Title: Between Loathing and Love
Author: Andrew Grey
Narrator: Tristan James
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release: 19th August 2016
Length: 5 hrs / 58 mins
Theatrical agent Payton Gowan meets with former classmate - and prospective client - Beckett Huntington, with every intention of brushing him off. Beckett not only made high school a living hell for Payton, but he was also responsible for dashing Payton's dreams of becoming a Broadway star.
Aspiring actor Beckett Huntington arrives in New York City on a wing and a prayer, struggling to land his first gig. He knows scoring Payton Gowan as an agent would be a great way to get his foot in the door, but with their history, getting the chance is going to be a tough sell.
Against Payton's better judgment, he agrees to give Beckett a chance, only to discover - to his amazement - that Beckett actually does have talent.
Payton signs Beckett but can't trust him - until Payton's best friend, Val, is attacked. When Beckett is there for him, Payton begins to see another side to his former bully. Amidst attempts by a jealous agent to sabotage Beckett's career and tear apart their blossoming love, Payton and Beckett must learn to let go of the past if they have any chance at playing out a future together.
What I particularly liked about this enemies-to-lovers story was Beckett. Although not told from his point of view, he was the hero of the story for me. Each description of him, as seen through Payton’s eyes, was swoon-worthy: his hot body, his compassionate nature, especially the way he behaved with Payton, and not forgetting the husky voice the narrator gave him. He’s just about perfect. A talented performer with bags of charisma who fell head over heels for Payton despite their past. Although at first Beckett failed to recognize the ‘boy’ he believed had outed him at school and subsequently tormented. Once they became reaquainted, Beckett soon proved he was no longer the bully Payton believed him to be. In fact, Beckett was the one who was prepared to move on and forget about their school years. No wonder Payton couldn’t resist his charms in the end. The two guys had near instant chemistry. And of course, Beckett was a sex god in bed. I loved their passionate and loving scenes together. Beckett was attentive, considerate, and oh boy, did he make Payton scream? Woof!
Val was another great character. He had a prominent role in the story and certainly added to the drama. He was Payton’s super supportive friend. In fact, both men offered wise advice and were protective of each other. Val helped Payton see the positive side of Beckett. Tristan’s wonderful characterisation made him adorable and slightly camp.
Although confident and professional in his work as a theatrical agent, Payton was insecure and often awkward in his personal life. Despite losing his excess weight, he had never really shed the low opinion he’d had of himself since high school. Payton’s unease during his early encounters with Beckett was understandable considering the bullying he’d endured and that made me sympathetic towards Payton. I admired him for his willingness to put the past aside when he decided to act on Beckett’s behalf. Although I’m sure the almost instant attraction helped him to make that decision. Once they were dating, Beckett gradually taught Payton to love himself, to forgive, and accept that people can change in a positive way.
There’s always a baddie and creepy Garren had the pleasure of stirring up trouble for Payton. I was surprised he wasn’t sacked earlier because he seemed a pretty useless agent. Although their boss came across as ineffectual too and his meetings with Payton were rather non-events.
I know this is fiction—and not wanting to give away spoilers—but a couple of plot points came across as far-fetched, plus certain events happened a little too smoothly. I kept wondering about Rod (Val’s ex) and what happened to him. Also I couldn’t understand one or two sudden reactions from Payton that felt like knee-jerk responses because they led to rather contrived drama for drama’s sake.
Having said that, these are minor points. The overall plot was enjoyable without too much angst and the audiobook was well worth listening to.
I always feel a narrator makes or breaks a story and in this audiobook the narration by Tristan James was exceptional. He portrayed the characters’ personalities and their emotions superbly, and his pacing and voice maintained my attention throughout.
Connect with Andrew Grey
Andrew Grey grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived all over the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and now works full time on his writing. Andrew's hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing). He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
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::: Mark’s Book Review :::