had a rough week.

There is more drama with Dharmaram, who really just is a piece of work.  There is Queen’s lovely Southern grandmother, Mary Beth, who is gentile and the typical Southern lady.  Or is she? The love she has for Quentin and he for her is so wonderful.

There is quite a bit of sex for the length of the book and the rest really is fluffy and cute. I did want to get to read Micah having an orgy of cupcakes (SUGAR cupcakes) but that will have to wait. I am positive he will succumb to Charismatic Cupcakes sooner or later. Recommended for a light, quirky read.

Interestingly enough, there are two narrators, Ry Forest and Stephen Kurpis, but I would have sworn it was all the same person.  I was a little worried at first because the voice seemed melodramatic but as the book progressed the voices fit.  Quentin is given that South Carolina drawl, sexy as hell.

Cover art by Amanda Kelsey shows Micah holding a fluffy pink cupcake and I felt that was a great fit to the book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible |

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook
Published June 19th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published January 30th 2013)
Original TitleHearts and Flour
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingCalifornia (United States)
Laguna Beach, California (United States)

An Ali Audiobook Review: Family Man By Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton/Colin Darcy (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes family chooses you.

How does a man get to be forty without knowing whether he’s gay? That’s a question Vince Fierro is almost afraid to answer. If he is gay, it’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, he can’t help but wonder if he’s been playing for the wrong team.

There’s only one way to settle it, once and for all—head for Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.

Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek to the sultry strains of Coltrane, Trey finds himself wanting to help Vinnie figure things out—no promises, and no sex.

It seems like a simple plan, until their “no-sex” night turns into the best date of their lives and forges a connection that complicates everything.

I originally read this book when it first came out in 2103 and I was new to reading this genre.  I really enjoyed it at that time.  When I had the chance to review this on audio I was both excited and nervous.  I wondered if this book would stand the test of time (and honestly many of my reads from then have not).  I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it just as much.  Honestly probably more because the narrator was excellent and really added to the story.
The story is told in alternating points of view.  We hear from both Vince and Trey which was a bit weird at first because one is told first person pov and the other third.  It took me a minute to get my head around that but once I got used to the change I was able to easily follow along.
Vince is almost 40 and kind of lost.  He has a good job that he enjoys and a big, loving family but he’s just not happy and he’s failed every relationship he’s tried.  A series of events lead him to Trey who is a younger guy he knows from the neighborhood.  Sparks immediately fly and Vince is able to take baby steps towards dating a guy.  His journey is a tough one and there were times I wanted to shake Vince, but mostly my heart ached for him.  He’s so caught up in his fear and his overwhelming family and cultural expectations.  At his core though he is a really good guy.  He is kind and thoughtful and once he decides he’s committed to trying this thing with Trey he’s all in.
Trey I also loved as a MC.  He’s in his mid twenties but he’s way more mature.  Unfortunately his alcoholic mother has ensured he grew up way before his time.  I really loved the plot line that Trey wants to wait to have sex.  It wasn’t for religious reasons, just he wanted it to be special.  I don’t think I’ve read that before in the m/m genre and I thought it was a lovely change.
I thought the authors did an excellent job showcasing what it’s like to live with an addict.  Trey’s feelings were so honest and real and I thought they made a wise choice in not trying to pretty any of it up.
One of the highlights of this book for me was the narration.  It was narrated by Colin Darcy who I had not listened to before.  He did an excellent job.  He really nailed all of the characters and his performance made the book even more emotional to me than when I read it.  I had not listened to this narrator previously but will definitely seek out his work in the future.
This new cover was done by Kanaxa and I love it.  It looks enough like the old cover to not be a jarring difference but at the same time it’s totally unique.  The cover models match my perceptions of the MC’s perfectly and fit the feel of the plot really well.
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 12th 2013)
Original TitleFamily Man
ASINB07DFT349S
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersVincent Fierro, Trey Giles settingIllinois (United States)