Story Rating: 3 stars
Audio Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrators: Kirt Graves and John Solo
Length: 6 hours, 21 minutes
When Kyle finds out is mother will require yet another expensive surgery not covered by insurance and that both the family home and his last year of college will be lost, he is desperate to find the money. When his friend, Jeff, suggest working at an exclusive resort and robbing some of the clients, Kyle reluctantly goes along. Once there, he baulks at the idea, but Jeff pressures him and the reality that his mother may not get the life changing surgery she needs is the motivation for Kyle to make a huge mistake against the one resort guest he actually finds attractive.
Maddox is all about getting some much needed rest and trying to sort out his on again/off again entanglement with a colleague, Nadia. He is not in love with her and if his immediate reaction to the hot, young, summer employee, Kyle, is any indicator, Maddox’s bisexual libido is healthy and ready to play. But when he catches Kyle in a compromising position, Maddox jumps through hoops to make sure not only is the man not arrested, but that his “punishment” means Kyle comes to work off his offense at Maddox’s estate.
Sticky Fingers by Davidson King feels like a slight diversion from this author’s normal fare of intricate plots and well-formed characters. There is a definite style difference here that left me scratching my head. Normally, King is fairly spot on when it comes to plotting a novel and creating intricate and fascinating action throughout. In this case, there never seemed to be a real threat to Kyle. Yes, the girlfriend/business associate, Nadia, comes off as a screechy nasty woman, but I never felt her attempt at intimidation is anything but empty threats and short lived, especially near the end of the novel. While there is a true sense of Kyle potentially losing everything should charges be brought against him that would stick, there is never a moment where I feel like that is about to happen.
The attraction between Kyle and Maddox, while a bit forced, still gave off sparks and is undeniably realistic. I did like how the author initially made this seem like insta-attraction and held off any declarations of love for a decent amount of time. There is a fairytale sense to this novel; while the feelings between Maddox and Kyle feel true, the rest of the story is just one implausible scenario after another. Still, Sticky Fingers is entertaining and a nice bit of romantic escapism some might find very appealing.
With two different narrators in the audiobook, one cannot help but compare their techniques and styles. John Solo is a good choice for the younger character, Kyle. His slightly breathy and higher register made the age difference between Maddox and Kyle (nineteen years) stand out and made me feel Kyles’ naïveté come through compared to Maddox’s more worldly sense. Unfortunately, Solo didn’t always handle the change in character voices quite as well as narrator Kirt Graves and definitely couldn’t match the deeper, more gravely tones Graves used for Maddox. So instead of a complimentary feel to the two narrator’s voices, I am left with this disconnect between chapters as Graves voices Maddox’s chapters and Solo voices Kyle’s. I am not sure this is what the author had in mind, but it felt like two different versions of the same story and was rather jolting.
Solo also has some difficulty switching between his narration tone and that of the different character voices. While I understand that Kyle is the narrator and it is fine for those two voices to sound alike, the lack of definitive pauses between prose and dialogue managed to make everything narrated by Solo so similar. It just began to sound like only Kyle is speaking, as opposed to conversations among characters—it all became a bit of a mish mash after a while. Graves, on the other hand, managed to have a variety of different voices alongside his Maddox/narrator tone and therefore his bits in the novel are much clearer and easier to follow.
In the end, I am in a bit of a quandary as to how to justly review these narrators. If I give one overall score for the audio, then the rating is a real mixed bag. So let me say that Graves, for me, came off as the stronger narrator, with more of a talent for differentiating character voices, while Solo gave a very strong presentation as Kyle in both character voice and narration.