Narrator: Alexander Collins
Length: 6 hours, 40 minutes
Seth Cohen has just been hired as the associate rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom. When he meets the rabbi’s son, Eli Block, Seth is surprised by Eli’s intense flirting. At 18, Eli is much younger than Seth’s 27 years. While he finds Eli engaging, Seth has never been interested in men. But Eli makes it clear that he has been interested in Seth for years, ever since Seth was a counselor at Eli’s camp. Seth doesn’t even remember Eli, and he certainly isn’t getting involved with his boss’ young son, no matter how much Eli throws himself at Seth.
Eli has lusted after Seth since he was a young teen, and having the gorgeous man working for his dad is a dream come true. Eli is determined to win Seth over, pushing hard and making his interest known. The guys grow to be close friends, but nothing more, and it soon becomes clear to Eli that he is going to lose that close bond with Seth if he pushes too hard for something more. So he is prepared to settle for friendship, and over time the guys grow incredibly close, even though deep down Eli wants more. But as the years go by, Seth begins to realize that maybe Eli is exactly what he wants after all. He has never been with a man, and still worries he may hurt Eli as he figures out exactly what he wants. But before long Seth can’t deny his feelings as he finds himself falling hard for Eli.
I was so excited to see that Cardeno C had released this story in audio, as I am a big fan of this author and haven’t had a chance to read the Home series. I really enjoyed this story and it keep me thoroughly entertained and, quite often, laughing out loud. Seth is a rabbi and part of his job is officiating weddings. Each chapter starts with a wedding-related quote and a copy of the invitation to one of the weddings. Poor Seth has the worst luck and each one seems to be more crazy and chaotic than the last. From squirrel murdering dogs, to zombie brain cakes, to horse manure all over the aisle, the stories are crazy and quite hysterical. The weddings add structure to the overall story, marking time over the years as the guys get to know one another and adding a lot of humor and fun to the book.
When Seth first meets Eli, he is taken aback by this bold, brazen young man who has no problem making his interest clear, even in front of his parents. Seth doesn’t know what to make of Eli at first and is kind of freaked out by his attention. But the men quickly build a friendship, becoming incredibly close, especially when Eli backs off on the romance end. Not that he ever loses interest; Eli wants Seth from the start and that never fades. But he just figures it is something he will never have, and is willing to settle for friendship rather than nothing.
It takes a while for the guys to move on to romance and the majority of the story is the building of their close friendship. I did find the pacing a little off here as a result. We go a very long time with these guys just as friends, though there is sexual tension simmering. The story doesn’t drag and I found it quite entertaining throughout. But it seems like the jump from friends to in love and together forever happens really fast. We see Eli declare his feelings and then it is basically a done deal. Then we jump ahead three years and sort of miss the transition from friends to lovers. I would have liked to see how they adjust to living together, to becoming partners when before they were just friends. I also wanted to see how Seth adapted to suddenly being out as bi, especially to their friends and the congregation. We also never really find out much about where Eli is at this point in the future– is he still in school? Does he have another job now in addition to helping out as a cantor? So I did feel like we missed some key steps in there.
I will also just mention that while Eli is a rabbi, this is not a religious story by any means and I think it’s easily accessible to everyone. I actually did wish for a bit more discussion on this aspect than we get. Being a rabbi (or any clergy for that matter) is an intense job and your time is often not your own as demands of a congregation can mean you are often always on duty. Being the spouse of a rabbi is no easy task either. I actually have two friends married to rabbis and there are great expectations for their behavior and responsibilities to the congregation as well. So I would have loved to see this addressed, even in a minor way. Not the religious end, but acknowledgment of how Eli’s job affects their lives.
Even with those small issues, I just loved this story. Like I said, it made me laugh out loud many times. The wedding stories and other crazy things the guys encounter are just hysterical and keep the book moving along well even as we are waiting for them to find their way together.
I listed to this book in audio format and I enjoyed it a lot. I will admit it took me a while to warm to Alexander Collins’ voice. At first I found it jarring, as it is deep and slow and almost stuffy nosed sounding. However as the book continued, I fell into it quite comfortably and it didn’t bother me anymore. Collins does a great job voicing some of the wedding quotes, as they are often taken from movies. His version of the priest in Princess Bride is spot on and the reading of these elements was great. Most of the character voices are pretty similar, including Eli and Seth, without much differentiation between them. Given that the chapters have alternating POVs and are clearly labeled, I didn’t have trouble figuring out who was talking, but I was surprised given Collins’ range demonstrated in the chapter lead ins that there was no attempt to really distinguish their voices. The audio also had a strange feature that I have never heard before. In a handful of scenes where someone was talking from far away (shouting from another room, etc), the audio switches to a different sound, almost a tinny sound as if someone is talking through a loudspeaker or something. We get this in a few places, including a phone call between the guys and I found it so odd and incredibly distracting. I have never heard another audio that is done this way and it just was very jarring, especially when two people were talking to one another. Other than that, however, I think the audio was well done with good pacing and tone.
So I am really glad I got a chance to start this series and check it out in audio. I would definitely recommend it in either format, and look forward to trying more in the Home series.