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

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

Fall is here and the Schedule this week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words


Fall has arrived and the countdown begun for GRL in Chicago, that Gay Rom Lit Conference.  Loads of great authors,  bloggers, readers and publishing companies in one spot for 5 days!  Am I excited?  You betcha, just over the moon. Last year I came home exhausted, loaded down with books and great memories and I am looking forward to more of the same.

Another new change here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is the author interview section.  We have had so many great interviews that I wanted to make sure they were available all the time.  Want to know the background for the Endangered Fae series from Angel Martinez?  Its there in a 3 part interview.  Or insite into Lou Hoffman’s latest release, Key to Behliseth?  It’s there as well.  I will be going back and adding more as I have time.  Check them out when you have a chance.

Winner Announcements:

  •  Winner of Rachel Haimowitz and  Aleksandr Voinov’s Belonging Universe contest is: HB
  • Winner of Kimber Vale’s Contest is Emily.
  • K. A. Merikan’s Men ‘n’ Guns Contest is Echo
  • Winner of Rob Rosen’s Men of the Manor Contest is Evey!
  • Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese’s Starling contest is: Issa
  • Moriah Gemel’s Contest: AND THE WINNERS ARE…

results powered by
Heather L.,Lori M.,Lovely L.,April P.,Jeanette G.
Roxanne J.,Jodi C.,Amanda S.,Penny M.,Zach P.
Sandy S.


And now for this week’s schedule at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words:

Monday, September 29:

  • K.C. Wells’ Confetti, Cake and Confessions Book Tour and Contest
  • Julia Talbot’s ” Georgia Knights”  Book Tour and Contest
  • A Paul B Review: Living Again by Brynn Stein

Tuesday, September 30:

  • Lee Brazil’s Keep Me In Mind Book Tour and Contest
  • Lisa Henry’s Sweetwater Book Tour and Contest
  • A Barb: A Rose by Any Other Name by Charlie Cochet
  • September Summary of Reviews and Best Covers

Wednesday, October 1:

  • Rachel Haimowitz’s Song of the Fallen (Counterpoint and Crescendo)‏Tour and Contest
  • Sean Michael’s Underground: Special Teams Book Tour and Contest
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review:  Grumble Monkey and the Department Store Elf by B.G. Thomas (audio)
  • A MelanieM Review:  Midsummer Law by Megan Derr

Thursday, October 2:

  • Totally Bound’s Carol Lynne & The Brick Yard Book tour and contest
  • On Tour with Jess Buffett and “His Sleeping Beau” (contest)
  • A PaulB Review:  His Sleeping Beau by Jess Buffett

Friday, October 3:

  • Beany Sparks ‘Aiden’s Shepherd’  Book Blast and Contest
  • A MelanieM Review:  Dead Things by Meredith Russell

Saturday, October 4:

  • A MelanieM Review:  Red Dirt Heart by N. R. Walker