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  • Never Stay Gone

  • M|M Romantic Suspense (Big Bend Texas Rangers, Book 1)
  • By: Tal Bauer
  • Narrated by: John Solo
  • Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Romance, Westerns
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Summary

Six bodies in a single grave, in the same West Texas country where Dakota left everything behind.

Every beat of my heart belongs to you.

Thirteen years ago, Dakota Jennings thought he'd found his forever when he fell in love with Shane Carson. But one afternoon shattered their love story, and both Dakota and Shane left Rustler, Texas, with broken hearts. Even now, Dakota is still feeling the agony of losing Shane. Sure, he's a Texas Ranger, but that's not how he wanted to live his life. All he ever wanted was to love Shane.

Loving you is the only time I feel alive.

Shane's life was supposed to be different. There had been a plan, ever since he was knee-high to his father. But falling for Dakota spun Shane's world upside down, and for years, Shane has had nothing but the memories of all that he lost: Dakota's gentle touch, and the sweetness of his lips, and the star-strewn nights they spent wrapped in each other's arms.

West of the Pecos, there is no law. 

When the Rangers get the call about six bodies being pulled out of a mass grave in West Texas, the governor sends Dakota to run the investigation. Dakota heads back to his hometown and comes face-to-face with the last man he ever expected to see again, only now, he’s Deputy Shane Carson, Dakota's local partner assigned to the case.

There's nothing Dakota wants more than a second chance with Shane, but so much is stacked against them: six corpses, a murderer on the loose, and history that refuses to stay buried. And the bodies keep piling up as Dakota and Shane try to run the killer down across the West Texas plains.

In a moment, everything changes: the hunters become the hunted, the past fractures, and all Dakota thought he knew comes tumbling down. Secrets break wide open as Dakota remembers...

This is West Texas, and out here, nothing is as it seems. Big Bend County is a place of beauty and desolation, of secrets and small towns. Where the past and the present collide, and where nothing stays hidden forever.

This MM romantic suspense is the first in the new Big Bend Texas Rangers series. Come along for the West Texas sunsets, the heart-pounding thrills, and the hard-won happily-ever-afters. 

©2021 Tal Bauer (P)2022 Tal Bauer

What listeners say about Never Stay Gone

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A favorite author and performer

I've been a mystery reader for well over 50 years and I have never peeked at the end to find out "who done it". However, from the first Tal Bauer book I read (Hell and Gone, do not wait go grab it and read it now) I've had to stop after reading about five chapters and go read the last three or so. The men he puts together as a couple are so good that I just have to know ahead of time if they are going to survive and be together at the end. I know that between the first and last pages, I'll be treated to angst and suspense and he'll put me as a reader and his characters through all sorts of he** and that's fine if I just know how things are going to end. This book proved no exception to the rule. Dakota and Shane are great characters (nothing better than Tal in law enforcement mode) and their reunion/second chance story was superb. As always, the crime/mystery element is as strong and well developed as the characters and romance. I really enjoyed the setting for this one, an area I knew little about. John Solo just "gets" Tal Bauer's characters. He brings them all to life and you forget it's one performer, it feels like an entire cast.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant - super exciting and heartbreaking!

I've been a mystery and thriller fan for a very long time and "Never Stay Gone" is my first audiobook by Tal Bauer. Since I've heard a lot about him as an author, I was totally excited.
The audiobook was extremely good, no it was fantastic. It totally hit my reading taste. I listened to "Never Stay Gone" in just two days and now I need more from Tal Bauer immediately!
I love his pleasant, easy going writing style that had me hooked from the beginning.

Dakota and Shane are two great characters - both are law enforcement officers, both have broken hearts, and in flashbacks you gradually learn what happened back then. It was heartbreaking!
When Shane discovers several bodies that died at different times, Dakota is sent to assist in the investigation. Dakota, of all people, with whom Shane shares a past that is as sweet as it is sad. I've read a few books around second chances before, but Tal Bauer really knows how to flesh them out magnificently and keep the reader or listener rooting along.
However, as much as I enjoyed the budding romance, I liked the crime element. It was well done and the plot was well thought out.There were some suspects and I also enjoyed puzzling along and there were some twists and turns, but I never would have thought of this ending.
The setting was well described and I liked it immensely.

The audio book was exciting with angst - my poor heart! - but it was also immensely enjoyable and a very entertaining listen.
John Solo did a fantastic job narrating the story emotionally and bringing the story to life with different voices of the characters.

I love the mix of suspense and romance. A fantastic audiobook, highly recommended!

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amazing

this is my second book by this author and it was well written loved every minute of it John solo brings the characters to life I hope there is going to be a book two ❤️

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Great story and narration

Love story = 5 stars
Murder mystery = 4 stars
4.5 stars overall
Narrator= 5 stars

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After Thirteen Years A Second Chance At Love

It's been thirteen years since Dakota and Shane parted ways in an emotional breakup, but neither one of them has moved on from that moment. When a mass grave is discovered with connections all the way to the Texas governor's office, Dakota and Shane are brought back together. The mystery is full of twists and turns with a lot of tense and suspenseful moments. The climax especially was action-packed and had me on the edge of my seat. The romance was a bit whirlwind - these two men have been stuck in the past for thirteen years, and although there are some angsty moments where they figure out how to reconcile with each other, they soon dive headfirst into a deep and intense relationship. The writing, the plot, and the characterizations are all well done and make for a great book. I'm excited for the next book in this series.

John Solo puts on a masterful performance with his narration of the audiobook. Five stars for his great performance and the well done audiobook production.

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Romantic thriller

Really enjoyed this one.
The author perfectly captured the heart of Texas in it's depictions of a beautiful, desolate place that grabs ahold and never lets go.
The suspense and action of solving the mystery was wonderfully played out.
It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat as I raced through to the ending.
The romance and heartache between Dakota and Shane has definitely made them one of my favorite couples.
John Solo did an amazing job of depicting these hard scrabble men's emotions and I will definitely be relistening to this one.

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Absolutely loved it

Great fast paced, with a mix of crime/mystery, and second chance romance all wrapped up in rangers and sheriffs! John Solo’s performance is brilliant - and really makes you connect with the emotions of each character. Great listen.

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A Brilliantly Captivating Story & Narration🎧

I loved everything about this brilliant romantic suspense, from Tap Bauer’s wonderful writing style to the fabulous characters and storylines to the perfectly cast narrator who brought it all to life from the pages to my ears. Tal Bauer masters not only the suspense element in this book, he also masters the crime drama and the handling of the murder investigation and tracking down a serial killer, and to make it even more interesting he adds in a second chance romance in to the mix. This story grabbed my attention right from the start and captivated it straight to the end, it is the type of book once you start you can not put it down. The characters are realistic, easy to relate, connect with and care about. The Governor assigned Dakota Jennings, a Texas Ranger, to run the investigation of what appears to be a mass murder in West Texas, his hometown and a place he left broken-hearted thirteen years ago and has not been back since. Arriving at the scene, he sees the last person he expected to see, maybe even wanted to see, Shane Carson, the one he fell in love with, the one who broke his heart. Shane had big dreams after he graduated high school but he did not include Dakota in those dreams, but nothing went as planned and his dreams fizzled out and he would up back in Big Bend, his hometown and currently he is the Chief Deputy Sheriff and the person Dakota will work with. Shane has been engaged to his fiancé for five years, but he is living a lie and when his past comes back into his life, he knows how much of a lie it is. His feelings for Dakota never died, he has lived with his regrets for the past thirteen years and it is time for him to come clean whether he is too late. Both men lived different lives, but it eventually brought them back to each other. I loved how everything played out this book, the story is brilliantly plotted with plenty of drama, twists and turns, mystery, thrilling suspense that takes you to the edge of your seat, heartfelt emotions and a meant to be romance. Also loved how you are kept guessing who the perpetrator is and just when you think you figured it out, you are proven wrong. Tal Bauer you are a genius, thank you for this amazing novel and the thrilling and emotional rollercoaster ride.

🎧📚🎧 And for the amazing narration, John Solo is a fabulously talented narrator and a versatile voice artist. He had a complete understanding of the characters he portrayed, giving each a voice that fits that character’s persona to a tee, sounding believable in every role he played and just as I pictured the characters to sound. He set the perfect tone for the story, captured all the character’s emotions and projected them into his performance. John Solo is an entertaining storyteller and his narration enhances an already exceptional story to another level. Thank you for another brilliant listen, it is always a pleasure to listen to your work.

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Tal Baur is a master storyteller

This was the review I did for the digital book:

I wish I was better at expressing myself about what I get from reading books from this author.

From the first few lines Tal draws you into his books. The descriptions of the Texan desert takes you right there, and though I'm not a fan of country music, I found myself looking the songs up and smiling and actually quite liking them - Take Me Home Cowboy and Shameless had me crying, they were so right for these two - Dakota and Shane.
He weaves a beautiful, heartbreaking second chance love story around the mystery of 6 bodies found in the Texan desert. I must admit to having a bit of an idea who these bodies were going to lead to but it did not detract from me fully engaging with the story.

I loved this and wish I could give it more stars and truly hope that an ensuing series could last more that two or three books.

I think, in all honesty I preferred reading the book rather than listening to it. I always heard younger voices in my mind, so John Solo's voice for these two didn't work quite as well for me.

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Murder and second chance love

Once again Tal Bauer leaves me breathless in suspense trying to figure out who the killer is. The hunt takes you through plot twists you never imagined all while wrapped in a beautiful second chance lovestory. Tal Bauer paints with his words the most beautiful pictures of a vast landscape with a few scattered people in it that will stay with me for a long time.

As usual John Solo nails the performance of the story. You can feel the heartbreak and agony and beauty of the Big Bend emptyness all the way to your bones!

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  • Zell Oakley
  • 16-01-22

Narrator completely ruins this

John Solo is firmly on my "never buy" list, which explains why I don't typically buy Tal Bauer's audiobooks even though I really like his writing. However I bought "Never Stay Gone" on kindle and I liked it so much I thought I could power through and maybe the narration wouldn't be so bad. I was wrong.

There isn't anything particularly wrong with Solo's voice itself, nor even his manner of speech. It's the melodramatic way he delivers anything even remotely emotional that I can't stand. It ends up ruining all the important parts by turning them into something resembling the delivery of a telenovela actor. Shaky breaths, overenunciation of consonants, trembling voice, it takes me out of the book and makes me just want to yell "Ok dude, dial it back!"

It isn't even that bad at the beginning. Actually I quite like Solo's delivery when he isn't overdoing it. And his delivery of character lines in different voices is pretty good, until a character becomes emotional. Then all bets are off. The two protagonists are hardened lawmen but the narrator turns them into simpering teenage girls the moment anything gets even a little intense. It's awful and ruins the book.

The book itself, as I've already said, is wonderful. Shane was a hometown hero in high school, Dakota was sort of a misfit (though also a jock), and the two fell in love. Then life sort of got in the way and they separated. Now they meet up again, both coincidentally in law enforcement, and their roles are somewhat reversed, with Dakota the more accomplished one and Shane sort of a loser, never having lived out any of his potential.

Dakota was the wronged party in their breakup, but I can't help feeling more empathy for Shane, throughout the whole book. Dakota can be a little condescending occasionally, to Shane and to everyone else. There's one rather baffling moment when he scolds the manager of a truck stop for kicking out a shoplifter instead of... I don't even know, referring her to a therapist or something? It's slightly bizarre. But the two of them work well together and if you're a fan of second chance romances, cops, or mysteries, I can virtually guarantee you'll like the story.

I just wish the narration had lived up to the writing.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Nyx
  • 07-01-22

Great Mix of Mystery & Love

I'm not one of those kind of listeners who loves an overly drawn out slow burn, and I am not a fan of books where nothing happens. I was drawn to this one because of the mystery aspect of it, though the whole "small town" thing isn't normally my cup of tea because they tend to drag for me.
I was VERY pleasantly surprised by this. I didn't feel like it dragged at all; I was really pulled into their story and enjoyed watching it unfold. I liked both Shane and Dakota as characters, though we discover their flaws, they both just work together if they can just get beyond their past.
As for the narrator, I'm always a fan of John Solo's. He did a great job bringing these two to life. I never hesitate to get a book narrated by him.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Bridget
  • 07-01-22

so good!

omg, this book was so good! I don't usually like second chance romances, but this one was great. Loved the characters. And the mystery was interesting; I thought I knew the bad guy fairly soon into it but was still surprised at the end.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Andrea Goodell
  • 17-03-22

ok

Overall this was OK, I did end up skimming parts,just too much inner dialog for me. Figured out the who done it pretty quickly.
Narrative was fine, I think he made the voices to whiney for me to enjoy 100 precent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • B
  • 05-02-22

heart in mouth

This book is so good! The suspense is wonderful along with the relationship. there is dome relationship angst, but it's balanced out by the suspense.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Outlaw
  • 28-01-22

Another stellar book by Tal Bauer

I shouldn’t have expected anything less, but every time I read a Tal Bauer book I’m blown away. Does it have romance? Yes. But his books are so much more than that. These are action packed, heart pounding rides that just happen to have gay leads. And that’s what sets his books apart. Seeing the representation outside of a “trope” is as brilliant as it is engaging.

If you’re even kind of on the fence with this book do yourself a favor and pick it up. Well worth the read/listen. I’ll be going back to this one again and again.

1 person found this helpful

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  • kp
  • 21-01-22

PERFECTION!

Tal Bauer is a master of romantic suspense stories. I always know I am in for quite the ride when I begin a new book from him.
Never Stay Gone give the reader everything they could want in this genre and then some.
His beautifully descriptive way of writing puts the reader smack dab into the story.
Dakota and Shane stole my heart right off the bat. These two have a history that goes back to high school. When choices separate them they each carry that pain of loss in their hearts. Thirteen years later a mass grave brings them back into each other's life.
The connection and depth of love that they have for each other can't be denied, but will it be enough to carry them forward?
Amongst the ugliest of murder cases they are tested. With clues sprinkled throughout the story I was still kept on the edge of my seat trying to figure out who the bad guy was.
I enjoyed how the mystery/suspense aspect of the story came together. I loved how the romance and love between these two cemented itself into reality! What a perfect epilogue!
John Solo does an amazing job of bringing this story to life. I know I will be revisiting this amazing audiobook again and again!
I can't wait for more in this new series!

1 person found this helpful

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  • songbird
  • 18-05-22

Loved love loved it!!!

What a great murder mystery! The writing was awesome and I didn’t guess whodunnit until right before the reveal! Well played!!! The love story part had me with all the feel’s. Lost love is so heartbreaking! But their reunion was so perfect and not rushed!

Now for the narration…what was with all the whispering that JS did? It was so overused that it was grating on my nerves. There were so many times I could not hear it and I had to back it up, and we all know how annoying that becomes! Please stop doing that it ruins the book!!!!! 😤

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  • Erin 🎧 📚
  • 12-05-22

Dakota + Shane forever

Whew. This was a little different from the other books I’ve read by this author. A little more broodier, less political and a nice change. I can’t wait for more in this series. I love these two characters and how the story builds around the murders in this barren, yet beautiful part of Texas. This author does such an amazing job with putting in the romance with thriller/suspense type action. I am already done with all of the audiobooks! Now I have to go read the rest of his novels. Overall a great book. ❤️

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  • J E S S I
  • 21-03-22

COWBOY TAKE ME AWAY!!!

Once again, Tal Bauer has created a beautiful story full of angst, suspense and all the feels your heart could handle.

I've yet to find a story that Tal has created that didn't completely immerse me in the world he created and Never Stay Gone wasn't any different. West Texas is its own thing completely and he captured the brutality of the landscape as well as all the shady dealings that tend to happen out there. It was no surprise to me that I fell in love with both Dakota & Shane, their story was not easy it was tough fought and heartbreaking but entirely worth it.

"Jesus, they were like a desert thunderstorm, all wildfire and fury, the world splintering apart in a cataclysm before being reborn."

Deputy Shane Carson has spent 13 years missing the only man he has ever loved and even now he isn't able to let go of the time they spent together, however brief. From losing his football career before it even started, to being gay and letting down his dad things never seemed to work out for him but his time with Dakota is what keeps him going, the memories and the what ifs.

Finding six bodies in a single grave set the course for the events that lead Dakota back to Shane, but their reunion is nothing like he expected. Dakota acts like he couldn't be bothered by Shane in the least and he doesn't understand why. He couldn't have dreamed how good things were between them even if it was years ago. If he could just get Dakota to look at him, to see him then there might be a chance.

Dakota Jennings left Rustler 13 years ago with no intention of going back but when he is called in on a case that is close to his boss, he doesn't have a choice. It has been so long that Shane probably isn't even around anymore but much to Dakota's surprise Shane is the deputy keeping the bodies safe until CSI could show up. What is he even doing here? He is supposed to be married, with kids and living his dream, living a life that Dakota could have never given him. It has been years now, so it doesn't matter, Dakota's only job is to find the murderer and get the hell out of here before his heart gets shattered, for good this time.

As Shane & Dakota work to catch a killer the secrets of the past have a way of coming out and if they aren't careful those women won't be the only ones who end up dead.

Murder, secrets, and lost love are the binding agent for Tal Bauer's newest book that continuously blew all my expectations away. From all the characters that he has created Dakota & Shane somehow became my favorite and I am still not sure how. It could be the heartbreak of young love, the depths of their feelings after all these years or the fact that they had to fight not only for their love but to catch a killer that combined to make the perfect story. It could also be that I will forever swoon over two cowboys kissing in Stetsons.

Then the narration!! At this point I can't imagine anyone else narrating a Tal book but him. The way he can put so many emotions behind his voices while also being able to be differentiate between the characters is outstanding.

To say that I loved this book would do it an injustice because it was just incredible!! Eagerly awaiting book two in the Big Bend Texas Rangers series and hoping that we see a glimpse of Shane & Dakota!!

*If you made it this far, sorry for the lengthiness of this review. *