Guest Review: Any Closer (audiobook) by Mary Calmes

Charlie Ryder has a colorful past, painful memories, and an embarrassing secret. After three years working for Leo Foster's construction company, Charlie's worst fears are realized, and Leo finds out what Charlie has worked so hard to hide. When Leo meets the revelation with absolute love and acceptance, Leo has to trust that Charlie's love isn't just gratitude, and Charlie has to learn to trust again, period. It's going to take a lot of work for these two men to get any closer.

Listening Length: 1 hour and 51 minutes
Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Guest Reviewer: Fantasy Living

Leo gave Charlie a chance with a job at his construction company, when Charlie was recovering from a major trauma. His faith and support has gone a long way in helping Charlie heal and move on. Leo never questions Charlie about why he looked so broken when they met, and as long as Charlie continues to be an asset to the company, he has no intentions of ever asking.

When the truth finally comes out about why Charlie needed the hand up, Leo lends even more support and acceptance, being the steady rock that Charlie has come to rely on. Now Charlie is looking at Leo a little longer, and holding him a little tighter, and trying to get across that it is not just gratitude he feels for Leo. Is Leo able to accept this new affection that Charlie is offering, or is his conviction about maintaining the friendship box he has placed Charlie in, the wall that will prevent something more from developing?

This story was a tease. I wanted it to be a full length novel. These two characters were people I wanted to get to know more. I liked the characters and their relationship development. Charlie was a sweetheart, and I’m glad he was working through his damage. I’m even more pleased that he had damage to work through (I’m a sucker for hurt/comfort).

Leo seemed to be a solid main lead. He had a good head on his shoulders and worked hard. Being dependable is exactly what Charlie needed, and Leo was definitely that type of man. He could be a little tense and surly, but he came across as someone you would want in your corner.

The tension worked well, once it appeared. This is more friendship and comfort, with some introspection, and building towards something unnamed. Leo was definitely a little bit blind to what was going on, which was charming. Being clueless without being stupid about it is sexy.

Greg Tremblay has not let me down with narration. His voice is extremely versatile, and I now get excited when I see his name listed on an audiobook. I know he will work the story, and give it a little bit more than I will get if I read the print version. If I had the opportunity to rate his skill and delivery separate to the story, he would get a 5+ star rating, hands down. He gave the characters an amazing voice and depth, with all the feeling that pulls the listener into the moment.

A solid short story, which isn’t overly emotional, just enough to get the hurt/comfort element across without dropping you into the pit of despair and leaving you hanging. I didn’t feel breathless when I finished, but I did feel the emotion in the story, and what could be in the off-page conclusion. This is a story of hope, recovery, and the bonds of friendship, with a side of lust. I would recommend this for most readers, with a trigger warning for descriptions of off-page rape.

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