Audiobook Review: One Call Away by Felice Stevens

When a brutal attack from a jealous competitor leaves Noah Strauss, darling of the modeling world, physically scarred and emotionally damaged, he quits the runway to become a psychologist. Using his contacts from his time in the spotlight, he creates One Call Away, a radio show dedicated to gay men looking for love, advice or someone to talk to. But with secrets of his own and a mother who refuses to understand the career path he's chosen, the one person Noah can't seem to help is himself.

On a drunken dare from the senior partner's grandson, Oren Leavitt calls Noah’s radio show, pretending to be gay. Only Oren isn't certain if he's pretending. He's left his strict Orthodox Jewish upbringing behind, but the guilt remains. Guilt that his actions have prevented his sister from finding a husband and guilt that he's failed his parents. Talking to "Dr. Noah" helps, and as he finds himself calling the man again and again, he knows he must be honest. But Oren is unsure if he's lying to Noah or himself.

For Noah, trust is paramount; he's been deceived in his personal and professional life and while he desperately wants to help Oren, he also finds himself falling for the sweet and tortured man. Oren is trapped: he risks losing his job and more importantly the love and security of his family but knows he can't hide if he wants to be with Noah. When unresolved heartaches from the past rise up to control the present, Noah and Oren discover that love often comes from the most unexpected places, and sometimes a call for help not only saves a life, it can be a new and beautiful beginning.

Narrated by: Seth Clayton
Listening Length: 10 hours and 54 minutes

I came for Seth. I didn't read the blurb. I'd never read anything by this author before. So I had no idea what was what. I know Ms. Stevens is super popular so hopefully I'm not going to get dragged for this. But...

We meet the Noah and Oren during, what turns out to be, a "prank" phone call to Noah's radio call in show. Oren is "posing" as a closeted gay man at the behest of his moronic, juvenile, idiotic, jackhole bosses. But the joke's on them because Oren actually is a closeted, gay man. I'll come back to idiots later.

A connection is formed during that phone call that defies explanation and this is what I kept circling back to. Insta relationships either work for me or they don't and in this case I never understood their connection, and so I couldn't let it go. As a reader I need to understand on some level especially when major life decisions, drastic changes and dramatic declarations start occurring. But it always falls back on this amorphous, intangible, all consuming connection that changed their lives forever.

I really tried to be down with this. I tried to tell that annoying voice that kept saying 'why, why, why, whyyyyy, WHY, WHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYY???' to shut her pie hole which worked for a minute till some other life altering decision was made due to THE CONNECTION and the face would reappear.

Oren is a good Jewish boy who loves his family with all his heart, supports them with his lawyering and believes that they will shun him if they learn his secret, so he's stepped away from his religion and thrown himself into work. Deeply in the closet, never been in love, so virgin, and convinced that he'll always be alone it was surprising and required reality suspension to believe the way he embraces Noah. There is some token resistance and angst but he makes some significant changes with relative ease. He also seems to be a seasoned veteran lickity split when it comes to all things gay sex.

Noah, now a psychologist, has his fair share of baggage from an attack which seemed to be fueled by jealousy over his modeling success and, subsequently, ended his modeling career. A godsend for Noah since he hated modeling but it's driven the wedge deeper between he and his mother. He's never addressed the pink elephant in the room where his mother is concerned and the attack itself left him with a host of body image issues. Yet again, I had to suspend reality when Oren's regard and magic peen seemed to cure Noah of those issues with a quickness.

The magic peen gets whipped out a lot, so loads of sexy times. They don't last very long but there are loads of them.

I've no idea how things would've worked out had a read this rather than listened to it, but the dialogue came across as exceptionally dramatic. OTT dramatic. Drama llama dramatic. Teenage dramatic. Dramatics are not my gig so... the face.

Those dramatics coupled with the frat house, persistently drunk or hungover, bullying, jackholery of Oren's boss drove me batshit. Harlan was so ridiculous... I can't even.

What I did like were the family dynamics of both of these men and the support that they receive from them and their friends. There are sweet and heartfelt moments between them that I enjoyed. Unfortunately they were usually followed by some... moments. That involved the face.

As far as Seth's narration, he delivered a nuanced and emotive performance like I knew he would. His somewhat subdued delivery matched the tone of the narrative. There were moments when his performance did affect me and I still marvel at the number of different accents he can do. However, even those moments and his performance weren't enough to overcome all the drawbacks, I'm sorry to say.

Recommend to instalove and hurt/comfort fans.

A review copy was provided.

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