Story Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Gary Furlong
Length: 4 hours, 9 minutes
Declan Ramsay’s brother is getting married at a castle in Scotland and he’s going to be one of the best men. The other best man is Samuel Aiken, the bride’s brother. Declan and Sam have never met, but they’ve been exchanging emails for the past year. Declan is expecting to meet a kid, but he’s shocked to discover Sam is definitely not a kid. He’s a grown man who frustrates Declan from the moment he lays eyes on him. Declan is straight (or is he?) and doesn’t understand why Sam gets under his skin so easily. Then, on the night before the wedding, the men discover they have more in common than family ties. It’s the love of a certain movie.
I loved As You Wish before I even sat down to listen to this audio book. It was one of my top books of 2016, and I’ve read it twice since. Declan and Sam are two of the most wonderful characters I’ve come across and I feel such a personal connection to them. They’re smart, funny, sexy, and oh so sweet. They make me smile and they stayed in my head long after I read the series. I don’t want to give away any major plot points because I believe that Declan and Sam are best read (or in this case, listened to) to be appreciated. Suffice to say, Isobel Starling wrote a story with the perfect balance of romance and mystery, and I highly recommend you check it out.
Now, let me start this audio review by telling you I’ve only done one other. I shy away from them because I’m a tactile person and I like to hold a book (or Kindle) and turn pages. Plus, I can move at my own pace and don’t have to worry about disturbing anyone else’s routine. However, as I’ve previously gushed, I wanted to take a shot at As You Wish to see what a narrator could do with it. I am not sorry in the slightest.
The narrator, Gary Furlong, is absolutely wonderful! I don’t have a single complaint. He voiced Declan and Sam so beautifully. He was able to give both men perfect individual voices. It was easy to tell the characters apart. Declan has a Scottish accent, which Furlong nailed. Also, I envisioned Declan’s voice to be sort of gruff and that’s what I got. I also had a whole idea of Sam…sort of breathy and British, but not too formal. Once again…nailed!
There aren’t a tremendous number of background characters in the story, but here, all of them had individual voices, both male and female. When reading the female voices, Furlong didn’t take it over the top. I can only explain that by saying the women didn’t sound cartoonish. Obviously, quite a bit of thought and rehearsal went into this narration and I was impressed. Another thing I liked was the way Furlong timed everything. There was a smooth flow to his voice. Nothing was rushed and the enunciation was clear and concise. I understood every word, and there was no muffling, mumbling, or stumbling. I found myself relaxing into the story and I never once had to rewind to try to hear something again.
Other than an epic love story, Declan and Sam enjoy a…ahem…healthy sexual relationship. I confess I was a little nervous about listening to someone read the sex scenes aloud. I was afraid I’d giggle like a twelve-year old the moment I heard the word cock. I shouldn’t have worried. It felt as natural as any other part of the narration, and instead of giggling, I was smiling.
One more thing, I’d like to mention. As I said, I don’t want to get into too much detail or give anything away, but I will tell you there was a scene in the book that made me feel particularly emotional. It was very well written. However, that same scene here in the audio took me beyond emotional and actually made me cry. Seriously cry. Like, tears dripping off my chin and heaving breaths, crying. I think this may be the most impressive thing of all. Furlong’s narration, coupled with the wonderful storytelling, made me feel things that are so far beyond simply reading.
I cannot recommend this enough. Whether you’re a fan of audio books in general, a fan of Isobel Starling, or just a fan of a good story, I consider this a must listen.