Note: This audiobook was provided by the author via Enticing Journey Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review. The ebook is a personally owned copy.
“I don’t know why, but something in my soul told me to come here.” He shook his head. “I had a list of places to pick from, but I had to come here. I just had to. Something in the back of my head, in my gut, told me to come here. Sutton Station. The name stuck out at me, and right or wrong, I was coming here. And now I know why.” He swallowed hard. “I knew after the first day. This godforsaken, red and unforgiving, hotter than fucking hell place was where I was supposed to be. With you.”
I've listened to several audiobooks in my lifetime (the first one being an Anne Rice title on cassette in the late 80s) but this is officially my first review so bear with me if it ends up sounding like my reviews for books. I must say though, that I was fortunate because my first official audiobook review is for Red Dirt Heart, the first in the Red Dirt series by one of my favorite M/M romance authors, the talented N.R. Walker, and was brilliantly narrated by Joel Leslie. I happened to also have the ebook, but the two formats didn't automatically sync (I have no clue why) so I ended up reading the book while I was listening to the audiobook. So, I guess you could say that this review is a combination of my experience with both the audiobook and the ebook. Maybe that's weird, but I think that a book this great deserves a different touch.
Red Dirt Heart is the story of twenty-five-year-old Charlie Sutton, who runs the family-owned Sutton Station in Australia, having taken over after his father passed away two years prior, and twenty-three-year-old Travis Craig, an agronomy student from Texas, USA who wants to experience and observe farming life in a seemingly desolate area. Charlie's father may no longer be around but his proclamation that his gay son wasn't good enough to take charge of their station still haunts Charlie and it's forced him to remain in the proverbial closet, with only two lifelong, trusted members of his staff--who were more like Charlie's parents than the ones he was born with--knowing the truth. With Travis around, Charlie finds himself more than tempted to give in to his feelings, but can it be kept secret even if it is temporary?
In the past books that I've read by N.R. Walker, she's always been able to use her words to create such vivid imagery in my head while giving me a story to totally fall in love and characters that I won't soon forget, and she's done it again with this series starter. Charlie believes that keeping his sexuality a secret from the people who work from him will make it far easier for them to respect and listen to him, and not just because he's his father's son. Travis is an unexpected temptation. He makes him feel things that he's never felt before. He's comfortable in his own skin and Travis challenges whatever pre-instilled notions Charlie has in his head. I so loved the story these two shared in this first book, enough that I'm now itching to read the rest of the series, but am wavering if I should wait until the corresponding audiobooks are out.
Now, let me explain why I feel the need to wait for those audiobooks. Joel Leslie is one hell of a fantastic narrator. Not only are the two main characters different nationalities--thus meaning they have different accents and speech patterns--but there's also an essential woman in the cast of characters. Joel Leslie does an amazing job seamlessly shifting and transitioning from one voice to another, his intonation leaving me impressed beyond words. He has a knack for making me feel what the characters are feeling, and there was more than one point in the story that I actually stopped reading my ebook and focused instead on listening to him as he didn't just tell me the story but allowed me to experience it with his expressiveness. A superb tale with two equally superb storytellers--what more could one ask for? Five-plus stars for Red Dirt Heart. ♥
Date Read and Listened to: 02 September 2016