REVIEWED by Alexander
AUTHOR: Chris Scully
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 7 hours, 51 minutes
NARRATOR: Michael Pauley
As a teenager, Archie Noblesse clawed his way out of the poverty, heartache, and abuse of the reservation and left his family behind. Desperate to shake the shadow of his past, he reinvents himself as Archer Noble, an outspoken blogger and controversial author who lives only for himself. But when his beloved sister dies, Archer is saddled with guardianship of his niece and nephew.
Elementary school teacher Ryan Eriksson is devastated when his best friend Marguerite is killed, leaving her two young children orphaned. Helping Archer with his new responsibilities eases his grief, but when Archer offers him custody of the children, Ryan’s left with an impossible choice: get the family he’s always wanted, or respect Margie’s wishes and convince Archer to give parenting – and his heritage – a chance.
To buy time, Ryan promises to stay for the summer, hoping that Archer will change his mind and fall for the kids. But Archer’s reluctant, and the growing attraction between him and Ryan complicates matters. Legal decisions must be made, and soon, before Ryan returns to school. But with hearts involved, more than just the children’s future is on the line.
I’m actually a fan of stories that prominently feature children, and since the story was focused on the changing dynamic of Ryan and Archer’s relationship vis-a-vis the children, the story had a good balance and solid premise. This is totally the story of Archer’s acceptance of a past he can’t change, a present full of bitterness and anger, and a future filled with balance, love, and family.
When I say changing dynamics, I’m not kidding. Archer is a first class a-hole, seriously rude, selfish, self-centered, pretty much everything you would not want in a guardian, whereas Ryan is the sweet as pie goodie goodie, who’s kind and generous heart never fails to leave him hurt. The kids were both well-written, and though critical to the story, Scully struck a good balance, both in terms of their use to advance the plot, and their reactions and behavior after the loss of their mother.
What can be a challenge, one that Scully successfully navigated was Archer’s journey of personal change and growth, making it happen gradually enough to feel real, yet not so slowly as to leave me bored to tears. And so as Archer finds his center, it brings him and Ryan together, tremulously at first, with the hints that it could all go sideways, but in the end, we all get our HEA.
Pauley was a good choice as narrator, because I found his “Archer” and “Ryan” to have the right vibe, and his children’s voices weren’t too bad considering how deep his voice naturally is. In many ways, the technical side of Pauley’s performance was well done, such as a good speaking pace, and zero background noise or sudden volume changes, but in other respects, I wasn’t as happy. Mispronounced words, or sloppy diction bugs me, for example “Archer” sounded like “Arthur” at times, and “executor” should not sound like the death sentence instead of the person taking care of the deceased’s estate. I also noticed that the characters sounded a little too melodramatic, “à la Shatner”, which did pull me out of the story at times.
In the end, the pros outweighed the cons and I did enjoy both the story and the performance. I liked Until September.