I’ve been listening to lots of audiobooks lately, which is a rather new thing for me. Mostly, they’re books that I tried reading in print, and couldn’t get into/got distracted, and thought – hey, maybe the audio might be cool (I’m currently, very slowly, listening to Infinite Jest in audio, and am about 8 out of 60 hours in!). I had tried a couple of romance in audio, and they didn’t gel with me, but I decided to give this a go, and struck gold.
Michael and Nunzio, both in their 30’s, are best friends. Both teachers, they’ve never been together fully or thought of each other that way, until one night, with too much drink involved, Nunzio joins Mikey and a trick in a threesome. And from then, nothing is ever the same again. Throw in Mikey’s overbearing family, and Mikey’s inherited predilection for booze, and you’ve a whole host of problems.
I liked this book a lot. It’s not a light romance. There’s a lot of angst, and a good bit of mental health issues in it, but that’s fine by me – not all romance has to be candy canes and flowers. I liked that, a lot of the time, I couldn’t stand Mikey (which is fine, I do feel you shouldn’t have to like characters all the time to want to keep reading, although in romance that can be somewhat expected). He pissed me off no end, making stupid decisions, wrecking his life, not realising that the love of his life was right in front of him, the whole time. I felt sorry for Nunzio a little but I understood why Mikey was the way he was, and the journey he took to get there. A theme that runs through this book is that of making something of oneself, from Mikey struggling to keep a grip on things, and his drunk dad and unemployed younger brother.
A lot of whether an audiobook works for me is down to the narrator, and Mr Topsfield did a great job with this one – Nunzio’s voice, in particular, sent shivers down my spine, striding the mix of breathy and firm. I also liked his characterisation for Mikey’s brother, Raymond, and was disappointed to see that the same narrator wasn’t narrating the second book in the series (which is Raymond’s story).
There were definitely a couple of quibbles at times, but nothing major that really detracted from the story. The one that bugged me was Mikey (who I thought was like, 29, but was like 32/33) constantly referred to David (who was 24/25) as ‘kid’ and as being from a different generation. It seemed like something that someone much older would say but that’s really minor, and about all I can point at.
Five Boroughs is an interesting new romance series, heavy on the angst (in this book, but I don’t think necessarily in the rest) of which I’m very much looking forward to the next books (I’ve book 2 downloaded as an audio already and I may just start it right now!).
The book version of this title is available for request at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.