Too Close

Narrated by: Michael Lesley
Length: 5 hrs and 25 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4.5 out of 5 stars (45 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Skylar Orion's life has been complicated ever since his mother abandoned him and his sister Evie. Making ends meet seemed impossible until Tate Chandler took them in - his knight in shining armor who promised to make life about more than just surviving.

But Tate is not the man he seemed to be, and even his whispered I love yous and generous gifts do little to soothe the pain he causes. Knowing he can't give his sister all that she deserves without Tate, Skylar stays with him, relying on bad puns and a worse sense of humor to keep up the charade. He will do anything for his sister, even if that means acting the responsible adult and going back to his old high school to meet Dexter Weston, the hot math teacher who can make even algebra interesting.

Sparks fly between the two of them, but with his dependence on Tate, Skylar isn't free to follow his heart. He wants what is best for Evie, but can he pass up the chance to find love that heals instead of harms?

©2016 R. Phoenix (P)2019 R. Phoenix

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    4 out of 5 stars

A Gentle and Bittersweet Story with a Happy Ending

Too Close Audiobook Review

This is a very touching and unique story, and Michael Lesley does an amazing job of delivering it.
I think to be fair to the readers who come in seeking romance - there is a romantic touch to it. However, the story itself revolves around Skylar’s struggle to take care of his younger sister, a struggle that lead him to live with an abusive man.
And around Dexter - the person who sees him, and tries to reach out to him, but struggles to come through.
There is a lingering bittersweetness that courses through the whole story, with sparks of humour and lovely, aching moments when Skylar grabs onto doing things for himself.
The narration is masterfully delivered, allowing Skylar’s personality to become the dimmed star that finally finds it’s way to shine, and gives voice to the warm, caring personality of Dexter.

One small thing I found interesting that I do think could’ve been utilized slightly better in the story is the correlation between Dexter’s passion for working in education, and Skylar’s passion for gardening. Both are the kind of work that it takes time and care until results are seen.

However, I did love the correlation between Skylar’s passion for gardening and his own imprisonment: the garden that was his to care for, but never really his own. Especially the scene where the garden embodies the destruction done by the abusive man he came to depend on, and the one plant that struggled to flourish there, and eventually spread its twigs when it finally had room to grow.

All in all, it was a wonderful story to listen to, and would definitely find a time to relisten in the future.

1 person found this helpful

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😭 All the FEELS

The expertly written story coupled with enthralling and perfectly matched narration, made this feel more like a one man Broadway show than an audiobook. Bravo!

1 person found this helpful

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Heartbreaking, but oh so wonderful

I find myself in this position often. Finishing a wonderful book, and lacking the words to tell you about how much I loved it. I’m going to do my best to try. There was so much hurt, so much pain. If you aren’t looking for an angsty story, you might want to sit this one out. It’s a wonderful story, but it’s also one that will hurt to read.

This isn’t so much as a romance as it is a story of breaking free and starting over. In the attempt to provide for his sister and keep custody of her Skylar made a deal with the proverbial devil. Not that he knew it at the time. In exchange for Tate giving them both a roof over their head and provide for them, Skylar had to keep him happy. No matter what. When Evie starts fall behind in school things gets much worse, and better for Skylar.

Domestic abuse happens everywhere. It’s too common. I heard someone say that the person that doesn’t know one domestic abusive relationship in their circle of friends, family and acquaintances has their eyes closed. Sadly that’s too true. That’s why these kinds of stories are so important. To remind us that it can happen to anyone but also that there is hope for something better in the future.

R. Phoenix did a great job crafting a relatable and genuine story. It felt real. Too real at times. She showed us the devastation of an abusive relationships, of how dependent Skylar was to Tate. That while he desperately wanted to leave, he couldn’t, wouldn’t. I also loved that while dealing with all the heaviness, the listener wasn’t boggled down with all the angst, there was a lightness to it, hope. Phoenix found that balance and rode it all the way home.

While romance isn’t the main focus of this book, there is a love interest from early on and I felt that even that was handled with great care and credibility. I loved the banter between Skylar and Dexter, the happiness he brought to both Skylar and Evie. Their relationship doesn’t happen until the very end of the book, when Skylar has broken free of Tate and had some time to start getting his feet on the ground. We aren’t really there for the development, but are shown moments in time of their story.

I also have to mention the cover. I love that cover so much. Not only is it different, but more than that it fits so perfectly with the story. The darkness, the hands. The sapling. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. This one is worth so much more, so many feelings more. It’s beautiful and perfect.

This was a new side of Michael Lesley. I’ve only listened to him narrating comedies before. There was banter in this book, but there was so much more angst and seriousness and he handled it all, I won’t say ease as I don’t think reading, writing or narrating this kind of story is ever easy, but it was great. He added is usual flare to it, some extra feeling, pensive pauses and so on. He’s definitely doing a wonderful job bringing the story and characters to life.

I don’t know if I liked that Lesley made me feel everything Skylar felt. Because he made me feel. A lot. There was so much pain and fear, hopelessness. None of which I particularly enjoy feeling. At the same time I love that he made me feel so much. Connect to the story. He made it mean more, and I can’t and won’t ask for anything more than that.

Highly recommended.

A copy of this book was generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review for Love Bytes.

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Still as powerful and raw as the first time

It’s been three years since I first read Too Close. In all that time, it’s still one I frequently recommend because it left an indelible mark on me. When I heard there would be an audiobook, I was intrigued. When I heard who the narrator would be, I was excited. And yet, I didn’t expect Too Close to have the same impact the second time around. I was completely wrong. Maybe I forgot how powerful the author’s words were, or maybe I didn’t think a narrator could capture all the emotion those words held…but either way, I was held captive by this audiobook. I knew what would happen, when it would happen, how it would happen- and yet, I couldn’t stop listening. Once again, Too Close wrecked me- it left me breathless, hopeful, shaking my head at puns, and simply in awe.

For me, a good audiobook elevates a book, playing up its strengths and making the story take even more shape than the written word does. Mr. Lesley did just that, ensuring the power of this book couldn’t be ignored. He delivered a fantastic performance- putting weight into the pauses and sighs so that everything had extra meaning and I could feel the emotion pouring through my headphones. Honestly, I’m not a frequent rereader. There’s simply so many books I want to experience and, for me, most stories lose their magic a bit after the first go around. Not here. Three years later and I’m again floored by the rawness and honesty in Too Close. I know I’ll be recommending this title and audiobook for many more years because I have yet to read one that does this subject as much justice.

*Received ACX promo code for title. The author had no influence over this review*

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4 and a half stars

Wow Tate is lucky he is fictional otherwise he would be dead. I really enjoyed the coming together in this story. well written and superbly narrated

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Incredible storytelling

I absolutely loved Michael Lesley’s ability to capture each character’s unique voice (Gavin was perfect), while speaking and during their internal monologues. It was so easy to tell who was speaking/thinking and when which I find really makes an audiobook so much more enjoyable.
I also loved the story itself, the author’s storytelling abilities to bring to life the mindset that a traumatic experience leaves in its wake. Skylar and Dexter were absolutely adorkable together, from first interaction all the way through.

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loved this so much

once again r. phoenix takes us on an entertain trip through a well wrote story with amazingly written characters and loved the Michael's narration.

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It was perfect

I couldn’t imagine loving this book even more could be possible, but this narration has every emotion I felt from it, multiply even more. I start in a point where I already love the story, but listening to Sky’s voice and his pain so easily felt in it, made the experience so much more powerful. It was painful to listen and yet so beautiful. There is so much hope in it. I loved the pace, the different voices, the humorous tone at times and how everything was so wonderfully played by the narrator. It was perfect.

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Beautiful story Great Narration

This story is very beautiful and so sad at times in how real is the portrayal of abuse. I enjoyed the story of Skylar's fight and struggles made more heart wrenching with all the jokes and puns he used to hide his fears. Author did a good job balancing humor and light banter with pain and emotional turmoil the characters went through. Narrator did a great job giving voices to characters. He was able to make me smile and tear up while listening to the story, even when things were happening that were so hard to take, his voice made it enjoyable and positive. This was a perfect listening experience, highly recommend.

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Amazing Story and Loved the Naration

This book is a bit different from the author's normal dark romance or paranormal stories and it was one of the 1st I ever read, The story was so compelling and touching that I almost cried at points and I don'd do that! The characters were always compelling and made me need to read more by her. With this narration, it is just over the top good. Michael Lesley really brought them to life! Highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-11-20

Great book

I read this book first. It was just as good listening to it in audio. The story is emotional and grabs you right up. The narration was pretty fantastic, too.

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  • Trio
  • 12-31-19

Powerful & Emotional, Michael Lesley is Amazing!

One of the finest erotica, taboo, and dark romance authors out there, R. Phoenix writes a powerful tale. Her stories are intense, and whether it tugs on my heartstrings like Too Close or it’s one of her deliciously macabre sci-fi/fantasies, I know I’m always in for a treat.

Narrated by Michael Lesley, Too Close was recently released as an audiobook. Mr. Lesley has a beautiful voice, and he turns in a stunning performance. He captures every bit of angst, hope, and intense emotion the author has infused into these characters.

R. Phoenix digs deep inside these men. It’s not just the surface reactions that everyone can see, and what’s directly revealed in the story, this talented author gives us so much more. She explores how each action impacts their experiences, and there’s no doubt how they’re really feeling. And in audio? Michael Lesley makes the most of every opportunity to add to the feels. 

I love how R. Phoenix finds redeeming qualities in all of her antagonists. Woven subtly throughout the story, there’s always something to help us relate (and even sympathize) with them. For me, this elevates her stories to a completely different level. Nothing’s black or white in R. Phoenix’s worlds, and Too Close is a prime example.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lydia Devlin
  • 12-19-19

Too Close

Wow!
I don't think I have the right words to describe this,but,I'll have a go. Emotional,heartwrenching,beautiful and ultimately fulfilling.
Michael Lesley has done a brilliant job of bringing these characters to life.
I highly recommend this Audiobook.

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  • Olivia F
  • 12-16-19

Amazing story, even better narration

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What a great story. I really appreciate how the struggle, uncertainty and fear of the abused person was presented. I also liked the ending, which didn't try to pretend that life is all fairytale when you finally find a right person.
As always, an outstanding performance from Michael Lesley makes this book a real treat to listen in audio.

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  • Isabella
  • 12-09-19

Heartbreaking but perfect!

(Small review, will update after re-listening)
Everyone that is looking for a light and fluffy story is probably very, very wrong here. This book deals with domestic abuse, and all the horrible things that come with it. It has a sweet happy end, but the MC has to work hard to get there.
The narrator managed to capture all the feelings, which makes it impossible to not get caught in the story, so be prepared to suffer with the MCs. but also to live through the well earned happy end.