Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 9 hours, 45 minutes
Mark Cooper Versus America is my favorite of writing team Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock’s lighter and more humorous works. It pretty much hits all my hot buttons with its new adult, coming of age message, coupled with lots of humor, and a healthy dose of fun kink. I will admit that having read this one in book form way back in early 2014, what I most remember about this story is the kinky, steamy end of things. Because these guys get into a lot of sexual exploration — spanking, cross dressing, fisting, and more. So I remember this story being super steamy and sexy. But what really excited me upon listening to it in audio is remembering just how well written this book is overall with great character development and a nice sense of two young men finding themselves. This is particularly true for Mark who is learning he has friends and people who care and doesn’t always need to fight so hard.
If you haven’t read my review of the book itself, you can find it here. It has an overview of the story, as well as all my thoughts on the book. This time around I got to listen to the story in audio, performed by the fabulous Joel Leslie. Leslie is a great fit for this book as it features both an American and Australian MC and Leslie is wonderful with accents. The story has dual POV chapters and Mark’s chapters are narrated with an Australian accent, while Deacon’s are American. It really works quite well and serves as an easy reminder for the listener as to whose POV we are in at a given time.
This book has a lot to balance as there is humor, some poignant and tender moments, and a lot of kink. So it takes a narrator with a lot of skill to capture all of those elements well and Leslie handles them wonderfully. I really loved the banter between these guys and the humor and caring that is obvious between them. Mark, in particular, is snarky and sassy and he is sort of the comic relief of the book, and Leslie captures that tone so nicely. While most of the story is light and fun, there is also a big coming of age element here, particularly for Mark who is really struggling to adjust to his new life, and those more serious moments are also handled well. And I’ll just say that Leslie excels at the sexier bits too. He gets the intensity and the tenderness in just the right mix with the heat.
I’ll also note that while Deacon and Mark get the vast majority of page time here, there is an ensemble cast of other students that play side roles. I really appreciated that Leslie portrays these characters with a variety of accents and ethnicities. Most of these guys aren’t identified in the book by race or where they are from, so it could have been easy to make everyone “generic white guy.” So I appreciated this effort to infuse some diversity and variety into these side characters.
Overall, I really enjoyed revisiting this book. Mark Cooper Versus America is one of my favorite works by these authors and I was thrilled to get a chance to revisit it through this excellent audio.