bulletproof audioStory Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 2.5 stars

Narrator: Jeff Gelder
Length: 7 hours and 5 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible
Book Buy Links:  Amazon | All Romance

After some turmoil and a few near death experiences, Sam Kage and Jory Harcourt have settled happily into married life together.  However, the men are going through a stressful time right now as Sam has been working undercover for four months with a federal task force.  Jory hasn’t seen or heard from Sam in months and he is going crazy missing his man.  After his company fell apart in a bad economy, Jory is stuck in an unfulfilling job in an event planning/matchmaking company, which only makes things worse. He can’t help but imagine that Sam is once again choosing work over him and he is crazy home alone.

One night Jory ends up at a party with someone from work when he stumbles upon a man being held over a balcony, about to be dropped to his death. Some quick thinking by Jory ends up saving the guy, and now Eddie wants to thank Jory and introduce him to his brother Cristo.  Eddie lets it slip that Cristo is involved in drugs and gun running and Jory’s brother Dane warns Jory to stay away from them, but somehow Jory ends up going through with the meeting, and even befriending the attractive Cristo.  Cristo makes it clear that he is definitely interested in Jory as more than friends and won’t stop his pursuit of Jory even after Jory is clear nothing will happen between them.

Jory also ends up spending time with Haze Fisher, one of his clients at work.  Jory has no interest in Haze, but when Haze tells Jory how much he wants him, Jory suddenly realizes he has gotten himself in a bad spot with both Haze and Cristo.  Although nothing has happened (or will happen) with either man, he has gotten way too close with both of them, making them think there could be a chance.  It is even worse when Jory realizes that Sam’s case involves Cristo and Jory’s friendship with him may be compromising Sam’s case and his safety.  Jory pulls away from Cristo, but a man like that doesn’t take well to rejection.  As the case against Cristo builds, Jory heads to Hawaii for some safe distance.  There he reconnects with some old friends and some new ones, and things seem to be going well, especially when Sam joins him.  But Cristo is not through with Jory and when danger follows him, it could mean disaster for both Sam and Jory.

Bulletproof is the fifth book in Mary Calmes’ fabulous A Matter of Time series. It follows the two A Matter of Time volumes (four books), which all connect, so this is the first to launch a new story arc for Jory and Sam.  Calmes does a nice job keeping the flow of the series and the characters we have come to know and love, while at the same time giving us a new suspense plot to focus on.

Ok, so I will admit that the start of this book was somewhat rough for me. First off, we open with Jory at work being a total ass to his client Haze Fisher. Like such a jerk I couldn’t believe it was our sweet little Jory, it was just so out of character. Then we move into Jory making what seemed like one idiotic move after another with regard to Cristo.  He befriends this known drug dealer and gun runner like it is no big deal and he is totally untouchable.  He risks compromising both Sam’s case and his safety by his continued involvement with Cristo.  Honestly, he makes so many stupid decisions I was texting a friend with “WTF Jory!!” messages.  But then suddenly the story takes a turn and it all makes sense.  Because we needed Jory to make those mistakes and to act in stupid ways so he can finally grow up and realize what he is doing wrong.  Jory recognizes that missing Sam is making him fear for their relationship and question his loyalty.  He begins to understand that he is leading on the attractive Cristo, however unintentionally, and that he needs to make a clean break.  So we have to get through a frustrating learning curve, but I think it is worth it to see Jory grow here in this story.

Bulletproof also gives us some great action and suspense. Unlike with the first books, we know the bad guy here, so it not as much a mystery as a thriller story.  At first it seems like things with Cristo are going to be harmless, but slowly we realize there is much more trouble here than we originally thought.  The suspense side takes a break as Jory heads to Hawaii and supposed safety, but then the excitement comes roaring back as he is threatened once again.  Calmes really does a great job keeping things exciting and the action sequences are really great.

I continue to really love Sam and Jory together and they are such a great couple.  Sam is still bossy and growly and all alpha man.  And Jory is still sweet and friendly and always getting into trouble.  As I said, we do see some growth here for Jory, which I really appreciated.  And yep, everyone still loves Jory just like always. It is not quite as crazy as the first books, but he still charms everyone to a sort of unbelievable degree.  But it does seem like things are getting a little more in control here.  I wish we had more time with Sam and Jory together here as they are apart for large chunks of time. But we can really see how much these guys love and care for one another and the intensity and chemistry between them is still amazing.

Ok, so the audiobook. As you can see from my rating, this was not good for me at all.  I hate to say this, but honestly, I found the narration to be terrible. It was so awful that I could barely make it through the earlier chapters until I at least got used to it somewhat.  But there are so very many problems here that never really improved throughout the story.  So first off, the narrator, Jeff Gelder, speaks in a voice that is incredibly clipped and robotic. It is like an automated voice on the phone rather than a real person. I sometimes felt like I was hearing individual words recorded and pasted together, rather than smooth sentences.  Second, Gelder speaks with little natural inflection and sentences are often strangely flat or with totally inappropriate emphasis on the wrong words.  For example, “I had no idea you were interested IN me.”  The weird emphasis made the narration sound even more robotic and kept pulling me out of the story with its awkward phrasing.  It seemed like someone just reading words with little effort to convey the actual meaning of the sentence.  Third, weird pauses that go on way too long.  This happens constantly throughout the book. Frequently when there is a comma, there is a long drawn out pause that is so long it throws off the whole sentence.  And sometimes it happens even when there isn’t a comma.  We get sentences like, “So tell me…  already… what is happening.” There are just random, really long breaks between words that make no sense and again threw me totally out of the story every time.

Sigh. And there is more.  This narrator is different from the first four books, which in and of itself is an issue.  After four books in one voice, to suddenly have a new one really throws things off when you listen to them in sequence.  I was ok with Jory’s voice, and even Sam’s, though I really missed Sam’s sexy growl and rasp from the first books.  But Dane has this strong Southern accent in the first four books that is totally gone here.  Dane is this strong, powerful man and his confident voice and strong drawl are such a big part of how his personality is conveyed in the early books.  Here he pretty much sounds just like Jory, except for the barest hint of an accent.  Sometimes I couldn’t even tell which of them was talking, which is a big problem for two main characters.  There is also a lack of consistency in how names are pronounced, which seems pretty inexcusable to me.  In the first stories, Dane’s wife’s name is pronounced like Ah-ja and here it is pronounced as Asia.  Dominic, Sam’s old partner, also gets a new pronunciation for his last name. And finally, twice Gelder reads “prostate” as “prostrate” (either that or Calmes wrote it wrong, but I am giving her the benefit of the doubt).  So there are just so many issues with the narration here. I hate to say it because I love audiobooks, but I would definitely recommend the print book here. There are just way too many issues with this narrator for me.

Leaving aside the audio, this book was another big hit for me in this wonderful series.  I loved seeing Jory’s growth here and how their relationship is getting so much stronger and more secure.  I love Sam and Jory together and find this series so much fun. I can’t wait to pick up the next book and highly recommend this book and this series.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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