Author: Ethan Stone
Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Run Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes
At a Glance: Though some of the plot points stretched the boundaries of believability, this is still a short and sweet second chance story performed by a truly excellent narrator.
Reviewed By: Cassie
Blurb: Diamond magnate Sly Carson is headed to the Hotel Incognito, the premier resort for gay men in Las Vegas. He plans to take advantage of the time away from his homophobic father and have as much fun as possible. But the fun ends when he bumps into his old flame, Rory Klein.
Rory’s job working at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center has left him emotionally drained. A few days away was supposed to relax him, but there’s nothing relaxing about facing the man who broke his heart in college.
Twenty years have passed, but time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. This weekend could be their last chance to make things right, but a confession from Sly could ruin everything.
Review: I will sign up for a second chance story EVERY. TIME. There’s something about them that just gives me all the bittersweet but still happy-squee feels.
First off, that title? Awesome. There are tons of plays on the “lions, and tigers, and bears” quote, and usually they feel like stretches to me. Sort of, ha-ha…meh. The Lies & Diamonds & Bears title actually made me laugh. It’s fun and light-hearted and captures the tone (and plot!) of the story really well.
Because of the brevity of the story, we don’t see much of the two MCs outside of the fateful vacation weekend. Backstory does get sketched in as it plays so important a roll, but the main action is pretty tightly focused on the re-meeting. There are no plot bunnies left behind, but there are some tantalizingly intriguing points that are only briefly addressed before being wrapped up. I wish there’d been time to spend on Rory’s brother, for example. But short stories wait for no reader, and Lies & Diamonds & Bears is tightly focused and streamlined as it moves to its end point.
This particular second chance story is well-served by the audio format and its exceptional narrator. Greg Boudreaux, as always, is a treat for the ears. He’s a consummate voice actor; excellent at delivering dialogue, maintaining emotion and atmosphere during passages with no dialogue, and at differentiating character voices. His narration has excellent pacing and is truly pleasant and enjoyable to listen to. His delivery helped me gloss over parts of the plot that I would have struggled with had I just been reading in text.
My main quibble with the book was that it was so easy for Rory and Sly to just fall back into each other. It’s been twenty years since they’ve even laid eyes on each other, but it seems both have just been on hold in the (male) romance department for that entire time. There’s not much more than a token conflict before they’re wrapped around each other again, and Sly’s ordering Rory’s meal for him with astounding accuracy and no input from Rory. Two decades is a long time to retain such minute details about a lover, even one so important. I think it was all meant as an illustration of the depth of their love and their status as “soul mates”, but it came across as a bit pat. I always enjoy it when MCs have to work a bit for the second go.
Lies & Diamonds & Bears is for fans of Greg Boudreaux, light second chance stories, wild and crazy (and maybe a bit silly) sex scenes, and for anyone who wants to devote a weekend afternoon to enjoying an entire audiobook in one sitting.
You can buy Lies & Diamonds & Bears here: