From the blurb:
When they were at uni, Owen always had a bit of a crush on Nathan. But Nathan was apparently straight, and Owen was too busy with other guys to take his crush seriously.
When Nathan moves back to Bristol after a year away, Owen hears that Nathan has come out of the closet, and he propositions him. Nathan doesn’t want to be just another notch on Owen’s bedpost, though, so he challenges Owen to prove he can be serious: five dates before they have sex.
Owen doesn’t think that sounds too difficult. He’s expecting Nathan to find his charms irresistible anyway. But as they grow closer, Owen begins to care more about proving himself to Nathan than he does about getting him into bed.
This was my first read from the much loved Jay Northcote, and I think I picked a bad one to start with. Now, keep in mind that I listened to the audio edition, and much of my overall opinion will stem from my personal feelings about the narration.
Let's talk about the narrator. Now, I have very particular tastes when it comes to a narrator, and of primary importance to me is a narrator that can do separate voices for each character. I tend to strongly dislike audiobooks where all the voices sound the same, mostly because it makes for a confusing listening experience. That happened to be the case here. Matthew Lloyd Davies did the same (or virtually indistinguishable) voices for all the characters, main and secondary, and I often was confused as to who was talking. It all started to blend together for me, and I had trouble staying engaged with the story.
My other issue with the narrator was his overall reading voice. It was very... theater-y. It sounded sort of like he was narrating a children's book, with his cadence rising and peaking with each sentence, giving it that singsongy feel that I associate with story time at the library. It didn't sound like a person just speaking, which is more how I like my audiobooks to be. If you listen to my all time favorite narrators (James Marsters, Greg Tremblay, Chris Patton (Adrien English series), if we are just talking male narrators), you'd notice that they all give different flavors to their characters. I wish I got more of that here.
In terms of the story, I thought it was cute but I felt my attention wavering at times. It wasn't a high energy story, and combined with a narration that wasn't working for me, I feel like I wasn't able to grasp what everyone else loves about this book.
I have another Jay Northcote audiobook ready to roll, so I hope with a different narration style I'll be able to see what all the fuss is about. However, this one felt lackluster for me.
**Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review**
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