Tag Team Audiobook Review: There's This Guy by Rhys Ford

How do you save a drowning man when that drowning man is you?

Jake Moore’s world fits too tightly around him. Every penny he makes as a welder goes to care for his dying father, an abusive, controlling man who’s the only family Jake has left. Because of a promise to his dead mother, Jake resists his desire for other men, but it leaves him consumed by darkness.

It takes all of Dallas Yates’s imagination to see the possibilities in the fatigued Art Deco building on the WeHo’s outskirts, but what seals the deal is a shy smile from the handsome metal worker across the street. Their friendship deepens while Dallas peels back the hardened layers strangling Jake’s soul. It’s easy to love the artistic, sweet man hidden behind Jake’s shattered exterior, but Dallas knows Jake needs to first learn to love himself.

When Jake’s world crumbles, he reaches for Dallas, the man he’s learned to lean on. It’s only a matter of time before he’s left to drift in a life he never wanted to lead and while he wants more, Jake’s past haunts him, making him doubt he’s worth the love Dallas is so desperate to give him.

Narrator: Greg Tremblay
Listening Length: 7 hours and 30 minutes

R *A Reader Obsessed* - 3 BR Stars with CC!!

Definitely, this ranks high with some of the angstier works from Ford (ie.the Cole McGinnis series), and by no means was this an easy listen, despite Tremblay’s narrating genius.

Jake has been through hell, mostly in the form of a crazy, fucked-up, abusive father with antiquated notions, not only surrounding homosexuality, but the roles that women and men should maintain. I could not reconcile at all this man’s pure evil and hatred toward his supposed love ones, and I sure as shit couldn’t reconcile Jake’s misplaced loyalty towards his father, regardless of every awful thing he put Jake through.

So yes, Jake is a lot messed up in the head. He feels unworthy and pretty much just wants to opt out and never return to his miserable existence, mostly because he feels his sexuality is wrong and is slowly suffocating under extreme guilt and shame. That is, until a chance meeting with Dallas. Unafraid, seemingly untouched by the hatred that can visit upon some, Dallas is not naive. He’s had his share of a few tangles and tragic situations, but he’s been lucky enough to have had a ton of loving support, and hiding who is he is not even an option. When Dallas buys a property across the street from where Jake works, it’s very fortuitous that Jake’s welding expertise is exactly what Dallas needs to get his business up and running. Dallas sees beyond the gorgeous facade and knows that there’s a gawd awful, horrifying past the shy, skittish man is trying to hide from, and he simply only wants to help Jake. Despite the fact that the attraction between these two is instant, it’s gonna take a helluva lot more than that for them to find their happy ending.

If hurt comfort is your thing, then this one has it in spades.

Overall, Ford doesn’t deviate much from her formula. As always, there’s a ton of pretty words, and this time around, plenty of painful ones to counteract them. This is simply a story about a man finding himself and realizing that who he is, isn’t wrong. There’s no crazy action, no big mystery to solve, just two people falling in love, however scary and painful and exhilarating that may be. The conflict here is mostly all internal, with the slow undoing of doubt and fear to ultimately find one’s worth and inner peace. If that’s not what interests you, then there’s other Ford stories that will surely entice. Admittedly, not my favorite of her works, and though Ford is no stranger to angst, some aspects of this (mainly Jake’s dad) were too much for me to bear, and thus, the rating reflects that. However, I still enjoyed this listen, because again… Tremblay.

Cupcake - 3 Hearts

I think this may be the most contradictory book experience I've ever had. No sense in mincing words, I came to this party for Tremblay but I think maybe I should've read the blurb or other reviews. Everyone and their cousin has been singing his praises since forever and they should because the dude is amazeballs. There were points in this story where I had my headphones working, in my bublé and I would catch myself thinking, "this can't be just one dude! NO WAY!" but it was. The only nitpick I have is Dallas's Texas drawl. I live in the sticks and even I don't know anyone with a drawl that heavy, but still. AMAZEBALLS.

But this story, y'all.

It was a G-R-I-N-D. Hurt/comfort is hit or miss for me to begin with and there wasn't near enough comfort after a metric ton of hurt from my perspective. As the hurt began to level up and expand it's like it took on a life of its own. The Pain Cloud hung over all of LA and wasn't picky about its victims. The word gratuitous wafted through my head a few times toward the end.

There are no warnings on this book that I could find, but there are suicidal ideations, flashbacks of past abuse, domestic violence, homophobia, and mentions of rape so if you're triggered easily exercise caution, because this book is heavy and painful from start to epilogue.

Dallas and Jake both tell this story. They have vastly different backgrounds. Jake's is one of abuse and neglect as the only child of homophobic parents and a monstrous father. Dallas's is one with loving parents and siblings who showered him with affection and support. Jake's now completely alone with his father in end stage dementia. He has no friends and keeps himself at arm's length from everyone in his life. He's existing on a clock timer because he can see no light at the end of the tunnel. Dallas has oodles of friends and never met a stranger. Jake is way waaaaaaayyyyy in the closet whereas Dallas is out and proud and opening a drag bar in Jake's neighborhood which is what brings them together.

I do really appreciate the message of this story-that the efforts of one person can sometimes mean the difference between the life or death of another and believe me I know this story deserves to be heard, but the long and the short of it is it was too depressing for me. My emotions were pummeled by the narrative. There is a hard fought HEA and it's clear Dallas and Jake love each other, though there is part of me that thought Jake's shift from closeted to in a relationship with Dallas was quick but I also was grateful for those few precious moments when they weren't in the middle of the perpetual shitnado.

I empathized with Jake and his predicament, though. I know he hates his father but he's also the only family he's got left even if he is a miserable excuse for a human being and I think there's part of him that's naively holding out hope that the SOB will tell him he's sorry or that he loves him. Something. Anything.

Celeste is the only real bright spot. I hearted her snarky, bedazzled ass. The prose is evocative and flows. Ford can most definitely craft a sentence that will take your breath away. I wish I could say that I was held in its sway but more than once I considered DNFing. I was beyond ready for it to be over despite Tremblay's amazeballsness which actually makes this difficult to rate. Tremblay's performance is easily 5 Heart worthy, but this story is not one I'll reread. Obviously, YMMV and I'd encourage anyone considering it to read other reviews before making a decision.

Thanks to the author/publisher for the audio in return for an honest review.

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