Title: With a Kick: Collection No. One
Series: With a Kick
Author: Clare London
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Run Time: 8 hour and 40 minutes
At a Glance: If you like stories that feature characters whose lives and relationships are relatable, complicated but still sweet and enjoyable, brought to life by the talents of Joel Leslie, then this audiobook is for you.
Reviewed By: Jovan
Blurb: This collection includes the charming London-based novellas of the With a Kick series – A Twist and Two Balls and Slap and Tickle. Also included are two short stories featuring the characters in these titles.
A Twist and Two Balls: Eduardo Mancini is going to be a star of the London stage. Unfortunately, his alter ego, Eddy March, hasn’t gotten further than a bit part in a TV series. One ghastly day, he’s late for an audition, can’t pay his taxi fare, and is chased across Soho by the irate driver, Nuri. But maybe being caught by Nuri is exactly what Eddy needs.
Slap and Tickle: Bryan is an accountant who admires order and self-discipline. When he literally bumps into Phiz outside With a Kick, Phiz’s lifestyle and behaviour appear totally chaotic. But they each recognise something in the other that they need. Bryan needs a lover who welcomes his secret desire, and Phiz needs a firm hand – in every way. They both agree Bryan may be just the man to provide it.
Review: With a Kick: Collection No. One is as delightful as the concoctions created in the stories’ eponymous ice cream shop. The collection includes the first two novellas of the series, A Twist and Two Balls and Slap and Tickle, as well as two shorts Nice and Snow and Smack Happy.
In A Twist and Two Balls, Eddy is busy chasing the dream of being a star of the London stage, but has little to show for it . . . including the cab fare to an audition. When he tries to duck out of paying but cannot shake his cabdriver Nuri, Eddy finds himself in With a Kick, borrowing money from his friend Lee and unexpectedly on a date with Nuri. The relationship between the two is as bumpy as their initial meeting. Eddy is a a bit self-involved, volatile and sees criticism when it isn’t there. Moreover, as a talented performer with stage fright, finding his place in the world, especially compared to his dreams, is hard for him, and he tends to lash out at the easy-going, serious and patient Nuri. However, Eddy and Nuri both grow in their characters and relationship, with Eddy becoming less of a diva and more a “proper boyfriend”, and Nuri being more open about who he is and what he wants from life.
Slap and Tickle follows Bryan, the friend and accountant of Patrick, With a Kick’s owner, as Bryan is emotionally and literally bowled over by the younger, spaztastic Phiz. Bryan is all about order, the “proper” way of doing things and efficiency and economy in all things (especially words), so finds himself confounded and ruffled by his irritation, arousal and need to take the walking chaos and word spewer that is Phiz in hand from the moment they meet. And while Bryan’s desire to control and dominate his partner complements Phiz’s love of spanking and being controlled, between Bryan being shamed for his desires and Phiz’s feelings of inferiority and self-deprecating personality, navigating their new relationship is at times awkward, scary and liberating for them both. As the two spend time together, Bryan learns to bend and live a little, while Phiz finds more focus and a job that works for him.
The two shorts are cute holiday stories for each couple, with Nice and Snow being a Christmas story in Nuri’s POV that I liked most for highlighting Eddy’s growth as a person and a partner, and Smack Happy, a Valentine’s Day tale with Phiz and Bryan.
As usual, Joel Leslie’s performance is great, and makes the characters’ voices realistic and reflective of the material. For example, Nuri and his family are Turkish, and Leslie incorporates not just accented UK English but varying degrees of hesitancy in the delivery, based on the speaker’s comfort with English. Additionally, his voice for Phiz is perfect—fast-paced, anxious and full of nervous energy. If you like stories that feature characters whose lives and relationships are relatable, complicated but still sweet and enjoyable, brought to life by the talents of Joel Leslie, then this audiobook is for you.
You can buy With a Kick: Collection No. One here:
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