A Lucy Audio Review: Rocking the Cowboy by Skylar M. Cates and Colin Darcy (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Opposites who go together like country and rock ’n’ roll. 

Long before he was a superstar, Remy Sean had a secret crush on Jed Riley. But Jed sees Remy as a spoiled pop rocker and an extension of his father’s control. Still, Jed is willing to let Remy hide from the press on his ranch—but only as a way to get his father out of his life and business for good. 

Used to being admired and fawned over, Remy keenly feels the sting of Jed’s dismissal. Can he make Jed see him as more than a pain in the ass? Or is Jed too tangled up in his ranch to see past his old hurt?

Jed doesn’t believe someone desired by so many fans could want him, a simple cowboy. But Remy is determined to change Jed’s mind and steal his heart….

Remy goes through a terrible event and it freezes his ability to write music or be in front of a crowd.  It is his manager, Buddy, who comes up with the idea of sending Remy to the ranch Buddy owns and his son, Jed, cares for.  Buddy couldn’t be less interested in the ranch but he is stubborn (and selfish) and won’t sell it to Jed.  So the idea of hosting a diva singer in exchange for Buddy selling Jed the ranch as well as showing up for Jed’s sister’s wedding and giving her away seems like a good one.

Remy definitely doesn’t seem like a spoiled pop star. He owns a mansion that he rarely spends any time in. He mentions things like his clothes and hair products as a must, but he doesn’t whine or throw a fit about anything. He’s more down to earth than the blurb made it seem.  He definitely isn’t used to not being admired, but he wants to earn Jed’s attention and respect.  He takes to the ranch life so well, learning to ride a horse and work around the place.

Jed is quiet, used to the isolation of the ranch and unwilling to admit that the desertion of his father for Hollywood has affected him so much.  At first he takes this out on Remy because Remy was Buddy’s big break, the boy who had the potential to be a big star.  Potential that was fulfilled and Buddy left the ranch to manage his star without looking back.  As the days go on, however, Jed sees what a good person Remy is and what stress he’s been under.  Jed starts to thaw and teach Remy the workings of the ranch.  TShe two become friends and then turn to more. 

Everything is under the cloud of Remy leaving.  Remy is an internationally famous pop star and his life and world is a million miles away from the isolated ranch in the mountains that Jed loves so much.  They know the time is limited and try to make the best of it.  The wedding of Jed’s sister will bring Buddy back to the ranch and Jed knows that will be the end. 

There is not a lot of angst here although there is that sense of “how can this work” throughout.  We do get Jed acting like a brat who won’t listen, Buddy acting like a major ass and pulling a stunt that proves how selfish he is (as if we didn’t know that from his conversation about Nicky, Remy’s horrible ex-boyfriend, before Remy goes to the ranch) and Remy being his lovely self.   I liked how this got worked out and especially that Remy was the strong one throughout. 

Narration by Colin Darcy had an odd nasal quality at times but mostly worked. This was my first audiobook with him as narrator and I would try another one.

This is a sweet, low key story of two opposites who want to make it work. 

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson. Eyecatching and in the style of sthe Dreamspun Desires series.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published January 3rd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published August 21st 2018)
Original TitleRocking the Cowboy
ASINB07LB5XBH1
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingCalifornia (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)

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Staggered Cove Station (Coast Guard Rescue #1) by Elle Brownlee and Colin Darcy (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Rescues are wild in the Alaskan terrain. So is romance.

Sun-kissed California guardsman Dan Farnsworth might be at home in the water, but he’s out of his element at remote, rugged, and freezing Staggered Cove Station. Acclimating proves hard enough, but he’s also digging into how the station’s previous rescue swimmer was lost at sea. Was it an operation gone bad or something more sinister? Add to that the instant tension between him and his partner—no-nonsense Alaska-born Karl Radin—and Dan has his hands full.

As his investigation heats up, so does the attraction between Dan and Karl, even if they don’t completely trust each other. But as suspicious events escalate to sabotage, Dan starts to fear that he and Karl won’t get the chance to become more than reluctant coworkers.

This was an alright story for me, more focused on the mystery than the romance between the two men.  Dan is trying to find out what really happened to his brother while not trying to bring any attention to what he is doing.  Karl can be a bit grumpy but wants to keep those under his watch safe and there seems to be something about Dan that’s not adding up.

I felt bad for Dan as he realized the full depth of his brother’s actions and to find out that the only family you had you never really knew.  Karl is very no nonsense and when Dan realizes he can trust him is willing to help him find answers.  I didn’t really see the relationship between these two building except for some off handed thoughts about attractiveness or how safe they felt with the other.  It takes extreme circumstances for them to do anything together or acknowledge it.  These two didn’t know each other long but were quick to jump together and go from there and I just couldn’t feel the connection.

Colin Darcy did a nice job narrating this story.  For the most part I was able to easily keep track of the story with the voices he used for each character though the voices didn’t connect with how I really saw the characters.

Cover art by Bree Archer is nice and gives a visual of the background for this story.

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 6hrs 11mins
Published April 20, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Series: A Coast Guard Rescue Novel, Dreamspun Desires

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: High Test by Elizabeth Noble and Colin Darcy (Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

At times elementary, this story is loaded with trope—though in a way that’s to be expected with these Dreamspun Desires stories. Some of the writing was too unpolished and not what I expected. It’s possible though, that some of my impression of the simplistic prose is from the narrator, who told the story in a somewhat singsong voice, although thankfully, he used a different voice for each MC. The non-dialogue portions of the book sounded as if a high school kid were standing in front of the class trying to read in a way sure to please the teacher.

I liked the overall plot concept and I especially love May-December romances, though this one was a bit much—one MC was twice as old as the other. Neal Kirchner, wealthy and well-known architect meets Hayden Owens at the Owens Coffee Company shop one morning when he stops by to try a cup of their brew. He strikes up a conversation with the cute barista and from then on, coffee becomes a part of his morning, and sometimes evening, routine—especially when Hayden is working the closing shift.

He and Hayden go out together, though Hayden never lets him see his apartment and soon becomes convinced that Neal thinks his family owns the Owens coffee shops. Hayden is finishing graduate school, majoring in auto design and engineering, and he and Neal find they have a lot in common due to their technical interests. Though he tries several times to tell Neal that he’s not wealthy and is in fact a poor, struggling student, something, or someone, always interferes just when he’s ready to spill the beans.

Naturally, this causes an issue when the truth comes out, but it’s not what Hayden thinks it’s going to be and it was entertaining and interesting, even though it was a tried-and-true romance trope. I did want to smack Hayden upside the head a few times and I wanted to fast forward my audiobook each time he fell into his self-inflicted angst, but on the whole, I liked the story and the characters, and I think much of my negatives simply came from the narrator’s performance.

If you are interested in May-December romance and like the old romance tropes many of us grew up with, this one should fill the slot.

Cover art by Bree Archer depicts an older dark-skinned man in a business suit against the backdrop of a coffee shop—the perfect depiction of Neal Kirchner, the older architect who falls for the young barista.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio. Length 5:12
Published March 22nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07BFHXHHQ
Edition Language English