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Summary

This collection includes the charming London-based novellas of the With a Kick series - A Twist and Two Balls and Slap and Tickle. Also included are two short stories featuring the characters in these titles.  

A Twist and Two Balls: Eduardo Mancini is going to be a star of the London stage. Unfortunately, his alter ego, Eddy March, hasn't gotten further than a bit part in a TV series. One ghastly day, he’s late for an audition, can’t pay his taxi fare, and is chased across Soho by the irate driver, Nuri. But maybe being caught by Nuri is exactly what Eddy needs.  

Slap and Tickle: Bryan is an accountant who admires order and self-discipline. When he literally bumps into Phiz outside With a Kick, Phiz’s lifestyle and behaviour appear totally chaotic. But they each recognise something in the other that they need. Bryan needs a lover who welcomes his secret desire, and Phiz needs a firm hand - in every way. They both agree Bryan may be just the man to provide it.  

Collection number two will be released later in 2018.

©2014; 2018 Clare London (P)2018 Clare London

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

Sweet, funny and fabulous

Wonderful stories all set around an Ice Cream shop where it seems customers can not only find their favourite flavour but also love. Beautifully written, full of humour. Expertly delivered by Joel Leslie. I am constantly amazed at his talent. So many characters to give life to and he certainly does. Can’t wait to listen to the next collection.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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With a Kick comes alive in audio book format

I do love the 'With a Kick' books, and have followed the series from the moment I found the books and have snapped up every new release which has come out. This collection, written by Clare London, features four characters who I love. Two main stories for each pairing, and then two shorts which add more to the depth of the characters.

Eduardo/Eddie and Nuri
The guys come alive from Joel's narration, and I went weak at the knees the first time I heard Nuri. The voice was different to what I had expected, but had the sexiness I'd imagined as well as the strength and warmth which makes Nuri a wonderful man.

Brian and Phiz
Oh my gosh, these guys were amazing. I loved hearing Phiz speak because it had all the traits that were written about him. He was so alive through the narration, and Joel the narrator managed the firmness in Brian's voice to balance out the two.

I loved the stories. Having read them before, they weren't new to me, but they were good feel stories with enough angst thrown in to make me squirm in places, but also enough that I was routing for the happy endings. A shout out should be made to the characters in the background, Patrick and Lee who run and work in the shop 'With a Kick' and I look forward to them in audio book format too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I had a kickass time with the performance & story!

This a great way to experience the stories - by listening to Joel Leslie narrate :)
Let me say, (before I forget), that I liked A Twist and Two Balls when I read it. I haven't gotten round to reading the rest of the stories - too little time, so many other books on my TBR list to read ...
When I read the book, I had an idea of how Nuri sounded - a bit more Turkish- because I failed to realise that he had lived in London for a while. Imagine my absolute delight when I heard Joel Leslie voice Nuri perfectly - a mix of Londoner and Turk - it sounds brilliant! Mr. Leslie made a cast of colourful characters vibrant :) As a Londoner (I live in the US now), the voices sounded like home. And I'm only talking about the first of the novellas!
The other main story, 'Slap and Tickle' is really good as well, but let me be honest here- Joel Leslie made it fantastic. OMG!, when I listened to Phiz, it made me realise how truly gifted Joel is. (I feel I can call him by his first name :) )
Joel has a talent for knowing exactly what the character needs- emotionally and physically - and giving them a 3D feel in the narration. I felt I could see and almost touch Nuri, Eddy and all the other characters.
So, as you can read, I really liked the stories and I absolutely loved the performance!

  • Overall
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So much fun. And Ice cream.

Joel Leslie adds a new layer to a favourite series.

Each character has their own distinct voice and their personalities, as written by Clare London, shines through in the performance.

The writing is excellent and Clare London creates flawed characters that we want to alternately hug and shake, but always want to love.
Eddy, a neurotic z-list actor. Nuri, a steady reliable Turkish taxi driver whose dreams of being more have been sidelined in favour of providing for his family. And their sweet and sexy relationship that has the funniest beginning. and a great family dynamic with Nuri's family.
Then there's Bryan, an accountant who's all about control and order, who gets together with Phiz, who as his name suggests, is flighty, talks without thinking, clumsy, and just a tad kinky. Lucky then that Bryan is repressing a spanking kink of his own.
These stories are set in London, an area that Ms London knows well, and it shows in the multicultural nature of the stories and the descriptions of streets and traffic and the tube. They also have a strong British voice, especially in the humour.

I love them. And I know I'll be revisiting these audiobooks often, especially when I want to put a smile on my face.

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  • Carra at Making it Happen blog
  • 13-07-18

Great stories, amazing narration!

With A Kick Collection #1 gives us four stories from the series—A Twist and Two Balls, Slap and Tickle, plus two short stories (one each for the couples of each of the two other stories), Nice and Snow, and Smack Happy. These stories have some supporting characters in common, in particular Patrick (the owner of the With A Kick ice cream shop) and Lee (Patrick’s employee), both adding some good depth to the each story.

A Twist and Two Balls

Eddy (aka Eduardo Mancini) is a bit over the top sometime actor who can be a bit camp at times and can also pour on the dramatic edge when needed…or even when not. Nuri is a Turkish cab driver with a big, loving family—including some brothers who can be as annoying as siblings can get…much to the amusement of readers.

You’d never expect these two to be the ones getting together after the way their first meeting goes, but they seem to fall into an easy relationship with not much angst. The little bit of conflict comes when family is involved, though it can easily be chalked up to a misunderstanding due to a lack of communication…which considering how early in the relationship it is, is completely understandable.

This is a relatively light story with a touch of heat, and I’d give this one 3.5 stars.

Slap and Tickle

So, I absolutely adored Phiz and his chaotic personality, clumsiness, and the absolute beauty of how he submits when Bryan takes charge. Bryan lives a very ordered life and likes taking control of things. When you think of perfect complements, Bryan and Phiz are exactly what you should be thinking of…Bryan’s order to Phiz’s chaos creates a perfect balance; they truly are the epitome of the idea of one person completing the other.

I saw parts of myself in both characters, so it was really easy for me to identify with both of them, and I found myself drawn to them almost immediately. Their story was easily my favorite of this collection, from the opposites attract to the touch of BDSM elements, from Phiz’s exuberant and hyper personality to Bryan’s staid and calming one. Everything about them led to an overall equilibrium in their relationship.

Phiz may come across as overwhelming for some readers, but I just loved him and was so glad he and Bryan worked so well together—and lets not forget to mention they were also incredibly hot on the physical side! Slap and Tickle was 5 stars for me!

Nice and Snow

In Nice and Snow we get to revisit with Eddy and Nuri during the Christmas holidays. This is a relatively quick short story, and not a lot goes on other than Eddy’s fretting about all of the Santa-dressed people in the city…until they pick up one particular Santa who turns things a bit upside down for them.

This story is a fun read with a touch of some Christmas magic, though there wasn’t much to it leaving me to give it 3 stars.

Smack Happy

I was really glad to see that Smack Happy let us jump back in with Bryan and Phiz again, this time for Valentine’s Day. It’s another short story, this time with more oomph and a nice touch of spice once Phiz presents Bryan with his present…after Phiz spouts off a round of his hyper-chaos craziness first of course. I know some people might find him annoying, but I still think he’s adorable and a bit child-like (at least until his naughty side comes out).

This was a nice bit of spice—thanks in part to Phiz’s present—and made for another fun read that might leave you needing to cool yourself off for a bit. 4.5 stars!

The Narration

I’ve found that Joel Leslie has a true gift for voices, especially when it comes to Brits and other non-American accents. In addition, he was dead-on with Eddy’s over-the-top personality and Phiz’s hyperactive, chaotic self, easily balancing them in the same breath with Nuri and Bryan’s more sedate, even natures. He effortlessly switched back and forth between the very opposite characters (or at least he made it seem effortless), showing great range in his voice characterizations. A solid 5 stars for the narration!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Maria
  • 13-07-18

Entertaining collection of stories

I have a new audiobook for those of you that like to listen to your books and if you like MM. With a Kick Collection #1, has two stories from the series along with two bonus stories about the couples that appear in the two main stories. It's quirky, funny, and I enjoyed listening to Joel Leslie bring the characters to life. I'm going to break down my review into 3 parts: story, narration, overall.

Story: 4 STARS
First, the story. I'm going to give the collection itself 4 stars. I liked the characters, the plot, and the story. You have characters that struggle in their own way, and you have the men who come in to rescue them, but it isn't as simple as that. They each of their own nuances and each situation is a little different. Everything revolves around this one ice cream shop that makes adult ice cream. I want to find one of those around me. The books do hint at a couple other characters and because I had to know what happened to them, I've already downloaded Collection #2. There were some parts of the stories where I thought they skimmed over content I thought would be better expanded upon and other times when I rushed, but overall, I really liked what I listened to and would recommend this collection to all MM fans.

Narration: 4 STARS
Joel Leslie is one of my favorite narrators. In fact, the main reason I opted to review this audiobook was because I saw that he was the one narrating it. His voice does bring the characters to life and he provides each character with their own accent and personality. That said, there were a few times when I had a hard time making out who was talking or telling the story because the accents melded together and didn't quite sound as distinct as they usually did. It doesn't happen often and only minorly distracted upon occasion. I give the narration 4 stars.

Overall: 4 STARS
The story was good and I found myself grinning at different points throughout the story. The narration brought the characters to life and I've found myself listening to the book a second time. If you like MM and you like audiobooks, I highly recommend that you one click this one today. If you aren't a fan of audiobooks, you should still pick up this collection of stories. I can't wait for part 2 to come out on audiobook.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Barb_T
  • 11-07-18

Highly entertaining multi-story collection

This collection includes Clare London’s first two London-based novellas of the With A Kick series—A Twist and Two Balls and Slap and Tickle. Also included are two short stories featuring the characters in these books—Nice and Snow and Smack Happy.

With a Kick is a new ice cream shop, featuring ice cream for adults, i.e., ice cream made with liquor in a variety of flavors, one of which is named for the shop’s accountant, Bryan, and his new boyfriend, Phiz—Slap and Tickle. Patrick and Lee are the struggling owners who hope to be successful in the little shop located in the heart of London.

Each story is a self-contained romance, but Patrick and Lee are featured in each story that shows the progress of both their relationship and the business.

A Twist and Two Balls— Eduardo Mancini is going to be a star of the London stage. Unfortunately, his alter ego, Eddy March, hasn't got further than a bit part in a TV series. One day, when he’s late for an audition, he can’t pay his taxi fare, so he runs off and is chased by the irate driver, Nuri.

This is a sweet romance that starts off with antagonism and moves to love between an awkward, self-proclaimed actor and a cab driver, who has a secret profession. I enjoyed the pace of this story and both characters were terrific. Eddie is hysterically funny as he discovers he doesn’t have enough money to pay Nuri. Nuri, on the other hand, comes off as gruff at first, but it turns out he’s got a sweet marshmallow center.

The two have their ups and downs as does Eddie with his career, but in the long run, it’s family that’s important, and family who help both of them, and the two men get to do what they love best and stay with the person they love best—each other.

Slap and Tickle— This short starts right off with a great scene between Brian, the staid accountant for With a Kick, and Phiz, whose name should have been Spaz. Phiz is a fast-talking, can’t-control-his-mouth klutz, who can’t hold a job because of said klutziness. He also suffers from social anxiety, yet he keeps choosing jobs that require socialization. Joel Leslie kicked it out of the ball park with the voice he gives Phiz. Good heavens, it was perfect! I was hooked immediately, so I was along for the ride as he and Brian got to know each other and began to share their most intimate desires.

This story has a mild BDSM theme and when Brian’s dominant side comes out, Phiz calms and quiets as he finally met a man who can give him what he needs.

Nice and Snow is the first short story—which is actually quite long—and features Nuri and Eddie during their first Christmas season. Nuri is now brushing up on law studies so he can pass the bar exam, and Eddie is working as an actor in a comedy show. Right up his alley, his natural sense of humor has made him very popular.

The story centers on their individual memories of holiday seasons and their plans for this first one. Of course, Nuri’s family wants them to share with them, but Eddie insists they start their own memories because his memories of Santa, Saint Nick, Baba Noel, or whatever name is used are not good ones.

A surprise cab fare and a short ride across town brings both men their Christmas wishes come true. It also leaves them realizing they may have to rethink their beliefs in the jolly old elf. A great story, it provides a nice closure to Nuri and Eddie’s story.

Smack Happy

A delightful short, short story about my favorite character, Phiz, and his Dom, Brian. Phiz is patiently—or impatiently—waiting for Brian to finish his work so he can give Brian a Valentine’s Day gift. Brian finally gives up trying to get anything done when Phiz’s antsy movements and constant interruptions make it clear Bryan had better pay attention to his boy. When Phiz presents him with his gift, the two try it out and find that a good smack on the rear was exactly what Phiz needed to make him happy and peaceful. Add in a taste of Slap and Tickle, the ice cream treat the guys at With a Kick created in their honor, and it’s a perfect Valentine’s Day for these sweethearts. Very cute and a perfect ending for this very nice audio.

Joel Leslie was, as usual, outstanding, and the stories were intriguing and fun. This audiobook sped by and I’m looking forward to the next edition in the series that should be released soon.
Highly recommended.

A copy of the audiobook was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Momma Becky
  • 11-07-18

Delightful romances

The stories in this collection are charming, lighthearted romances. The angst level is low and they're a good mix of sweet and sexy as we go through the beginning stages of romance with these couples. The characters are engaging and likable and we get the added bonus of witty dialogue and chuckle-worthy situations. I would've enjoyed this one in eBook format as well, but I have to say that the narrator, Joel Leslie, really sets this one apart with his accents and individual cadences for each character. All in all, this collection is a delightful listen and I thoroughly enjoyed the stories.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Stacy Thompson
  • 04-07-18

With a Kick, Collection

3.5 Stars Overall

This is my first time with a Clare London book, and with this audiobook, we actually get two novellas and two even shorter stories in this collection bundle which is really nice. Both of the main books are shorter cute novellas with a lot of humor added into them, and then the shorter stories at the end are an added fun bonus since we get to look back in on both couples. I really had fun listening to all of the books that were included. I especially liked the second book and the narration of the characters in that one. With a narration being done by the captivating Joel Leslie, his narration and accents for each of the characters in these books was great to hear, he does such a great job getting different voices and dialects across to sound amazing to your ear. Although there were a few times I struggled trying to understand Nuri & his family's accents (book 1) since they were so thick but that is more of an issue with "me" and not the narration itself. When we get into book two Joel’s narration really stands out especially for the part of Phiz, I really liked Phiz's character a lot and Joel Leslie is a genius when it comes to audiobook narrations and giving us the characters exactly how they are written.


~ A Twist and Two Balls ~

Eduardo/Eddy is a super overly dramatic (failing) actor, who can’t seem to find a job or be anywhere on time or have anything go right for him at all, he seems to have mostly just bad luck in life. He meets Nuri when he tries to run from paying Nuri for his cab ride. lol. Nuri is instantly drawn to Eddie and their connection is formed. They both have some baggage and past issues they have to work through regarding their jobs and family, but this book is really low angst and Drama. Well, besides all of Eddie's ridiculous self-made drama anyways. There is a good amount of character development and dialogue between all the characters. Nuri has a huge family, some of the names and what they each did, was kind of hard to keep track of but all of their interactions together were hilarious. There was a lot of information packed into this book for it being so short. Overall it was okay and I liked it.

~Bonus Book~

The first bonus book we get follows Eddy and Nuri around the holidays. Once again I was totally amused by these two men. Nuri's dialogue and how his brothers and he get all the phrases they say wrong will make you laugh. It’s almost like they do it to irritate Eddy, lol. Hahaaa. Omg. And Eddy is afraid of Santa and all the impersonators!?!? "The Santa gangs are stalking him" LMAO. It got a little odd at the end with the wishes and the weird Santa. But it was still a good addition and it was nice to re-visit this couple and get another look at their lives together.

~ Slap and Tickle ~

I liked this book so much more than the first one. Phiz is an awesome ball of energy who bounces nonstop off the walls. He makes me think of the bubbles fizzing in soda just bouncing and popping around with no rhyme or reason. Phiz's personality fully stood out in the forefront of this book. Bryan is the complete and total opposite, he's steady, stuffy, predictable and boring. The dynamic between Phiz and Bryan was great once they figured out what they both wanted and needed and how to give it to each other, and I ended up liking this story. I hated that Bryan's ex made him feel like he was not normal, less than he was and couldn’t be loved because of the things he likes. Phiz needs to have someone control parts of him, it helps calm the buzzing inside, and Bryan needs to be in charge in the bedroom. Phiz and Bryan are perfect for each other when it comes to the sexual aspect of their relationship, and they explore parts of some light-BDSM together becoming more comfortable with themselves and each other. But there was a struggle for them getting to that point in life and in their relationship, they definitely hit some bumps in the road along the way.

~Bonus Book~

Phiz is kind of insane *in a good way*... And I'm not quite sure how Bryan deals with his craziness…

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Angela S Goodrich
  • 19-07-18

I absolutely adored the stories in With a Kick #1!

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

I absolutely adored the stories in Clare London’s With a Kick Collection #1. Listeners are treated to two novellas and two short stories, one of each for two different couples, all performed by the extremely talented Joel Leslie. With the ice cream shop, With a Kick, being the common denominator between the couples’ stories, listeners are also treated to glimpses into Patrick and Lee’s business woes and a professional relationship that seems to be getting a bit more personal.

First up are Eddy and Nuri in A Twist and Two Balls. An aspiring actor frantic to make it to a rare audition, Eddy underestimates the cab fare and overestimates just how much money is in his wallet. Realizing that he’s not close to his destination and had already exceeded his dwindling funds, he guiltily attempts to stiff the cab driver so that he can make the rest of the trip on foot and maybe make it on time as the London traffic isn’t allowing the cab to move. Unbeknownst to Eddy, he’s caught the eye of the cab driver and rather than detaining Eddy, Nuri follows him on foot as Eddy attempts to bluster his way out of the situation he’s created and still make it to his audition on time. It doesn’t work. But the day turns out so much better, even with the missed audition because Eddy now has himself a suitor. In a case of opposites attract, the high-strung Londoner, Eddy, finds his perfect match in the calm and collected Turkish cab driver, Nuri, who not only balances Eddy out in temperament, but also comes with a large and extended family – something Eddy has longed for for years as an only child of parents who travel extensively for their acting careers. While I suspect some readers and listeners will wonder how the laid back Nuri is able to put up with Eddy’s melodramatics, I’ve been Nuri before. I know that as stressful as it can be to deal with such a partner’s often unconscious need to be the center of attention, the Eddys of the world are at their best when they turn their spotlight on their partner, who is their anchor and the center of their world, and those are the moments the outside world often doesn’t see and are why we love our high-strung, drama queen partners so much. Obviously, Eddy and Nuri’s romance struck a personal chord with me, which increased my enjoyment, but I would have loved it either way, especially as Joel Leslie does such a wonderful job of capturing Eddy’s moods – of which there are many – as well as Nuri’s loving patience.

Whereas the first story was sweet, Slap and Tickle, is a lot steamier, but just as enjoyable. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I realized that the second couple were shaping up to be a May-December romance, but I certainly wasn’t expecting their blossoming relationship to have D/s component at all. But wowzer! When Bryan’s natural inclination to be a bit bossy rears its head during a casual interaction with Phiz, whose nervousness and anxiety make him appear high-strung, it becomes apparent that we’ve got another opposites-attract romance unfolding and it’s going to be a HOT one. Again, Leslie’s vocal talents come into play perfectly as he conveys Bryan’s quiet command and Phiz’s relieved acquiescence when Bryan takes charge – both in and out of the bedroom. I loved how Bryan’s need for order made him a natural match for Phiz and that the domination and submission aspect of their relationship was not a formal arrangement, but rather a personal exploration of their individual needs. Argh! I don’t think I’m explaining it right. At the beginning of the story, Bryan is ashamed of his desires, but as his needs and wants enable him to give Phiz what he needs and wants, Bryan learns to accept and embrace who he is and what he needs. And because of that personal acceptance, Bryan’s character grows a bit over the course of the novella, manifesting in a way that spells good news for With a Kick.

The bonus short stories were an absolute delight. I won’t go into either of them as I don’t want to ruin the surprise for others, but I will share that Eddy and Nuri’s is a magical Christmas tale and London brings the heat once again to Bryan and Phiz’s Valentine’s Day activities. Much like their respective novellas, the shorts for each couple are sweet (Eddy and Nuri) and steamy (Bryan and Phiz) and do a lovely job of rounding out the collection. I thoroughly enjoyed the stories that London has penned and Leslie’s performances for all four. I really hope that With a Kick Collection #2 will be available on audio soon, with Leslie at the mic again, as I cannot wait to see who’s up next to find love and ice cream.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel_Emily
  • 04-08-18

Great narration brings these stories to life!

Oh, well this was delightful! I really enjoyed this set of stories - A Twist and Two Balls is Eddy and Nuri's story (a couple who I just adore!) and Slap and Tickle was Bryan and Phiz's story. Then the two shorter stories after that revisit these couples.

I really loved Eddy and Nuri, I loved Nuri's family and their history, I loved Eddy's melodrama and attitude, and I really thought that they had great chemistry together. I also especially loved Joel Leslie's narration for this one, his voices for Nuri and his family were wonderful.

Bryan and Phiz were funny, I love how they kept running into each other and how klutzy Phiz is, a totally accident waiting to happen. These two also had great chemistry, very much opposites attract. There is also a bit of age gap - Phiz is 12 years younger than Bryan, so that's why I have that tag used. They each find that their desires in the bedroom line up perfectly, and it's quite the YUM!

There were funny moments, sexy moments, and characters that were very endearing. I highly recommend this in audio, it was just great. I loved it!

I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • ButtonsMom2003
  • 30-07-18

Great audio performance, entertaining stories.

With a Kick Collection No.1 features entertaining stories about two different couples.

A Twist and Two Balls is about aspiring actor Eduardo (Eddy) and taxi driver Nuri. These two meet when Eduardo hires Nuri's taxi. Nearing his destination Eduardo realizes he doesn't have enough money to pay the fare. He leaves the taxi and Nuri chases after him.

Their story is witty, funny at times, and sometimes a little sad. I love how Joel Leslie does all of the different voices for the supporting characters. Nuri has a large family so there were a wide variety of voices he needed to perform.

***
Nice and Snow is about Eddy and Nuri's first Christmas together and things don't go smoothly. When Nuri is driving Eddy home they pick up someone they assume is homeless but he turns out to be much more. This was a delightful short story.

***
Slap and Tickle is about Bryan, an accountant who likes things nice an orderly, and Phiz, someone who is decidedly unorderly. It was fun listening to these two characters blend themselves together and realize that they both harbor similar secret desires.

***
Smack Happy is a cute follow up story for Bryan and Phiz and I liked it a lot.

These stories are delightfully British and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all of the different voices done by Joel Leslie. His audio book performances are among my favorites; he helped me learn to appreciate listening to books when I thought I wouldn't like it.

Overall this is a good collection of stories and kept me very entertained for several hours.

A copy of this audio book was provided to me by the author but my review was voluntary.