Certain synopses jump out at me, practically begging to be listened to. That was how it was with Changing Course, Book 1 in the Wrecked and Ruined series by Aly Martinez. The story sounded incredibly compelling, and I couldn’t wait to listen to it. Sadly, it didn’t live up to all the hype my mind had created.
Brett Sharp met the love of his life when he was twenty-one. He and Sarah had seven wonderful years together before a tragic accident caused their lives to change in ways neither could have predicted. Sarah becomes a different person, and Brett, unwilling to let go of the woman he vowed to love forever, remains staunchly by her side through suicide attempts, verbal abuse, and constant requests for a divorce. Finally, Brett concedes that he and Sarah should live separately, although he refuses to give her the divorce she longs for because he wants her to have access to his medical insurance. This is certainly a nice idea, but should you really force someone to remain married to you if they truly want something different?
The story gets going four years after the accident. Brett is a police detective. He lives in a kind of haze, visiting Sarah every week, despite her constant pleas for him to go away. He feels immense guilt about the accident, and a part of him continues to love Sarah. There is no intimacy between them. They are married in name only.
Jesse Addison, a twenty-six-year-old barista, has had her eye on Brett for several months. She has no idea he’s married. All she knows is that he’s a super hot guy who she’d really like to get to know, and she asks him out on a date. He grudgingly accepts, and drama ensues.
Brett tells Jesse that he lost his wife in a car accident four years ago. Obviously, Jesse believes Sarah is dead. I mean, who wouldn’t think so with an explanation like that? So she is justifiably upset when she learns the truth. They argue over semantics for a time, before acting like adults and deciding what to do about their relationship.
The author tries hard to paint Brett as a nice guy, someone who will not abandon his wife, even after the tragedy she suffered. However, he comes off as kind of a controlling ass. The idea that he refused to divorce Sarah really bothered me. She’s an adult. True, she has mental problems, but she hasn’t been declared incompetent. Once he meets Jesse, he feels bad for not being able to fully commit to her. Does that stop him? Of course not. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. There were times when strangling him seemed like a fantastic idea.
Jesse is way too innocent for a woman of twenty-six. She has a lot of insecurities, and the author doesn’t tell us where they come from, which makes her difficult to like. She is constantly questioning herself, deciding she’s not worth the time and trouble it would take to get to know her, and countless other things that I wanted to sympathize with, but couldn’t. She hates that Brett has money and can do nice things for her. He’s no millionaire, but he takes her to nice restaurants, and buys her gifts. She freaks out almost every time something like this happens. It got old really fast.
Christian Fox does an excellent job with his portrayal of Brett. He lets the listener into Brett’s mind, and it’s a place full of confusion. Mr. Fox definitely has his hands full with the various emotions that Brett experiences. I was pleased with the way he brought this very complex, if frustrating, man to life.
When voicing female characters, Mr. Fox raises his pitch just a bit. When Sarah speaks, he uses a slight southern accent. Jesse sounds timid. His portrayals fit the author’s descriptions of the various characters.
Lucy Rivers has a strange cadence to her speech. It’s not uncommon for her to end sentences with a questioning tone, even if the text does not indicate that a question is being asked. Initially, this verbal tick annoyed me, but, the more I listened, the less I noticed it.
Ms. Rivers does a great job with character differentiation. Like Mr. Fox, she gives Sarah a southern accent. She captures Brett’s controlling nature perfectly, and, most impressively allows us to witness Jesse blossom from scared girl to passionate woman. Yes. Jesse grows, as does Brett, but it was too little too late, in this listener’s opinion.
I was marginally displeased by Ms. Rivers’ depiction of Jesse’s friend Kara. This is someone who is supposed to be close to Jesse’s age, but instead sounds like her mother. She makes some pretty bawdy remarks, and Ms. Rivers’ depiction just doesn’t fit. Kara never seemed real to me.
This story had a lot of potential, but sadly, in Ms. Martinez’s hands, it was unable to be what I hoped it would. I finished listening with a feeling of dissatisfaction, and a bit of sadness.
Narration: Christian Fox: B+/Lucy Rivers: B and Content: C-
Unabridged Length: 10 hours 16 minutes