shattered glassStory Rating: 5 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars

Narrator: Joseph Northton
Length: 11 hours, 16 minutes

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

Detective Austin Glass is in a diner waiting to talk to an informant when he sees a busboy wearing bunny slippers. For some reason, Austin can’t take his eyes off the gorgeous, freckled redhead. Which is crazy, because Austin isn’t gay.  Yet something about this young man is so compelling, Austin finds himself jumping through hoops to talk to him and to see him again.

This obsession with the young man, Peter Dyachenko, is definitely a problem.  First off, Austin in engaged.  Second, he and his partner are investigating a case of drug dealing, human trafficking, and murder, and somehow Peter seems to be connected to it all.  Peter has a complicated past that includes family ties to organized crime, as well as life as a street kid and a prostitute.  Austin is on the fast track to his dream career at the FBI, and getting involved with Peter will surely derail that quickly.  And finally, Austin is 26-years old and is only now realizing he is gay.  But despite all the reasons it is a bad idea, Austin is drawn to Peter with such intensity that he finds himself willing to give up just about anything to be with him.

As Austin and his partner, Luis, dig deeper in the case, Peter seems to become more in the center of it all, along with his “brothers” Cai and Darryl.  Austin is forced to make choices about whether to trust Peter, whether to put a man he barely knows ahead of his career, and in some cases, his good judgement, as it becomes clearer that Peter knows more about the case than he is letting on.  Austin knows he may be a fool to risk everything in his life for a man he has known only a couple of weeks, but he finds that his feelings for Peter are so strong that he would do anything for the man.  And when it becomes clear that Peter cares for him as well, Austin is even more determined to solve the case and protect Peter and his family. But not everyone is interested in seeing the case closed and all their lives may be in danger before the bad guys are caught.

Ok, so lesson one from reading Shattered Glass.  When everyone you know tells you that you should read a book because it is just that amazing, freaking listen to them!  When this book came out it was pretty much universally acclaimed and somehow it just never made it onto my TBR pile. When I had a few Audible credits to use, I decided to give it a shot, and let me tell you how glad I am because Shattered Glass is absolutely amazing and I loved every minute of it.

What really made this story for me is absolutely the characters.  They are fascinating and exasperating and unique and lovable (sometimes inexplicably so).  Austin is our narrator and he is kind of a mess.  He is a sarcastic wise ass who uses humor to cover up his insecurities.  He goes from girlfriend to girlfriend, cheating on pretty much all of them and ending multiple engagements.  He is wealthy and confident and a little entitled, at the same time that he is sweet and caring and somewhat uncertain.  I pretty much loved him from the start, from the first time he sees Peter in his “fucking bunny slippers” and can’t control his attraction.

Austin grows so much in this book in ways that are just fascinating.  At first his attraction to Peter is so inexplicable.  He sees Peter as a whore, as a hot boy, not as a person (and Peter is quick to point that out to him). He is sort of flailing around, trying to understand why he is suddenly attracted to this man when he is engaged to someone else, Angelica, a woman he truly cares about.  As the book goes on, we see Austin really examine why he has buried this part of himself, to look at his feelings and recognize how his attraction to men has impacted his life.  We see his vulnerabilities — absentee mother, cold hearted father and grandfather, loss of a childhood friend — and how they have created this wall he put up around himself.  I loved the way we see how being with Peter tears that wall down.  Austin risks everything for Peter and makes himself vulnerable in ways he never has before.  I seriously loved him and found him a great character with fabulous growth over the course of the book.

Peter is an amazing character as well.  He comes from a very difficult past, which is slowly unveiled throughout the book. He is fiercely loyal to Cai and Darryl, even at the expense of his own safety.  He basically raised Cai, acting as a surrogate parent from the time Peter was 12 and Cai was only 8.  It wasn’t an easy life and the combination of extreme responsibility and hard living have made Peter a very tough guy.  He doesn’t show emotion easily or let people in.  He is controlled and often caustic with outsiders, at the same time he is incredibly nurturing and loving with Cai.  At first Peter is pretty much just stringing Austin along, trying to figure out what this obsessed cop really wants out of him.  Peter is too street smart to fall too easily.  But slowly we see him open up, begin to care for Austin in return.  And it is so much more rewarding because we know that the connection between them is so hard earned.

This story is full of humor, mostly due to Austin’s constant commentary, both internal and aloud.  He is witty and obnoxious and cracked me up. I loved his relationship with Luis and the way the two tease and give each other a hard time. So Austin is a great narrator and it injects the story with a lot of lightness and humor.  The chapters and sections are each titled with a bit of foreshadowing of what is to come next.  The story opens with Chapter One: Fucking Bunny Slippers and goes from there.  In addition to adding some fun to the story, I liked the little bit of a hint as to what was coming in the book.

The thriller/suspense angle is also really well done. The investigation unfolds throughout the book and is complex enough to take lots of twists and turns throughout the story without being overwhelming.  It takes a while to learn just how Peter and his brothers are involved and the case moves all kinds of directions.  There is great suspense and some definite thrills to the climax and I really found it all quite interesting.  So Alexander does a great job here combining both the legal end and the personal.

I listened to this on audiobook and I must say, it is probably my favorite audio I have listened to so far.  Most of the time I feel like audio books are basically a means to get the story into my head without having to hold a book.  Sometimes the narrators are good, or even great, and sometimes they are bad, but mostly what I hope for is that they will complement the book and make for an enjoyable listening experience.  In this case, I really feel like the audio enhanced the book for me in a way I haven’t experienced before.  Not that I think the book wouldn’t have been excellent if I was reading it, because I am certain it would. But wow did I love listening to it.  First off, because Austin’s snarkiness just comes across so well out loud and Northton does an amazing job inhabiting him and bringing him to life.  Northton also does a great job with the secondary voices, especially with heavy accents, something that can be quite tricky.  He narrates for Luis, Peter’s Russian mother, Cai’s Albanian mother, and even Austin’s Ethiopian boss very seamlessly.  And finally, and yes I am being shallow, but holy hell is Peter’s voice sexy.  Like panty melting sexy, you guys.  Northton gets that drawl just perfect, captures that bit of edge and neediness that is part of Peter, and wow is it fabulous.  For me, Northton’s portrayal of Peter alone sells this to me in audio. It was all just fabulous.

As much as I loved the audio, I know I will be buying this in ebook as well so I can reread it over and over. I really loved it just that much and I am so annoyed with myself for waiting so long to give it a try. My only consolation is that now I won’t have to wait so long for Cai’s upcoming story, because talk about fascinating characters.  It should be amazing.

So do whatever you can to get your hands on this one if you haven’t read it.  And if you have, consider giving the audio version a try.  Shattered Glass is an amazing story filled with humor, warmth, and really fabulous characters. Alexander combines a great thriller with characters who are just a bit broken and end up healing through their relationship together.  I loved it all and very highly recommend it.

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