• How to Bang a Billionaire

  • Arden St. Ives, Book 1
  • By: Alexis Hall
  • Narrated by: Joel Leslie
  • Length: 11 hrs
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (537 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Rules are made to be broken....

If England had yearbooks, I'd probably be "Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire." So far, I haven't. I've no idea what I'm doing at Oxford, no idea what I'm going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he's brilliant, beautiful...oh yeah, and a billionaire.

It's impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he'll be through with me.

I'm good at doing what I'm told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian's shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it's him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn't have the power to give me.

Arden and Caspian's love story continues in How to Blow It with a Billionaire, coming fall 2017.

©2017 Alexis Hall (P)2018 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about How to Bang a Billionaire

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A stunning performance of an amazing book

How to Bang a Billionaire was a top read of 2017 for me, and while this was my first read from author Alexis Hall, he quickly became one of my favorite authors as I worked my way through his backlist. When I learned that this book would be coming to audio, I was excited but wary. While I have been quite impressed with all of Alexis’ audiobooks thus far, I have been let down by m/m novels with a single narrator in the past. Some performers don’t have a distinctive enough voice for each character, and I’ve been left confused as to whose perspective I’m listening to at any given time.

This was not at all the case when it came to the performance of Joel Leslie. Joel did not merely narrate this book; he brought these characters to life. He portrayed Arden so well, his humor, his quirkiness that I love so much came through so beautifully. Arden is brave and bold and not afraid to be vulnerable, and Joel captured everything I love about Arden and somehow elevated his character to new heights for me.

Likewise, his portrayal of Caspian is eloquent and striking. I felt like he was letting the listener in on a secret, revealing Caspian to us chapter by chapter. The secondary characters are so distinctive, you’d be hard-pressed to even tell that they were all voiced by the same person. Joel is incredibly expressive and really shone in emotional scenes, at times he even evoked a physical reaction from me. I had already read this book twice before listening to the audio, but this version opened up new facets of this story for me and made me love it all the more. Joel doesn’t just tell you a story; he makes you feel it.

My fangirl switch has been flipped, and I’ve added Joel Leslie to my personal Narrator Hall of Fame. (It’s a very prestigious honor, I assure you). I’ve since listened to a few of his other books and purchased several more. My preorder for the sequel, How to Blow It with a Billionaire, is already in, and I’m counting the days until that release.

21 people found this helpful

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Funnest Listen EVER!

This was so much fun I truly did NOT want it to end. The story is funny and interesting, nothing is predictable. Oh, and I love the main character, Arden, so much. He was a breath of fresh air. I never knew what he was going to say or do next, which is wonderful. I want more!

And Joel Leslie, as always, did a great job. He said something once about not being an actor. I think he is one. Better, even, because he only has his voice to work with and he always comes through. I stayed up way too late listening to it. I think this might be my favorite of his narrations. At least until the next one comes out!

Truly, listen to this one. It made me go to Hall's other books. I bought another one and it was completely wonderful in a completely different way. Which is what I want in a writer. Something different every time.

13 people found this helpful

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WOW

What made the experience of listening to How to Bang a Billionaire the most enjoyable?

Let me just say Joel Leslie can read the phonebook and I would buy the audiobook. Arden is is a emotion hurricane and Capian is controlled simmer. I literally laughed loudly at some bits. Looking forward to the continuation of the story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Bang a Billionaire?

Probably the phone call at the beginning. It sets the tone of the story to me.

Which character – as performed by Joel Leslie – was your favorite?

CASPIAN of course.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I can't think of one at this moment.

9 people found this helpful

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Mixed Feelings (an audio review)

This is one of the most difficult reviews I have written. There are *many* spoilers, so if you want to go in blind, you may not wish to read this. Many of the reviews of this book contain them, but I don’t want to influence your enjoyment of the book if you wish to be surprised. Near the bottom I have put a note that the spoilers are over and I explain my rating. You may wish to skip to that section to get my take.

All that being said, let’s start with the prologue. It was haunting and I did something I almost never do – I went back and listened to it again. I have since listened to Book 2 and would consider listening to this prologue again. What seemed so straightforward when I first listened to it, is truly complex and has not yet been explained. Maybe it will be in Book 3, I guess. I am waiting for that one, which is coming later this summer. And I will probably listen to the first two books again to reorient myself. These are complex books, despite the simple premise.

I have all five Fifty Shades of Grey (FSOG) books on audio and have listened more times than I care to admit to. That said, there are MANY comparisons between this story and FSOG. So many that it almost seemed like the same book, but switched to M/M instead of M/F.

If you haven’t read them, I think that’s cool. I have listened to them on audio more times than I wish to admit.

I felt the FSOG books were not particularly well-written and that there are far better BDSM books out there. Mr. Hall’s “For Real,” is a prime example as well as Joey W. Hill’s Nature of Desire Series (especially Book 5, “Rough Canvas”, which was the first BDSM m/m book I ever read). Mr. Hall’s “For Real” characters were engaging and they still resonate with me. Ms. Hill’s language is luscious, delicious, and evocative.

Back to this audiobook. I listened to it, frustrated beyond words for the first four hours. I was about to give up, when a friend sent me the following article:

http://romancenovelsforfeminists.blogspot.ca/2017/04/gender-and-appeal-of-malemale-romance.html

Make of it what you will, if you choose to read it. If you listen to audiobooks for pure enjoyment, this article probably won’t mean anything. As someone from an academic background, it helped me understand the approach Mr. Hall appeared to be taking with this book. There are no direct quotes from Mr. Hall, so I don’t know if it is all just the blog writer’s supposition or if she has primary sources. I’m going to work off the premise that her article is accurate.

Okay, putting all that aside, once I understood the social statement Mr. Hall was trying to make (I think), I was better able to sit back and listen to the book on its own merits. I even ventured to listen to it a second time, pushing all ‘literary’ comparisons aside. I did enjoy it more, for sure, but given “Fifty Shades Freed” is now out in the movie theatres, the comparisons crept in. I write notes when I listen to audiobooks because I write reviews. When I write the review, I scan my notes to remind me of the salient points, but for this book – through both listens – I took copious notes. I did attempt to write a review after the first listen, but abandoned that and listened to it again.

E.L. James’ FSOG has captured the attention of so many (mostly women). Interestingly, m/m’s biggest legion of readers is actually women. I could write a whole essay on the theories of why, but suffice it to say, many of them do not cross over into m/f, so they may not have read Ms. James’ book. But for those who have, the following will resonate (major spoilers):

Anastasia Steele – Arden St. Ives
Christian Grey – Caspian Hart
Grace Trevellion Grey – Gertrude Hart
Elliott Grey – Ellery Hart
Ray Steele – Rabbie

Maybe I’m stretching the last two, but you can see where I’m going with this.

The comparisons are many and mirror FSOG in everything from the low self-esteem of Ana/Arden to what they studied as well as how the Doms Christian/Caspian represented themselves and their backgrounds, their personal assistants, and even their mannerisms. Anastasia is clumsy, falling into Christian’s office at his feet. Arden is even worse, landing at Caspian’s feet multiple times. Caspian lifts Arden’s hands over his head so the younger man can’t touch him. Sound familiar?

Caspian at least has the decency to realize a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) would pretty much be unenforceable and he allows Arden to speak to his best friend Nick. So here, Caspian is better than Christian but there are many other examples of the two stories mirroring each other.

There are a couple of critical differences.

Ana in FSOG is a naïve virgin. Yes some women (and men) make it to 21 and are still a virgin. (Raises hand). But to be completely ignorant about sexuality? Okay. Arden, in contrast, has had numerous sexual encounters, including giving his straight roommate a hand job.

Ana has Kate as a best friend and Arden has Nick. The best friends are rich, and by their very existence, make Ana and Arden feel lesser.

Arden also knows what he wants: he likes it rough, likes to be restrained, and has no problems dropping to his knees the first time he meets Caspian in person and giving the older man a blow job. But Caspian is reticent: “you will feel frightened and degraded.” He hates the feeling of hurting someone. Finally he says, “Pain is pain, whoever inflicts it.” Arden conquers by saying, “context is important.” He later says he’s okay with just about everything as long as Caspian doesn’t eat him with some fava beans and Chianti. Caspian doesn’t get the reference.

And can we talk about looks? Arden waxes poetic about Caspian’s beauty and is not surprised that the older man is one of England’s 100 Most Eligible People. Now, in J.D. Robb’s In Death books, Roarke is described in such over-the-top language and I roll my eyes at those descriptions as well. I realize this is fiction – fantasy – but the physical perfection is over-the-top. Or as Arden says, Caspian has “a cock that Rodin would have dreamed up…”

Arden, although not naïve like Ana, is a quirky 21. He has engaged in light BDSM and believes he has some concept. But does he really?

So why all the comparisons? According to the article noted above, Mr. Hall has replaced Arden with Ana in an attempt to (retell? compare? contrast?) provide a different take on the FSOG story. Billionaire books have been all the rage for over 10 years now (although millionaire books had their place well before that) in the m/f market and FSOG was fan fic of Twilight, so Mr. Hall is in good company. I often wonder if the m/f market will saturate, but it never quite seems to. These days it’s an Alpha Billionaire Dom Motorcycle Club MMA fighter Tattooed Mafioso who sleeps with his stepsister. Yes, to me, it has gone too far. When we glorify the mafia and hitmen, it’s too much. And this is one of the reasons I love m/m.

Sure, there are a few authors who venture into some (or all) of those tropes, but those are the exception. I find (for the most part) that the best romances – of all kind, focus on the relationship between the two (or three) main characters.

This is where Mr. Hall’s book falls short, for me. As with FSOG, the book is in the first person, told entirely through the submissive’s point-of-view. Mr. Hall does use past tense instead of present, for which I am grateful. But other than that, Ana and Arden’s voices are often interchangeable. In fact, some lines were so similar that, out of context, I would be hard-pressed to say which character said them.

There is some differentiation and Caspian seems like he is less controlling than his M/F counterpart. It should theoretically put the men on similar footing.

Except it doesn’t. Arden’s quirky wardrobe doesn’t fit in Caspian’s world and although Caspian doesn’t say anything, it is clear.

Arden being a man doesn’t make him Caspian’s equal.

But there is a difference between being a submissive, a bottom, and a masochist. The terms are not interchangeable. As the billionaire dominant gets into a relationship with a complex bottom, the submission doesn’t always follow. I’ll address this more in my review of the second book.

‘How To Bang a Billionaire’ begins with the following quote: “Sweet are the uses of adversity”. The quote is from Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It.’ But, interestingly, the full quote is:

Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

As You Like It, Act II, Scene 1, 12-17

As with much in this book, there is more than meets the eye. The layered meanings are sometimes a challenge to unwrap, but worth the effort. Along with many literary references, there are pop culture ones as well. I’m also learning that things are different for Caspian. Much darker.

As I’m sure you can tell, I am very conflicted about this book. All the things that were wrong about FSOG have not been fixed. Some, in fact, have been amplified.



***NO MORE SPOILERS***



So why am I giving it 8 out of 10? Because on its own, when not being compared to FSOG or as a social statement, it is a good book. It’s funny, engaging, and the language is delicious. The literary allusions and mentions are subtle and substantive. Mr. Hall doesn’t make you feel bad if you don’t get all the references, but if you do, well, congratulations. I have a graduate degree and I didn’t get all of them.

Unlike FSOG, this book has a Happy-For-Now ending. Nor does it end on a cliff-hanger. Book 2 does. (This spoiler comes from the book description, although I can verify it). Of course there will be another book, so OBVIOUSLY Arden and Caspian will get back together. But there is so much baggage and so many secrets in this relationship, I am beginning to wonder if it can all be resolved.

Finally, I want to address the narration.

At one point, Joel Leslie was the only reason I kept listening. So thank you, Joel, for bringing the characters alive for me and bringing Mr. Hall’s words to life. The interpretation of Arden is brilliant. Arden could have come off as a whiny brat at times, but Joel’s interior monologues were, I believe, even funnier than Mr. Hall had intended.

This is possibly one of his best performances and I’ve listened to all three Red Dirt Heart books by N.R. Walker and am dying while waiting for the fourth book. His interpretation of Henry Beckett in N.R.’s book ‘The Weight of it All’ was amazing – bringing the neurotic and loveable overweight character to life. Arden reminded me of Henry with the low self-esteem and meeting someone who seems way out of his league.

Joel does humour, he does angst, he does emotion, and he will make you feel.

If you’ve watched Joel’s videos, he is an odd contradiction. I’ll leave it up to you to make what you want of that. What I will say is he has a wide range, a deep voice, and an awesome British accent. His Caspian is perfection. Joel hits just the right note of disdain and disinterest except when he’s not. That is part of the contradiction with Caspian. Most of the time, the reader has no idea what is going on with him. Joel’s interpretation helps, but I think until all three books have been completed, I won’t know for sure.

Joel’s Arden is brilliant. Mr. Hall, like several of my favourite authors, writes funny, witty, and fantastically humorous inner monologues. Joel nails those inner thoughts so I almost never have to wonder if Arden has blurted out something inappropriate, as he is wont to do. I love that about him. Joel could make the Encyclopedia Britannica interesting and yes, Audible has done that. Joel should have been included in that recording. His Arden is just…well, the proper words escape me. You need to listen to his performance to fully enjoy the book.

As I’ve said, I have listened to Book 2 and am very interested in listening to Book 3 to see where this story goes.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this to whet your appetite:

My Beloved.

My Monster.

My Broken Prince.

He’ll come back to me.

I’ll save him from himself.

4 people found this helpful

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Funny with Great Narration

This is the story of funny but flailing Oxford student, Arden St. Ives, and the enigmatic billionaire he falls in love with...but will closed off Caspian Hart be able to return Arden's love? With some (I think) tongue in cheek nods to Fifty Shades of Grey, although thankfully much better written, this has plenty of laughs, mostly at Arden's expense, without becoming silly about it.

While I found it funny, certainly witty, and I appreciated even though Arden was head over heels with Caspian he didn't just let Caspian walk all over him, I struggled to get through the story. Because it's told entirely from Arden's POV it unfortunately provided little insight into Caspian's mind or motivations. Also, the tentative HFN ending about killed me.

The real gem I found here is Joel Leslie's narration. He perfectly captures how out-of-his-depth Arden is, how Arden grows, and conveys the brilliant-yet-tragic tones of Caspian beautifully. Leslie's voice was so rife with humor and emotion...he just keeps getting better in his character voices and performances.

Truthfully, the story wasn't for me but the audio kept me going throughout and I found it to be a delightful listen.

14 people found this helpful

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Wow!

Hall's masterful words provide another tour de force by Joel Leslie. Bravo, well done!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

Superb narration by Joel Leslie. An Engrossing delicious story and loveable beautifully flawed main characters. I thoroughly enjoyed and I can't wait for the next installment
Charo

3 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

a LOL experience. The characters were exceptional and brought to life by a great storyteller!

3 people found this helpful

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okay wow OMG just wow!!!!

seriously ,when I heard about this book... I wasn't that flared, but I was so damn wrong!!!
I won't even suggest, to compare this book to Fifty Shades.. it's much more better, much more everything!!! I don't even know how to explain this!! it's like you know the story, because you read the books (the original books I mean) but you don't know ....because the characters are the same but not!!! I can't even describe how I enjoyed this book !!! and how in shock I was !! and that I even did!! I know what will happened! I know what will be the next move ...or maybe I don't anymore ...because I was expecting a kind of copy of the original book... but it wasn't a copy!!!!!
so much feelings!!! so much hurt!!! everything I expected from the original books and I didn't get I got here!! and much more !!!!
the understanding of Arden!! he knows that Caspian is struggling.. he wants to understand . it's much more than the s*x for him, he wants to understand but he doesn't know he wants it himself ....I don't even know who I'm right now!!!!!
I'm serious!!! and let's talk about Joel!!! oh! my! God!!! this man!!!!
I don't even know how to describe he's perfect and absolutely incredible narration!!! he's absolutely one of the best narrators I have ever heard!! (nevermind the genre) his special voice, his special introduction, the moaning ,the suffering, the joking, everything! is alive in your head!!! and you can see Caspian ,you can see Arden, and it's incredible ..absolutely fascinating!!!
I really think everybody should listen to this book...
and I'm sorry for Fifty Shades of Grey but this book was better!( as a book not as a copy it's not a copy not at all) I can't wait enough to the second book I have it in Kindle but I won't read it I will never manage to make those voices in my own imogenation it will never be like this...

9 people found this helpful

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Overall disappointment

Purchased this based upon listening to Boyfriend Material, a little reluctant because of how much I’d enjoyed the story of Luc anf Oliver...and thinking this may be a let down after that. Was I ever right! Maybe if I’d listened to this series first I might feel differently, but doubtful.
Starting with the narration, to be fair, it would be tough to top Joe Jameson’s performance...so will give that one a pass.

I made it through the first BJ on the balcony, and gave up. If I’d stuck with it a little linger it may have grown on me, but ultimately I didn’t care about these characters enough to invest the time. Actually I didn’t care about them at all, which was probably the problem.


2 people found this helpful

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  • Wendy
  • 04-05-18

Superb writing and superb narrating

I think what struck me most about this story was the authors deeply empathetic understanding of human nature. Alexis Hall is fast becoming one of my auto-buy authors.

He writes with humour, wit and emotion all of which had me laughing and crying in turn. I didn’t think it possible for him to top Glitterland (which I adored) but he may well have done - I’m not sure. In any case I’ve immediately downloaded the next in this series as I cannot wait to see how the delightful Arden redeems Caspian. A beautiful love story and one I highly recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Book addict
  • 02-21-18

Really good book

Alexis Hall is a really good writer. Listened to a few of their books and I’m always so utterly drawn in and absorbed, and love how you become a part of the character’s world. They are always so real and you fall in love with them. This is a rare writing skill in all the books I have listen to (and I have listened to way over 1000 in many genres), but practically unheard of in the m/m romance genre. Listened to the whole book pretty much in one go, and eagerly about to start on the next book of the trilogy.

I’d say this book is similar to the 50 shades type trilogy romance, with a tortured love interest and gradually revealing more about them and developing the relationship. However, the big difference with this book is that it’s really good! And m/m, obviously. So many of those types of books are mediocre. It’s not really a BDSM book, but the urges are there and it could easily go that way in the other books in the trilogy - but if it does I imagine it will be pretty light stuff. It’s more about emotional, intimacy and control issues.

Although it’s all from one character’s point of view, you still feel like you are getting to know both of them and its done really well.

Joel Leslie is a fantastic narrator too and you can tell he really knows the story and is being the character as he speaks, and feels what they feel - rather than just reading the words with voices like so many other narrators.

Just realised that the final book won’t be out for a few months which is a great shame as I usually don’t get books until they’re all available. Will be keeping an eye out for that one for sure! In the meantime, on to book number 2...

2 people found this helpful

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  • Gaye Harvey
  • 07-25-21

Luv this series

Luv Alexis Hall... found this series after reading Boyfriend Material by same author and not disappointed ...
and Narrator is fabulous....
a definite for a listen...

1 person found this helpful

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  • Stephen, liverpool
  • 03-20-18

Great story

loved the story, great narration by Joel Leslie as he alwsys gets into the character. The story was believable and kept you going with the plot.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MaryD
  • 01-28-18

Set my imagination on fire

Even if Arden St Ives thinks he is the least likeliest person to set the world on fire Alexis Hall with Joel Leslie’s superb narration certainly have for me. I have a serious case of book hangover after finishing listening to this excellent story. It is so much more than 50 shades could ever hope to be. Roll on the next audiobook. Joel’s voice in my imagination as I read How to Blow it with a Billionaire is a poor substitute for the real thing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Becky L
  • 01-20-18

Aural perfection in both story and narration

So, I read and loved this book, but I'm a bit in love with the audio. Yes, it has parallels with 50 shades, but it is so much better - it focuses on Caspian and Arden and they are truly front and centre here. The story takes you through Arden's journey from his POV but we also get to see Caspian's struggles with wanting to both protect and love Arden and also see him suffer.

And that's where this narration really comes alive. This is a book you live through, not listen to - it felt like I 'was' Arden - when he suffered, I suffered. The audio added that realistic dimension so rarely achieved for other books, by bringing each character to life in their own unique and distinct way. Both Arden and Caspian were the voices in my head, and the people I imagined when I read the book.

I could rave about this all day, and any review would feel woefully inadequate - and honestly, this has kind of recalibrated my rating as 5 stars just doesn't seem enough.

The next book I listen to has big, big shoes to fill.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Miss I, London
  • 08-15-22

What 50 shades of grey wanted to be

Another winner from Alexis Hall.
Genuinely compelling narrative across the three books.
Does a really good job locating the story within the BDSM world and featuring kink
Trademark comedy touches in the script
Another great job by the narrator - whoever choses them finds exactly the right voices for his books.
Listened to all three in a row one after the other. You should too.

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  • H.A.B.
  • 05-03-22

Soooooo disappointing…

After praising the last book by the author I was in such high hope but found HOW TO BANG A BILLIONAIRE sooooooo tedious & tiresome!!
Such cliché , predictable & simply boring

I listened to it fully to be able to review it BUT WHAT WASTE OF TIME THIS BOOK IS

I certainly won’t listen to part II or III in this series
BUT I WILL GIVE THE AUTHOR more chances with his other titles !

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  • Mrs N
  • 01-15-22

Oh Ardy, you gorgeous boy !

I love, love, loved it.
Such spot on sarcasm, exquisitely delivered.
A very enjoyable story.

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  • reviewer
  • 06-18-21

unbearable

I downloaded this for a long trip with no internet access- really all I needed from it was to keep me awake.
but the narrative is so incredibly stupid, withtwo highly unlikealbe, unlikely characters, and pace / development that goes from painfully slow to "whoops!! how did that happen all of a sudden??" to painfully slow again. Lazy story architecture. inconsistent behaviour.
And the narrator was so terrible, I was ready to switch it off a few minutes in- i thought he was joking or persiflaging at first!! Terrible.

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  • Book.it.to.me
  • 04-02-22

5 star amazing read

I absolutely loved this book. The writing is beautiful, humourous, intelligent and entertaining. I’m so excited to see where this story goes.
Joel Leslie’s narration is always amazing and he thoroughly brought these characters to life

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  • Ben
  • 12-07-19

OMG Amazing

Loved the story very much just amazing love it so much I hope more books keeps coming out of this

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  • Ev
  • 12-21-18

Loved it

Well written. Narration was brilliant. I laughed through out the whole book. Enjoyed this too the very end.