Alexis Hall
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Hedgehog Inc Productions
Release Date
January 2016

The universe is a glitterball I hold in the palm of my hand.

Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and—most of all—himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people's expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn't the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it's like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can't see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn't trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn't believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

Book Review by BJ (reviewer)
Jul 12, 2017   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
96 people found the following review helpful
4.5 "The Light to His Darkness" Stars for the story and 5 Stars for narration!

This little gem of an audiobook drew my attention when it was nominated earlier this year by the Audio Publishers Association for a 2017 Audie award in the Romance category. Having already listened to all the other nominees in the Romance category, I decided to give this one a try, even though M/M romance isn't something I have historically listened to or read much of in the past.

Boy, am I glad I listened! What a breath of fresh air! From the chemistry-laden and heart-felt romance between two polar opposites (proving the adage that opposites really do attract!) to the careful handling of a very serious and often overlooked medical condition that people usually don't want to talk about (bipolar depression plus anxiety issues), this book kept me enraptured from beginning to end! Moreover, the narration by the very talented Nicholas Boulton is simply divine, and makes this a must-listen to romance audiobook!

Ash Winters is an accomplished English writer/novelist. Having attended Cambridge and mingled with many other influential writers, he has an academic, upper middle class feel to his character. Unfortunately for Ash, however, his successes have been drowned out as of late by his very serious bouts with bipolar depression and anxiety. His condition has deteriorated to the point where he fears going outside of his home, has attempted to commit suicide, and has been hospitalized. Fortunately, for him, however, he does have some friends who look out for him (including one man, Niall, who he had a romantic relationship with in the past, though that same man is hung up on another man who is marrying his female literary agent--cue in the angst).

As friends often do, Ash is convinced to attend the bachelor party for the upcoming wedding. What he never could have imagined is that he would go home with his polar opposite. Thus enters Darian Taylor into the scene: Ash's complete opposite. Darian is an aspiring model from Essex, with a strong accent, a fake tan, and tons of bling, and who needless to say does not appear to run in the same academic circles as Ash. Nonetheless there is just something about his infectious optimism. Even with all of Ash's darkness and negativity, Darian is not deterred, and they end up spending a memorable night tangled in the sheets.

Once daylight comes, however, Ash must decide what comes next, and when his friends (including Niall) get involved in the mix to boot, they strongly question his judgment and real motivating interest in Darian. Could there possibly be a HEA under the circumstances?

Nicholas Boulton's narration was perfect! Not only does he have a pleasing and sexy voice, but he was able to create spot-on, personality appropriate voices for each one of the characters in this book. While this can be difficult in any romance, in an M/M romance that featured so many male characters this would seem to be nearly an impossible task, but not for Mr. Boulton who executed this difficult task magnificently. Additionally, I really was able to envision and grasp the polar opposite personalities of Ash and Darian from just Mr. Boulton's voice. He is a truly talented narrator and I hope to listen to many more of his performances in the future.

All in all, GLITTERLAND is a must listen-to story. Not only did Alexis Hall convincingly spin a romance, but he added so many dimensions to this story, that it almost read like a romance plus a general fiction title all wrapped up in one. As I studied psychology in college, I also greatly appreciated his attention to the details of Ash's mental condition, and his hope-filled message that even the darkest troubled minds can find happiness in love.
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January 22, 2021 08:57 PM ( EST )