Tobias has a big title for a little, boring job. He finds himself single just in time for a midlife crisis. He’s become accustomed to mediocrity, perhaps even comfortable with it. Women have always been a mystery to him and yet he feels socially obligated to keep giving it a try. His one true passion is the Billy Bunter comics, which he started reading in his youth and which he collects as an adult.
Much of the story is told in an even pace, reflecting the slow, yet steady, trod of Tobias’s life. His meals are often some questionable frozen entree from the market. He always shows up for work and gets his 8 hours a day in. He dutifully shows up to dinner parties and awkward coffees that well meaning friends and family arrange so that he can meet a potential lady friend. He’s stumbled painfully all his life in the dating field and after so many years of awkward rejections, he’s considering giving it up.
Nearly 2/3 of the way into the story, we finally meet Trish (who is noted in the description of the story so I don’t feel spoilery mentioning her here). They develop a true connection over old comics, including the Billy Bunter ones. Pretty soon, Tobias has decided she is the one and he has to take the chance, possibly facing the greatest rejection of his life. The pace of the story does pick up a little with Trish’s entrance.
And then we reach the end. That was a surprise! I wasn’t expecting the ending. Tobias and Trish both had a secret or two. In retrospect, perhaps a savvy reader could have guessed Tobias’s big secret. But Trish’s secret completely blind sided me. Essentially, we had plenty of carefully laid build up concerning Tobias and his lonely life. Then we have a very quick, whirlwind romance followed by BWAM! The End. I would have enjoyed this tale a little more if things had been drawn out a bit more in the last third of the story.
I listened to the free audio version of this book, which can be found at the author’s website.
Narration: J. D. Hughes lets you know right away that this is his first attempt at narrating a story, so I won’t judge him too harshly. You can see he tried hard with the first few female voices and they felt forced and I think they were spliced in too. By the time he comes to Trish’s voice, he is much more confident and her character’s voice sounds natural. Hughes also tossed in some music in between scene changes. At first, this was nice as it totally matched Tobias’s humdrum, just strolling through live existence. But then as the story turns a little romantically exciting and then suspenseful, these little music clips stayed the same. They no longer matched the tone of the story. Over all, I think it was a decent first attempt and Hughes just needs some practice and polish.