Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrators: Kirt Graves and Alexander Cendese
Length: 5 hours, 23 minutes
Harrison Fletcher has relocated from NYC to Vermont. He had a job as a lawyer in NY, but left to open the wine and book store, Vino and Veritas, with his mother. He still feels out of place in Vermont and when a shipment of chickens shows up at his store, buttoned-up Harrison is out of his depth. Harrison thinks he’s also living on borrowed time as his father died at the same age Harrison is now and Harrison is certain the same fate awaits him.
Finn Barnes treated himself and his farm to a rare breed of chickens. When they are delivered to the bookstore, Finn gets way more than he came for when he sees Harrison. But Finn doesn’t have time for a relationship and men like Harrison don’t stay in small towns for long.
But the men intentionally keep crossing paths and the attraction is real for both of them. Harrison is sure he’s not a good bet for a relationship, but being together is the one thing that makes perfect sense.
Featherbed is the first book in the Vino and Veritas collection, a set of multi-author LGBTQ stories set in the larger World of True North universe. The books are designed to be standalone stories that can be read in any order and all feature the Vino & Veritas bookstore and wine bar. Since this is the first book in the series, it introduces the stores, and since I have read further into the series, it was fun going back to the beginning.
Life in Vermont really comes through here and while the men do work hard, there is a slower pace. The scenery and the town are formed well and it was easy to see why the men would like the charm of the area.
There isn’t much conflict in the story and what is there is internal. Harrison is worried he will certainly die at a younger age, due to his genetics, and Finn is concerned that Harrison will tire of the small-town life. I did feel Harrison’s conflict stronger than Finn’s, as Finn’s story isn’t gone into too much detail. The men fall into an easy friendship that heats up quickly and it’s a warm country life story watching them fall for each other.
I have seen Harrison in other books in the series when the characters visit Vino and Veritas and I had a different impression of him from those books. Albert seems to have created his character with Featherbed, but I wasn’t expecting him to be so tightly wound and anxiety ridden as we see here and his character does not carry thorough to the other books in the series where he appears.
Overall, this is a sweet, small town romance that opens this series nicely, with two men finding the love they were always looking for.
The audio was narrated by Kirt Graves and Alexander Cendese, with Graves taking the chapters from Harrison’s point of view and Cendese with chapters from Finn’s point of view. I was completely split on my enjoyment of this production. Kirt Graves is a narrator that I will go out of my way to listen to and his voice and style fit the slower pace, small town Vermont life depicted here. He gets Harrison’s particular nature, as well as his insecurities about his health, and that comes through in his vocal style. He also gave a voice to Finn that, for me, was true to his character.
Alexander Cendese has a completely different voice than Graves. There is a lot of back and forth conversation in this book and from one narrator to the next, the characters sounded completely different and then the alternating viewpoints didn’t flow as well. Cendese speaks incredibly fast. So fast that in a conversation, he doesn’t pause between one character speaking and the next and the dialogue ran together and this is not how people have a natural conversation. Cendese has more of a promotional announcer quality to his voice and he didn’t capture the tone of either character, but especially not Finn, the country farmer. There are several women in the book and no matter their age, Cendese gave them the same voice, which was similar to an elderly female cartoon character. I did find myself looking each time to see how long his chapters were as his style didn’t work for me for the story being told here. This is the kind of story that does lend itself to being a good one for audio, but I can’t fully recommend all aspects of it.