Short Stories 366:37 — “Can’t Escape Love,” by Alyssa Cole

coverOkay, Alyssa Cole is fast becoming an audiobook go-to. After listening to Duke By Default, I was curious if Portia’s nerdy-and-geeky sister Reggie would get a story of her own, and was super-pleased when “Can’t Escape Love” showed up on Audible. We all know I love shorter fictions, and I honestly feel like novellas are the Goldilocks zone for romance—the pacing, the major conflict, and the resolution more often feel “just right” to me in novellas.

But on to “Can’t Escape Love”! Reggie has a problem: insomnia. Reggie also has a solution that she already knows works: the sound of a particular man’s voice, which she used to have access to thanks to a streaming service online, but the archived files are now gone, and she can’t sleep. So she asks her sister to track down the voice, and she sends what she knows is a weird-ass e-mail offering to buy recordings of the man’s voice. He replies with a counter-offer: we can talk on the phone while you fall asleep. No recordings.

As a fellow sufferer of insomnia, I get Reggie agreeing to pretty much anything, but I want to give super-props here to Cole’s description of Gustav’s voice, and also the audio performer, Karen Chilton, for performing both characters to air-kiss perfection. What follows is both learning they have something important in common, learning they really like talking to each other, and learning that maybe there’s a way to work together on a project that will be a feather in both their caps. Oh, and also kickass sparks are flying and did I mention they’re really into each other? I could go on and on, but suffice it to say this is my favourite of the Reluctant Royals series to date, and all the more so because of the representation of Reggie and Gustav’s disabilities and neurotypes, including Reggie’s awareness of the impact of her family wealth. Nab this. Listen to it, if you at all enjoy audiobooks, and buckle in for a great (and super nerdy) ride.

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