Author: Renae Kaye
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 5 hours and 52 minutes
At a Glance: It really is great to see an author provide everything needed for a great story, and then to have the narrator take the words and make them come alive. This is a top-notch narration.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: Kee Smith isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows who he used to be—the ignored gay son who chose a blue-collar job just because no one expected it, the submissive bottom who enjoyed large, masculine jocks who put him in his place, the sleek, fashionable twink who partied all night. But after his ex-boyfriend hit Kee and called him names, Kee retired from the social scene.
Back after a year’s hiatus, Kee still doesn’t know where he fits. His friends say he’s a twunk—a twink who put on muscle and turned into a hunk—but Kee is searching for somewhere to belong. Instead of going back to his usual type, Kee hooks up with twink Tate Stevens—a fashion-industry professional who works the image hard. It proves to be the best decision he’s ever made, and not just because he’s starting to regain his sexual confidence.
With Tate, Kee can open up about his fears and confusion without ridicule. Tate has his own fears about putting on weight and getting old. It will take work to make a relationship of opposites succeed, but they begin to realize the compromises will be worth it if they can be together.
Review: Kee Smith used to know who he was in the world. He was a welder, a gay son of indifferent parents—whose mother made his coming out all about her—and a bottom who went for built, rougher men who could top him with authority. After a bad experience with just such a man, Kee took a year off from dating or anything else to do with his former life. So, as a welder he bulks up and when he returns to ‘the scene”, his friends are pleased at his return and surprised that he has shed most of the things that made him a party boy twink. Their initial meeting goes well. Later, at a local team’s footie game, Kee meets Tate. They start a conversation and both are taken with one another, but also a bit unsure of how to proceed because each has a past with some secrets. How they get past those hurdles, to a relationship both desire, is told artfully by Kaye with her usual Aussie panache.
I was unsure about how the narration would be, because the narrator is not Australian. I should not have worried. Joel Leslie does a fine job to this American ear, though true Aussies can probably tell the difference. Leslie gives it his all and it is all good here. When Jamie, the MC from book one, appears, his voice is given its true rambling, fast talking, best. It makes the initially quite Kee and reticent Tate seem all the more likely to be for one another.
Leslie gives us a number of reasons to be swept away with this story. The pace is fast, the words are given their full weight, and the listener will find themselves hanging on every syllable. It really is wonderful to see a couple work out their differences and come to a place together that they can be happy and equal together. Joel makes that happen with the sound of his voice and the words of the story. There is no embellishment of the author’s words.
It really is great to see an author provide everything needed for a great story, and then to have the narrator take the words and make them come alive. This is a top-notch narration. Joel Leslie has been lending his voice to M/M stories for a while, and his reputation of being among the very best is not tarnished here. Buy the book, buy the narration, support both the author and the narrator. You will not be sorry that you did.
You can buy Don’t Twunk with My Heart here: