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Apple Boy

The Quiet Work, Book 1
Narrated by: Gary Furlong
Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A new LGBT fantasy series from award-winning author Isobel Starling 

A lost lordling, a farm boy, and a tale of mystery, magic, and murder!

After a traumatic event, Winter Aeling finds himself destitute and penniless in the backwater town of Mallowick. He needs to travel to the city of Serein and impart grave news that will bring war to the Empire, but without a horse, money, and with not a soul willing to help him, he has no choice but to line up with the common folk seeking paid work on the harvest. 

As wagons roll into the market square and farmers choose day laborers, Winter is singled out for abuse by a brute of a farmer. The only man who stands up for him is the farmer's beguiling son, Adam, and on locking eyes with the swarthy young man Winter feels the immediate spark of attraction. 

Winter soon realizes there is a reason he has been drawn to Blackdown Farm. The farmer possesses a precious item that was stolen long ago from Winter’s family, and he determines to retrieve it. He also cannot take his eyes off Adam, and as the young man opens up Winter can’t help wondering if Adam is just kind or his kind! 

FYI - Apple Boy has an M/M couple, graphic gay sexual activity, and a cliffhanger ending.

*The next book in the series, Dark Harvest (The Quiet Work, Book 2), is coming soon!*

©2019 Isobel Starling (P)2019 Decent Fellows Press and Isobel Starling

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Starling and Furlong - a winning team!

Apple Boy drew me in from the get-go. I love fantasy books and am always on the lookout for ones with LGBT characters who don't get the thin end of the wedge. The MC's in this book are Winter, a lordling who has fallen on hard times, and Adam a farm boy who is integral to Winter's well being in ways he is yet to discover.

The story romps along at a good pace with exceptional narration by Gary Furlong, who gives each character a unique voice. Is there no accent this man cannot do? I was particularly taken by the characters of Mr. Percheval and Mr. Wrenfrey who I found unique and hilarious.

The romance is nicely balanced with a story of political intrigue, mystery, and murder. The story is far bigger than this single book and we are left on a cliffhanger- but not a bad one. I am desperate for book 2, which is how it should be when a story is THIS well written and narrated.

I thoroughly recommend this book to those listeners who love LGBT Fantasy and M/M romance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Apple Boy

If you were destined to wonder alone in a world full of cruelty and condemnation for being who you are, what life would you lead? Would you look at the glass half empty or half full? Deciding to make every breath count, Starling’s main character has a determination and drive that will take him through many hardships on the road to finding his way back to his family. Readers will be immersed into an adventurous tale with this first installment.

Winter Aeling is just a young man who will one day rule Thorn. Being inexperienced when it comes to knowing the lay of the land, he decides to travel through surrounding cities in hopes of learning their cultures and ways of life. Never in his wildest dreams does he imagine the ill intent that befalls him and his beloved protector and companion on his journey to Serein, leaving him without any of his belongings or money. Winding up in a little place called Mallowick, Winter is forced to hide his identify for fear of punishment or death. He finds himself needing to make some money to get to his destination; therefore, heads to Blackdown Farm. Little does he know that this is not the only reason that he has been drawn to this farm. An item that was taken from Winter’s family long ago has resurfaced and the farmer of Blackdown Farm is none the wiser of what secrets he holds with the item being in his possession. With the help of the farmer’s son, Adam, Winter is shown kindness for what seems like the first time since leaving his home. Finding himself quite smitten with Adam, he can’t help but attempt to distance himself, knowing he will have to continue on his journey alone. Feeling torn between what he wants and his destiny to get information back to his people, he doesn’t know how to proceed. It appears that he would need a miracle…or some type of magic to aid him on his journey?

Starling has a captivating tale with creativity and well-developed characters. The pace is steady and the story appears to be well-written; however, this review is complimenting the audiobook. The narrator’s voice relay is effortless and engaging. His voice differentiation between characters is absolutely stunning and adds to the story, creating exuberant scenes from they way he reads the words alone. If you are a reader of LGBT fantasy and adventure, you are sure to love this story. Since this is the first installment in The Quiet Work series, readers are able to dive right into the tale.

A copy of this audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a five-star rating to Apple Boy by Isobel Starling.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting story with phenomenal narration

I’m a huge fan of Isobel Starling’s Shatterproof Bond series, so when I learned she had this fantasy romance coming out my interest was definitely piqued. While the synopsis for the story caught my eye, there’s actually a lot more to Apple Boy than it implies. The story is about the equivalent of around five hundred pages, and I’ll admit at times I was feeling the length.

Winter’s predicament is more than what it seems from the synopsis, and the full nature of what’s going on is slowly revealed over quite a long stretch of time. I saw the story as three segments—the first being Winter’s introduction and experience at Adam’s family’s farm, next their journey from there to Serein, and finally the events that occur once they arrive. Each segment had its own challenges, and in the end things are not fully resolved so yes, it’s basically a cliffhanger. Though I knew this book was part of a new series, I didn’t realized the end would be left as open as it was…so just be prepared for that when you start.

Winter and Adam’s lives are quite the opposite of each other, with Winter coming from a privileged upbringing where he is the heir to a title while Adam lives with his family on their apple orchard farm. Winter is used to living in an open, non-judgmental society; not so for Adam where same sex liaisons can result in death. Winter opens up Adam’s life to so many new possibilities, and at the same time Winter’s experience in Mallowick opens his own eyes to the plights of those whose station falls well below his own. This results in character growth for both men, spread out over the course of the entire tale.

The fantasy aspect starts to come into play towards the end of Winter and Adam’s time at the farm, and continues to build—albeit slowly—through the rest of the story. There’s a lot of explanation to be found in terms of world building as well as the setup of Winter’s own situation, and for me that contributed to the slower pace of the story overall.

As far as the story itself goes, it gets 3.5 stars from me. As for the narration though, Gary Furlong’s incredible voices with their range of accents was absolutely worth 5 stars. He gave each character—no matter how minor—their own individuality, and was consistent throughout the story. Listening to his narration made the more drawn out portions of the story easier for me to get through, and was overall a very enjoyable experience.

Apple Boy is meant for readers/listeners 18+ some adult language and sexual content.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The Lordling and the Apple Boy

I haven’t read many LGBTQ romances and I’ll admit that the cover art had me wondering if this was going to be a YA romance (it isn’), I’m glad I took the plunge. The characters were unique, the pacing was decent, and I adored the narrator! There were a couple of little things that annoyed me about this book, but overall, it was a great read.

I was a little shocked at just how well Winter handled the circumstances in which we find him: broke, in rags, and stranded in a less-than-friendly community in a less-than-familiar realm. For a young man used to leisure and privilege, I expected a lot less backbone and a lot more whining! He seemed to think well on his feet, however, and his willingness to take care of himself so he could continue his journey was admirable. Adam was the sweet, softer counterpart to Winter’s hard-edged determination. While no less set on seeing his goals through to the end, Adam seemed less jaded by life than Winter. I loved them both as individuals and as a blossoming couple. Their romance was definitely a slow-burn; after the initial flash of mutual attraction, the reader is teased with hints and almost-happenings for most of the story.

Here’s the part that keeps me from giving this book 5 stars across the board: A few of Ms. Sterling’s attempts to draw out the suspense and length of the overall story were so clearly contrived that they were painful. The most first example of this was the stagecoach heist. Why didn’t the coach driver just take off once the bad guy had killed the guard? Seriously, the villain was outside the carriage, with no longrange weapons, so what was he going to do if the driver had just decided to nope it out of there with the rest of the passengers safely inside? He’d have just been stranded on the side of the road, next to a dead man, in the middle of nowhere, being mad, that’s what. There were other instances of clear filler, but this one bothered me the most for some reason.

Gary Furlong did a fabulous job bringing "Apple Boy" to life! His accents were smooth and natural-sounding, and it was easy to tell the characters apart in an overwhelmingly male cast. His pace and tone were spot-on, and his performance lent a hold-your-breath quality to the romance. I've always been a little weirded out by male narrators reading romances (don't ask me why, I'm just odd like that, ok?) but Mr. Furlong did such a phenomenal job that I forgot I was listening to a third person narrator rather than the characters themselves. The audio was clean and professional, with no distracting pauses or background noises. I’ll definitely be looking for more by this narrator.

Bottom line: “Apple Boy” was a unique fantasy romance brought to life by a fabulous narrator. If you’re new to LGBTQ romance or just looking to dip a toe into the genre, this would be a good place to start.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow! Just wow.

I started listening to this book not really knowing what to expect. I finished absolutely excited about the new and creative world that I was introduced to. The story does end with you wanting (or in my case needing) to move on to the next story. [which at the time of this review in not out yet]

I thought this book would be about a poor rich boy and a lucky poor boy who get together and bam! HEA. Nope, Winter was never a bad person but his experiences before he meets Adam humbled him and made him deserving of the next phase of his life. Adam is sweet and determined and I am so happy that he will play an important role in helping Winter with his magic, not just the love interest that supports him from the sidelines.

Gary Furlong was amazing. The way he performs the different voices and accents just draws you into the world that Starling created and I wasn't ready to leave so please hurry with book 2.

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Spectacular Story! Gary Furlong is Amazing!

Epic fantasy, gripping mystery, erotic romance… YES! Apple Boy, the first book in Isobel Starling’s latest series The Quiet Work, is a non-stop adventure and thoroughly entrancing. I’ve never read anything that wasn’t excellent by this talented author, but Ms. Starling has definitely raised the bar with this one! I’m recommending it to everybody, because it’s just that good.

As fans of Isobel Starling’s audiobooks can attest, no one can do her stories justice like Gary Furlong. His performances elevate the experience, and bring everything to life in the most wonderful way. It’s like listening to a Broadway play.

Mr. Furlong’s vocal style and accents are truly limitless and he continues to come up with new and inspired ways to add expression and uniqueness to every character. Who but Gary Furlong could make two elderly solicitors (who just happen to be birds) voices fit them so perfectly they actually come alive?

Told as a narrative, Winter Aeling’s story unfolds gradually. What appears to be a simple smuggling scheme turns out to run far deeper, and Winter’s unwitting discovery is the start to his incredible journey. Destiny, magic, and luck play equal parts in his quest to deliver his news to the political center of this empire, and without giving too much away I can say that his stopover at the apple orchard is no fluke.

The chemistry that sparks between Winter and Adam, the orchard owner’s son, evolves into a deep and true friendship. A delicious slow-burn, it’s a pleasure to watch as their unresolved sexual tension reaches astronomical proportions. Trust me when I say it’s definitely worth the wait. Isobel Starling is a master of erotic love scenes, and she hasn’t let her readers down yet.

Apple Boy is an emotional story and flows from playful humor to dark and tragic events with far reaching consequences. The deeply passionate connections of lovers are just as important as the poignant moments between family members and each contribute to the overall flavor of the tale. The world Isobel Starling builds is filled with olde tyme charm and colorful characters.

The happy-for-now ending is wonderful for Winter and Adam, and I'm looking forward to catching up with them later in the series. I know we’ve just scratched the surface of this incredible world, and I can’t wait to see what the next book in this marvelous new series will bring. There’s no doubt, with Isobel Starling’s imagination, the sky’s the limit!

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    4 out of 5 stars

A new fantasy series

Okay, first things first. In the forward of the Book, the author states that the following books in the trilogy (I believe) will include MM, MF, and FF pairings. If this is something that you are not interested in, I suggest you move on, due to the fact that this is definitely the beginning of a series.

That being said, I really enjoyed the story. It does drag on at times, but it kept me engaged enough that I read it in two evenings. This is the story of a young Count who has fallen on hard times and meets his Apple Boy, who changes his life in ways even he cannot envisage.

Adam works at his Pa's orchard, and Winter is desperate enough that he is looking for a job as a laborer. From their first meeting, Winter feels a connection with Adam, and they quickly become friends.

The politics of this Empire are intricately woven into the fabric of the storyline. Each province has its own customs and laws, and the province in which the two MCs find themselves is quite different from Winter's own province. In this province, same sex couples are forbidden. But, even though Adam is an innocent, he is fully aware that he prefers the company of men.

A journey is made, magic is discovered, and lust turns into something more. When the MCs reach their destination of the capital city, they find that they have stepped into an even bigger conspiracy than they had originally believed.

One thing leads to another, and the two learn that the magic they have experienced along the way is much stronger when they work together. In fact, they eventually learn that they were made for exactly that purpose. By the end, Winter is in a new position of power, and he will need Adam's love and support to continue with his new destiny.

Overall, the characters are well developed and the world building is creative and beautifully written. I look forward to seeing more of this series.

I absolutely adore Gary Furlong, and I was anxiously awaiting the audiobook of this story. It was great to read, but I wanted to hear it with all the accents. Furlong never disappoints!

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A Great Start to a New Series - Highly Recommended

Isobel Starling has given us a richly drawn world of old, very detailed and filled with interesting characters. Winter Aeling, a member of the aristocracy, has survived a traumatic event and finds himself penniless. He takes work on an apple farm to earn enough to continue his journey. He meets and falls for the farmer's youngest son, Adam. Adam is smitten with Winter as well. And Adam wants to leave to find his older brother, whom they have had no word from in the over one year since he left. Win takes Adam with him, but hasn't told him the real reason for his travels. He must find his uncle and inform them of something he learned in his recent tragedy, something that could bring war and death.

Gary Furlong did such wonderful voices and accents, he made each character very unique and brought the story to life. Isobel found a treasure when she found Gary Furlong. He has narrated most of her books, and he is just perfect for them all.

The book ends with a cliffhanger, so I am patiently waiting for part 2.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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Amazing!! A must read for fantasy romance lovers!

Wow! Just wow! If you’re on the mood for a beautifully written fantasy novel with fantastic world building (seriously, she’s got maps and the whole world and landscape completely figured out), great characters, some intrigue and escalating plot, you’ve got to try this book out!

I listened to the audiobook of this and was just blown away by Gary Furlong, his accents and narrative style was just excellent. There was a scene with 10 people in it, and I knew who was talking when. Great job!

And I loved Winter and Adam! From their beginning, the chemistry between these two was great, with Winter introducing Adam to all the wonderful things they can do together and discovering their connection. I loved when it was all revealed at the end!

Can’t wait for more of this world and what will happen next! Although this ends in a good place for Adam and Winter, it’s still an unfinished ending with the next story continuing the overall plot.

Highly, highly recommended for fantasy lovers!

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    4 out of 5 stars

Quite interesting and entertaining

First off, let me just say how colorful and enjoyable the characters in this book are. The narrator is awesome and I was very entertained by his performance.

The plot is interesting but the story moved a bit slowly in the beginning and I was a little ready to say I'm done. However, the author took the time to build a very interesting world and the characters are well developed. I can appreciate that. Not normally a fan of drawn out beginnings but I was pleasantly surprised and so glad I hung in there.

This is a slow to medium burn M/M romance but I kind of enjoyed the two main characters attraction to each other. It seems like a good start to a new series.

There is so much more I could say but I really am trying to stop giving spoilers in my reviews. I just say read it and see for yourself. You will be entertained. I guarantee it.

I look forward to the next book in the series.

This book was given to me by request for my unbiased review.

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  • Scotty
  • 06-08-19

Depth, Intrigue, and one hot-as-hell Apple Boy

Wow. I can't believe it's over. Get me book 2, stat!

At first, I wasn't sure about this book, as I'm not a fan of historical romances, and hadn't realised that this was a fantasy, plus Win seemed a bit odd to start with. But as he and Adam started to bond, their connection came alive.

The suspense as they made their journey had me hanging on every word for snippets of information on Win's past. Once they got to Serein, the possibilities exploded, and the ramifications of their magic became clear.

You know it's a good book when you actually groan out loud at the word 'epilogue'...

P.S. Adam's accent! 😍

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  • Emma Burbidge
  • 05-20-19

Sweet apples? Fruitilicious magic

Gary Furlong is a new to me narrator and Isobel Starling is a new to me author, but I thought that Gary does a wonderful job of capturing the smooth, cultured voice of the lost lordling Winter Aeling, the broader coarser tones of Apple Boy Adam, and his brute of a father the farmer of Blackdown Farm, as well as a myriad of voices for various secondary characters.
Isobel crafts a beguiling tale of Winter who has encountered misfortune in his travels, but who sees Adam's worth as soon as they meet. I loved taking the journey with them as they start to fall for each other, make their escape from under the brutish thumb of Adam's father, find their way to Saerin and the magic that comes to surround and live within them along the way.
A magical encounter...highly recommended. I look forward to see what happens next for them as they come into their own.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • KR Phoenix
  • 05-20-19

So good!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5 stars
🔥🔥🔥 Heat Level: 3.5
🎧🎧🎧🎧🎧 Narration: 5

So good!

This story is a mysterious adventure into a new world of magic, mages, mysteries, and murder. It has a unique historical undertone that makes it that much more enjoyable as you follow Winter and Adam, as they discover the truth of the world they live in and the special connection they share.

The book does end on a cliffhanger that’ll leave you dying for more but the story itself is a thrilling adventure I couldn’t put down!! I loved the attention to detail, here and there and the world Isobel has created is incredible. I love a good mystery and this has that in the bag! I look forward to the next book and can’t wait to see were Isobel will take us next!

I thought the connection between Winter and Adam was wonderful. They are drawn together and while there are situations beyond their control I found their connection very organic and their chemistry electric. I love the historical undertones were some town forbid Winter and Adam’s connection and that adds to the thriller and mystery of their bond and the magic they spark together.

A great creation by Isobel and I highly recommend giving it a listen. Gary does a fantastic job, gives each character a voice and draws you into the mystery and adventure! 5 stars from me!!!

Thanks for reading!

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  • Celpompom
  • 05-17-19

amazing new world

this book was quite amazing. The world building was very very interesting and the story compelling.
I loved Win and Adam. They were so different, but so similar in the ways that count. I love how the story gets deeper and darkens as we go and follow them on their journey.

I loved how they grew with each other.

I really loved the narration, Gary Furlong was able to make such great and different voices. Very good as well.

Looking forward to the next book

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Headinabook
  • 05-17-19

Good story

This is set in a rich world, that is very cleverly done with and it is a complicated, overarching storyline that takes place over three books.
Book one is all about Winter and Adam, it is full of mystery and magic.
I haven’t read the book but I will do now and have Gary Furlong’s dulcet tones in my ear. Ends with a slight cliffhanger so I am now looking forward to book 2.

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  • Pixiebell
  • 05-09-19

Enjoyable fantasy/fairy tale

Enter a beautifully crafted fantasy where a down on his luck young aristocrat called Winter Aeling (Win) meets up with Adam, a handsome farmers son, who helps him in his time of need and joins him on his adventure.
Isobel Starling has really impressed me with her impressive world building, attention to detail, well developed characters and exciting plot.
There are bad guys, one being a nasty cruel farmer (Adams father), magic, talking parrots and of course love ❤️ what more could you ask for?
Gary Furlong did and exceptional job narrating and his upper class English accent for Win was the best I have ever heard in an audiobook. I'm English by the way 😉

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  • Mary
  • 04-26-19

Starling and Furlong make audio magic!

Whenever I see a title by Isobel Starling that is narrated by Gary Furlong its a one-click, must-buy. I really love Ms Starlings writing, but when paired with the seemingly never-ending range of accents Gary Furlong does flawlessly, magic is created.

Apple Boy sees a young lord who has mysteriously fallen on bad luck coupled with a kind, yet naive farm boy on a journey to the main city of a province called Erias. Win, the lordling, is mixed up in political machinations he doesn't understand which put his-and his companions life in danger.

I love fantasy books but find that mainstream fantasy doesn't include lgbt characters, or if they do, the character has the worst luck then dies. Apple Boy reads-sounds like mainstream fantasy and yet the mc's are gay. it is a refreshing change. The story arc is strong and the writing, beautifully descriptive. Gary Furlong's soft posh accent for Win is balanced by his Irish brogue for Adam and a whole host of colourful characters. Listening to this audiobook really was like listening to a movie.

There is a cliffhanger ending of sorts but don't let that stop you from enjoying the ride.
Highly recommended