The village of Stamford, the quintessential chocolate-box English scene, seemed an impossible dream for foster kid Toby Prentiss. Now he's found a home among the haystacks and village fairs as the general manager for the Duck and Drake Hotel. With the fears and demons from his youth hidden away in this bucolic oasis, he's very protective of who he lets in. Until he stumbles across shirtless carpenter Rain Engel building the hotel's new custom-designed bar.
Working in the countryside, Rain prepared to face his biggest fear: sheep. He didn't expect to deal with his second biggest fear: commitment. Toby's controlled tough-guy façade coupled with his "find happiness where you can" optimism calls to Rain like nothing before. While Rain may be an exhibitionist, his romantic history forces him to hold his emotions close. As their relationship develops, secrets from their pasts drive a wedge between them: the ex-boyfriend who tore apart Rain's trust and Toby's history with the law. But can the secrets hiding among the quirky villagers bring them together? With missing sheep, pole dancing at the winter festival, and a crippling drought, everyone is waiting for Rain.
©2014 Susan Mac Nicol (P)2015 Dreamspinner Press
I'm a 40 something single mum to many cats, a couple of dogs, groaning bookshelves and I'm sure there is a child or two around somewhere :-)
This story is great if you are in the mood for a sweet romance. It has it all - two cute guys, slightly angsty pasts, great best friends, laughs, highs, lows, POLE DANCING and sheep jokes :-) Its a story that I will happily read again. READ.
I loved Toby, he had been through so much and really made something of himself. His past is heartbreaking (the cat bit really chocked me up) and I just want him to be happy forever!
Ah now the performance, this bit is hard. I have already said I liked the story. Also I have listened to other books narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davis and loved them. He has great characterisation and is very pleasant to listen to.
Until we come to Rain. Rain is from South Africa. The book states he has a SLIGHT South African accent. Sadly this somehow got recorded as full on Afrikaans. In fact it took me a while to work out what that accent was. And the narrator nails every other one. It is such a shame as it kind of ruined the listen for me. Either the accent should have been slight or only used when he was speaking allowed not for the full chapters he was narrating.
I am actually really upset about this as I don't want this review to upset the author or the narrator but I have to say it as I am always honest
I now eye haystacks in a different way!
Please Dreamspinner, get this re-recorded and do justice to the book, the author and the narrator!
"Hated the character voices!"
WARNING: This is an entirely subjective review.
While I will not, and rightly cannot, deny Matthew Lloyd Davies delivers a good narration performance, I absolutely loathed the voices he used for the main characters. I thought he made Toby sound like a 50+ year old poncy twat, and Rain, who was supposed to be South African, at times, to me, sounded way more Germanic or Italian than South African. So it kind of ruined the whole thing for me. That being said, the rest of his narration was quite good. Timing, inflection, performance – all fine.
Told in alternating first-person POVs, we are introduced to Toby when he boots his boyfriend to the curb after the dickhead hits him. I literally cheered at this scene. It was so refreshing to see someone defend himself the way Toby does.
Some months later, Toby meets Rain when Rain and his partner, Lucas, come to the Duck and Drake Hotel (where Toby is the General Manager) to build a custom pub. After a rocky start, Toby and Rain begin seeing each other (read: blowing and jacking each other in the garden shed). While the physical part of their relationship is immediate and WHITE HOT, the emotional side is a bit of a slow burn. Both men have secrets and things they are hiding from each other, which take some time to come to light.
This story is chockablock full of sex, in every way, shape and form. It’s also chock full of a bunch of bloated side plots involving homophobic assholes, weird sheep phobias, sheepnapping, humor, pole dancing, TSTL moments, more humor, and more sex. It was a glut of extra everything, which admittedly served at times to move along the relationship between Toby and Rain, but got old. Fast. Honestly, with as much as I was hating the narration by the time it was only halfway through I was wishing it was over. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t the narration, but the story itself that managed to trip my rage switch at around 54%.
Aside from that though, it’s a funny, quirky, bit-long-winded, romance with a lot of sex. I think I might have liked it more had I been reading rather than listening. Maybe not, given the things I was ragey about though.
I loved this book. The characters were charming and the author made the setting easy to picture. There was plenty of steamy scenes but enough emotion to get me invested in their happiness. However, what made this book amazing was the narration. I don't think I would have enjoyed the text version as much. His voice brought the characters to life.
"One Big Problem"
The story was bad and the voice acting, while it did take a couple chapters to get used to, was actually really good.
The big problem is with the Author... How a women thinks she can write realistic gay sex scenes is beyond me. The sex is over the top and extremely unrealistic. I'm not even sure she's ever slept with a man.
Overall it's a good listen... But you may find your self skipping though some of the sex scenes.... Which kinda defeats the purpose doesn't?!?
"Not my favorite Susan Mac Nicol book"
I picked up this audio for an angst read since I had been striking out for an emotionally intense book all week. Normally, this author writes passionate characters but I didn’t get that with this audiobook.
Toby is a hotel manager who worked his way up from being a bell man. He meets Rain, who has commitment issues, after his last boyfriend dumped him unceremoniously. They are clearly attracted to each other but Rain is unable to commit long term. They are hot for each other and physically, they are great together. However, they have a lot of lost in translation or misconstrued communication.
I would have enjoyed this book more without some of the added distraction, like Toby’s boss, the lost sheep, Toby’s friend who was out to get him etc. I think between Rain’s ex and Rain’s traumatic past, and the father issues, there was plenty to add drama here.
The audiobook had alternating POV so you got equal opportunity in Toby and Rain’s heads. I really liked both characters and I was happy that they got their issues together at the end. But this book wasn’t my favorite Susan Mac Nicol’s book.
"Story OK, Preformer was varied"
It was a OK story. A bit predictable, but the characters were interesting and kept the story moving along.
A good story, but not exceptional. Could be compared with many other books.
Matthew Lloyd Davies is usually very good. Most of his accents were fine (especially Lucas) however Rain's accent (supposedly influenced by some South African background) was comical. I couldn't believe it when I first heard it but it does sort of grow on you (in a 'put up with it to hear the story' kind of way).
Most of the characters (esp. Toby and Lucas). Rain's character spoiled by weird accent.
If Rain had been voiced differently, I would have given a better review.
I really liked this story. It was fun and sweet with a couple of heavier issues dealt with. The characters were lovable and I enjoyed them. There were a few times where I wasn't as into the book and felt a little disconnected with the story but I made it through those moments and it was worth it to continue listening. The narrator did a solid job and switched from one accent to another fairly consistently.
"Great narration, story not my favorite"
Toby is the manager of a hotel. He’s just booted his last boyfriend for smacking him around, he’s not necessarily looking to get involved with anyone right now.
Rain – not his real name – is working at Toby’s hotel in construction – he’s newly single and definitely not looking for any relationship. But… Rain is super hot for Toby, from the first moment they meet and vice versa.
Toby and Rain start a furtive relationship of handjobs and BJs – they aren’t even really sure they like one another. But… as time passes Toby wants more. He asks for and gets a date.
The “date” shows them both there is more to their ‘relationship’ than just quick getting-off.
Rain has a past – where he’s been hurt, so he’s guarded. Toby doesn’t trust easily and has a confusing relationship with his current boss that muddies the waters.
Then there’s the sheep…
In the end these guys make their way to a HEA and there’s stripping!
I have to tell you that this story just didn’t do it for me. I kept starting and stopping and putting it away, hoping for inspiration at another time.
Finally I just pushed through and though there are some moments that are funny, some hot sex scenes and some tender declarations, I was never “moved”.
For me there just wasn’t that “hook” where you get invested in the characters or the story and just “have to keep reading/listening” to find out what happens next.
I just didn’t really care all that much. The writing was fine and the narrator Matthew Lloyd Davies did a fine job – in fact he did a great job – but I was just never that caught up in the story. Matthew gives everyone a different voice and that really added to the overall enjoyment.
I think the other thing that made this story hard for me was it’s length. There is a lot of side-story going on: the exes, the boss, the sheep, the fathers, the town drought… it got distracting.
So… I would definitely look to this author again – I can see that she has definite talent, but this story just didn’t flip any of my switches.
I give it 3 of 5 stars for the narration because he did such a great job and the story wasn’t bad, just not terrific.
Loved the narrator. Without him I would have given up on the book. The story was told more in small halting vignettes pieced together as in real life. But real life does not make for goes smooth prose of a story.
"OMG the 'accent'"
I'd stopped listening after an hour because the character Rain, from South Africa, alternated between sounding German, Russian and Irish, all in the same sentence. It was so distracting; I've never listened to an audiobook quite like it.
I did go back and listen to the whole book. Ok but not terribly interesting story. I enjoy erotica, but the constant sex was pretty uninteresting.
Anyway, nor the best for me.
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