Title ~ Owning Corey
Author ~ Maris Black
Narrator ~ J. F Harding
Length ~ 8hrs 26mins
Publisher ~ Audible Studios
Published ~ 7th July 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, Suspense
When introverted doctor Ben Hardy's high-maintenance girlfriend wants to introduce a little more kink into their love life, he doesn't expect it to come in the form of the hunky new EMT who just moved to Blackwood. Ben's not gay, but damn! He can definitely see why all the women turn to mush when he's around: tall, blue eyes, body of an underwear model. The prospect of being naked in the same room with him is horrifying. So why the hell is he considering it?
Every now and again I do slip the odd audiobook into my 'reading' regime, but this is the first time I've ever reviewed one because... honestly...I find it much harder to retain a storyline when listening, than taking in the written word on page. My mind tends to wander if I'm not seeing the words, especially at night if I'm listening in bed and a bit dopey to start with. Dozing off, then coming around to find I've missed a good chunk of the story is not unknown. LOL—Rewind time!
I'd already purchased and read Owning Corey about four months ago, and really loved it, so when I saw it was coming out on Audible, it was a no brainer buy; especially as having already bought the Kindle version, I got it for a ridiculously low price through Audible's Whyspersync and saved a credit...cos I'm savvy like that, Haha. Having read it already, made reviewing much easier and the addition of a great narrator helped too, but more about that later. First....
I really enjoy Maris Black's writing style and her not so predictable 'Gay for you' style plots just seem to mesh well with my personal likes in m/m. Always hot, and oozing with the sort of sexual tension and chemistry that if it was live action would set your Kindle on fire; put that together with an attention grabbing backstory with a touch of suspense thrown in, and I'm happy. Told from both Ben, who is completely straight when the book begins, and a perceived to be straight chick magnet Corey's point of view, I was totally engrossed by how everything played out in the book. This one coming a close second to Kage, which is my favourite Maris Black up to now...her Pinned series is very enjoyable too.
One aspect of Maris's storylines, that I really love, is how she isn't afraid of making her guys not so shiny perfect. I won't lie; there are times when because of the intensity between them, both the standoffish, arrogant, cool surgeon Ben and seductively mesmerising Corey make questionable, self serving decisions around a couple of women who come into their lives. Not so much Christina, the gold digging selfish girlfriend—she reaped what she sowed—but the sweet natured secondary character, Julie: a nurse at the hospital where Ben and Corey work, who inadvertently gets pulled into the their complex relationship. But for me that part of the story had purpose, as it was needed to drive the story forward and in the end a deeper friendship came from the event; eventually showing a much warmer side of Ben and deeper insights into Corey's past. By the end I was totally enamoured of the two MC's, who in my opinion did redeem themselves.
At the end of the day nobody is perfect. It's within us all to make poor judgements when intense emotion is involved...it's a fact of life...and I like when an author shows that his or her characters aren't infallible. Makes it more believable to me and does what a good read should...evokes the readers emotional responses and reactions.
There are also a couple of m/f/m scenes included that again, because of their part in bringing the two men together, felt crucial to the story and despite my normal aversion to lady sex in my m/m, didn't phase me at all. In fact listening to them read out on audio, and not reading them, was all kinds of hot because the women might be participating, but really, those scenes are all about the underlying passion and tension between two men and THAT feeds the delish sexual tension!
A brilliant read with just one teeny niggle towards the end, around a situation resulting from revelations about Corey's past that sort of came out of left field, and in terms of the general tone of the drama up to that point, felt a tad soap opera-ish dramatic...but the rest of it is so good I can overlook that and will definitely be reading...or now listening to...this again!
Which brings me to...
A good narrator can make a book...a bad narrator can break it. In this case JF Harding didn't just make it—he owned it! Right from the (spoken) word go, his smooth, dulcet tones drew me in and kept me plugged in to my ipod for the duration. He nailed everything that a great aural storyteller should. Effortless, fluid delivery with no obvious hitching of breath between sentences, lovely pacing and a gorgeous timbre that never grated on my ears. A great platform to start with...but where he excelled for me was in the 'acting' of the story. I reckon he could read the phone directory and give it emotion! I adored his voicing of both the story and characters.
As the book is told first person from both MC's, he not only managed to give Ben and Corey (and the rest of the supporting characters) an immediately recognizable tone, he also interpreted their separate persona's brilliantly, but of course a lot of that comes from being given great material to voice in the first place. If the writing's not good to begin with, then not even the best actor in the world can give it life!
The emotional tonality and inflections in their conversational voices and POV narrative was pretty much nigh on perfect to my ears. Loved his take on Ben, who was exactly as I imagined him from my original kindle read but OMG! His interpretation of Corey was soooo sexy. Every time he spoke I did a bit of squirming. Mind you a deep, slightly raspy accent does me in every time and his is delicious! Then there's the sex scenes...Oooh... he gave me goosebumps on my goosebumps!
One thing I don't like is when a male narrator tries to make himself sound like a woman, but fails miserably because he just ends up sounding like Minnie Mouse on helium. It's never going to be perfect when one sex tries to voice the other but I've got to say JF Harding did a good job with the women's voices...by just subtly lightening the tone of his voice he put them over very nicely indeed. Never over exaggerating but accenting with ease when needed. Corey's, smoke induced, gravelly voiced Aunt Denise being a great example of that. I have to say his interpretation enhanced an already highly enjoyable story from a now favourite author, who certainly knew how to pick the perfect person, to give their words in this, the extra factor needed for an audio session. I'll definitely be looking out for more m/m audiobooks from Mr Harding in the future...at the moment he's only narrated m/f but I'm hoping and praying that he agrees to narrate Kage...I'm drooling thinking about it!
Audiobook Purchase Links
Ebook Purchase Link
Owning Corey Audio Excerpt
Length of excerpt : 20 Mins