Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: Alexander Collins
Length: 4 hours, 38 minutes
Hudson Barber wakes up in Ibiza to find his twin brother, Dalvon, has deserted him and he is unable to get back home. But since he’s been stranded in a palatial villa, things could be worse. Once Hudson finally figures out what’s going on, he knows he has to make the best of it. He quickly figures out a way to work at improving his brother’s boyfriend’s businesses and count it toward his grad degree, and he sets about doing the best job he can. All the time Hudson worries about when the boyfriend, Miguel Garcia Arquero, comes back home again.
It takes Miguel almost four months to return to Ibiza, and Hudson has charmed everyone in the villa while at the same time making three of Miguel’s formally floundering businesses profitable. Hudson is worried that Miguel will kick him out, but he’s shocked when not only does Miguel praise the work he’s done, but expresses an interest in Hudson as well. It turns out everything was not as it seemed between Miguel and Dalvon. More importantly, Miguel effects Hudson in a way he’s never experienced. For the first time ever, Hudson is feeling, deep and real, and he wants Miguel. Love at first sight can’t be real, can it? Hudson needs to figure that out, or after he takes care of the one thing Dalvon left him there to do, he’ll be walking away from the man he loves.
I’m going to start this review with a disclaimer: this story is kind of beyond the believable. Too many things take a leap of faith. But the thing is, if you can just accept the story, the outlandish plot turns, and just roll with it, it’s a fun little romp. And Hudson and Miguel’s love made it all entirely worth it for me.
So the set up for this one is, as I said, sort of unbelievable. Miguel is a shipping magnate who is never at his home in Ibiza so he has no idea what’s going on there. Hudson’s brother is kind of a selfish jerk, and he strands Hudson in his place by taking his passport. But Hudson is strong willed and charming, and he steps into the role his brother should have embodied, and turns everything around within months. There were so many plot points that were just a little too much that this story shouldn’t have worked. But it did. Part of that, I’ll admit, is the fact that I really enjoy this author and her style. But part of it is that it’s just so out there, you just have to accept what is going on. And if you can, then it’s easy to get lost in the story.
What really worked for me was Hudson and Miguel. They pretty well developed all on their own, though I felt we could have gotten to know more about Miguel. But as a couple, they just flat out worked. Talk about love at first sight! It was instant and intense, Hudson’s longing and lust for Miguel. And Miguel returned the feelings in kind. Their chemistry was insane and it just leapt off the page. I was all in for their relationship, and I loved watching Hudson lay down his armor and just fall hard and fast. So despite some of the plot points being so over the top, these two guys made this story work for me.
So I listened to this one in audio, and, truth is, I’m a fan of this narrator. I’ll also admit to having a little trouble falling into the audio at first, as I kept hearing a different character this narrator does so well. But after about the first chapter or so, I was completely absorbed into this story and Hudson, as the story is written in first person from his perspective. Collins has a smooth voice, though I found there were sections where his inhales were rather noticeable, which distracted a bit. I love how well he conveys the emotion of scenes, really bringing it out in his voice. He does fairly well with the Spanish accents, though there were times when secondary characters sounded a bit too similar. Miguel’s voice, however, stood out as it should and had a very sensual quality to it. There were some other secondary characters who had other accents, British or Australian, I believe, that weren’t done well and that threw me off. Still, I found I enjoyed the overall tone and feeling of the narration.
Ultimately, I liked this story. While it was over the top in places, the characters made it work. If you’re a Calmes fan, I’d definitely tell you to pick this one up. And if you’re looking for a fairytale type story, check this one out.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.