all kinds of tied down audioStory Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 3.75 stars

Narrator: Tristan James
Length: 9 hours, 1 minute

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Miro Jones has been crazy for his best friend and partner, fellow Deputy US Marshal Ian Doyle, for years. Ian is kind of intense and crazy, the sort of guy who is always running toward trouble, but Miro has fallen hard for him regardless. They make great partners and are the closest of friends, which is why Miro has to keep his feelings for Ian secret. Ian is straight and has a girlfriend, not to mention a past string of hookups, and so Miro figures if his feelings ever come out it would ruin the close friendship the two men have. But Ian is so touchy-feely with Miro, so comfortable in Miro’s space and in his life, that is killing him to stay hands off the sexy man.

It seems like everyone else is seeing something between them that Miro is not. But one day, Miro realizes that just maybe Ian is interested after all. When they finally get together, things ignite between them, giving Miro exactly what he has always wanted. Ian has alway resisted being tied down by anyone. He is a part-time soldier in addition to his marshal duties, and as such he is a leader on the job. But it soon becomes clear that in the relationship department, Ian definitely likes it when Miro takes charge.

Even as things are heating up between them, a new case brings danger and excitement. What starts out as a routine witness transport turns into a matter of life and death. Ian and Miro have just found their way to each other’s hearts, and now their lives are threatened before things really get started between them.

All Kinds of Tied Down is the first book in Mary Calmes’ Marshals series. I have heard such great things about this series, and am a fan of Calmes’ work, so I decided to give it a shot in audio. I loved Ian and Miro as partners. We can feel Miro pining away for Ian almost from the start and the chemistry between them is crazy. We can really see how hard Miro has fallen for Ian, but at the same time, he really tries to hold back and not mess things up between them. I also liked how Miro supports Ian in his relationship with his girlfriend and doesn’t try to get in the way. Miro has pretty much accepted nothing is ever going to happen between them, so he is just doing his best to get by. Things are made more complicated by the fact that these guys are partners and best friends, not to mention that Ian is way in Miro’s personal space all the time. He wants to spend pretty much every minute together, which is both great for Miro, and torture as well. I liked the way these guys banter and bicker and give each other a hard time, but also clearly have such a close bond. And when they finally get together, things are totally explosive between them.

On that note, however, it does take some time for things to really develop here on the relationship end. I liked that Calmes takes the time to establish the bonds of friendship between them and show how close the guys are. But we are well into the book before anything happens either between the men relationship-wise, or in the key case that is the focus of the suspense. A lot of the first part is the guys taking on various assignments, and I kept thinking “this has got to be the thing” that is important, but then it passes and something new comes along. Ian is also gone on military duty for part of the book and Miro is alone, or hanging out with his other besties. So I felt like this part goes on for a little too long before we get to the real meat of the story on either the romantic or the suspense end.

I listened to this one in audio, so those feelings about timing may have been partly influenced by the fact that I was listening rather than reading. Tristan James is the narrator here and I think overall he does a good job. Honestly, for me in audio, my biggest criteria is a generally pleasant listening experience and James delivers that. The pacing is good and nothing is too jarring, so overall it worked. But looking into details, there are some problem areas for me. First off, James’ tone remains the same sort of casual vibe throughout the book, regardless of what is happening. Whether it is a routine conversation, a passionate sex scene, a heated argument, etc, everything is narrated with the same kind of blasé tone. So I think in many places it takes the energy of the story down a notch, or just feels off from what is happening in the book. In the same way, we get verbal cues that don’t carry over into audio. For example, “he moaned” or “he yelled” are spoken, but they aren’t conveyed in the narration. The other big problem is that pretty much everyone’s voice sounds the same. Ian does have a slightly different voice than Miro some of the time. But mostly it sounds just alike, and there were many conversations between them, or between other characters, where I couldn’t tell who was talking. Most of the women were kind of nasal and whiny sounding, which made them come across unpleasantly even when they were perfectly fine characters. So like I said, the audio was mostly fine and pleasant, but nothing that really excited me or made the book come to life beyond the words on the page.

Overall I really enjoyed this first installment in the Marshals series and I am eager to catch up with the other books. Now that Ian and Miro are together, I am really looking forward to seeing where Calmes takes them from here.

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

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