Friday, July 13, 2018

Audiobook Review: WITH A KICK Collection #1 by Clare London, narrated by Joel Leslie


WITH A KICK Collection #1


Publisher: JOCULAR PRESS (self published)
Cover Artist: LOU HARPER
Genre/s: MM Contemporary Romance
Length: 8 hours and 40 mins (75,000 words/170 pages)
Release Date June 20, 2018

The first 2 standalone romances in a series set around the same alcoholic ice cream shop.


This collection includes Clare London's first two charming London-based novellas of the With A Kick series – A Twist and Two Balls, and Slap and Tickle. Also included are two short stories featuring the characters in these books.


A new and enticing ice cream franchise, with a unique blend of full flavour, mischief and romance. Patrick and Lee are struggling to make a success of their alcoholic ice cream shop in the centre of tourist London. At the same time, their business partnership may take a turn towards the personal – if either of them can find the time and nerve to go for it! Meanwhile, they cater to the wild and wonderful range of customers in the area, many of whom have their own romantic agenda. Will ice cream be the final ingredient they’re all looking for?

Each story is a self-contained romance, but will follow the history of the shop throughout.


Eduardo Mancini is going to be a star of the London stage. Unfortunately, his alter ego Eddy March hasn't got further than a bit part in a TV series. One ghastly day, he’s late for an audition, can’t pay his taxi fare, and is chased across Soho by the irate driver, Nuri. But maybe being caught by Nuri is exactly what Eddy needs.


Bryan is an accountant who admires order and self-discipline. When he literally bumps into Phiz outside With A Kick, Phiz’s lifestyle and behaviour appear totally chaotic. But they each recognise something in the other that they need. Bryan needs a lover who welcomes his secret desire, and Phiz needs a firm hand–in every way. They both agree that Bryan may be just the man to provide it. 

Buy Links and Listen to a sample here

Carra's Review

With A Kick Collection #1 gives us four stories from the series—A Twist and Two Balls, Slap and Tickle, plus two short stories (one each for the couples of each of the two other stories), Nice and Snow, and Smack Happy.  These stories have some supporting characters in common, in particular Patrick (the owner of the With A Kick ice cream shop) and Lee (Patrick’s employee), both adding some good depth to the each story.

A Twist and Two Balls

Eddy (aka Eduardo Mancini) is a bit over the top sometime actor who can be a bit camp at times and can also pour on the dramatic edge when needed…or even when not.  Nuri is a Turkish cab driver with a big, loving family—including some brothers who can be as annoying as siblings can get…much to the amusement of readers.

You’d never expect these two to be the ones getting together after the way their first meeting goes, but they seem to fall into an easy relationship with not much angst.  The little bit of conflict comes when family is involved, though it can easily be chalked up to a misunderstanding due to a lack of communication…which considering how early in the relationship it is, is completely understandable.

This is a relatively light story with a touch of heat, and I’d give this one 3.5 stars.

Slap and Tickle

So, I absolutely adored Phiz and his chaotic personality, clumsiness, and the absolute beauty of how he submits when Bryan takes charge.  Bryan lives a very ordered life and likes taking control of things.  When you think of perfect complements, Bryan and Phiz are exactly what you should be thinking of…Bryan’s order to Phiz’s chaos creates a perfect balance; they truly are the epitome of the idea of one person completing the other.

I saw parts of myself in both characters, so it was really easy for me to identify with both of them, and I found myself drawn to them almost immediately.  Their story was easily my favorite of this collection, from the opposites attract to the touch of BDSM elements, from Phiz’s exuberant and hyper personality to Bryan’s staid and calming one.  Everything about them led to an overall equilibrium in their relationship.

Phiz may come across as overwhelming for some readers, but I just loved him and was so glad he and Bryan worked so well together—and lets not forget to mention they were also incredibly hot on the physical side!  Slap and Tickle was 5 stars for me!

Nice and Snow

In Nice and Snow we get to revisit with Eddy and Nuri during the Christmas holidays.  This is a relatively quick short story, and not a lot goes on other than Eddy’s fretting about all of the Santa-dressed people in the city…until they pick up one particular Santa who turns things a bit upside down for them.

This story is a fun read with a touch of some Christmas magic, though there wasn’t much to it leaving me to give it 3 stars.

Smack Happy

I was really glad to see that Smack Happy let us jump back in with Bryan and Phiz again, this time for Valentine’s Day.  It’s another short story, this time with more oomph and a nice touch of spice once Phiz presents Bryan with his present…after Phiz spouts off a round of his hyper-chaos craziness first of course.  I know some people might find him annoying, but I still think he’s adorable and a bit child-like (at least until his naughty side comes out).

This was a nice bit of spice—thanks in part to Phiz’s present—and made for another fun read that might leave you needing to cool yourself off for a bit.  4.5 stars!

The Narration

I’ve found that Joel Leslie has a true gift for voices, especially when it comes to Brits and other non-American accents.  In addition, he was dead-on with Eddy’s over-the-top personality and Phiz’s hyperactive, chaotic self, easily balancing them in the same breath with Nuri and Bryan’s more sedate, even natures.  He effortlessly switched back and forth between the very opposite characters (or at least he made it seem effortless), showing great range in his voice characterizations.  A solid 5 stars for the narration!

About the Author

Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fueled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter-three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fueled family home.

Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her on all her social media.


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