heppel ever after audio coverStory Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars

Narrator: Cornell Collins
Length: 7 hours, 58 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Charles Heppel is madly in love with his fiance, Hugo, and the two can’t wait to get married. Unfortunately, the men keep having to postpone their wedding, as Hugo’s career plans are so uncertain. He has almost made it to ordination, but finding a parish of his own hasn’t proven easy. And Charles can’t help but worry he isn’t helping things. He is never going to be a traditional clerical spouse and he feels like he keeps ruining Hugo’s chances. Charles will support Hugo however he needs, but both men can’t help but be disappointed that job prospects near Glynn Harber school seem slim.

When Hugo gets called away on a special assignment, Charles is at first disappointed that the pair are losing time together over the school holiday. But Charles is nothing if not determined and ends up joining Hugo for his time at Kara-Enys. As it turns out, the gorgeous island is the ancestral home of Charles’ friend and former hook up, Rex Heligan (aka “Mr. Fucking Fabulous”). The island is beautiful and idyllic and Charles and Hugo get to enjoy time together away from the world. But they are also there for a reason, as Rex’s grandfather has shut Rex out completely and the older man is behaving very irrationally and uncharacteristically and Rex is hoping Hugo can help.

Being on the island gives Charles and Hugo a chance to not only help Rex’s grandfather, but also to reaffirm their love for each other. They both realize that while they are willing to sacrifice for one another, they are better off finding a path that makes both of them happy. While their adventure on Kara-Enys has been an amazing escape, Charles and Hugo are looking forward to their future together.

Heppel Ever After closes out Con Riley’s incredible Learning to Love series and it is perfect way to tie it all together. Charles and Hugo bookend the series, being featured in both the first and last stories. As you may have heard me rave time and again, I just adored Charles, the couple’s first book, and I am embarrassingly obsessed with Charles and Hugo. I was so excited when I realized we were getting another story for them, and even more so when I saw it was a full-length book. For some reason, I had assumed this was a short story, sort of a series coda. But this is a full novel and such a wonderful chance to reconnect with this fabulous couple.

The story just affirms how right for each other these men are. Both are willing to put the other first, to sacrifice themselves for each other. But here we see Charles and Hugo realize that they are a team and that they will both be happiest moving forward in a way that benefits them both. We get some lovely romantic (and sexy) moments as the men spend time on the beautiful island. It is the perfect place that just speaks to both men and they find this easy contentment together. I particularly like how we see Hugo settle into this more casual version of himself, all scruffy and windswept. They are just so lovely together and it is so wonderful to see this couple so happy.

The conflict here comes as both men try to help Rex’s grandfather and figure out what is causing him to behave so erratically. It gives both Charles and Hugo a chance to shine in what they do best. Hugo is a source of comfort for the older man, helping him process his emotions when he finally reveals what is really going on. And Charles shows his caretaker role, particularly with the children. This story also leads so perfectly into Rex’s story, Finding Mr. Fabulous, as we spend a lot of time here with him and his grandfather, and get to know his family home. We also learn a lot about Rex’s past, which then comes into play in his story. I actually read these out of order, as I read Rex’s story when it was released and then went back to listen to this one now, as I have been making my way through this series audio. I actually enjoyed doing it backwards, as I already knew and loved Rex and so I was excited to spend so much time with him and his grandfather here. But I think ideally you would want to read this first, as it does lead very directly into Rex’s book.

As with the rest of the series, I listened to this in audio with narrator Cornell Collins. He is very much the voice of this series for me, and even when I see these characters appear in Riley’s other books outside the series, I hear them in my head in Collins’ voice. He is so consistent with the characters and they carry well across the books. I just adore the way he performs Hugo and Charles. Collins just captures these characters so well and brings them to life. I would highly recommend the audio to anyone interested in these books.

I really can’t do justice to how much I love this couple and it was so wonderful to reconnect with them again here. I would read a hundred stories about Charles and his beloved, Hugo, His Holy Hotness. I am so glad we get to see the men continuing their journey to happiness together and things tie up just wonderfully at the end.