Michael Campbell can’t hold a job for more than a few days. He’s lucky his foreman is giving him another chance with the solar panel project at an elementary school in Atlantic City. When he spies a man walking strangely in front of the school, Michael laughs, assuming he’s drunk or high. Little does he realize that Joshua Stone, a teaching assistant, has cerebral palsy, and he’s having a bad muscle control day. Taking a tumble right in front of the handsome construction worker is just his luck.
When Michael learns the truth, he feels bad for his cruel behavior. He offers to give Joshua—and his tricycle, the Racing Rhonda—a lift. Joshua accepts the help, and suddenly there’s a gorgeous man breezing into his life, turning his world upside down. But Michael has more issues than his inability to hold down a job, and neither man is sure if they’ll be able to overcome their fears in order to be together.
Narrated by Joel Leslie
Listening Length: 3 hours and 20 minutes
I’m going to start this review with the narration. Full disclosure. I am hearing impaired. While I can hear noise on most of the sound spectrum, words are a little more difficult to decipher, and it can take a small delay between hearing a word, and figuring out the word, most likely because I am trying to fit the right word into the sequence so the sentence makes sense. Soft voices are a killer for me. I have actually, unknowingly walked away from people while they are still speaking because I didn’t know they were still speaking (oops). I lip-read a lot. I have hearing aids that make the world way too loud, because I have been without them for 26 years, so I use them sparingly. On a hearing test, I can catch about 53% of word-sounds without aids. So the point of all of that is to say, I use noise canceling headphones, and have the sound up just the wrong side of the hearing warning alert on my phone so that I can hear word-sounds.
The quality of this audio for the first few chapters was not good. It was warbled and it sounded like the audio filters were all wrong. It may have been just me, again, my hearing, but it may be worth the author checking it out just in case it’s broken. Coupled with the narrator’s soft husky voice and this was painful and frustrating for me. I missed a bit of the first few chapters because I just couldn’t hear, no matter how high I turned it up. So yeah, up until Chapter four, I struggled. And it irritated me because it reminds me that I miss a lot. This is the first audiobook that has made me feel like crap, and made me hyperaware of my disability, which is pretty freaking ironic, given the content of the story.
At around Chapter four, the sound quality improved dramatically, and I was able to enjoy the story from that point. While the narrator’s voice is not the best for my hearing, it is still a nice voice for narration, and he did really well in selling the story.
On to the story…….
Michael is a fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy. He just doesn’t seem to know how to keep it together enough to keep a job, or keep his big mouth shut. He’s flighty, impulsive, and almost lazy.
An encounter at a job site, where he sees a man stumbling around, shows how truly impulsive and quick to judge he is. Much to his horror, the man he thought was “drunk” actually has Cerebral Palsy and is having a particularly hard day with motor control. Joshua hears the mouthy bastard and is obviously upset, but when he struggles to get on his trike at the end of the day, he allows Michael to repent for his bad behaviour by accepting a ride home.
This story was difficult for me, beyond the above mentioned hearing issues with the narrator. I found Michael’s character too brazen and ignorant. His privilege seemed to trip him up quite a lot, even though he was trying to be understanding. This just pissed me off, because it was not up to Michael to make himself feel better at Joshua’s expense. It was not Joshua’s job to console Michael’s embarrassment. He was a dick, and I was upset that Joshua felt the need to assure Michael that it was okay. No it really wasn’t okay. At all.
The story did progress to the point where Michael redeemed himself a little. Especially when his biggest worry was that Joshua was too good for him to pursue. He was respectful of Joshua’s limits in the relationship building, but still a bit annoying in his assumptions about Joshua’s ability to know his own physical limits.
Joshua was a joy to read about. The insecurities were understandable. That aside, I really liked that he pushed back and advocated for himself. He made it very clear the way Michael behaved at times was unacceptable. I’m just sad that he had to do it. I’m also sad that he felt the need to reassure Michael when Michael got upset and embarrassed about his own poor behaviour.
Nevertheless this was a good start to a series. I think that the characters have a good emotional foundation to move forward, and I would be interested to see where that goes.
I thought the representation of Joshua was well done. Michael still has work to do to fully redeem himself, even though I know some of his behaviour was based on his own insecurities about his abilities. No excuse. You don’t make yourself feel better at someone else’s expense. But I will allow the story to unfold before I make up my mind about his character.
This audiobook is not recommended for those who have hearing impairment and find soft voices difficult to hear. For those who have no problem, this is recommended for those who like to see everyone find someone they can connect with, not matter their abilities or perceived limitations.
A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Find out more on Goodreads or Dreamspinner Press.