Story Rating: 3.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Iggy Toma
Length: 7 hours, 43 minutes
Jude York can often be seen at the skateboard park town. He’s good enough to compete, but Jude keeps a low profile, working at the local skate shop. He has the protection of the local motorcycle club watching his back and is a mystery to the locals. Jude knows that he can’t count on putting down roots, due to a turbulent and traumatic past, so he stays alone and silent. But Cory Easton walks his dogs near the skate park and Jude notices him every time.
The local town is Cory’s home and on the outside he seems to be doing alright. But some days, Cory just tries to get through it. He has a solid job as a tattoo artist and he is close with his grandmother, but he has a sadness that runs deep. The alluring man at the skate park that also seems to be a natural with dogs has Cory unable to think about anything else.
Their connection is instant and the loneliness the men feel lessens when they are together. Cory longs to just spend time with Jude and make him smile. But there are reasons the men have to keep their friendship private and Jude’s past has a hold over him that might make it impossible for the men to have a future.
I’ll lay some groundwork down for this book to start off with. Kickflip was originally titled There You Stand and has been newly edited with some additions, along with a new cover. It was originally listed as book five of the author’s Between Breaths series, which is mostly an MF series. The author now lists this book as a standalone, but also a prequel to the Roadmap to Your Heart series, and also mentions that there are appearances from characters in the Between Breaths and Golden Arrow Casino series. As far as the relationship between Cory and Jude, there was no issue following along as a standalone. As for the motorcycle club, however, I did feel that I was coming into a situation already in progress.
Cory has a relatively quiet life in the small town he lives in. His last short-term boyfriend left town, leaving Cory with a dog he can barely control. He has a job as a tattoo artist, he has friends, and he is close with his grandmother, but Cory feels empty some days. There is also mention of another ex-boyfriend and there were times the timeline, as well as the two stories, were less distinguishable. Cory notices Jude every time he sees him, but Jude isn’t that approachable and barely talks, however he is great with dogs.
The story here is a slow burn between the guys. They circle around each other and make small steps towards each other, but Jude won’t give Cory much of anything and we learn that Jude has reasons to be afraid. The story is mostly from Cory’s perspective and while the mystery of Jude was designed to keep the intrigue high, it moved a little too slowly for me. We did not get any of Jude’s POV and, when more of him was revealed, it really lacked the punch I needed and his story overall came across as weak and not well defined.
The motorcycle club is a large part of this book and the larger original series. Jude is being protected by them and Cory hangs out at their bar. Cory has a motorcycle, but has no interest in being a part of the club. He is always on high alert at the bar, can’t relax while there, and can never be himself, which brought up the question of why he continued to go there. The story of the motorcycle club in this book was so vague that it felt added on. I liked the more tender moments between Jude and Cory and the attraction they had toward each other, but the larger story was weaker for me.
Iggy Toma has a distinctive and recognizable voice as a narrator. It took a little while to acclimate myself to these new characters as Toma’s voice brings to mind previous characters that he has performed. It was easy to distinguish between Jude and Cory as Jude has a British accent. Toma does not sound as polished as a natural British narrator, but he offered enough to give the feel of who Jude was supposed to be. The female characters do tend to sound the same, as Cory’s grandmother sounded similar to his friend who was in his same age range. Still, Toma offers a polished overall performance that made listening to this story enjoyable.