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Publisher's Summary

A million likes vs. one true love.

Bryce Bauman is one half of a famous influencer couple...until his boyfriend dumps him and puts the whole ugly scene online.

Several months later, Bryce is at the end of his rope—he’s lost all his endorsements, along with his so-called friends. Licking his wounds, he escapes to the tiny town of Serenity, Pennsylvania, where he’s surrounded by too much nature and quiet. And...the hot as hell owner of the bed-and-breakfast who makes him think there might be life beyond what’s on a screen.

Matty Wilcox has no time for spoiled brats or social media. He must keep the business running, his grumpy grandfather healthy, and himself deep in the closet. In his little town, there’s no way to come out to his friends and family and have things stay the same, so he’s better off alone.

Except life is complicated now that Bryce is staying at the bed and breakfast—he’s entirely too tempting and not as silly and shallow as Matty first thought. Giving in to his desire could only muddy the waters of the life he’s so carefully built. Any slipup would be dangerous for his business, his friendships, and most importantly, his heart. Besides, there’s no place for small-town Matty in Bryce’s big-city life. The two of them, together, don’t make sense.

Then again, since when does anything make sense when it comes to love—the greatest influencer of all?

From Lambda Literary Award-winning author Felice Stevens comes a sexy, slow burn small-town romance full of heat and heart. And a few groundhogs. And maybe a snake. But it's a little one...really.

©2022 Felice Stevens (P)2022 Felice Stevens

What listeners say about Influenced

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Small Town Firsts

I am so glad I first experienced this book in audio, because the narration was fantastic! Declan Winters was a new to me narrator, and he really made this story shine! His narration and range for the characters was wonderful and I felt so immersed in what was an equally wonderful story. Bryce, a fallen social media influencer, does a restock of his life at a bed and breakfast. This small town bed and breakfast is run by Matt, who had never been with a man before. Cue the romance and the many wonderful first times these two experienced together! First times is my favorite, and Felice Stevens did a wonderful job with the steam and emotions behind it all. Felice has a way of making me fall in love with her characters, and Bryce and Matt were no exception!

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A sweet small town romance

I'll be honest, I've been in quite a dry spell lately when it comes to audiobooks. Influenced, by Felice Stevens, is the first book in a relatively long time that I've listened to from start to finish. With just a couple issues, the book was a sweet and entertaining, well-narrated romance novel.

Bryce is a social media "influencer" (barf) who is part of an Instagram power couple. In the very beginning of the book, he is dumped by Grant, the other half of the couple, for one of Bryce's best friends. Grant and his new boyfriend are unreasonably cruel to Bryce (their motivations for this are not particularly clear), and he goes into a downward spiral that finally reaches rock bottom, whereupon he is referred to a country bed & breakfast in the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, where he meets the proprietor, Matty, and the two embark on a tentative relationship.

Matty is a quiet, reserved, small-town, closeted man who is trying to hold his business together after the tragic death of his parents. He has a girlfriend, Emma, and lives with his crusty, ailing grandfather. He is, at least to me, altogether more likable than Bryce, who can be a bit strident and preachy and sometimes becomes sort of a political mouthpiece for the author. The difference between the way Bryce lectures Matty's grandfather midway through the novel and the way Matty talks to him toward the end is perfectly illustrative of why Matty is a better character than Bryce. Incidentally, this problem has become ubiquitous in m/m romance novels written in the past couple years; I wonder if straight romance novel readers have to put up with a side of social commentary in EVERY novel they read?

The book is sweet and well written, and I mostly like the peripheral characters, except for the ones I'm not supposed to. I wish some characters got more comeuppance than they do (cough Grant cough), but I suppose that isn't really the point. I also love the setting, both the B&B as well as the town itself. It's not really a criticism, but the protagonists run into more gay and bisexual men in this small town than is probably realistic, and I'm not even counting any of Bryce's friends from New York.

Some complaints: the book goes on for about two hours too long, and certain plotlines, especially a few that are introduced close to the end, are extraneous and didn't need to exist, particularly the scene that happens in the diner just before the end of the book. Look, I'm gay, I've always lived in small towns, I'm... let's say, a few years older than the characters in this book, and I've never once had any problem with harassment. If you expect me to believe that in the course of a few months, not one but TWO rather major anti-gay incidents have happened to one of the protagonists, in a year close to the current one, you're stretching my credulity a bit.

Anyway I knocked a star off my review for that combined with Bryce's (and the author's) occasional shrill moralizing, but in general I really did enjoy listening to this book. Declan Winters is a reliably good narrator, and Felice Stevens is a good author.