Just What the Truth IsStory Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars

Narrator: Alexander Collins
Length: 6 hours, 19 minutes

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

Ben has always lived his life inside the lines that his parents have set. With a brother who rebelled against every line drawn, Ben took it upon himself to be the perfect son. Being perfect for his parents also means denying who he really is. In his early 30s, Ben has no idea who he really is, but he does know one thing–and that is he is definitely not gay, or so he tells himself over and over.

When Micah joins the firm that Ben works at, Micah, thinking that Ben is gay, asks him out. The men start dating and Ben thinks he is happy. But Ben is not honest with himself, so how can he be honest with anyone else? He doesn’t tell Micah that he is not out and that he has never been with a man and he doesn’t tell anyone that he is dating Micah.

When Micah wants to take their relationship to the next level, Ben constantly finds excuses until he finally pushes Micah away. Ben must come to terms with who is and reconcile the son he has tried so hard to be with the man he truly is.

Since many of Cardeno C’s books have now come out on audio, it’s a great way for me to get caught up on the author’s catalog. I have not read or listened to any of the books in the Home series and although Just What the Truth Is is the fifth book in the series, I was able to listen to it out of order without any loss of continuity.

Cardeno C has an incredible way of getting us right into the characters and the book itself and that is a noticeable skill. This book is a character driven story and it’s Ben’s story. Ben who is stuck inside of his own head desperately trying to be the son that his parents can be proud of. Ben who is lying to himself and lying to everyone else because he refuses to accept that he is gay. He dates women, but they all have an incredibly short shelf life.

With character driven books, the enjoyment of the story is then highly dependent on how you relate to the characters. Being inside Ben’s head clearly shows how confused and scared he really is. On one hand it is clear to see how conflicted he is and the signs of self loathing are evident as he just doesn’t want to accept who he is. While this was well done and I could appreciate Ben working out internally what he was going through, he gets involved in a relationship with Micah without telling Micah anything about himself.

Then there is Micah. Ben sees Micah as confident, secure, and intelligent and really can’t figure out what Micah sees in him to begin with. Micah was overly accommodating to Ben even though he had no idea what was going on. At one point, sure, Micah says he has had enough, but every time Ben comes back, Micah opens the door and his arms to welcome Ben back with almost no questions asked.

The story is Ben’s journey of finding himself and his inner turmoil was handled well. Most of the angst in the story comes from Ben himself, although his parents are the root of many of his issues and then the ending tied all of the external family issues too neatly for me. Even with a few issues that fall under personal preference, this was an easy story to get lost in.

Alexander Collins narrated this story and overall his voice was an easy listen. His narration voice was clear and well paced. Ben’s character is written to talk out of the page, breaking the fourth wall at times. This worked well in audio format and helped to enhance the audio giving it a live presentation quality. Collins’ characterizations were not distinct enough for me and most characters had a similar voice. This meant at certain times in conversation I lost which character was speaking. There was also one instance where there was a mispronunciation of an artist’s name. The narrator also used an effect to bring about a difference in voices when characters were on the phone. The background of the phone call would sound like a radio transmission or a megaphone. I have heard this effect used in other audios for radio transmissions and it worked well, but it didn’t work as well for me during a phone conversation. This effect, however, when toned down, worked better when characters were in another room. The audio version also has a new bonus chapter added in at the end that shows what the guys are up to after the story ends.

Overall, this was enjoyable for both story and audio. Whether you are a fan of this series and are interested in hearing the story brought to life, or are looking for a way to fit the series into your reading schedule, I would recommend this book in either format.

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