Friday, July 27, 2018

The Rip Cord Trilogy by Jeanne St. James Audiobook Review

The Reunion

Gil Davis hated high school. Ever the geek, he has no intentions of attending his 10th-year class reunion. The last thing he wants is to relive the taunting and teasing he received during his teenage years. However, there is one thing he misses from high school: the star varsity football player. The one he had a crush on from the first day he laid eyes on him. But the last thing he expects is the now-pro football player to come back to their hometown to attend a lame high school reunion. Known as the bad boy of the NFL, Ripley "Rip" Cord not only shows up, but shows up without a date and an eye for Gil.

The Weekend

Geek Gil Davis hasn't heard a word from NFL player Rip Cord since hooking up at their class reunion. Then Rip calls him unexpectedly; he's taking Gil to his cabin for a weekend of exploration.

The Ever After

When Rip Cord is kicked out of the NFL, he shows up unexpectedly at Gil Davis' front door. With his career over, Rip's finally ready for a future with Gil, if Gil's willing to give him another chance.

NOTE: The Rip Cord trilogy was previously published as three separate novellas. It has now been combined into one edition. This is a gay second chance romance with a guaranteed HEA.

Audiobook Details
Length: 5 hrs, 11 mins
Narrator: John Solo

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I have very mixed feelings about this trilogy. I like Gil, but I found his willingness to continuously forgive Rip’s transgressions a tad… not disturbing, but rather troubling. I wanted him to realize he deserved to be treated better and demand as much from Rip. As for Rip, my initial positive impression of him during his first interaction with Gil and insisting Gil join him at his table didn’t last. Rip is one of those characters that the better I got to know him, the less I liked him.

The Reunion – 4 stars

This was a classic geek fantasy with a twist. I’m dating myself here – even if I disclose that I watched it years after its release – but The Reunion made me think of a m/m version of Revenge of the Nerds. This is the story I enjoyed the most because it was what it was, a high school reunion hook-up between the still-hot jock and the not-quite-so-geeky nerd. The quickie by the lockers was hot, if not really believable considering how much EVERYONE was vying for Rip’s attention, so the privacy factor wasn’t realistic, but hey, this is a fantasy. While hot, the whole shower scene was the first clear look at how Rip really isn’t concerned for Gil’s mental well-being. Knowing that Gil was bullied in high school by the other jocks, Rip should have never snapped Gil with the towel. That single action was like having cold water thrown on me – it completely doused any of the effects of their sexy times because it was bullying behavior. Yeah, that might be the kind of thing that happens in Rip’s team’s locker room, but Gil isn’t one of the guys and that was such an inappropriate thing to do to someone who doesn’t know you that well. So while that bothered me, I sallied forth with the hope that Gil’s maturity would balance out Rip’s boys-will-be-boys immaturity and the two would find their happily ever after.

The Weekend – 2 stars

This is the book that would have had me throwing in the towel had I been reading it. I’ll have to remember to edit my review before posting to Audible or Amazon, but Rip Cord shows himself to be an asshole, a major effing douchebag asshole. What I think was intended to come off as sexy, alpha-male, dominant behavior is actually bullying, controlling, and demeaning behavior. This is an installment where the author tried too hard to make it sexy and it didn’t work. Despite the sex itself being consensual, the whole BDSM scene was not sexy to me because not only did Rip not obtain consent for the scene elements – something I don’t think the way too starry-eyed Gil is capable of giving because he can’t say no to Rip – but there was no discussion about what was going to happen, no safe words were exchanged, and Rip didn’t check in with Gil during the so-called scene. As someone who reads quite a bit of BDSM, what happens between Gil and Rip is an example of how NOT to do it. I suspect other readers or listeners won’t have the same problem I did and will likely find this installment to be a continuation of the fantasy. But the unexpected BDSM-like scene coupled with Rip’s bipolar attitude about their “relationship” left a sour taste in my mouth after completing The Weekend. For me, Rip is the embodiment of every high school jock who doesn’t realize he’s no longer in high school and really needs to grow the hell up.

The Ever After – 3 stars

Truth be told, I’m not really sure how much I enjoyed this installment. Much like Katie, I had absolutely no sympathy for Rip. Unlike Katie, I would not have brought his drunk arse into my home to give him yet another chance to disappoint my best friend. That’s right, after being radio silent for months and after being kicked out of the NFL, Rip shows up drunk and passed out on Katie and Gil’s porch. Like a good bestie in a romance, Katie gives Rip a chewing out and then deposits him in Gil’s bed to sleep it off and wait for Gil to get home because she knows that Gil loves Rip. Because these were written as novellas, Gil isn’t able to give Rip the cold shoulder he deserves and while he doesn’t forgive Rip immediately, I still felt like Gil gave in too quickly. While I did lose track of the time span of this installment, I still found it hard to buy into Gil’s love for Rip and Rip realizing that he felt the same way about Gil. At this point, these two have spent about three days together in the past year after not having seen one another in ten years. I know this is a romance, but unrequited high school crushes between two people who only admired one another from afar, never interacting with more than a passing hello, is not enough of a history for me to buy into them falling in love in three days. Maybe if there had been some text banter or email exchanges in between The Reunion and The Weekend, I might have found The Ever After more believable, but at the end of the day, I’m looking at Gil, a guy in love with an idea of who he thinks Rip is, and Rip, a guy who fancies himself in love because Gil lets him be himself, not loving Gil for who Gil is but rather who Gil lets him be. It just didn’t work for me.

As for the narration, I’m a big fan of John Solo’s narrative performances and it's what I liked most about this trilogy. I suspect that had I read the novellas instead of listening to them, I would not have finished them because Solo toned down what I saw as Rip’s sense of entitlement and infused a vulnerability in him that I wouldn’t have been able to. I really enjoyed Gil’s few “I’m over this” moments and felt like I could actually hear it in his voice, Gil’s backbone going straight when he had to stand up to Rip. For me, Solo’s narration was the best part of the trilogy. Five stars for Solo’s narration.

In all fairness to the author, I feel as though I need to clearly state that what made this a three-star listen for me was Rip. Jeanne St. James’ writing was actually quite good, she just created a character I didn’t like, couldn’t connect with, and didn’t think he was good enough for Gil, even if he was who Gil thought he wanted. In fact, I hope to get a chance to check out some of St. James’ other books when time allows because I did enjoy the author’s writing style. I realize this sounds like faint praise or a backhanded compliment, but this was a case of the story and the reader/listener not being a good fit. I suspect that Rip Cord: The Complete Trilogy will have many a fan among readers and listeners, sadly, I’m not one of them.

JEANNE ST. JAMES is a USA Today bestselling erotic romance author who loves an alpha male (or two). She was only thirteen when she started writing since it gave her an escape from teenage angst! Her first paid published piece was an erotic story in Playgirl magazine. Her first erotic romance novel, Banged Up, was published in 2009. She is happily owned by farting French bulldogs. She writes M/F, M/M, and M/M/F ménages.

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John Solo has been a professional performer for 20 years, although this whole acting thing is a relatively new development. Prior to all of this he made his living as a salesman, engineer, security guard, mechanic, construction worker, purveyor of polyester dress suits… The list goes on ad nauseam, but he prefers to think of himself as an Itinerant Adventurer and lovable scoundrel! When not acting like someone else in front of a microphone, John prefers to indulge in the simpler things in life; games of chance, sword-fighting and traveling the world… all from the comforts of his own overstuffed couch.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free audiobook copy of Rip Cord: The Complete Trilogy by Jeanne St. James, narrated by John Solo to listen to and review.

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