Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 2 stars
Narrator: Mark L. Jones
Length: 5 hours, 24 minutes
Jared lives in the small town of Coda, Colorado. After college he returned to his hometown and owns the local hardware store with his brother and sister-in law. The townspeople are mostly homophobic and, while Jared is out, he is afraid to pursue his dream of being a teacher. He lives his life alone with only casual hookups from a friend who passes through town occasionally.
Matt, who is new in town, has just accepted a job with the local police department and he and Jared become friends. Jared is immediately attracted to Matt, who considers himself straight. The men have a lot in common, spend lots of time together, and Matt becomes drawn to Jared. But Matt is dating a woman and his co-workers constantly tease him about his relationship with Jared. Jared wants to spend all of his time with Matt and can see a future with him, if only Matt can acknowledge his true feelings.
I had not read this book prior to listening to the audio. So the only basis I had to go on was, of course, what I heard on the audio. I will go into the audio review in a minute, but I definitely feel that my overall enjoyment of the book was hindered by the narration. There were several times I stopped the audio to think about the story and give it a different frame of reference other than what the narration was offering. I was delivered a fair version of what was most likely a great book.
The story is told from Jared’s POV, but it as much Matt’s story as it is Jared’s. Jared is just a really good guy, but he is complacent in life. With both his work and his personal life, he is just getting by. Although his fears are spoken of in more depth later on in the story, his complacency bothered me at times. Jared and Matt form a true friendship, and for Matt, who considers himself straight, it is not an easy journey. They have a great connection and it becomes easy to see how they would work well as a couple and fall in love. There is a slow build up to get these guys together and it really works well to establish a true relationship.
Matt’s journey is a large part of the story and I did not feel that I really got to know him as well. He struggles with his feelings for Jared and we are only told about some of them. His feelings are not shown to us in depth, there is a whole lot going on with him and his feelings are not addressed head-on. When there is a murder, the closure for that area of the story was packed up almost too neatly. What the story excels at is the chemistry seen between Jared and Matt when they are together. While my own delivery may lack some excitement here, this is a direct result of the connection that I was given to the characters through the audio. But, overall, this is a worthwhile friends-to-lovers, coming out story.
Right up front I will say that this narrator is not to my liking. I am not going to dismantle his performance line by line, but I will offer an overview of what I did not care for. The narrator has one voice, which means that every character, both male and female, sounds exactly the same. This made it difficult many times to tell who was talking. Especially when a conversation was being had, there was no break or pause between characters and the entire conversation ran together. The overall tone had a nasal quality, which in turn made the men sound whiny, which in turn then made me see the characters in the same manner. At times, it sounds as if the narrator is reading the material for the first time and other times it sounds as if he does not care for public speaking and is trying to get each sentence out as fast as possible. The delivery lacks emotion, is mechanical, and the poignant scenes were dry and flat sounding. Due to this, I had a difficult time embracing the characters. There were several times I had to back up the audio to get a better handle on the scene at hand. I would not recommend this audio and I will go one step further and will personally avoid this particular narrator for future audiobooks.
I would definitely recommend this book for a lighter style contemporary romance, but only in the text version.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.