Where the Allegheny Meets the MonongahelaStory Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars

Narrator: Jeff Gelder
Length: 9 hours, 13 minutes

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

Logan has been unhappy for so long. He got married when his girlfriend became pregnant and he is angry about so many things that have been out of his control. When his temper reaches a breaking point, he injures his wife. Fully owning up to his actions, Logan is now in an abuser counseling program. However, he cannot face the cause of his unhappiness. He has always been attracted to men, but has buried his feelings since witnessing an act of violence as a teen.

throwback thursdayNick is a counselor for domestic abuse victims and heads up many of the programs to assist the victims get back on their feet. When Logan agrees to teach a basic car maintenance class, the two men cross paths and the attraction is instant. Nick is immediately suspicious of Logan as Nick has a definitive view of abusers from both a professional as well as a personal perspective. Logan can’t seem to wrap his head around everything he has to process as he finds himself completely drawn to Nick both emotionally and physically.

Both Logan and Nick have past demons to slay. They both have had violence touch their lives and have never addressed the issues and have not been able to really move forward. As their relationship grows, they each want to help the other, but they first have to hunt down the ghosts of their own pasts.

This story deals with domestic abuse from many sides. The abuser, the direct victims, and the surrounding family members who become victims as well. The action between Logan and his wife is not graphically depicted on page and is written to allow the reader to have sympathy for Logan. If domestic abuse issues are not what you are interested in reading about, then for that reason, this book would not be a good choice.

When we first meet Logan, his life is strangling him. Work problems, family life, and issues that he has kept buried for years are all reaching a critical point. After that, the story is a slow build. There is time spent listening to counseling sessions with Logan and there is also time spent listening to the stories of the women that Logan meets in his auto class. While parts of the book are slow because of this, and maybe I did not need to hear all of their stories, the author creates a well rounded view of abuse from several sides which, at the end, enhances the depth of the story.

Nick is just a good guy. He works hard and cares for his mother, who has dementia. Her dementia is a direct result from a violent attack and plays prominently into Nick’s story. Nick has never sought counseling for himself and lives with a tremendous amount of misplaced childhood guilt. He has not had many serious relationships and currently just has casual hookups with a close friend.

Given the nature of the story, it is not overly depressing. Nick and Logan have a spark, especially seeing Logan acknowledge his attraction to a man for the first time. But it’s not easy for them and it’s handled realistically as Logan certainly does not start shouting to everyone that he is with a man. The only area that stuck at me is the character of Trudy, who is Nick’s boss and Logan’s counselor. She is respected in her field, although set in her ways. Her actions just hit me the wrong way several times. In the forefront though, is a story with tremendous character growth for both MCs as both men have a lot of layers to uncover and the writing draws us in to all of their internal struggles.

The narrator on this audio has a pleasant and even tone of voice, with the key word being even. For the most part, every character sounds the same and the story is just being read aloud. Both Nick and Logan sound the same in the first half and then Logan starts to have a bit of an accent only sometimes during the second half. The women all sound the same as well, with most of them having the basic narrative voice. At times, not all of the time, a female voice tone would go slightly up. Then at times, a male character’s voice would stay in a slightly raised voice for the beginning of the next sentence and then would drop down. There is not much consistency to it. The story is dramatic and has a lot of emotion, but the narrator’s voice stays even and flat and the characters’ voices do not get raised in either anger or passion. Some of the scenes, especially the experience of Logan’s first time with Nick, should have grabbed me more then it did and I would have been more emotionally attached to the story and the characters if there had been some inflection in the dialogue.

This is a book I would definitely recommend, but for the full emotional impact, perhaps the text version over the audio.

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

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