Story Rating: 3 stars
Audio Rating: 2 stars
Narrator: Alexander Johns
Length: 5 hours, 4 minutes
Stuck in a dead-end job as a cook, Eric takes a road trip with his friend Nathan up the Oregon coast after the death of his beloved Grammy Jewel. Little does Eric know, but Nathan has a plan to buy a 90-year-old camp and convert it to a LGBT friendly resort using the inheritance left to him by his grandmother. Although much of the work is within their skill set, Eric decides that a handyman is in order and, after a number of failed attempts, contacts Tim Tate who agrees to the job.
Tim is quiet and distant, and incredibly attractive, which fuels Eric’s fantasies and his and Nathan’s speculation about Tim. Little by little, Tim loosens up and, as the work on Buchanan House progresses, Tim’s true nature comes to light. One day as Eric is wandering along the beach upset about an interaction with his brother, Eric is caught in the rising tide and is saved by Tim. In his slightly delusional state, Eric makes an advance on Tim, which Tim appears to ignore, and yet Eric can’t ignore it, can’t ignore Tim’s arousal, and regardless of what he saw, worries that he has upset Tim, whom Eric cannot afford to lose so close to opening weekend.
So I am notorious for not reading the publisher’s blurb when I pick out review books, but this time, I did read it and was intrigued by the premise: a 30-something MC who recently lost his grandmother and faces a major life change, all very interesting components, or so I thought. The actual story was a bit difficult to get into, and the leap from vacation to the purchase of Buchanan House had me confused enough to go back to the beginning of the chapter to see what I had missed.
Now I may have found the story a bit challenging at the beginning, but the storyline did smooth out as it progressed, and some of the gaps were addressed in a way that made sense, but then some new elements were introduced that felt contrived. Eric’s brother Zach, yeah, his behavior and motivation made sense. His actions and the resulting confrontation felt so off base though. The inheritance. Not much, but enough to put a significant down payment on an inn and afford Tim and a number of custom pieces? Tim only charging $10 an hour for his labor? These thing did not mesh with reality, and yes, it is fiction, but it is contemporary fiction, and as such, I expect a certain plausibility.
The bulk of the characters were two-dimensional, including Tim, and Nathan, who really needed the depth considering their importance to the story. There were also the gaps, as mentioned above, which were eventually addressed, but left me confused in the meantime. Going back to Tim for a moment, I never truly understood him, his motivations, and his transition from handyman to Eric’s lover. It was so sudden and didn’t feel quite right.
Here is an example of the story being stronger without the narration. The characterizations were not too bad, but I don’t like hearing inhalations between sentences, whether in an audiobook, on TV, or on the radio. It is a pet peeve that pulls me out of the story. Johns’ narration also had other issues, such as numerous awkward pauses and some obvious mispronounced words. The most distracting part of the audio production was a hollow sound, like white noise in the background. This is a narrator that I personally will avoid in the future.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.