Story Rating: DNF
Audio Rating: DNF
Narrator: Peter B. Brooke
Length: 5 hours, 20 minutes
Can a swan make peace with his ugly duckling past?
Chubby geek Jimmy Zebulon’s heart broke the day his high school crush, Danny Parker, looked on as his teammates tormented Jimmy. Fifteen years later, Jimmy is long gone, and from his ashes has risen Graham Swann, a movie-star-handsome law firm owner. Graham thinks Jimmy and his past are long forgotten—until attorney Dan Parker shows up for his first day of work.
Getting injured playing college ball was the best thing that ever happened to Dan. It turned his future in a better direction and allowed him to emerge from the closet that trapped him.
Graham wants to believe his childhood dream can come true, but he can’t bring himself to tell Dan who he really is—and their pasts might ruin any chance for a happily ever after….
This is the first time I find myself unable to finish a review book for Joyfully Jay. The narration in the audiobook version was terrible. The narrator has a way of speaking that grated on my nerves to the point that I had to stop and restart the book twice to try to get into the story, and the second time — 43% in — I just had to quit.
What little I was able to get from the story seemed promising (see Kris’ review of the book for more details). A young man, Jimmy, was able to reinvent himself when his mother remarried and Jimmy’s stepfather turned out to be a considerate and caring man who helped the trouble adolescent turn himself from an insecure, bullied, and shy ducking to a confident, controlled, dominant swan. Jimmy took a new name, Graham Swann, and as a lawyer he is able to give strong, reasoned arguments and to sway a jury and judge to his way of thinking. It is the absolute reversal of the young man who had been tormented and mocked by his bullies.
The new hire to Graham’s firm is handsome, charismatic Dan Parker who Graham once had a crush on. A crush that seemed impossible as Dan had a girlfriend and hadn’t ever looked in Graham’s direction other than to ignore the way Graham was bullied. Dan is now a widower with a four-year-old daughter and hopes of becoming a partner. Graham is charmed by Lacey and attracted to Dan, who he remembers well, though Dan has no idea that the powerful lawyer he’s flirting with was once the Jimmy Zebulon who wrote him a secret admirer letter.
However, it was hard to pay attention to the story beyond the surface information due to the choices made by the narrator. Brooke reads in a very, very distracting staccato, often with pauses every three to seven words. Sometimes they’re for commas, sometimes for periods, and sometimes they’re there for no discernible reason at all. This was not just about adding emphasis to a word or a phrase. It’s like someone learning to drive or someone at a piano trying to play a song they’ve never rehearsed. It’s random pauses with no rhyme nor reason and I couldn’t concentrate on the story. I kept trying to anticipate the next word, to get in sync with the narrator, but I just couldn’t. It gave me a headache and I was unable to focus on anything but those aggravating random pauses.
Brooke’s reading of the characters was inconsistent, with Graham at times sounding older and more forceful, then fading to something softer and more mild. The daughter, four-year-old Lacey, has a few moments where she comes across as smug and sarcastic rather than the precocious and charming little girl she’s supposed to be. The narration just didn’t work for me in the least and, unfortunately, I was unable to continue through the whole book.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.