Absinthe of MaliceStory Rating: 3.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars

Narrator: Tristan James
Length: 6 hours, 49 minutes

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

The band is back together. Well, Miki and Damien are back together, along with Forest and Rafe, and they’re going on the road from one end of the country to the other. They’re starting over, driving themselves in a van, and playing at one dive after the next as they feel that’s the best way to get the band bonded.

But the travels are anything but trouble free as the band is plagued with danger and one mishap after the next. And, being on the road again brings up all sorts of past issues, especially for Miki, Damien, and Rafe. They all feel it’s worth it as the music makes them come alive as they try to reclaim their home that was once the stage. But Miki still struggles with the all of his past demons and finally may have to figure out how to let them rest. If only it were that easy.

Being part of the Sinners Gin series, Absinthe of Malice is not intended to be read as a stand alone and is a direct continuation of the previous books. This book also goes in a different direction as the band goes on the road. The storyline also does not follow just one couple and we get to visit with all of the couples from the previous books.

Being back on the road poses its challenges for them all. They are all in close quarters and the road itself brings up issues for the all of the band members. The focus remains on Miki as he tries to deal with remembering his past band mates, fearing that it will all be taken away again, and then missing Kane. Ford has put together a special character in Miki, with all the characters in this series really, and here we see all of the pressure Miki has been under for so many years finally spill out.

As great as it was to see all of the guys again, the format of this book didn’t work for me all of the way through. While I enjoyed revisiting with all of the characters, I felt the book tried to accomplish too much within its pages. There is the band’s travel, all of the relationships, and another mystery as Miki still cannot catch a break. The guys were on the road, yet each of their partners showed up at some point, and with the exception of Kane, there was no transition to them being there, they were just there. There were also new characters introduced along the way and due to the execution, I had a harder time fitting in where those characters belonged.

The scenes with each of the couples were the highlight here for me as Ford showed how committed they all are to each other even through their struggles. Ford’s writing remains strong and there were passages with strong imagery and a poetic feel. But, for as much as I can appreciate this style, there were times where was what going on in the scene got lost behind the prose. This series is also not complete and a lot of threads were opened only to be left with an ending that was rough and unfinished. Looking back, there were moments I wondered what the overall point was to this specific storyline as it went in many different directions, while then really not advancing the larger plot. Some of this may have also been how this book translated onto audio.

This book, as with all of the books in this series, was narrated by Tristan James. I have enjoyed the entire series in audio format and have come to expect a certain standard that James has already set forth. The Irish accents remain on point and were the highlight of the audio. However, several of the characters didn’t sound the same as in all of the previous audios and it kept throwing me off. James’ performance was also much more subdued this time and there were also long beats between chapters. His voice still remains pleasant to listen to, but there was a noticeable difference between this performance and the ones that came before it.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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