Audiobook Review: The Arrangement by Felice Stevens

Carter Haywood lives for the weekends—specifically the one weekend every month when he escapes real life, with all the pressures of work and caring for his special needs brother, to do whatever he wants, with whomever he wants. Sex is only a release; he's not looking for love, a relationship or even a second night with the same man, until he walks into a bar and finds someone who makes leaving it all behind impossible. After one incredibly passionate encounter, he breaks his rule and goes back. He needs to see this man again. And again.

Damaged goods. That's all Reed Kincaide sees and hears when he looks in the mirror. Anxiety and ADHD define his life and he’s learned to keep people at a distance, never letting them get close enough to know who he really is. When Carter proposes a monthly weekend of sex without strings, it's the ideal arrangement for him. Or so he thinks. Every month, leaving Carter proves to be more and more difficult. It’s not only the intensely hot sex they have in their hotel suite; Reed wonders about the secret life Carter refuses to share.

As months pass and they grow closer Reed finds himself falling for Carter, but he needs more than hurried hugs and farewell kisses. He wants it all. Letting Reed into his carefully constructed family life could upset Carter’s whole world, but it might be the risk he’s finally willing to take, if it means keeping Reed. Once bodies are engaged, the heart is sure to follow, and Carter and Reed discover that holding on to each other is the first step in letting go of the past.

Narrator: Charlie David
Listening Length: 7 hours and 1 minute

I read this book on my kindle when it was first published, and consequently jumped at the chance to review it in audio! I absolutely adore audio books and usually listen on my long commute, or whilst doing chores. So great, to be able to enjoy a book when I normally wouldn't be able to. If you’ve not given in to the lure of the audio yet, I urge you to do it!

Our two lovely men (Carter and Reed) are both carrying so much baggage, its a wonder they can make it into the hotel where they hook up! Carter is the sole caregiver for his little brother who had beed dropped off on his doorstep by their mother and abandoned when he was seven years old. Carter gives Jackson everything a surrogate parent can, working hard in business to provide for the therapists Jackson’s additional needs require, and putting his persona life on the back burner save for one weekend a month where he goes in to the city and finds a man to meet his needs for a night or two. On his special weekend, he is scanning the bar for a bed partner, when the gorgeous bartender catches his eye. Reed is in grad school, but works plenty of hours in the bar to support himself. He is immediately attracted to Carter and being so very busy with his studies, and believing himself too broken by his ADHD, anxiety and abandonment of his own, he accepts Carter’s arrangement for a sex only relationship just one month per weekend.

The tragedy that these two men had both been abandoned by their mothers gave a story a sad thread running through it, but the shared experience gave them something powerful to bond over was amazing.

Of course it all goes awry when Reed develops feelings for Carter and Carter runs a mile at the suggestion of a real relationship, and the idea that his sex life and his real life might crash in to each other. There’s a break up, tears, fatherly advice for Reed and fledgling independence of Jacks for Carter. Eventually we have our HEA, of course, this is Felice Stevens writing after all, but it’s not without it’s struggles.

Highlights include Carter’s amazing neighbour Helen, the plate painting Jacks does (I really cried and had to pull over at that since I was driving!), and Reed’s dad Walter. My personal highlight was the author’s explanation of, and description of living with mental health issues, in this case anxiety and ADHD. Superbly clear, honest and realistic.

It is such a beautifully crafted tale, that I want you all to get the story, the book was great but the audio is better. Charlie David’s characterisation is fabulous and his interpretation of the emotive stuff is outstanding. The only thing better than a great romance novel, is having that romance novel read to you by a wonderful narrator. This is exactly that.

I was given a free copy of the audio book in exchange for an honest review

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Don't miss the Arrangement audio tour stop here!

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