Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.75 stars
Narrator: Craig Beck
Length: 6 hours, 43 minutes
Tom and Cass have been together for nine years and they are totally in love. They own several restaurants together, but the long hours have them spending less time together. They have always had an open relationship, but they know that their life together is the real deal.
When Tom meets Jake, the younger man calls to him even through all the ticks and quirks of Jake’s Tourette Syndrome. Jake hasn’t had an easy life and is on his own as his family didn’t know how to help him and then had little use for him. He’s instantly attracted to Tom, but the next morning he’s completely confused that Tom is taken. Jake doesn’t understand Tom and Cass’ relationship and distances himself from Tom. But when life has him searching out Tom for help, Jake finds he can’t resist Tom or Cass.
Cass is the reformed bad boy and no matter how hard he works, there are still days where he feels like he doesn’t deserve any success or that it will all be taken from him. Cass knows he and Tom are solid and he sees how much Tom cares about Jake and encourages their relationship. It doesn’t take long for Cass and Jake to form their own bond. Where Tom is solid and takes care of everyone, Cass has a darker past that Jake can relate to. As the three men find their way to each other, it’s Jake that will ultimately remind Tom and Cass what they truly have, as well as unite the unlikely trio.
Garrett Leigh has a way with character-driven novels and Misfits is another example of her talent. This is a quieter novel, yet one that is full of intensity. The book starts out with Tom meeting Jake and simultaneously reveals his long standing relationship with Cass. It’s an interesting relationship in that Tom and Cass are fully committed to each other, but bring other men into their bed. It’s all out in the open, there is no secrecy, and they even discuss their conquests without jealousy.
Jake was having a rough day at work as the ticks of his Tourette Syndrome were getting the best of him. Leigh makes the quirks associated with the syndrome a focal point at first, but then they fade somewhat into the background as Tom, and then Cass, see so much more in Jake. After one night with Tom, Jake is hooked, but he doesn’t understand where he could possibly fit in and he tries to keep his distance. When Tom winds up hiring him, he still puts a hold on any physical relationship, but Tom just calls to him and then he also gets to know Cass better.
Leigh shows the relationship between Tom and Cass as not one that is falling apart, but one that is being strained through daily life. The demands of their jobs keep the pair apart often and they haven’t taken the time to reconnect with each other, until Jake. Cass sees what is developing between Tom and Jake and is fully supportive and then develops his own feelings for Jake. We get page time with the pairings separately before they all commit to each other and Leigh evolves their relationship showing how they are bonded to each other and then how they all need each other. We are given POV mostly for Tom and Jake, and dual POV works well for me, but Cass was harder to get to know. When a climactic moment involves his past, while the facts had been laid out, some more insight through his eyes would have then added a little extra. While at the end, the men hadn’t spent that much time together as a triad, the story still illuminated how a relationship would be possible for the three of them.
This story worked well for me and highlights the skill Leigh has in uncovering the layers of three interesting men in a character driven novel. While Tom and Cass had all the love for each other, Cass realized that, “Jake taught them how to love each other better.”
The audio was narrated by Craig Beck and this was the first performance I have listened to from him. He did an excellent job and is now a narrator to specifically seek out. The story takes place in England and his dialect was authentic to the characters. For the most part, all of the characters had clear voices, although Tom and Cass did sound a little too similar. The area that he greatly excelled at was Jake’s voice. While he sounded age appropriate and had his own voice, the verbal ticks associated with his Tourette Syndrome were worked in exceedingly well with perfect timing. A definite recommendation for a well done audio that enhanced a well written book.