Audiobook Review: Ace by Jack Byrne

Jake Tanner is a gay asexual man who finds peace on his small Australian farm and is content to lead a quiet life taking care of his animals. Then a random act of kindness on his part sets in motion a complex series of events that results in him playing the piano in a local pub and meeting Damien Jamieson, a sexy gay biker with a penchant for leather. Damien finds Jake instantly irresistible, but that could be the worst thing for their budding relationship, as Damien is determined to bed the reluctant Jake. However, Jake has no intention of going along with his plan. If there’s a chance for anything between them, Damien will have to figure out how to turn Jake on without scaring him off.

Listening Length: 5 hrs and 37 min
Narrator: Jonathan David

I was somewhat disappointed by the choice of narrator for this audiobook. Not because Jonathan David doesn’t have a pleasing voice, he does. Great pitch, great range. But not Aussie. I’m an Aussie, so I get super excited about my fellow country men and women publishing books I’m interested in reading. This was definitely a story I was interested in, but I felt a bit cheated by the American accent. I spoke (whinged) to my American partner about it, and he said it was smart. Apparently he won’t listen to anything by british narrators because he doesn’t like the accent, but dubbing it over with American accent and he will give it a try. This makes no sense to me, but meh, whatever. I didn’t like it. I love accents. All accents. I find them interesting, and sexy, and pleasing to my ears. But I wanted Aussie for this. So I’m pouting a bit over it and it may have influenced my enjoyment of the story a little.

The story I thought was really good. I liked the way this was about the struggle with someone who doesn’t know there is a label for his disinterest in sex, and his relationship with someone who loves sex all of the time. It was painful at times the way they miscommunicated because one person feels that sex is part of a loving relationship, and the other thinks that emotional, and non-sexual physical togetherness is how to express love.

At times I could not see how these two men would work it out, and have a functioning relationship. Sex just took up so much of the conversation, and they didn’t seem to get anywhere. Did I say painful? Agonising! At times I was screaming inside “You’re not listening, Damien!”.

It was hard to see the relationship development because it was so slow. One step forward, two steps back in a few places. But I did see that they were both committed to trying, and that made me happy. I was also pleased when there were breakthroughs. It was tough going, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

A couple of nitpicking parts that irritated me. I’ve mentioned I’m Aussie. I may have even mentioned that I like authenticity. So when an author chooses to use the old english measuring system in books set in metric using countries, I’m not happy. We are metric, baby! We don’t say miles. Our odometers are metric! 100 Kilometres per hour!!! 60 Metre rock!!!! When you read the book, you’ll know what I’m referring to. Maybe it’s a sales thing, or an outback thing (I can probably forgive the use of feet as measurement, but not the speed)? I just wish I didn’t have to do conversions in my head when reading an Australian author, because I have to do so much with all the other books I read.

I thought that maybe Jake compromised a little too much. Damian just couldn’t seem to grasp that Jake was not rejecting him as a person. And so Jake seemed to fold a little.

I liked the visit to Brisbane (Shout-out from Brisbane, baby!), and the general landscape for the country town. I liked the side characters, and enjoyed these two men as a couple. The dialogue was smooth, and the general feel of the town worked well.

**Minor Spoiler**

I also had to suspend disbelief with the adoption thing, simply because adoption laws in Australia are pretty archaic and not at all in favour of single people. It may be possible in New South Wales, or Victoria, but definitely not in Queensland (where the story is mostly set), and it would have cost a lot of money, money that a homeless eighteen year old wouldn’t have had. So that part of the story didn’t really work for me, but it is a nice dream, and maybe one day these things won’t be almost impossible.

This story is a little angsty (and I don’t mean that in a bad way) so if you’re not in that kind of mood, then best to leave it until you are. But I thought this was worth my time, and I would read other stories by Jack Byrne. He is a solid storyteller, and I would recommend this to everyone who enjoys hard-won romance. If you don’t think you can listen to this as audio, definitely give the print novel a try. But if you’re like my partner, and you’re fine with American narrator for an Aussie story, then go ahead and listen to Jonathan David. He really does have a lovely voice.

Dreamspinner Press


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