Title: Yanni’s Story (Spencer Cohen #4)
Author: N.R. Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Release Date: June 5th 2018
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 15 hrs and 14 mins
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
When Yanni Tomaras is kicked out of his family home, his parents’ final words are religious insults and an order to never return. Homeless and desperate, he’s lured in by Lance – charming on the outside, an evil predator underneath – who abuses Yanni until he finds the courage to leave. Yanni should feel free. But by the time Spencer Cohen finds him, he’s resigned to being handed back to Lance and once again being caged by fear.
Starting school and a part-time job, Yanni begins to reclaim his life. But a love for silent films leads him to Peter Hannikov, a man with a kind heart but who’s twice his age. An unlikely friendship between them blooms into so much more. Neither man knows what he wants, at first. Finding out exactly what he needs is Yanni’s story.
“I’d spent years as a bird, caged with my wings clipped, tormented and beaten. I thought I’d escaped when I’d left my abuser, but in hindsight, I could see that I was still caged, this time by fear and self-doubt. Spencer and Andrew, and Andrew’s parents, opened the door to the cage that confined me. But it was Peter who taught me how to fly.”
It’s rare that I would use “lovingly” to describe the narration of an audiobook, but I just kept thinking how much Joel Leslie’s narration was so lovingly done. His care for the characters really came through the entire thing.
We first met Yanni in Spencer Cohen, Book Two. When Spencer and his boyfriend Andrew help Yanni it’s a complete turnaround for him. Although there are references to the abuse Yanni suffered from his ex-boyfriend, and to a lesser degree his family, Yanni’s Story is ultimately one of what happens when all the stars align and everything finally begins to go right.
When Yanni first meets Peter neither is in a place to start a romantic relationship, but the sparks are obviously there, so they begin a friendship at first and evolve into their relationship later. It’s organic, there’s a ton of communication, and Peter is basically a saint (I hope that anyone who’s ever been hurt finds their own Peter).
Be advised though: the first 60% of the Yanni’s Story is very slowly paced and at over 15 hours this is quite a long audiobook, particularly in M/M Romance, but I think it’s totally worth the listen. The slower pace allows the reader/listener the chance to really get to know the characters, especially Yanni as he heals and begins to explore new opportunities.
One of the things that Peter and Yanni explore is daddy kink. Personally, it made me uncomfortable, but that’s totally a me thing. I have absolutely no judgement for anyone who likes or has a Daddy/son relationship, it’s just not anything I’m interested in. So I skipped the sex scenes, but doing so absolutely did not affect my enjoyment of the story.
“I give him my absolute trust, and he gives me the world. I dunno, it’s hard to explain. I feel so safe with him, like he’ll protect me and make decisions that are only in my best interest because he wants me to be happy. But it’s not restrictive; it’s the opposite. It’s a kind of freedom.”
“Like a father.” Patrice raised her eyebrows and smiled.
“Yes!” Then I made a face. “Just with certain benefits. And without the incest.”
Yanni’s Story is a slow burn, gentle, friends to lovers romance, with some daddy kink, and hurt/comfort that’s wonderfully narrated by Joel Leslie and a must have to complete your Spencer Cohen audio collection.
“What did I ever do to deserve you?”
I stared into his eyes. “You loved me in all the right ways.”
“Correction. I love you in all the right ways. There is no past tense on that word. There will never be past tense on that word. Forever, Yanni.”
For the sticklers:
- There are some inconsistencies in the story (like Peter tells Yanni about his cat in Chapter 7, but later in chapter 12 Yanni exclaims how Peter never told him he had a cat, that sort of thing) that took me out of the story prompting me to go to the text to check that I wasn’t mistaken.