Story Rating: 3 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 9 hours, 1 minutes
David Evans knows that this job is going to be The One. It’s going to be the perfect fit, the first job that he won’t get fired from. He just knows it. Just like he knows he’s already half in love with Dr. Alun Kendrick, because he listened to the man’s beautiful voice for hours as he did transcription work for him some time ago. The problem? Dr. Alun doesn’t seem to think David is going to work out. In fact, he keeps trying to get rid of David! Rude, right? Well, David isn’t going to give up that easily.
Alun Kendrick was once a member of the Seelie Court, Champion to the Queen herself, until he was cursed. For having failed to save the man he loved, for allowing him to be murdered, Alun now is cursed with the face of a beast and carries the pain of his loss as a weight over his shoulders. Now, he tries to do good in the world as a psychiatrist to the supernatural community — helping a young dragon who has yet to find his hoard, or a vampire who can’t drink blood — and humans who have been touched by the otherworld who need to forget how close they came to death, and to forget the world they were exposed to. What he doesn’t need is a human working behind the desk. A loud, obnoxious human who makes him — heart and body — feel things he hasn’t felt in so very long …
I did not like David. At all. His first day as a temp to Alun’s office, he’s so sure he knows better than the doctor what’s needed. He rearranges the sitting room, adjusts lights and windows to suit his needs, and is angry when the doctor won’t let him — a temp — see the patient’s charts. After all, he took a whole class in office management! He’s partway through the course work needed to be a nurse. And he’s only been fired from a few jobs, not even that many! Never mind David doesn’t even know what sort of patients the doctor treats, David surely knows best. He even demands a professional relationship from the man whose office he barges into without knocking, whose valuable and old books he uses as a step stool, who he snarks at and mocks and ignores.
I didn’t find David cute or charming. I found him a selfish, self-centered, and shallow brat. Everyone is judged on their appearance — and boy does David judge them. The first patient to walk in uses too much hair gel, so surely he’s scum. The elegant woman with a child must be royalty, with the regal bearing of Diana — only not so obsessed with her diet. The Seelie queen has a rocking bod and the face of a model, but there’s something about her face that has just a dash of character that makes her not like the other fae women.
Alun is, and had the potential to be, an interesting character. Cursed to look as ugly on the outside as he felt on the inside, he’s bitter and alone and hurting. His brothers avoid him, he can’t go back to the faerie realm because he’s not beautiful enough to be let through the door, and through all of this, he’s trying to help other people the best he can. When he finally does start feeling for David, it’s very much physical and so shocking, so unlike him, that he wonders if this is how an Obsessed Fae feels, because he suddenly wants to take David to faerie and lock him in his house so he can own him forever.
However, this isn’t ever really explored. Instead, this is a tragic tale of David resembling Alun’s lost love, of David being more than meets the eye, of David always knowing or doing just the right thing at the right time. Everyone loves him instantly, even the people who want to hurt him. But I didn’t find him to be either interesting or pleasant to read about. This may be a case of the wrong book for the wrong reader, because I felt a visceral reluctance to continue with the story. I had to set myself a schedule, chopping the book into smaller sections to get through it, and the only reason I did was because of Joel Leslie’s narration.
As ever, he does an amazing job with the voices, the emotion, and the pacing of the story. Welsh, Irish, English … they were all clear, well delineated, and he’s just a joy to listen to. But unfortunately, even Leslie couldn’t make me like David.
There is nothing technically wrong with this book. It’s a little formulaic, but the reveals are supported by the text, the story’s pacing is decent, and the villains are pretty evil. Especially when you consider the ritual the big bad goes through to gain power, and the number of people he’s murdered. However, it’s given as much weight as David solving of all of Alun’s clients’ issues. Which he does, because he’s David. Personally, I can’t recommend this story. But, as ever, this is purely my personal taste, and for those who have enjoyed this book or enjoyed this author, I wish you a pleasant reading experience if you pick up this story.