Before the Call

A Small Town Hearts Novel
Narrated by: Michael Ferraiuolo
Series: Small Town Hearts, Book 2
Length: 9 hrs and 37 mins
Categories: Romance, LGBT
4.5 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Rule #1 Don’t fall for the ridiculously hot straight guy

Rule #2 Especially not if he’s your best friend

Rule #3 Extra-especially not when you’re supposed to be his private tutor

Rule #4 Oh, god, but those eyes

Rule #5 Okay, maybe eyes are fine if you don’t look south

Rule #6 Don’t look south

Rule #7 You looked south, didn’t you?

Rule #8 Are you even listening? 

Gabe Mitchell isn't listening. What's worse, ever since he moved back to the small town he thought he'd left for good, he's turned into a habitual rule breaker. 

Falling for his straight best friend, Clark Summers? Check. 

Falling for his straight best friend, Clark Summers, who also happens to be his newest mature student? Check. 

And don't you dare get him started about what's going on down south, because Gabe doesn't need to check that to know he's in deep. 

It's a good thing Clark's missed him these last four years, and a better thing that he's willing to do whatever it takes to have Gabe back in his life, because rules are about to be broken. All of them. And Clark’s only rule? The one about being straight? It might just end up broken, too.

Before the Call is the second book in the Small Town Hearts series, which features heroes scattered across the rural United States who find love where they're least expecting it. In addition to friendship that turns red-hot, you can expect to find generous servings of vanilla ice cream that are anything but vanilla, interesting “tutoring” techniques, a nerd who's head over heels for the best friend he can't have, and a jock who loves his Dork even after years apart.

©2019 Emma Alcott (P)2020 Emma Alcott

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

Such a good story

Trigger warning: teen almost abducted as part of the story

This was a really good story about high school best friends that reconnect as adults and become lovers. Clark is my favorite of the two men because of his dedication to his siblings and doing whatever he can to be the support person his mother needs. While he generally is sweet and supportive, he can be tough when he needs to be. Gabe is the perfect person for him because he understands that family comes first and he is in a great position to help all of Clark's siblings.

Michael Ferraiuolo is so much fun to listen to. He does a great job bringing life to dorky Gabe and the steadfast Clark. He's also hilarious to listen to as he voices the high school girls in Gabe's class.

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

Good story, great narration! 4.5 stars!

While this second audiobook in the Small Town Hearts series wasn't as fabulous as the first one, Emma Alcott still delivered an easy-to-read and enjoyable reunited friends who become more. Gabe and Clark are opposites but become the best of friends, going their separate ways when Gabe leaves their small hometown in Missouri to attend college in Oregon. He never thought he'd return, but when his job prospects aren't as promising as he thought, he heads back to accept a teaching position in his hometown. Now, while Gabe rarely bothered to actually reach out to Clark during their separation, the latter proved to be a truly great all-around guy, not once holding any resentment towards the guy he still held as his best friend. So yeah, it did take a bit longer for me to warm up to Gabe, but once I did, I cheered these two on towards their happily-ever-after. As for the narration, Michael Ferraiuolo doesn't disappoint, showcasing once again why he's as popular of a narrator as he is. Four stars for the story, five stars for the narration, which leads to an average of 4.5 stars for the Before the Call audiobook. ♥

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    4 out of 5 stars

Light, sweet, sexy fun

This book was everything I needed right now. It has a sweet second-chance love story (my favorite), some suspense and a human-interest sub-plot, great side characters brought to life by Michael Ferraiuolo (I wanted to punch some sense into a couple of the teenagers, so obviously he got them bang on!) and a fairly low-angst primary relationship.

I love Gabe, his awkwardness, darkness and all of his flaming train wrecks. More than that, I found Ms. Alcott’s writing downright lyrical. If I’d been reading this story on my Kindle, I’m sure I would have highlighted a couple dozen passages. Her descriptors (& her continuity with them) are amazing, and her inner dialogues are nothing short of brilliant.

Clark . . . how can you not feel for Clark . . . . with his life on hold for his 8 siblings and the weight of the world on his shoulders. Even though this was a first same-sex relationship for him, he handled it with grace and poise.

I definitely want to go back and read Book #1 in the Small Town Hearts series and I would absolutely re-read this one, if only to snag some of the aforementioned quotes.

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Great story, great way to spend your time!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and when I found out that Michael Ferraiuolo was narrating- getting the audio was a no brainer. The story moved quickly and low angst, which is what I need right now. The narration was fantastic. I reallyt enjoyed his voices and the way he was able to make the book even better.

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

So sweet!

I love this series so much! This book is so sweet and wonderful! A definite must have in your library. Will be listening to this over and over.

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

Highly enjoyable

I actually really enjoyed this listen. It was a bit slow to start, but once it got going, I was totally invested. The characters were really easy to love and the snarky humor just really got me.

Michael F. is brilliant in his narration, as always.

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

Sweet, low angst MM Romance

Emma Alcott is a great author for MM romance and she hits a homerun again with this sweet, low-angst romance. This story of Clark and Gabe is a friends-to-lovers trope and you are caught into their feelings in the very first chapter when one goes away for. The characters are well developed and you learn a lot about them both with their internal monologues, and there is good story development throughout the book. The narration by Michael Ferraiuolo was fantastic!

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

Great Read

This series by Emma Alcott is a great one to read when you need something sweet and low angst. Friends-to-Lovers is one of my favorite tropes, and this one is a great addition to the genre. The characters are so sweet together and have awesome chemistry!
Michael Ferraiuolo did an outstanding job with his performance. It was a easy listen that was fun to listen to!
I look forward to more from this author/series!

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

Great story

I loved the book when it came out. Man Michael just brought it to a whole new level of enjoyment for me. This book was sweet, hot, wonderful, dreamy. The characters were so relatable you just wanted to sit down with them and have. Cup of coffee and be there best friends. I highly recommend this audio book.

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

It made me smile

This was an enjoyable read/listen. There are probably a fair amount of bits to it that are a tad unrealistic, so far as resolutions go or the degree of schmaltz between two men & within their own internal monologues, but it IS fiction after all. This book made me smile repeatedly and laugh quite a bit too. I probably looked a tad silly while out & about listening.
There's a good deal of seriousness too, though most of that is due to a secondary plot involving a secondary, but important character who I'd love to see more of. The level of angst between the two leads is quite low, but not so slow that there's no reason to bother going onward - I wanted to know how things would continue to progress in their lives. There's perhaps a bit too much of the hot & heavy physical stuff for some people, but for those who like some heat, which I usually do, there is that to be had - and the narration of that is excellent. If there's one thing that Ferraiuolo is good at, it's being sultry.
The narration was good in general - his voice for Clark in particular was excellent. Gabe's voice was a little high for my taste. There were others that were so-so; one of Clark's brothers, who has a leading role, has a lisp that seems unnecessary & Gabe's mother almost sounds like a New Yorker, which makes no sense (though she's barely in it, so easy to overlook). The voices he gave some of the gossipy female side characters seemed weird too, but again, they were minor characters. His scenes with Clark, and between the two leads, which make up a vast percentage of the book, as well as the pacing & emotional expression, made up for any negatives. Plus, I've learned that people's experience of narration is a very uniquely personal kind of thing.
All in all, I'd recommend this book, especially if you're looking for something sweet & good feeling.

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  • KR Phoenix @ Books, Tattoos and Tea
  • 04-03-20

Sweet, Sexy and heartwarming!

🌟🌟🌟🌟 4.5 stars
🔥🔥🔥🔥 Heat Level: 4
🎧🎧🎧🎧 Narration: 5

Sweet, Sexy and heartwarming!

I loved this one and couldn't help but fall for the characters.
I love Emma's writing style and how they manage to create sweet, wonderful and caring characters that can't help but weave their way into your heart. I loved the batter between these too and felt this was a beautiful and somewhat epic (3 years in the making) best-friends to lovers/second chance romance!

I loved the Dork and his Jock and I loved how Clark embraced his sexual awakening quickly and with no real reservations. He was honest and forthcoming with his care for his best friend and realized he's cared for and even been in love with him for years and years. Their connection is so sweet and will give you all the feels and "heart-eyes"!

I also felt for Clark's brother and his challenging and somewhat traumatizing situation and I hope he gets a HEA in one of Emma's future books.

I'm loving this series and can't wait for more from this powerhouse author and narrator pair!!!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cassi
  • 04-02-20

SUPER CUTE

Adorable and so sweet the feel good pick me up I needed!! LOVE the narrator

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Annie13
  • 03-31-20

Adoorkable

Love the dorkiness and the both MCs and everything !!! Narration was amazing ! Creating writing from a favorite author :)

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • alias11
  • 03-31-20

Sweet second-chance, GFY story

This is a very sweet, slow-burn, small-town, friends to lovers, gay-for-you love story. There is friendship, love, some geekiness, some awkwardness, some funny moments, and sweet emerging love. I loved Gabe and his funny dorkiness, and Clark and his selfless caring for his siblings. This story didn't have the level of angst and drama as the first in the series, just a little centered around incorrect assumptions of small-town bias and a near-kidnapping and pursuit of a teenager by an older man. This is only book 2, but so far I am really loving this series.

The narration was great, and it was easy to tell the various character voices apart.

I received an complimentary copy of this audiobook and am voluntarily leaving this honest review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Donna Hirsch
  • 03-31-20

4 and 1/2 stars

Michael Ferraiuolo narration is en pointe!
Really enjoying the series. Low angst, sweet and funny.
Gabe and Clark have been friends since High school, Gabe leaves the small town to get away from his Straight best friend, but when he returns things heat up and a HEA is on the cards

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 03-30-20

The jock, the dork, and the Werther’s

I enjoyed the novel After the Crash so when I saw Ms. Alcott was releasing another book, I leapt at the chance to listen to it. This time she used Michael Ferraiuolo as her narrator. I adore Michael and have high expectations when I listen to his performances. He was as good as I expected, and I especially adored his high school teenagers – male and female. The contemptuous and entitled note was perfect. Reminded me of all the twits I had to deal with back then. Of course his great performance was because he had a great text to work with.

I’m gong to repeat what I said about the last book – don’t pay too much attention to the blurb. I hope listeners aren’t put off (I find them confusing, although maybe it’s just me). Basically this is a gay-for-you first-time best-friend-to-lovers book. There are plenty of tropes in those nine and a half hours, but it worked.

Gabe escaped his small town in for two reasons. He was gay and he was in love with his straight best friend. Since he could do nothing about either of those things, he left Missouri and headed to the left coast. Portland, Oregon would be far enough away, right? Yeah, except his crush on his bestie never really went away and upon graduating with a teaching degree, the only job he could find was in his old hometown. He knows teaching math in a town where kids either get out or go to work in the lead mine will be a challenge, but he’s up for it. And if that means he runs into Clark and they take up where the friendship left off, that’ll be okay, right?

Of course there are tons of complications. Like Gabe is teaching Devin, Clark’s younger brother. Or their men’s best friend Peyton and her nosy ways. Or Clark’s many many many younger siblings. Throw in a little dash of crime, meddling old biddies, and you’re set for what turned out to be a very enjoyable book. I loved how the getting together of the two men in a romantic way was almost accidental, but man did I cheer. I wanted Gabe and Clark to find their happily ever after and although there was drama, it didn’t much center around them. It was like their coming together made everything bearable. Made everything right.

I’m hoping there are more books in the series and I hope they are narrated by Michael. Well done.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sabbath
  • 03-30-20

Absolutely enjoyable

Being in self-isolation, this book was a perfect escape. Alcott’s ability to pull the reader into her stories shine as we meet Gabe and Clarke. I found the plot to be interesting and riveting, along with a great narration by Ferraiuolo.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mari Cardenas
  • 03-30-20

Enjoyable!

Before the Call is the second book in the Small Town Hearts series and it can be listened as a standalone.

I liked Gabe a lot, he was adorkable, but my favorite of the two was Clark. He was such a selfish, caring man. He dropped out of school to work and help his mother with his siblings and he was just so sweet and patient with them, even with Devon, his oldest brother, who could be quite the PITA.

This was GFY, so if you've ever read my reviews, you know I was in heaven with that. LOL Clark and Gabe had so much chemistry and they were great in and out of the bedroom.

While there was a bit too much happening that didn't quite pertain to the main couple, the book was pretty good. Perhaps not as good as the first book in the series, but still very enjoyable.

Michael Ferraiuolo did a great job with his performance, but honestly, he could read the phone book and I'd be in heaven, so even if it wasn't my favorite book by Emma Alcott/Piper Scott, I have no trouble recommending it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Belinda Zamora
  • 03-30-20

Friends to lovers, slow-burn

Really sweet and steamy story about the sometimes long and winding road to romance and HEA.
Full of heat, laughter and a wonderful sense of family and small town community.
Michael Ferraiuolo did a wonderful job single handedly bringing an entire cast of characters to life.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • choccygrl
  • 03-29-20

Enjoyable

Enjoyable reunited friends to lovers story.
This had an adorable character in Clark, a high school dropout who had to take on the role of Dad to all his brothers and sisters when his dad died. When his high school best friend returns to teach at the local school, Clark realises his feelings for Gabe are more than just best friends.
Added to their romance is an issue with Clark's brother Devon (trigger warnings for this at the end of the review)
Gabe was a positive addition to the school and help with Devon's issue. However his internal voice was exhausting.
Similarly to the first book in this series, I found the sex became to much once they started. Considering how often they were around young children they didn't mind sneaking off for sex in the living room or the back of the truck. Clark didn't consider himself gay but took to the sex like a champ and the baby endearment was dropped all the time during sex which didn't fit with how they were the rest of the time.

Overall an enjoyable story. And well narrated.

TW: catfishing of a minor, grooming, attempted abduction.