Strong Enough: Family Collection
Written by: Cardeno C.
Narrated by: Ezekiel Robison
Length: 6 hrs and 43 mins
When a casual hookup turns into the potential for love, staid Spencer realizes he wants to build a life with vibrant Emilio.
When 22-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge.
Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his 38 years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again.
Ezekiel Robison has made this whole series a delight to listen to. His narration throughout is superb. In this story he clearly characterizes each person and their emotions with a distinctive voice to match the personality. He made Spencer’s voice mature yet cute, Emilio’s hot and sensual, and the slimy ex boyfriend Peter worked really well and provoked the required negative reaction.
I thoroughly enjoyed this light-hearted tale. It was definitely lust at first sight for this May/December and very opposite couple. The young construction worker moving in straight away with the older professor might seem implausible in real life, but as usual, CC makes it entirely feasible. It’s a sexy and sweet romance of two men rapidly falling in love.
Emilio is such a great character. Handsome and sexy, he knows what he wants and sets out to claim Spencer from the start. For someone who is so young (twenty-two) he possesses amazing confidence and the ability to do what is right. He starts off in the role of the seducer, but when he notices Spencer’s vulnerability, he takes his time to earn Spencer’s trust. He declares his intentions towards him so it doesn’t feel creepy. I adored how caring and protective he is and how he makes Spencer feel comfortable and safe. They get to know each other well as Emilio gradually fixes the house for Spencer. He is patient and gentle, allowing Spencer the time to adapt to their new situation.
Spencer is the sweet and unassuming professor, who’s also lonely and insecure. My heart went out to him as we learn about his past and his insecurities. He’d been hurt before, but was still willing to give love one more chance. His reactions to Emilio loving on him and showing him attention are super.
The “off the charts” passion and connection between Emilio and Spencer made this story wonderful. The interaction and conversations showed a beautiful relationship developing and the smoking hot love scenes helped to make the insta-love believable. Emilio demonstrates his commitment to Spencer, and their love and devotion to each other prove to Spencer that he didn’t really have ED but that he’d simply been with the wrong partners before Emilio.
Emilio’s family play a fabulous role in the story. They are all supportive of Emilio and readily welcome Spencer into the fold. Some of the comical scenes involving the brothers are hilarious and had me chuckling away.
This is a favourite series of mine and this story is a well-crafted tale of love that keeps your attention throughout. It draws the reader/listener into the characters’ lives and the blossoming relationship from the start.
Love at First Sight: Home Collection, # 4
Written by: Cardeno C.
Narrated by: Alexander Collins
Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
The moment naïve, optimistic Jonathan Doyle glimpses a gorgeous blue-eyed stranger from afar, he believes in love at first sight. Unfortunately, he loses sight of the man before they meet and then spends years desperately trying to find him. Just as he is about to give up, Jonathan gets a break and finally encounters David Miller face to face.
Successful, confident David turns Jonathan’s previously lonely life into a fairy tale, giving him more than he ever imagined. But the years spent searching were hard on Jonathan, and he’s terrified his young son and scandalous past will destroy his blossoming relationship. For David and Jonathan to build a future together, they’ll both have to dig deep: David for the courage to share himself in a way he’s never considered and Jonathan for the strength to tell the truth.
Alexander Collins is one of my favourite narrators. Although he doesn’t have a wide vocal range, he has a soothing and expressive voice. His narration is well paced and he provides good characterization. The use of additional sound effects enhances the listening experience.
Let me say first that I enjoyed listening to this story, but there were several minor issues that niggled me.
As the title says, this is a story of love at first sight. Fans of CC will know this is a common trait for characters and are happy to enjoy this. Even so, I found the first few chapters hard to accept as I listened. I let out quite a few “What the… ? gasps. Stick with it! The events and situations that happened at the beginning are there for a reason and have consequences for the rest of the story and the two main characters. And by the end of the story I was thinking it all worked for the plot, and through it we gain a better glimpse of Jonathan’s true character.
I did pause every time a reference was made to David’s strange navy blue eye colour, though, and I struggled to accept that someone could stand in a hospital staring at another guy for three hours without anyone questioning what he was doing or David noticing him. And when Jonathan moves to New York with a baby in tow in the hope of finding this guy again because he thinks he’s in love I was shaking my head.
I was also a little bewildered at Jonathan’s reaction during the days following their first night together, but it added a little angst to the story and we get to meet some of David’s friends and see another side to David’s character during this time, so that was okay.
There were a few head hopping scenes/paragraphs which confused me, but not seeing the text layout and relying on the narration it wasn’t clear if there was a deliberate change of POV. There were inconsistencies regarding Sam’s character and also when David meets Jonathan’s parents, plus I noticed a couple of timeline issues.
After saying all that, and it taking me a few chapters to get into the story, there was plenty that I did like about this story. I enjoyed the overall plot in the end and the interaction between the wide range of characters.
I liked that Jonathan wasn’t perfect. That made him more realistic. Yes, he was naive and innocent in a way and not the sharpest pencil in the box, but he loved his son and David without question and took his responsibilities seriously. He’d been misused by friends and strangers, but he had the support of a good family, and then David’s love and affection to see him through.
There is a wonderful ‘Aww’ moment after they first make love and Jonathan misinterprets what David says.
David is indeed a catch. He’s hunky and protective of Jonathan and Sam, and long before the end of the story we see that he has a great big heart. I’m not usually a fan of stories with children, but I liked how David took on Sam without a second thought for himself.
The chemistry between these two guys sizzles throughout and as their relationship evolves the interaction is wonderful. I enjoyed how their story develops and how they show their love for each other from very early on. In fact, I enjoyed the second half of the book much more than the first half of the book. Once they are together there are plenty of fireworks with lashings of hot sex scenes to make this a beautiful and steamy love story.
I was anticipating fallout from Jonathan’s secret past and was pleased that it never really came to much. David’s reaction just demonstrated how accepting and loving of Jonathan he was because he really knew him by then.
I also liked that other characters from the Home series make an appearance as David’s friends.
Fans of CC will enjoy listening to this fluffy, instalove, and family-centric story. If you can overlook some of the unrealistic aspects of the plot, take it as a feel-good and sweet romance.
Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.
Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”
Win an Audible book of your choice from author Cardeno C.
presented by WLKBookPromotions.com