Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N'At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn't have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he'd become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin. As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob's visits - to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in. But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance? Contains mature themes.
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Oh Iggy, accents just aren't your thing...
So, I have listened to and enjoyed a number of audiobooks narrated by Iggy Toma and was looking forward to listening to this one. Everything was going so well for the first few minutes (he has a great tone to his voice and a dry delivery that works so well for Brian's POV)... and then Rob came into the story. Oh dear.
To say that Toma's attempt at an English (sorry, Briddish) accent was bad is a major understatement. It veered from posh RP Home Counties to "cor blimey, Mary Poppins" cockney to East Coast American to Australian within each utterance. The man is supposed to come from a working-class background from a small mining town near Leeds - so why does he sound like Bertie Wooster trying to imitate Dick van Dyke's Bert the chimney sweep?
What possessed this poor man to suggest that he could "do" an English accent? Did he even bother to read the book first and listen to an actual Yorkshire accent? Or any English accent?
And before you think I am just being petty or a snob... the problem is that he is so uncomfortable attempting the accent that everything the character says sounds awkward, with strange intonation and a slightly creepy Hannibal Lecter breathiness. The characterisation is completely wrong for a down-to-earth northerner with Rob's back story. Honestly, this narration would be a hundred times better if Iggy Toma just gave up on the Briddish and did his own accent for every character.
If you have read the other (better) books in the series then you will probably find this ok. It is not as good but there are enjoyable cameos from other characters from earlier books. And lots of coffee. They make coffee, drink coffee, sell coffee, agonise over finding decent staff to make the coffee and then drink some more coffee.
In every way. I cringed every time Rob spoke.
Anna Zabo is a very talented writer and this book is surely just a slightly weaker episode in an excellent series. The story is fine - I just found it difficult to care that much about the problems of finding good baristas for a small coffee shop (the only real conflict in the midst of a nice, mundane love story).
- Anna Oxford