Title: Smoky Mountain Dreams
Author: Leta Blake and John Solo (Narrator)
Publisher: Leta Blake Books
Release Date: October 17th 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Length: 14 hrs and 46 mins
Reviewed by: Lily G. Blunt
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Sometimes holding on means letting go.
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.
At almost fifteen hours this is a long story with many supporting characters and plenty of backstory to discover about Chris and Jesse that has a bearing on their future together. It’s not all dumped in one go, but is subtly woven into the narrative.
Anticipating Christopher finding out the truth about Marci’s vegetative condition overshadowed their early relationship for me as I knew there’d be some fallout from this. And when he realised, I loved the angst that followed. It was from this moment on that I was gripped by the story and I particularly enjoyed the second half of the story. It culminated in a wonderful ending with some unexpected happenings. In fact, I went back to listen to the first half again knowing the direction the story was headed, and appreciated the events and characters more as a result.
This is a story of finding your family and accepting who you are, who you love and want to spend your life with. There are some very touching moments, as well as some scenes that will no doubt make you angry with the characters. Christopher is a wonderful, considerate, caring person, and the way his parents and his ranting step-father treat him is heartbreaking.
Chris and Jesse are perfectly matched and fall swiftly for each other. I was surprised they hadn’t really encountered each other beforehand. Luckily, they manage to snatch some alone time and their sex scenes are smoking hot. The parent in-laws are great, as are Joe and Gareth who are supportive of Chris. I also liked Jesse’s children and how Brigit gradually comes to accept Chris. Her paper crane project definitely tugged on the heartstrings.
So yes, it’s a long story with lots going on, but the main relationship is given plenty of focus and time to develop. The story is well written and the character interaction is in depth and excellent throughout. The dialogue comes across as real and the conversation at the Thanksgiving meal had me laughing out loud at one point.
John Solo’s narration is superb. He gives each character their own distinct voice that matches their personality and he portrays the emotion perfectly within each scene and with such feeling. I particularly liked the sexy, husky voice he gave Jesse. The descriptive writing built up a clear image of each setting and with John’s storytelling it made for easy and very enjoyable listening.