Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Desert Heat/Native Tongue
SERIES: Desert Heat #1 & 2
AUTHOR: Lucy Felthouse
NARRATOR: Joel Leslie
LENGTH: 5hr 26min
RELEASE DATE: July 14, 2016
Their love is forbidden by rules, religion and risk. Yet still they can’t resist.
Captain Hugh Wilkes is on his last tour of duty in Afghanistan. The British Army is withdrawing, and Wilkes expects his posting to be event-free. That is, until he meets his Afghan interpreter, Rustam Balkhi, who awakens desires in Wilkes that he’d almost forgotten about, and that won’t be ignored.
They may be back on British soil, but the battle isn’t over.
When Captain Hugh Wilkes fell for his Afghan interpreter, Rustam Balkhi, he always knew things would never be easy. After months of complete secrecy, their return to England should have spelt an end to the sneaking around and the insane risks. But it seems there are many obstacles for them to overcome before they can truly be happy together. Can they get past those obstacles, or is this one battle too many for their fledgling relationship?
I had reviewed Native Tongue a while back for the blog, so when the author asked if we might like to have a copy of the series on audio I was certainly intrigued. I remember one of my biggest problems when I read Native Tongue was that I had not read Desert Heat, and felt like I had missed out on some of the chemistry between the two characters because of it. With this audio book, where both books are together as a set, I was able to experience their whole story and get a better feel for both the books and the characters.
Desert Heat takes place in Afghanistan, while Native Tongue is when both Hugh Wilkes and Rustam Balkhi are back in England. Balkhi and Wilkes meet when Balkhi is assigned to Wilkes as an interpreter. It doesn’t take long for things to heat up between them. But being in Afghanistan, things are a little bit tricky. Not just with the general population, but Wilkes is not out to anyone in the Army, and is serving under a rather homophobic commander. Everything, for everyone’s sake, needs to be kept hush-hush. When they get back to England, though, things become a bit different. While Desert Heat is all about keeping the secret, Native Tongue is about how to the let that secret out.
The first thing I have to say about this audiobook is that Joel Leslie, the narrator, was fantastic. I loved his voice so much. The growliness of Wilkes’ voice was a perfect complement to Balkhi’s more lilting style. I could easily distinguish between all the characters when he was talking, and even Wilkes’ voice was distinguishable from the plain narration which made knowing when Wilkes was talking pretty easy. My only problem with it is that Wilkes sounded a lot older than I would have pegged him for. This is probably a result of the regional accent that the narrator used, but it kinda threw me the first time I heard it.
For the most part I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. The way I listened to it, in short 20-30 minutes sessions (while doing dishes, mostly) kinda threw off the pacing a bit in my head, but that can’t really be blamed on the book. And the sex scenes were damn delicious in this narrator’s voice. While the story itself doesn’t have much conflict (and as a result can get a bit flat) with Joel Leslie whispering in my ear I can’t deny that I would happily listen to it all over again. Leslie does a wonderful job of bringing these characters to life and as a result helps give this book that bit of oomph that is sorely needed. I liked the story, don’t get me wrong. But without much conflict, there isn’t really a lot to keep you coming back desperately needing to know more. The narration definitely serves that purpose in this audio format, though.