The Christmas Eve wedding Evan Cleary pulled together in four weeks is crashing down around him and taking his fledgling event planning business with it. With an empty altar and over a hundred guests arriving soon, he turns to the resistant, gorgeous brother of the runaway groom for help.
When Richard Patterson’s flamboyant brother storms out hours before he’s scheduled to marry his equally dramatic partner, Richard is left dealing with the fallout. The last thing he wants is more drama, yet he can’t deny his attraction to the effeminate event planner trying to salvage the wedding.
Evan thinks his crush on Richard is a lost cause, but one steaming kiss later, he learns different. What starts as a night of hot sex turns into a connection neither expected. But Evan knows their relationship is hopeless unless the ultra-conservative Richard can embrace every part of him—both in private and in public.
'Champagne Kisses' has the dubious distinction of being my 10th audiobook, however, I want to talk about the story before getting into the audio part of things.
As an event planner, Evan knows his stuff and he's sure that the Christmas Eve wedding he's been planning for the past month is going to make his career. That is until the vases start flying and one connects with the head of one of the grooms sending him off to the hospital and making the wedding simply off. It takes some quick thinking on Evan's part to salvage things and the Christmas Eve Wedding becomes a Christmas Eve party.
Evan is not only gay he's out and proud, he even describes himself as being 'fem and swishy'. He's also attractive and confident traits which haven't escaped the notice of Richard, brother to one of the grooms or soon to be ex-grooms.
Richard's not really in the closet...more like standing in the entrance. Richard's also hot and Evan totally acknowledges this and he's sure he's not going to push any hot buttons for the man. But apparently Evan also turns Richard into a babbling fool. It's amid the personal turmoil of fighting with Evan and his own personal preconceptions and biases that Richard makes the first move on Evan and things quickly crash when Richard's filters fail him and thoughts best left in his brain fall out of his mouth, sadly this seems to happen a lot when Richard's around Evan. Needless to say these two finally get together and decided to take advantage of the honeymoon suite that's now going unused.
While I enjoyed the first part of the story which was cute and entertaining it was when Richard stepped up to the plate and decided to go after what he wants, which of course is Evan, that I started to really get into the story. These two men worked together as a couple, yes there was stereo typing...macho Richard is toppy. Swishy, fem Evan of course is a bottom and more important than the usual or the unusual for me is a story that's believable and gives me the connection between the characters that I enjoy and this one delivered.
For a good part of this story Richard wasn't always shown in a favorable light and we got to see Evan as charming, confident and comfortable with his sexuality so the ending worked for me because things took a little bit of a change when it was Evan who decided that he needed to do the mature thing...not... and run away. Luckily he couldn't run far because he had to wrap business up at the hotel and Richard stepped up and went after what he wanted...Evan. I also really liked the epilogue which gave a peek into the life of Evan and Richard nearly a year later.
So for me the story was a solid 3.5 possibly 4 stars.
It was the audio portion that I had problems with and as I said it was definitely a learning experience for me. The first thing that I learned was listen to the sample before accepting an audio book because than you'll at least have a clue as to whether or not you're going to enjoy the narrator. But having said this I also discovered that since it's only a sample you may not hear the part that eventually becomes your issue.
So why was the audio portion a bit of a fail for me well...it's about Richard...or more accurately his voice and please keep in mind that this really is a very subjective issue, but in my mind Richard's voice was deeper more baritone...more macho if you will. While Evan's voice worked perfectly for me and sounded essentially how I expected it would.
While Evan's voice and Richard's voice were different there were times...especially when they were in the honeymoon suite that the differences were marginal and I found it a bit disconcerting to distinguish who was speaking and who was doing what to who. I admit it at one point I reverted to being a 12 year old and just had a good giggle...what can I say, I'm easily entertained. I even went so far as to listen to this twice just to see if it was the mood I was in when I was listened to the story the first time, but no I gave it my full attention the second time and you guessed it more giggling ensued.
As well as my issue with Richard's voice was the fact that the voice that was used for the narrative parts of the story...parts where people were thinking and no one was really speaking for me needs to be something more neutral unless I'm wandering around in someone's brain, like say Richard, and hearing their thoughts then I need that voice to either be Richard's voice or at worst something very neutral not something that's puts me into another character's headspace. Simply put if it's Richard thinking he needs to do it in his voice or a neutral voice but not Evan's or something close enough that it might as well be Evan.
For these reasons the audiobook only gets a very subjective 2.5 stars from me.
********************An Audiobook ARC was received courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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