Narrated by Chandra Skyye
Bender is an opposites-attract, roommate story, which I was hoping might be something like My Favourite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron. While I enjoyed it well enough, unfortunately, it didn’t hit the heights of the other book.
20-year-old Keegan Philips lives with her eight-year-old sister, Sarah, and their very irresponsible mother. Keegan’s mother goes out a lot and leaves Sarah to Keegan’s care with alarming frequency. Keegan loves her sister but she needs her mother to step up and be the parent so Keegan can get on with her studies and nursing school. She has had to miss too many study groups for her physiology and anatomy class due to having to look after Sarah so often and she needs to improve her grade in that subject in particular if she wants to be a nurse.
So, she resolves to move out. She and her best friend, Macy, consider various options and end up at a nice townhouse close to college and to Keegan’s part time job (at a doctor’s office where she works in the records area). The sticking point is that her roommate is Camden Brooks and he’s GRUMPY.
(Camden, in case you were wondering, is one of four brothers. Their dad is baseball obsessed, so the brothers are: Turner, Wrigley, Dodger and Camden. Poor Dodger. Why not Fenway, dad?)
Camden is not in college. He graduated a couple/few years ago and he now manages the family gym. He’s tall and muscular and gorgeous. Despite the fact that Camden is a real dick to her, Keegan nevertheless indulges in a LOT of mental lusting. I was left asking (not for the first time) why? Camden is bossy and domineering and rude. In my world, attractive people become less attractive when they act like jerks.
A warning for other listeners: I know it’s a dealbreaker for some when the hero and/or heroine sleep with others before they get their HEA. Before Camden and Keegan get together they both do hook up with other people (in Camden’s case, more than one other person). It didn’t bother me but I know it’s a problem for some readers/listeners so I thought I’d mention it.
For reasons which completely flew over my head all the guys in the story, Camden, Dodger and Luke (the guy Keegan dates first), are horrified that Keegan is sleeping on an air mattress while she saves up for bedroom furniture. Apparently, it is Camden’s job to provide said furniture for Keegan. (If anyone has a suggestion as to why this is the case, please tell me in the comments.)
And that brings me to another issue. It was never clear why Camden needed a roommate. He only charged Keegan $400 a month, plus some utilities were split 50/50 but it was explicitly stated in the book that the $400 wasn’t equal to half the rent on the townhouse. Later, Camden takes over all the rent because reasons and he doesn’t have any trouble doing it. He isn’t after company (going from the way Keegan is treated at the start). So why did he decide to get a roommate at all? And if, one gets a roommate (as opposed to a boarder), why not split the rent 50/50? (Is this a US thing I’m missing?)
After Luke proves himself to be less than hero material, Camden steps up and comforts Keegan. Pretty soon they are getting hot and heavy in all sorts of places. I will say the scene in the gym was scorching. It is in this section of the story that Camden starts showing traits which make him attractive. But I was still confused as to why Keegan liked him so much before he demonstrated any of them. Oh well.
There is, of course, the black moment for the pair before they get their HEA but it isn’t drawn out. It wasn’t quite what I expected either, which in some ways was good. In other ways, it was frustrating. From a plot perspective, some of it didn’t quite gel. Then again, real life arguments are often irrational and ridiculous so maybe that’s what the author was going for.
The story is set in Georgia, so Ms. Skyye narrates the whole book in a Southern accent. There is no Camden POV, it is all Keegan. I found Ms. Skyye’s male character voices well done. There was little to differentiate them but there were subtle distinctions that I picked up on. Her depiction of Sarah was well done – Sarah sounded convincingly like a child.
There were times when Keegan squealed or laughed or sighed in ecstasy where Ms. Skyye’s voice became uncomfortably high. Uncomfortable for me that is. I think the dogs in the neighbourhood may have got a little thrill out of it though.
There was also a vocal affect present which I’m not sure is part of a Georgia accent, part of Ms. Skyye’s natural manner of speech or, whether it was deliberately inserted for authenticity reasons. Whatever was the case, words with a hard ‘t’ sound in them, were pronounced with a glottal stop. “Important” became, for example “impor’ant”. I disliked it but I am a nerd. You can stress me out by saying “nucular” (instead of the correct “nuclear”) so this may well be something that only affects me.
The second half of the story was stronger than the first. I felt that the set up to get this pair together was not well realised and because I was less engaged, I noticed errors and issues in the listen more.
From a technical perspective, there were three or four occasions when a line was repeated, which is something unusual in my experience with Tantor books.
I don’t know much about baseball. I *think* a “bender” is a kind of pitch? (And also the robot in Futurama.) I’m not sure exactly what relationship the title has to the story but as I am not an expert it’s likely to have slid right by me anyway (heh, did you see what I did there?).
I enjoyed the sections where Camden was being sweet and only sexually bossy instead of a douchecanoe and I’m interested enough in the other brothers to maybe check out the other books in the series at some point. Bender wasn’t my favourite book but I ended up enjoying it for the most part. I’d recommend it to listeners who have a high alphahole tolerance however.
Editor’s note: the definition of a bender in baseball is “a pitch of a baseball that is thrown with spin so that its path curves as it approaches the batter.“
Book Content: C+
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: Fighting
Genre: Contemporary Romance - New Adult
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Bender was provided to AudioGals by Tantor Audio for a review.