Author: Andrew Grey
Narrator: Michael Pauley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 7 hours and 1 minute
At a Glance: I can recommend the story wholeheartedly. The narration I can only give a 50% rating for choices directly at odds with the direction given by the author.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: When it comes to love, Kevin Foster can’t seem to win. Some consider him a hero, but dousing an arsonist’s attempt to burn Bronco’s to the ground puts Kevin on the vengeful criminal’s radar. Afterward, the arsonist fixates on Kevin, determined to burn away every part of Kevin’s life.
Coming to Kevin’s rescue more than once, and in more ways than one, is “MacDreamy Hotness” -firefighter Angus MacTavish. Not only is Angus smitten at first sight, he learns Kevin’s nickname for him, intriguing him further.
When Angus discovers Kevin is the arsonist’s target, he takes it upon himself to protect him at any cost. Soon Kevin works his way into a heart Angus thought he’d closed off for good. Things heat up between them, but the arsonist has no intention of letting Kevin finally find happiness. Hopefully Angus and Kevin can stop him before he reduces everything Kevin values to ash – including the love igniting between him and Angus.
Review: This is our fourth time around with the characters who populate the world in and around Bronco’s Bar, a gay nightclub somewhere in Pennsylvania. While it may be helpful for some of the history discussed, you really don’t need to have read the previous three books in this series to enjoy this story.
As usual, Andrew Grey gives us a full and complete world in which the characters move about. The story arc is satisfying and believable. In some ways, it is nice to walk back into this world because it’s comfortable and known territory, but this story is a bit different from other books in this series, in that most of the action does not take place primarily in the club. Bronco’s is still the unifying base here, but the action takes us to other places.
Kevin has a nice life, but a recent breakup makes him want the settled and happy kind of relationship his friends all have with their partners. He has a comfortable place to live, a good job, and dear friend in an elderly woman who wants nothing but the best for him. One night while enjoying the festivities at Bronco’s, Kevin witnesses the start of a fire in the club, and he springs into action that saves lives, and the club, in process. Taking on some smoke and minor physical damage, Kevin meets Angus. He’s a well-built fireman who catches Kevin’s eye. McDreamy Hotness, as Kevin dubs him, gets away before Kevin can find out his name. Toss in a cranky investigating officer with a chip on his shoulder, and we have the makings of another great Andrew Grey love mystery.
As Kevin becomes the target of a serial arsonist, Angus comes to Kevin’s rescue a few more times, and it draws the pair together despite some walls they both have erected to keep their hearts safe from past broken relationships, life, and family dramas. Watching the interplay between the two as they come together, pull apart, and find a way, over, under and, through those walls to a real relationship is a great thing. Finally getting Kevin out of the sights of the arsonist comes at cost. But, the course of true love never did run smooth. The Arsonist starts to take apart Kevin’s life by attacking his home, costing the life of a dear friend, and all the other places Kevin feels safe. Through it all, Kevin comes to rely on Angus more and more, and, in return, Angus reveals past hurt that has kept him from ever completely connecting to another man.
The end is satisfying and sweet. The story is complete and doesn’t treat the reader as a dupe or tie everything into a bowed package. Any fan of M/M fiction would be pleased with this story, and those familiar with Mr. Grey will see all of the things he’s known for in this genre on display here.
A caution about the audio. The narrator is good. Better than most, in fact, but—and this is a huge but—he makes some narration choices that are more than questionable. The character of Angus is an ex-pat Scotsman. He’s been in the USA since he was sixteen. The author tells us this a number of times. He gives written clues that Angus only has an accent when excited or when he wants to use it for effect. The narrator actually reads those cautions to us in this book. Unfortunately, the narrator ignores those clues and gives us a voice that is half Michael Meyers Scottish Villain and half Pete’s Dragon for every word spoken by Angus. It becomes a distraction and some listeners may find that distraction to be too much.
Another caution; since this is a new narrator for the series he also makes some choices with character voices that those familiar with the series or the audio books may find questionable as well. Some of the characters are played far too fey for their histories, and some are just tossed off or cliché. It doesn’t happen all the time, and if this is your first time into this world, you won’t feel as attached to the characters’ pasts.
I can recommend the story wholeheartedly. The narration I can only give a 50% rating for choices directly at odds with the direction given by the author. The narrator’s normal voice is well suited to this story, his characterizations are rather suspect, though.
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