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When Heaven Strikes

Narrated by: Vance Bastian
Length: 6 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (32 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Can love survive heaven's wrath?

Artist Ted Armstrong lives a solitary and eccentric life. The survivor of child abuse disguised as religion, Ted has cut himself off from the world.

Then Ted meets Anderson Taylor, and it's like being struck by lightning.

Anderson is a cardiac surgeon whose passion for his work has consumed him. He fears he'll never find a partner - until he sets eyes on Ted. It's happening fast, but both men know what they feel is right.

Confronted with an angry preacher, a scandal, and an act of God that threatens to destroy everything, their relationship will face its first true test.

©2017 Frederick E Feeley Jr (P)2017 Frederick E Feeley Jr

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  • 'Nathan
  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 11-09-17

A well-written novel of faith and pain.

I'm quite happy to say I've only seen a few people and a few reviews of this book referring to it as a romance—because it's not. That's a constant uphill battle for writers of queer fictions, and while there is definitely a love story throughout When Heaven Strikes, it bears repeating: check the category before you read, and you'll see it immediately. Fiction, not romance.

I have to admit, too, there was a moment of dialog in the book that made me laugh out loud: “No. This isn’t some romance novel where there has to be an attraction, the hookup, an antagonistic split, followed by the inevitable swelling of a symphony as the two characters get back together.”

That said, let's talk faith wielded as a weapon of assault, surviving the damage, and potential forgiveness.

I have—at best—a guardedly neutral relationship with faith. The vast majority of my experiences with faith have led me to avoid it completely, and to keep a self-protective distance with those who carry it as a torch or a centrepoint of their lives. If there was a character I related to in this book, it was Ted, who survived an abusive, violent past at the hands of a faith-obsessed father. Now, that's not my past, but I am a survivor of violence, and that played into my reading quite a bit.

The first half of this story involves Ted and Anderson, a chance connection that shows promise and depth, and their decision to give it a shot. The intersection with the second half of the novel—which springboards off Ted's interaction with another door-to-door peddler of hateful faith—involves the priest, his sons and wife, and the dark snarl of self-loathing and misguided use of their faith. The two halves form a very light-and-dark tipping point in the story, and the shift in tone is all the more sudden for the difference.

I enjoyed When Heaven Strikes. The narrative also kept me at a distance. That was my own history, emotionality, and life at play, though, not a fault of the story. I don't generally do well with redemption arcs that feature former abusers, for one, and for another, I have to work very, very hard to see the frameworks of faith as it was presented here as anything other than something to be wary of. That's my history. Survivors survive (and thrive) in different ways; some forgive, some move on without forgiveness, both are valid. At no point did I feel the characters involved were making choices that weren't internally consistent by the epilogue. But the choices they made had me stepping back.

When faith plays a central role in fiction, though, I know that's what I'm likely to see. I wasn't unprepared, and like I said, it never felt unreal. If you're someone who similarly struggles with the topics of faith, how faith is so often wielded as an excuse to violently assault others, and forgiveness of those who have wielded it thus, it would do you well to go into When Heaven Strikes forewarned.

I should also note I listened to this book on audio, and it was splendidly performed by Vance Bastian, who crafted voice enough for each character that when there were a few "he/him" moments of confusion, the voice made it clearer than it would have been in print. More, Vance just has a velvety "smoothness" to him I really enjoyed and played well into the gentle counterpoints of the book, and his projection of emotionality in the characters never felt forced or over-the-top. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for more of his performances.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful writing, great narration

I love this story, which centers around two good men finding their way into a loving relationship. Despite their differences, Anderson and Ted are both lonely and have each been disappointed in the past. Neither knows if he will ever find a long-term partner. As they find their way to trust and happiness, there are other tales interwoven into their story. These are heartbreaking and realistic.
The novel's secondary characters are as important as the main couple. And the unpredictable weather is a character in itself, both as a plot device and as a metaphor for the instability of life, love, and family relationships. Religious fundamentalism is featured heavily, with the dangers it poses to those in its grip, including the family members of the fervent believer. I was driven to anger several times due to this.
The author is talented, and the story flowed beautifully. The narrator does a wonderful job with bringing the characters to life. This story is a new favorite for me, and I recommend it highly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Nice book, i liked the ending better

This book was a bit of a mystery at first, and i feel like it took me some time to get into the story and i actually liked the second half better than the first. It was a bit hard for me, at times to figure out what each character is doing, what is it’s part in the book, and so on. I do not mind mystery and plot lines that keep many details only to reveal them at the appropriate time, but i felt like in this book it did not work so well and i was at times confused.
That being said I like the collimation of the different plot lines toward the ending and the element of the storm in the book. The ending really brought all those characters together and i like the twist about one of them, felt real even if he was a douchebag. Both main characters are interesting and the parts with the cat were funny and endearing. I would say i wish the book was more like it’s ending, the action and drama really worked for me then, and then rest of the time the plot was a bit flat or unbelievable.

The narration was also a bit uneven, at times i was expecting more emotion and was disappointed, at other times there was a surprising amount of emotions in the narration that was very satisfying. Almost as if the narrator needed time to really delve into the characters. He does have a pleasant voice so it was not so much of an issue. I am used to narrators like Joel Leslie that are more voice actors and bring each character to life, so maybe it was just the difference between good narration and superb that stood out to me. I did like the narration but like the book i needed time to get into it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Stunning Story, Bastian's Performance is Excellent

F.E. Feeley’s novel When Heaven Strikes covers all the bases for a satisfying emotional read. In fact, I found it so moving I had to pause the audiobook after the first chapter, download my digital copy, and read it! I didn’t want to miss a word. I have a tendency to get lost in Vance Bastain’s gorgeous voice, and I wanted to do this marvelous story justice.

I’m just going to stop here and say, after I finished reading When Heaven Strikes I queued up the audiobook. Vance Bastian’s performance surpasses everything I could have hoped for. Mr. Bastain finds something unique and special in every character, adding emotion and imparting meaning where I’m sure Mr. Feeley would want to have it. More than just entertaining, listening to the audio version of When Heaven Strikes is an experience in itself and I highly recommend it.

When Heaven Strikes follows Anderson and Ted whose initial attraction turns into a scorching hot hook-up. These two quickly find they have a powerful emotional connection as well and decide to pursue a relationship. We get to know these complex and interesting characters as they open up to each other, sharing experiences from their pasts and working through some intense moments together as the plot evolves.

I really enjoy the way F.E. Feeley crafts this story. Characters are woven throughout the novel, reappearing at crucial times and changing the course of the plot. The tension mounts steadily, and I finally just gave up guessing what might happen next. It’s exciting and moving and intense, and I’m not going to spoil it by saying another word!

I'm a new fan of F.E. Feeley’s writing and I’m completely captivated by the way he puts words together. Intriguing details and powerful reflections convey more than just the words themselves. I know I’ve found a gem when I enjoy a book even more the second time through, and I haven’t been able to resist re-reading one of Feeley’s books yet. In the case of When Heaven Strikes, it’s an added bonus to enjoy Vance Bastian’s outstanding performance as well.

an audio copy of When Heaven Strikes was provided by the author for the purpose of my review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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4.5 stars- One that will stick with you


When an author who regularly delivers intense, unique stories teams up with a favorite narrator who never disappoints, readers can get the best of both worlds with immersed reading/Whispersync. I took full advantage when reading and listening to When Heaven Strikes, getting lost in the palpable emotion and descriptive scenes and loving how the narrator brought the characters to life.

When Heaven Strikes is a compelling story detailing the ways fates/ coincidences interweave to create different paths and open new doors. Though there is a romance that unfolds in the book, like many of this author's works, Anderson and Ted's love is just one part of the story. That said, I did enjoy their easy connection. Beyond that, I loved how all the characters played a role in developing the story and one another. I also really appreciated the theme of forgiveness that came through, especially as the book resolved.

This author never fails to wow me with his commanding use of imagery- capturing the emotion or visuals of a scene in a way that transports me. This was especially evident in the way he described the tornado the characters had to contend with and the storm's aftermath. If you like powerful books that feature dynamic characters as well as a good romance, I definitely recommend this title; and if you are a fan of audiobooks, don't hesitate to give this a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Truths revealed

Despite the lunatic homophobic preacher's actions/words, this was such a sweet and heartwarming couple (Ted and Anderson) that I was instantly drawn to them. The scene where Ted draws Anderson while he's asleep is so intimate and erotic I melted. Eleanor was a priceless gem and a great addition to the story. I loved her support and uniqueness. What a turn of events in this story. The author nailed it so hard and good!!! Loved it. The narrator was a great bonus to the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An emotional, beautiful story

 I don't often read books that have religious overtones. It makes me furious enough seeing how people twist things to suit them in the name of religion in real life and that carries over for me into reading. It may be a good thing because if written well (and this story is VERY well written), I can really feel a lot of emotion. This audiobook brought out just about every emotion I have. I felt angry that some parents don't know the meaning of unconditional love, I felt grateful that the characters were able to find that unconditional love in others to replace what their parents couldn't give, I felt the rush of new love, strong, but just beginning and I felt a huge sense of family.

Ted, an artist from a fanatically religious family was so sweet. Even having to face so many things growing up alone for the most part, he was still just a very endearing character. I appreciated that for all it made him introverted, it also made him determined and even though it did cloud his thinking, it didn't overshadow it enough to stop him from trying to be the best him he could be and it didn't stop him from grabbing his slice of happy when it was in front of him. One of the things that I liked most about this character was that he could have been angst ridden, making poor decisions based on fear and feeling inadequate. But he was very adult and thought things through for the most part before acting out. I was glad that he took a chance on Anderson. The relationship between the two of them becomes intimate rather quickly but again it is written so well and flows with the story so seamlessly that it just works. And boy do they ever work well together! I sometimes skip over sex scenes and there are many reasons that I do, but these two together were perfection and just the right amount of sexy to make me wonder if the temperature in the room had gone up.

Anderson is the person that started off the story and I loved him from the very first moment. I love everything about him. He is a thoughtful, loving, smart and fun character. That he too is willing to take a shot at the big L when things in his past haven't been perfect in a completely different way than Ted made me very happy. That this character was able to navigate this budding romance into a relationship in an adult manner was like the cherry on top of the sundae for me.

The secondary characters were amazing I loved some of them instantly I disliked some of them instantly and I even changed my mind about how I felt about one or two of them. They MADE this story what it is, in my opinion. Oh, that religion thing? It was an important part of the story but done in a very nice way and it really hits home that heaven can strike at any time. I enjoyed this story immensely.

The narration was simply amazing! I love Vance Bastian's voice, the way he emotes, the different characters, it was all perfection. Some narrators take their time and put their all into the stories they narrate and Vance is one of those narrators. I appreciate it when they really get into the characters, it makes the stories that much better for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Finding Something Unexpected!

A riveting book with great writing. The plot was entertaining and thought provoking, it was steady throughout the book. I found the story and characters interesting. The characters were developed and thought out. Ted is an artist and Anderson is a surgeon and they are the MC’s of this book. They both have past issues to work through as well as current problems. I especially loved Anderson’s grandmother she was fantastic. There was humor, an artist, paintings, a surgeon, loss, an attack, a party, a nasty preacher, a hypocrite, secrets and so much more in this book.

Here is a quote from the book, “She discreetly handed him a folded check. Ted smiled and waved farewell as his new friend pulled away. Then he turned to his faithful but beat-up Chevy. Once inside, in the spill of the street light, he unfolded the check Eleanor had pressed upon him. Ted almost had a stroke when he saw the amount. … The next day he called her. She laughed, “I assure you it is quite correct. Yes, I am old, but I am not a fool nor foolish!” Ted flushed. “Oh! No! I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you! I-I-I was – am just overwhelmed by your generosity.”. There is more but you will need to read the book which I can highly recommend.

The narrator for the most part was not monotone, but his soft voice at times could sound that way. If the emotion was a little stronger I think that would have helped at those times. He had different voices that were different and good. The narration was done at a good pace. It wasn’t the best overall narration that I’ve heard, but I still enjoyed. I voluntarily read an advance copy of this book for an honest review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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a novel about love, family and healing

3.5

“When Heaven Strikes” is a novel about love, family and healing in all their various complexities and forms. Although Anderson and Ted’s relationship is at the forefront, it is only the center patch in the larger narrative quilt about humanity and all the beauty and ugliness that entails. How loving someone does not prevent you from harming them either physically or emotionally, how love of a belief/ideal can foster hatred and cruelty, how no person is all good or bad, and that the only thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and strive to be better.

For the most part, I enjoyed the writing style of the book. The poetry that headed the sections was lovely and that poetic elegance was present within much of the narrative. My only quibble was the somewhat abrupt transition that came with the second part of the book, which focused primarily on characters introduced in the first part that become integral to the story in the second half. I wish some of the character development had been woven into the story more naturally instead of front-loaded into the last portion of the book. While none of the material is superfluous and it all comes together at the end, not only was it a shift in character perspectives but also a somewhat jarring shift in tone that was a bit distracting and interrupted the narrative flow at first.

My personal preference notwithstanding, this was an emotionally complex and enjoyable work of fiction that succeeds in illuminating and exploring the multifaceted emotional landscape of the human condition and the influence this has on who we become, how we treat others and how we navigate and overcome the negative that lives alongside the positive in each of us.

I voluntarily reviewed an audiobook copy of this book provided by the author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful story

This was my first time with this author and there was not a disappointing moment. It is a beautiful story and the narrator does a great job of grabbing a hold of your attention.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jackie Thorogood
  • 10-23-17

Fabulous book. To listen too.

I Loved this audible very much. IThe author is new to me, but I will be reading more. It is a draw you into story kind of book,
We meet Ted an artist who has cut himself away from people, due to his childhood. Anderson is a Surgeon he loves his job, but it's taken over his life. These two you would never put together but boy does it work for them. You meet other fantastic characters so wonderfully written, each character has their own concerns, but they seem to work in this book, Narrared by Vance Bastian whom I have never hear before, boy did he bring the book alive, lovely voice, to me it's one of those books you read the blah and think ok. Listening to it brings it alive. Beautifully very trough out, highly entertaining. So glad I listen to it, and I will certainly listen again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • MaryD
  • 12-07-17

Excellent story so full of emotion

Such a beautiful story of love, hope, family and turmoil. With excellent narration by Vance Bastion. I should not have left it so long to listen to it. This story will definitely be on my listen again and again list.
I will look out for more work by this Author and Narrator.

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  • Fortuna
  • 11-24-17

Stormy and beautiful

A beautifully written story from F E Feeley Jnr, a new Author to me but I'll definitely be searching out his work again. This was a true love story that weaved it's way through the lives of the two MC's and folk they came into contact with. Ted and Anderson were lovely characters, making you enjoy the good people in this world. I loved the way it showed the impact they had on the lives of the people around them and vice versa.

The secondary characters were great, it was clever that we saw into their lives and understood the reasons behind their actions.

The storm certainly built in this story, you could feel it twisting and coming together and I waited with baited breath for it to hit.....It did with explosive consequences.

Vance Bastian's narration was soothing and gentle, I love his voice. He really bought this story to life for me.

I'd definitely recommend a listen, 5 starts from me.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Meph666
  • 11-18-17

Beautiful story, perfectly narrated

What an unexpected delight.
This is my first experience of F.E. Feeley Jr and I'm so happy that I have listened to this book.
The story brings a few characters, all linked, together and is told from several points of view which was a surprise but worked really well in telling their tales.
Ted escaped his young life of abuse and is now a successful artist, if a little lonely. When showing at a gallery, a lovely woman interested in his work asks him to come to her home, interested in commissioning a piece. It is here that he meets Anderson.
Anderson is a successful surgeon. He had a decent upbringing and is very close with his grandmother, Elenor. With such a hectic schedule at the hospital however, he's always struggled maintaining a relationship. This new possibility with Ted may just be worth it all.
The emotion, struggles and hopes that both characters experience are well written by Feeley and narrated by Bastian. The supporting characters are all given time to express themselves and what they add to the story really brings it alive. I really feel for Josiah, the son of an Reverend determined to rage on Ted, especially when Ted defends Josiah and gets him out of a negative home life. Though being who he is, he struggles with still loving his parents and needing to know they're ok.
I've never listened to a book narrated by Vance Bastian before and it has been a really great experience. He brings such feeling and characterisation into his voice for each character.
I truly enjoyed this book. The story was touching and came with a lot of love, and hard experiences. Strong characters helped along those that needed a little push and care. I look forward to the next F.E. Feeley Jr book and will listen out for more from Vance Bastian. I would definitely recommend them both!
I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Edga
  • 11-01-17

Recommended.

I've not come across this narrator before, but I thought that he did a good job. A moving story, with well written and well rounded characters. The story moved along at a good pace, with good character development. I thought that both MCs were sympathetic, and well suited. The story was full of feeling. It's about how The MCs have to overcome their fears and pasts, to give themselves a chance of a relationship. It's also a story of how relationships between families can be ruined. The secondary characters were powerful and written so that they became part of the story and contributed well. Would def recommend.