Audio Book Review: Under a Sky of Ash by Brandon Witt, Narrated by Tyler J. Singleton

More than a decade after leaving Colorado to attend college and escape his past, Isaiah Greene moves back and builds a life in Denver as a special education teacher. When he meets Ben Woods, the mentor of one of his students, the attraction is immediate. The revelations that they’ve both suffered traumatic childhoods form a bond between them.

Raised by an abusive grandmother, Ben is a recovering addict who has made a family with his construction worker boss, Hershel, and Hershel’s husband, Daniel—drag queen ManDonna. Adding Isaiah to his life gives Ben a glimpse of a future he’d never dreamed possible for himself.

Both Isaiah and Ben are survivors, but when guilt drives a wedge between them, the past threatens to end their relationship.

Ben and Isaiah embark on journeys of self-discovery. Though their path will be difficult at times, humor and love find a way to bring light to the darkness.

Wow. What a story. The impact these two men had on each other's lives was intense. 

The story begins when Isaiah was a young boy, figuring himself out. He's kissing another boy for the first time and finally understands what all his feelings mean. During this first kiss, tragedy strikes when the boy's dad comes home and does irreversible damage. 

Fast-forward 20 years and Isaiah moved back to Denver to be a special education teacher and to take care of the boy he ran from all those years ago. He carries so much on his shoulders. Not just the lives of his students, but guilt from the horrific events in his past. While his past haunted him, he still faced it day after day. He didn't run and I loved that about him.

Ben's faces just as many challenges from his past as Isaiah. He grew up in an abusive home with a grandmother who despised him. He's now a recovering addict living with his "adoptive parents" (for lack of a better term), Hershel and Daniel (also known as ManDonna). 

When Isaiah and Ben first met, they were as well adjusted as you could expect, considering their demons. They've faced them all their lives and on their own. Now they have to face them together. Which gets tricky because their lives and pasts intersect in ways they'd never imagined.

The hurt/comfort theme is strong. They tried to moved past what happened so long ago, but it's not that easy. Nor is love always enough. Just because you love someone doesn't make things automatically wonderful. Making a relationship solid is hard work. I liked how that was portrayed. Nothing was easy about Ben and Isaiah's relationship, but the hard work was worth it to them.

The story was amazing. Angsty, emotional, real... along with a cast of amazing secondary characters. Solid. I so wish I had read the print version. If I had, no doubt this would have been five stars. I could not connect with the characters and I think that's due to the lackluster narration. The narrator didn't change his voice for any of the characters and that makes it so hard to follow dialogue. Especially in M/M! I lost track of who was talking a couple times and that's frustrating to me. Also, there wasn't much intonation used either. Everything was very monotone. Just... blah. Boring.

Under a Sky of Ash is another winner from Brandon Witt. It's only my second read from him (I know! What the heck have I been doing with my life?), and it certainly won't be my last. I look forward to more from him.

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more info on Goodreads or Dreamspinner Press.

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