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After the Crash

A Small Town Hearts Novel
Narrated by: J.F. Harding
Length: 6 hrs and 58 mins
Categories: Fiction, Gay & Lesbian
4.5 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Summary

Rule number one: Straight military men will always be straight, no matter how much you wish otherwise.

Rule number two: Being a billionaire won’t change that (probably).

Rule number three: The whole thing between you when you were in high school? It was only fantasy.

Rule number four: One-sided fantasy.

Rule number five: God, how great would it be if it was a two-sided fantasy?

Rule number six: Okay, getting off track.

Rule number seven: Hiring your hot high school crush is totally okay.

Rule number eight: If you don’t let your feelings get in the way, everything will be fine.

Marshall Lloyd is about to be very not fine. Not only is his high school crush back in his life, but he’s matured into a gruff, brooding, drop-dead gorgeous specimen of a man who makes Marshall’s wet dreams seem about as exciting as drying paint. 

The only problem? Fox Fraser, the individual in question, is straight.

Super straight.

The kind of straight that would make a ruler jealous.

But if what Marshall sees when he looks in Fox’s eyes is to be believed, he’s broken, too. There are scars inside of him that no one notices. No one but Marshall. It’s not wrong to want to help him, is it? To hire him to take care of things around the house so he can get back on his feet? It’s just work. Work that leads to lingering looks. To prolonged touches. To...mmph. 

It’s better not to think about it. 

Marshall’s fantasies aren’t real. A guy like Fox would never pin him to a wall and do things to him like that.

Maybe.

Probably.

Right?

After the Crash is the first book in the Small Town Hearts series, which features heroes scattered across the rural United States who find love where they’re least expecting it. In addition to explosive chemistry, you can expect sneezing bushes, tea that tastes like hay, and a wet wrestling match that's just boys having fun, Mom.

©2019 Emma Alcott (P)2019 Emma Alcott

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

as good as the ebook

The story is always full stars, because if I wouldn't like the story as ebook, I wouldn't listen to the audiobook. I can't listen to an audiobook without knowing the book, that's not possible for me.

The performance from the narrator is also very important for me. I can't listen to a lot, because my English as a non-native-speaker isn't so perfect to follow a whole story over hours, when the narrator speaks too fast or too sloppy. Normally I have to SEE the person, who is talking to me in English. It took me a little bit, to come into the narrator, but at the end, it worked. I only have to take a few breaks between. I'm just not yet finish with the book, but I listen enough to give a review.

PLEASE READ MY RATING SYSTEM!!!

To my ratings:

5* - very very good
it's like an A+

4* - very good and will be often re-listening
it's like an A

3* - it's more then a one-time-listening.
it's like a B

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A great start to a new series - so cute

I didn't realise that Emma Alcott was Piper Scott so I was thrilled to discover that when recieved an ARC of this book.
Although the book tackles some difficult topics, such as PTSD, bullying and physical abuse in childhood, these issues are never sensationalised. There's plenty of heat; I mean A LOT of heat; but also plenty of romance. So much dorky cuteness. There are some loose ends but I'm guessing they'll get picked up as the series unfolds. This book sets the scene well for a new series and I'm really looking forward to more.

This is a new narrator for me and I loved him. I'll definately be searching out more if his work.

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Putting the past behind to make way for the future

This story of two guys who were in high school together but who left town to make their marks in different ways on the world return to their hometown for their own reasons and come together in a way that they couldn't allow themselves to back then. I enjoyed this second chance gay-for-you tale and the introduction of young Sam into their little bubble is another welcome development of these rich, complex, broken guys who are trying to mend in order to move forward as a new whole.
J F Harding does a good job with the narration. Recommended for lovers of Contemporary romance. One character is dealing with PTSD and there is an element of child abuse as a warning for any potential triggers.

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Second chances and all that...

Fox saved Marshall in highschool. Later on, Marshall would have his chance to reciprocate. Lovely story with great characters. Sam is hilarious. The narration is on point, great voices from Mr Harding.

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Small town boy makes good

Bullied out gay teen leaves, makes a fortune and returns to buy a property in the area. At the same time bully-adjacent (who also saved him one time) returns from his stint in the forces with PTSD. Marshall was a darling the way he dealt with meeting Fox again for the first time since school. After meeting in a bush (it's a lovely heartwarming scene) Marshall invites Fox to be his gardener. Those first tentative steps of Fox settling in and them dancing around each other were lovely.
Once they had sex it slipped a bit for me. There were too many sex scenes and Fox turned into a super confident dominant type in the bedroom, despite having never been with a man before and his PTSD having him questioning everything.
When they weren't getting down and dirty I liked how both characters were portrayed.
I felt some things got lost in favour of more bedroom/kitchen/office/any flat surface scene. Sam seemed to get forgotten about for a while, and Fox relationship with his parents was dismissed with one line--they live in the same town, they will bump into each other, I'd have liked to have seen this confrontation.
Honestly this was heading for a 5 star read but ended up as a 4. Such a shame.
Overall a heartwarming read, with little in the way of relationship angst, and with plenty of heat for those who like that sort of thing. It's not angst free but that comes from others treatment of the MCs and secondary characters and Fox's internal PTSD.
The narrator is one that I haven't heard of but I thought he did a great job.

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Very emotional!

This is the first contemporary romance book by Emma Alcott, Piper Scott's alter ego, so I knew I was going to enjoy it and guess what? I loved it.

Fox and Marshall were amazing. Both were a little broken, Fox more than Marshall. Marshall has his life a bit more together after hitting it big in Silicon Valley, now back in the little town he escaped as soon as he possibly could, he finds his very straight high school crush, Fox who is also back after serving in the Air Force and dealing with PTSD. Marshall hires him as his groundskeeper after Fox's mother threw him out of the house (yeah, she was horrible).

I wanted to cuddle Fox so much. He felt so guilty after being the sole survivor on his last mission, and he was dealing with a lot of things. Marshall was sweet and friendly and supportive and so much fun, a ray of sunshine in Fox's dour life and the progression of their relationship was so realistic. Fox had been sort of attracted to Marshall in high school, but he didn't expect for it to become more, but really their chemistry was scorching! I loved that Fox falling for Marshall was a non-issue and that the story concentrated on his PTSD and then on them helping Sam, a 17-year-old that asked Marshall to tutor him.

I hadn't listened to any books narrated by J.F. Harding, but you can be certain I'll try to fix that soon. I loved his tone of voice, especially Fox's parts, it was all gruff and sexy, LOL.

This was a fantastic hurt/comfort story, very realistic, not only in the romance portion, but on the PTSD and then when they had to save Sam from his father. Highly recommendable!

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Awesome

I really enjoyed this audiobook.
The story was great, and I loved the narration.
I can’t wait to listen to more audiobooks from Emma.

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Funny and Heartbreaking story

I really, really love this book. I really love Marshall and Fox. They are both great characters. Their relationship felt so organic and flowed almost like it would in real life.
It was sweet, funny and Heartbreaking at times.

J.F. Harding's narration was great. It really brought it all to life and it was even funnier to listen to, can't remember a time when I laughed out loud so often over an audiobook

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Beyond the synopsis is a great book

I remember trying to read the synopsis and being confused. When the opportunity to review the audio came up I leapt at the chance because, frankly, I’m game for anything. I’m so glad I took a chance. In some ways this is a simple story and I love those. So, putting aside the confusing synopsis, let me talk about the book.

Marshall was bullied back in high school and, eventually, Fox stepped in to intervene. After graduation, the men moved in very different directions. Fox headed into the military, dedicated to make something of his life. Marshall headed to college, dedicated to making something of his life. Both had success.

Fox became an important member of a team, holding the position of being able to communicate how to keep his team safe. (It’s explained much better in the book but I don’t remember the exact military terms and would never disrespect the author, the character, or the military – sufficed to say, it was an important job and he was good at it.) One day he misjudged and things went sideways. In the end, teammates died. Losing someone on your watch is horrific and, understandably, Fox took it hard. In the end Fox couldn’t continue in the army and he was sent along his way. He’s come home to recover, living in his parent’s house – at least for now.

Marshall’s success came in the form of creating a company in Silicon Valley that has become a growing concern. Like, Marshall is now a billionaire. He hasn’t forgotten his roots, though, and when he needs to take a break, he heads home to he can be close to his mother. She’s the one person in his life who always supported him unconditionally. She provided for his emotional and physical well being and he’s grateful. Now he’s bought a house nearby and is settling down there – at least for now.

The reunion of Fox and Marshall is auspicious, to say the least. Marshall remembers the young man who helped circumvent much of the bullying and when presented the opportunity to help, is quick to offer assistance. Fox doesn’t want charity, but Marshall’s offer provides him with an opportunity to work with dignity. Time to heal. A chance to regain control of his life.

Marshall is attracted to Fox, but Fox is straight, right? Fox is attracted to Marshall. For the first time in his life, he’s looking at a man sexually. I love gay-for-you stories and sometimes they feel forced. This one didn’t – it just worked. I found it believable that Fox fell for Marshall. Sometimes we live on the spectrum and aren’t even aware. The bond they formed was real.

Throw in a surly but brilliant teenager, summer storms, water fights, and occasional bouts of PTSD and you have an interesting book. Like I said, in some ways it was simple. In other ways it was layered and complex. I thought the Sam subplot worked well, adding drama to the story but not bogging it down. Oh, and there are plenty of sexy times.

This was a nice book. I enjoyed the book. The narrator, J.F. Harding, is someone I’ve listened to before and have always appreciated his performance. He did a good job with this one. So, getting beyond the synopsis, I suggest giving this book a chance.

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Compelling listening.

Two differently damaged men with a past history.
One love story for the ages.
One troubled teen, with a heartbreaking life and a hilarious coping mechanism.
J. F. Harding (a new narrator to me) does a really good job of bringing each character to life.
I would definitely recommend this audio.

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Profile Image for Kathryn M
  • Kathryn M
  • 23-12-19

wonderful and beautiful story

After the Crash by Emma Alcott is the first book in the Small Town Hearts series. This is a contemporary m/m romance that is full of emotions, drama, humor, and romance. Fox and Marshall are fantastic characters that have a beautiful and wonderful story. As the first book in a series, this does a fantastic job of making me need more books.

The narrator of the story is JF Harding. A fantastic job of bringing the story to life. The characters have their voices and the personalities shine through the voicework. The recording is clean, clear and smooth.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Waleska Floyd
  • 24-12-19

It Gave Me , All The Feels!

After the Crash, is a contemporary, feel good , hot AF , romantic, MM, HEA love story with a sweet epilogue. It deals with PTSD , paying it forward, letting emotional baggage go and love ; lots of love , for others and oneself. And it gave me ALL the feels.

J. F. Harding narration was entertaining and engaging. His lighthearted , friendly and natural voice style and delivery fit perfectly with the positive ,hopeful and fun tone of the book.

Simply put, After the Crash is all of the best ingredients of a Hallmark movie and a Lifetime movie put together.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • cheryl_cajun
  • 23-12-19

After the Crash,

Thank you for the ARC Audio, I voluntarily give this book an honest review. Coming back home to Bulrush was going to be a trial test for two very different men from the boyhood they left behind. One was a returning successful IT man that was bullied throughout school, while the other had no where else to turn after his days in the army. Fox needed help but when the people he thought he could rely on didn't nothing but citizens him for his PTSD where could he go from the darkness his life had become.
Loved and luaghed at Marshall and Fox at the sneezing man eating bush part. J.F. Harding did such a great job bring Marshall with his sassy and quirky ways along/ Fox's brooding to life. An overall great story of struggle and the support of loved ones. 

2 people found this helpful

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  • Clau
  • 22-12-19

A wonderful beginning to a new series

This is a very interesting story, wonderfully crafted.

Both characters have some issues, although Fox's are, indeed, the most challenging, as he is dealing with severe PTSD. Marshall, on the other side, has grown in poverty and been severely bullied during high school. Now, successful, and with enough money to fill a swimming pool with rubber ducks (don't ask!), he discovered that nope, money doesn't magically erase solitude.

I found lovely the full circle provided by Marshall saving Fox this time around. Karma, sometimes, is a lovely dame :P

They fall in love in an easy and yet realistic way; they face the challenges of Fox's PTSD together and without a magical cure that makes everything okay in a second.

The secondary characters are interesting too, particularly Sam, who acts as a kind of mirror of Marshall's youth, only, you know, umbrella's royalty =D

This is a sweet story, with a medium level of angst; for moments funny and for moments sad it grabbed me from the beginning and never let me go.

And J.F. Harding does a very good job with the narration, dealing wonderfully with the emotional passages. A great choice.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Vglo
  • 07-01-20

Every once in a while low angst is perfect.

This book was a breath of fresh air. I loved the story and the way the love blossomed. I thought the author and narrator did a great job of making them seem very authentic.

1 person found this helpful

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  • nolmstym
  • 24-12-19

Sweet Love Story

This story follows Marshall - a successful tech billionaire coming back to his home town. He runs into Fox - his former high school crush who saved him from bullies. Marshall is trying to overcome the trauma of his childhood bullying. Fox is trying to overcome severe trauma from his military career. I really liked how Foxs struggles were portrayed. You just really felt for him, and the way Marshall helps him is just so sweet. We get to watch them fall in love, and then work together to help Fox. There isn't a lot of unnecessary angst, it all feels very real. I really enjoyed this story. The narration was really good as well. I loved the voices used.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Annika
  • 04-02-20

Beautiful love story - epic narration

Starting in on this book after I’d gone to bed wasn’t the smartest choice I’ve ever made. From that first minute I was seriously hooked and drawn into the story, captivated by the characters. Oh, how I wanted justice for Marshall when he was a teenager. Barely having recovered for that, we meet Fox present day, and I end up having my heart broken for him too. Raging at his insensitive mom. All in all, going to sleep wasn’t high on my list that night 

Marshall needs a change, and returning home to make peace with the past. He’s not the bullied weird kid anymore. He’s still gay, nothing’s going to change that. But having conquered the IT world he had the luxury to do whatever he wanted with his life. So he buys an old Victorian home and decides to stay there while figuring out his next move. Investigating a sneezing bush, he finds his high school crush and white knight; Fox. Now a man, deeply haunted by his time in the military. He offers Fox the position as groundskeeper and a room in the house in the hopes of chasing away some of the ghosts living within Fox.

The two get along right away and it’s not long until their duo includes the teenage son of one of their class mates. A teenager that’s not only gay and wears make up, but also one that wants to go places after graduating. Something his father does not approve of. The three of them get along from the start and mentoring Sam helped Fox in so many ways. I loved their dynamic.

Marshall and Fox were perfect for each other, there was this innate understanding between them that was just beautiful. They complimented each other and there was communication throughout. They both had issues and ghosts to deal with, but they never caused any drama. Personally I would have liked to see a few less sex-scenes and more time spent just being with each other for the sake of it, but that’s just me.

Emma Alcott’s way of crafting the story and J.F. Harding’s ability to make it come alive was incredible and I loved them both. This book was a great mix of sweet and fun, but also sad and very serious dealing with some very heavy subjects. I have to praise Alcott for balancing it just right, giving each section the room to be explored, never venturing too far in either direction into ridiculousness or too heavy and becoming a downer. It felt right.

I loved J.F. Harding’s narration, to the point where my next stop is Audible to scour his works for something else to listen to. He narrated with feeling, he made you feel Fox’s fear and anxiety to the point where you too wanted to huddle in a dark corner somewhere. He made you go through all the feelings, the good and the bad. He made you live the story with them. I also really appreciated his female voices, they sounded credible and not overdone.

The snipes and drop-bear story was hilarious, I was grinning so hard I had a difficult time not laughing out loud. Not that it would have mattered, for once, seeing as I was at home making lunch. It did however make it so much more fun cooking. I can’t understand how Harding narrated it all with a straight face, how he didn’t laugh his way through it. He narrated it brilliantly in any case.

After the Crash was beautiful and moving and I’m definitely going to look for more books by this duo.

A copy of this book was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review for Love Bytes.

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  • Carey kelley
  • 03-02-20

fantastic story, <br />

loved it, would have liked more Wrestling between the two main characters and a more vivid in detail description of each man's body, other than that..... perfect.

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  • Kashonna Shaw
  • 28-01-20

Fox and Marshall

Having Fox and Marshall being brought to us live was great. The narrator was new to me, and he did an awesome job. Both voices were perfect and I liked that you could tell the differences in their voices.

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  • Eric S.
  • 27-01-20

We love those who never give up on us

This is the first gay romance book I have listened to that didn't involve the drama of a family accepting their son's sexual choice and the main character realizing he loves for how someone makes him feel no matter what gender they are. It was such a nice change!!