Author: Jack Byrne
Narrator: Jonathan David
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 5 hours and 37 minutes
Category: Contemporary, Asexual
At a Glance: So a piano-playing asexual and a bisexual, leather-wearing biker walk into a bar…there’s no punchline, but there is some learning to communicate, lots of compromise, and even some beautiful music (I’m talking sex, people).
Reviewed By: Cassie
Blurb: Jake Tanner is a gay asexual man who finds peace on his small Australian farm and is content to lead a quiet life taking care of his animals. Then a random act of kindness on his part sets in motion a complex series of events that results in him playing the piano in a local pub and meeting Damien Jamieson, a sexy gay biker with a penchant for leather. Damien finds Jake instantly irresistible, but that could be the worst thing for their budding relationship, as Damien is determined to bed the reluctant Jake. However, Jake has no intention of going along with his plan. If there’s a chance for anything between them, Damien will have to figure out how to turn Jake on without scaring him off.
Review: I’m going to be honest here; this blurb made me very concerned before I even started the book. That last bit there made me worry I was in for a fantastical fairy tale where some burly biker “fixes” a poor, broken asexual with magical orgasms. DON’T WORRY, YA’LL. That didn’t happen. Though I am still a bit confused by it after finishing the audiobook; for instance, Jake NEVER says he’s gay (or straight, for that matter). Damien straight up says he’s bi. So I’m not sure how they’re both gay in the blurb beyond being in a gay relationship with each other. But no one is here to read about the BLURB, so let’s review the actual audiobook, shall we?
Story – 4 stars!
Jake is an asexual who has no idea that’s even a thing. He doesn’t have the information or vocabulary to understand or talk about how he feels (or doesn’t feel) about sex. He’s had it; he got the t-shirt; he doesn’t feel the need for any more repeats. So he’s at the point where he largely avoids the issue. His whole life has been spent trying to find his identity, and he has pretty much decided he has none, sexual or otherwise. And while he worries a bit that means there’s something wrong with him, he’s happy with his job, his dog, his home, and even with himself. He’s just missing a partner.
***Yes, folks! We have a ROMANTIC asexual here! It’s a thing of beauty. He’s not asexual BECAUSE (of trauma, illness, mental irregularity, hormonal imbalance, WHATEVER). He’s not an ice princess, an alien, or socially inept. He’s just asexual. An asexual who wants a romantic partner! Let’s all say a quick “hallelujah” for a bit of diversity in asexual representation.***
Ahem – I digress. DAMIEN.
Damien’s had a rough past that he’s succeeded in spectacularly overcoming. But his souvenir from that long road is conflating his sexual appeal and his self-worth. If people aren’t trying to jump his bones, he’s not really able to gauge his value in their eyes. Obviously, throwing him against an asexual who speaks a different sort of love language is going to stir up some delicious, delicious conflict.
Once our cuties meet-cute, they’re both enamored in their own way. They agree to start slow and see how things go. Now, one of my biggest story pet peeves is inexplicable and irrational miscommunication as a means of moving (or even having) the plot. That sadness is nowhere to be found in this story. They have miscommunications APLENTY, and insecurities abound. But all that drama makes sense, and essentially arises out of that disparity in how each man shows and feels affection. It’s not physical for Jake; it absolutely is for Damien. But in their hearts, these are two genuinely nice, likeable and caring people, and they’re willing to put in the work to keep each other around.
I encourage you to give this a listen (or read) and decide for yourself how you feel about the push/pull, give/take of their relationship. I, personally, don’t think undue sexual pressure is brought to bear on Jake. He feels pressured, yes; but a lot of that comes from a place of wanting to please a loved one in spite of personal feelings. Something I’m pretty sure we all feel from time to time. At no point did I feel that his consent was violated by Damien. Don’t get me wrong; there are a few fraught and uncomfortable moments where communication breaks down and bad things happen. Jake gives consent for things he shouldn’t, and Damien listens to Jake’s “okay,” since Damien can’t read minds. There’s also some REALLY outside-the-box flirting strategies. But once these guys learn how to TALK through their feelings things get better for them.
And that’s the best part of this whole story. Watching two disparate people really COMMIT to a relationship, difficulties be damned. They learn about each other, themselves, communication, and compromise. And yes, since Jake is not sex-repulsed, they even manage to get it on. The ending is positive, though it makes no promises. And that’s life. I’m personally rooting for these two to make it for the long haul.
Narration – 3.5 stars
It was a performance. There were distinct character voices, and the dialogue was performed, not just read. That’s my preferred narration style, so win! I will say, for whatever reason, the narrator’s voice was not what I was expecting in my head. I needed about 10 minutes to adjust, and then I was good to go. Jonathan David does a good job.
Fair warning! This story is set in Australia. No Australian accents happened. Now, I don’t need the narration to have an accent, but I was disappointed the dialogue didn’t happen with Australian accents. On the one hand, if you can’t do an Australian accent, PLEASE, ON ALL THAT IS HOLY AND FLUFFY BABY BUNNIES, DO NOT ATTEMPT ONE. A bad accent is eleventy billion times worse than no accent. So, good job on knowing your limits. But on the other hand, every character in this book is Australian. The setting of this book is ACTUALLY AUSTRALIA. Was there no one who could do the accent justice? I feel like the audiobook loses a bit of character by missing out on that. So I docked half a star.
You can buy Ace here: