Audiobook Review: Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton

winter orangesStory Rating: 4.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars

Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 8 hours, 4 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon iBooks


B-list actor Jason Walker needs a break. From Hollywood, from the tabloids, and from his best friend Dylan, who he’s been in love with for years. Buying a house sight unseen in the wilds of Idaho seems like just the thing. Until he sees the face of a young man peering out the window of his guest house. A man only he can see.

Jason is beyond freaked out when he finally confronts Ben, and even more weirded out when he finds out Ben is trapped in an ancient snow globe. At first, their communication is strained, but they quickly learn a way they can talk, and a friendship grows. As the days go on and Jason learns all he can about Ben, who has been trapped for 150 years, Jason becomes determined to show Ben everything he can. And to find a way to release him. It isn’t long before their friendship turns into so much more, and love begins to bloom.

But dating a man you can’t touch, and who only you can see, is not without its challenges. Jason and Ben are doing the best they can to navigate them. But Jason’s strange behavior doesn’t go unnoticed, and Dylan starts to question things. As Jason and Ben try to figure out how they can live together, Dylan tries to make Jason see sense. But when things go wrong, and Dylan does what he thinks is right, Jason and Ben are nearly torn apart. Jason’s hail Mary pass might be the thing that saves them, or destroys them forever.

Though this book was released last year, I never ended up getting a chance to read it. So when I saw it pop up for review in audio format, and with a gentle nudge from my recommendation fairy, I snapped it up. And I am so very glad I did. This book was wonderfully fantastic, with an unique and interesting twist on the “falling in love with a ghost” trope. And even though there were a few small moments where the plot dragged just a bit for me, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story is told from Jason’s POV, and it’s really his story. I loved this guy from the beginning. He was disheartened with his life and needed a change, and so he went out and made it happen. Yes, part of that was him hiding and licking his wounds, and maybe that wasn’t the best thing he could do. But he knew he couldn’t keep on going the way he was. I really liked the way that, as the story progressed, his outlook on what he thought he wanted changed and I really felt like he found his own self-worth. A big part of that was meeting Ben and falling in love with him, and feeling those deep emotions for the first time. What he thought he felt before doesn’t compare to what he feels for Ben, and that really helped him open in his eyes.

And oh my god, Ben! Talk about falling in love with a character. I have to say, I was especially impressed with the way Sexton managed to so accurately portray who his character should be and was. This is guy who was trapped in a snow globe at 20 years old, and that was 150 years ago. But because he’s able to project outside of the globe, he has also been learning about the world, on and off, in all that time. I thought he was the perfect mix of naïve man from the 19th century and contemporary. Jason, at one point, says he’s young with an old soul, and that’s a perfect descriptor. Not to mention, he’s wonderfully enthusiastic, totally adorable, and just a really lovely human being. He’s also got some angst, a bit of heft to give his character weight, and he was just incredibly well done.

These guys had chemistry galore, and their relationship progressed naturally from beginning to end. I loved watching them get close, and then closer still, watching their relationship bloom into so much more. But I will say here, as I mentioned above, there were a couple of scenes that dragged a bit for me. I was anxiously awaiting the next moment of growth and connection, and there were bits that just went on a bit too long for me. And I will also say that the ending was a not exactly a surprise, though that didn’t bring the story down for me, as really, it could go no other way.

Listening to this one was a real treat, as Nick J. Russo does a phenomenal job. His narration is always a pleasure to listen to, and he has a way of grabbing my attention and keeping me hooked on every word. Here I have to give extra kudos to the way he embodied the characters. Jason and Ben were vastly different at times, with Ben viewing the world with an almost childlike wonder despite having been in it so long and having a solid head on his shoulders. Russo captured that perfectly. Ben’s voice was exactly right, and so very consistent no matter what emotion he was feeling. Add to that a host of secondary characters who were just as well done, and this one was a truly enjoyable listen.

This story had it all; sweet and heartfelt, chemistry and heat, a bit of angst and heartbreak, and solid love. Definitely give it a try, if you haven’t already, in either written or audio.

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