Austin & Rhoades (Man Up # 0.5 & 1) ~ Felice Stevens, Narrated by Kale Williams
Austin is a prequel novella to the full story that takes place in the first official book of the series, Rhoades. In Austin we are introduced to the main players of the series: Austin, Rhoades, Frankie, Aaron, Cort, and James. Austin sets the scene and establishes the world in which all the books revolve, namely, the nightclub Man Up, and begins to develop the main characters that will form the entire series.
Austin (strangely enough!) concentrates on Austin and his mysterious admirer Rhoades. We learn a bit about Austin’s history and why he is so reluctant to form any sort of attachment to a man like Rhoades – one with money and influence. The story is told from Austin’s point of view, and although Rhoades is a major subject in the story, his actual speaking parts are relatively few, but enough to be thoroughly intrigued by him and to begin to realise he is not the type of man Austin believes him to be. Austin ends on a cliff hanger, but the full book, Rhoades, immediately picks up and continues the story. Since all the books are available in the series there is no need to wait for a resolution.
Rhoades is the full story of Austin and Rhoades’ relationship. Rhoades has his own demons that he must overcome, but it is the trauma that still haunts Austin that is the crux of their problems. Their relationship is one step forward, three steps back, but ultimately it is worth all the emotional upheaval and it is truly beautiful to watch how sensitively Rhoades navigates the prickly Austin to prove to him that he is not the man Austin believes him to be.
I both read and listened to Austin & Rhoades using the Kindle Whispersync function. This was my first experience with the narrator, Kale Williams, and it’s safe to say that I’m now a huge fan! He was able to give each character a unique voice, and his voice for Rhoades was particularly delicious. He’s a very engaging narrator, being able to vocally demonstrate the peaks and troughs of Austin, Rhoades, and the rest of the casts’ emotions. Although this book is not a comedy, it does have funny moments, and the narrator was able to express these well to provide relief to what is an emotional, but massively romantic, story.
I am an existing fan of Felice Stevens and these books just confirmed her as an excellent author. The characters were so well developed, so that even when they were acting out or frustrating me, I had the urge to simply reach out and give them a hug (while simultaneously bopping them up the head), and ultimately I was completely invested, not only in the main characters, but the entire cast.
If you enjoy an emotional story that will make you feel and bring a tear to your eye, one that is intensely romantic, and ends on the happiest of notes, then I’d highly recommend Austin (prequel) and Rhoades (book 1), and for the ultimate experience, grab the audio too.
As of 11 May 2021 Austin is free on Amazon.