• The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple

  • Gay Historical Romance
  • By: K. A. Merikan
  • Narrated by: James Reily
  • Length: 15 hrs and 6 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (66 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $24.95

Buy for $24.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”

“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for."

Cornwall, 1785

Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel. 

Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.

No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one. 

When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.

Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.

But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.

Themes: highwayman, abduction, ransom, forbidden love, self-discovery, danger, crime, Cornwal, Britain, England, Georgian

WARNING: Steamy content. Contains violence, distressing scenes, abuse, offensive language, and morally ambiguous protagonists.

©2017 Acerbi & Villani Ltd. (P)2020 Acerbi & Villani Ltd.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Romance

What listeners say about The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    43
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    51
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    43
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An MM opposites attract Historical romance!

I loved this Historical themed MM novel.
It was very different from K.A Merikan's work and I can't help craving for more.

The setting of the story and the plot was engaging and pretty authentic.

Sir Evan was dashing, tall dark and Handsome and I loved the mysterious vibe about him.

Julian was the definition of a pretty canary. I loved his personality and how well he completed Evan.

This has been one of my favorite reads by this author and listening to this has been a whole new experience.

The narration was enjoyable and brilliant!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A double whammy !!

5 Blue roses
5 Blue Flames

Narrator James Reily delivered this awesome fucking work of art on a shiny silver platter! I gobbled up every crumb off his beautiful English cadence. My God, where has he been? I couldn’t get enough of him. Kudo’s to the authors for choosing such a fitting narrator.

Aaand, here is where I get lyrical. Bla, Bla, Bla, fishpaste, it was good. Get the audiobook or suffer a bleak existence. Done!

Additionally, to show you my enthusiasm, I am choosing this audiobook as the Audiobook of the month!

Hooray! Thanks Mel,, I am sure Master will love this audiobook.
You know, he likes to use candles on my ass. He buggers me now and then with them until I scream, and my ass can profess that. Master also loves a good hanging,,, the erotic kind. Not what happened to poor Sir Evan Penhart, though.
Stay tuned to see if Master rewards me!

(March 2020 audiobook of the month – Straight as a Wheel also by K.A. Merikan – This is not favouritism, they are just that good. So, no jealousy)

Happy Listening

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

#BreechesRippers

Oh my! This book was awesome. SO HOT! Like crazy hot. Nothing beats a big gruff mushy romantic mountain of a man. Evan is just precious. Julian is a bit of a twat in the beginning. It's a really sweet love story with a super dark twist. The narrator was PERFECT! His voice was so deep and growly for Evan but soft for Julian. This is definitely a must listen!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

BBC Radio 4 narrates low-budget porno

I really tried to get into this one, but it’s just Abysmal. The narrator sounds *exactly* like he’s reading updates for BBC Radio 4, and would have made listening to this a struggle even if the story was good- which, I’m sorry, it was not. Maybe it gets better later on, but two hours in and it’s still the flimsiest kind of m/m bodice-ripper. The euphemisms are revolting, and there’s just so much of “mastering this wild buck” and casual misogyny that I just couldn’t. It feels like the written equivalent of a particularly low-budget porn where the pizza guy shows up in the first five minutes and then any pretense of frame story goes right out the window.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A beautiful love story that will probably stay with me for ages to come.

A beautiful love story of two men who did not seek each other out but fell in love despite the fact. I dare to say this may be the most romantic book I’ve read by K. A. Merikan. Romance based on the oldest definition of the word. These men have a way with words!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Then you take a leap of faith


This book has been recommended to me a thousand times by my best book buddies over the years. But I was stubborn and kept procrastinating to pick this up. When yeh audio finally came out for this highly recommended book, I thought it was time to pick this up and listen in one go. And boy oh boy, how I kick myself in the nuts for not picking this up earlier.

Julian is in short a hedonist who keeps dreaming about becoming a writer and spend his days frolicking and drinking with his buddies. When his father finally decided to make him marry, he went to London to finally meet his future bride. Sir Evan Penhart is someone who has only a noble title and nothing else. And now he has no other way than to become a highway man to rescue and keep his crumbling estate. Two different men with two very different pasts and futures met on that fateful day, their lives will never become the same again.

Enthralling, exciting and simply un-put-down-able. This was so soooooo good. Their relationship was so beautiful and breathtaking, it makes you envious and happy for them despite all the difficulties that era has pushed upon them. The secondary characters are interesting, realistic and fun to read too. The story is so poignant and passionate that you can’t help keep holding your breath and just keep rooting for this couple.

“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for. And then you take a leap of faith.”

Oh wow, how could you not be moved and enraptured by those words? I mean it really was angsty at times but Evan and Julian were just simply meant to be together. And the performance was great too. I am sure this is one of those rare books that I will listen again in the future.

5 Then you take a leap of faith stars
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️




Audio rating

Story - 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Narration - 4.5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Performance - 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Overall - 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Dark, super hot enemies-to-lovers romance!

I was utterly blown away by this historical romance! K.A. Merikan did such an amazing job with this story. The setting of the book, the historical details, the suspense, to say nothing of characters themselves… it was everything I could have hoped for.
Evan is the perfect brooding, volatile, dangerous hero, haunted by his past and seemingly condemned to a life of lonely unhappiness because of his inheritance and the harsh laws of the times. Nothing could have prepared him for Julian, seemingly gentle and well-spoken, but with his own set of skewed morals, and a whole lot left to learn about his own nature and desires. I loved the push and pull between Evan and Julian, their near-violent passion as well as the alluring sweetness when they come together.
This book is not for the faint of heart, with danger coming at Evan and Julian at an unrelenting pace. The suspense and action scenes were fast-paced and incredibly well-written, thrilling but oh so bad for my blood pressure.

Narration: James Reily is a new-to-me narrator and turns out he’s absolutely amazing! The timbre of his voice, his cadence while performing the story, the emotion he brought to the words of the characters… all of it just drew me in so much. I felt transported to another world and another time. Loved it! His voice has a certain warmth and gravitas that is incredibly pleasant to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Steamy, unchallenging, light and forgettable

More of an erotica novel then a romance. This felt like good junk food though and I still enjoyed myself. Just totally not what I expected.

Reading the description I thought I was getting into a drama about forbidden love that would be very risky for the times.

Unfortunately that whole angle of forbidden love is glossed over so casually and barely there. There is background given in the plot that gives details about a past love interest being punished because they got caught and that's as far as it gets. The constable barely gets involved and doesn't at all feel like a looming threat like the books description suggested.

Without all that though it at least made the book much lighter in tone. It was mostly a carefree and lust filled book. The characters very obviously are more focused on the physical aspect of this relationship more then anything. The falling in love part isn't very believable as not enough relationship building ever happens and it felt very insta-lust/love.

It was very steamy though and I think that's what really got me to keep going. It gets steamy so often and with such descriptive writing that I felt like the plot really served as a method to get from one scene to the next.

Overall it did quench me for a steamy and unchallenging read but will be forgotten about in favor of more memorable books.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Opposites

I follow these authors. Everything they write seems to step into something different than their last stories. This is no different. I’ve had this on my tbr list it seems forever and I don’t normally do historical stories but I was in the mood for different. This is it. There are so many twists and turns that I had to ignore things around me and listen to it. James Reilly’s narration brought it to life. The time period made for some interesting issues. Trying to maintain status, such as Evan did. Hiding who you really are…as both did. Julian’s being so out of the norm for his family and his time. Together they didn’t seem to fit. This is almost an opposites attraction. They are both so likable that I had to hope for both. There are more than a couple times I had to ask myself if the author’s were really going to do the main characters in. Again, this is a win for these authors.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

it's an up and down

her books always have a great ending but the The journey is always a ride.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for (Mimi) Johnson
  • (Mimi) Johnson
  • 06-29-21

Not my normal listen

This was different. I mean the storyline was good. I'm just not into period mm romance. I got this listen for free from my favorite dynamic duo so thought I'd give it a chance. As usual their writing is awesome. The narration is good as well.

Not a bad listen all in all.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jess
  • Jess
  • 04-25-21

Amazing must listen/read

This book kept me in a state of anxiety and I feel the writers did the research for the time. Awesome writing, hot scenes and amazing characters.

Good job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Randall J
  • Randall J
  • 08-24-20

Julian and Evan must fight for their love

I truly enjoyed this slow burn historical romance… it reminded me in a good way of the M/F historicals I devoured in the late 70s/80s in which the romance always needed time to grow and develop, and often started out as somewhat adversarial. Those were plot driven stories often with picaresque elements, and Julian Reece is a young man from that mold: innocent yet rakish, rash in his undertakings and not mindful of the consequences. Sir Evan, on the other hand, is a man who knows his own mind, heart, and most specifically, his desires. There’s a dub con moment early on – totally in that 70s/80s romance novel vein – and it works in the context of the story. The emotional journey that Julian undertakes that will bring him to Evan is necessary and fulfilling, both to himself and the reader. The narration by James Reily was top notch.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Goldenchels
  • Goldenchels
  • 08-14-20

was unsure but loved it

I wasn't sure this was my cup of tea but I gave it a shot and loved it. definitely a bit more serious than most of my books but really quite good. had no issues with narration

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for L.D.
  • L.D.
  • 08-01-20

Aristocrats and Highwaymen

The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple is a standalone, historical gay romance that takes the reader an incredible journey. I adored this story, but this is not a book for everyone. This is a dark romance and it has themes and content that might be triggering for some people. Read the warnings in the book blurb.

Julian Reece is a spoiled young man used to living in luxury. He’s supported by his father and has never had to work a day in his life. Julian’s future plans are made up of daydreams of all the potential traveling and adventures he’ll one day go on; however, Julian’s father has a different plan of action for his son’s life. Sir Evan Penhart is an aristocrat who’s nearly penniless. Desperation forces him to don a bandit’s mask and raid a carriage traveling on a deserted road. This moment of desperation brings Julian and Evan together and starts the beginning of their tumultuous and intense relationship. There’s no denying the attraction that burns between the two men, although Julian tries to fight it at first. When both men finally give in to their feelings, there is nothing either one of them would not do for each other. No obstacle they won’t destroy in order to be together.

K.A. Merikan is a fabulous writing duo who have mastered the art of suspense and excitement. The plot of this book was so full of twists and turns, and I never knew what to expect next. In fact, I was on the edge of my seat for the last third of the book. I felt like I could hardly breathe waiting to find out what happened next and if Julian and Evan could overcome all the hurdles and surprises thrown their way. The first half of the book can seem a little slow, but it was still enjoyable. The writers did a fabulous job of researching the time era and they put in all these little details that really helped to transport you into that era. Evan and Julian were interesting characters who grew throughout the book. I loved how intense their relationship became, and the devotion they showed each other. The sex scenes were hot, kinky, and erotic. I enjoyed all the elements of this book.

James Reily narrated the audiobook and he was the perfect pick for a narrator. James has a beautiful voice with an impressive range: he can do a posh British accent to the more roughened voice of a street thug. He kept all the character voices distinct and it was easy to follow along and determine who was who based on the voices alone. I really enjoyed the energy he put into the performance of the audiobook. There were a lot of suspenseful scenes, action scenes, sex scenes, etc. that required different levels of energy and power to make them really dynamic; James Reily masterfully met all those requirements. There were no glitches or mistakes in the audiobook production.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mrs. E. J. Curtis
  • Mrs. E. J. Curtis
  • 04-28-20

Good story

Enjoyable story with interesting characters. This is a stand alone book with a presumed happy ever after.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Emma Burbidge
  • Emma Burbidge
  • 04-20-20

Dangerous times for the pretty boy & the baronet!

James Reily is a new-to-me narrator, but he has a clear, even pace throughout while bringing the characters and the story to life.
I do like K.A. Merikan's historical gay romances as there always seems to be plenty of action and adventure combined with the illicit thrill of breaking the law merely by two men being together.
Highly recommended historical gay thriller.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Erryn Barratt
  • Erryn Barratt
  • 04-17-20

A wild ride

I’m of two minds about this book. Through the first half, I kept checking the time remaining and wondering if I was ever going to make it. Although I can’t speed up the audio, I did lament not having that functionality. Then I hit the second half of the book and that lament became an inner wail because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I wanted to know RIGHT NOW. I don’t read a lot of suspense, but this book would be up there on my list. Every time I breathed a sigh of relief thinking ‘yeah, okay, they made it’, another obstacle would be thrown in their way. Another road block. Another dastardly secondary character. I mean, I knew there would be a happy ending, but I doubted so many times.

That is the mark of a good storyteller.

I took a writing class last year and the teacher said ‘imagine the worst thing that can happen to your protagonist’. He paused. ‘Then make it happen.’ He paused again. ‘What’s the next worst thing that can happen? Go ahead, make that happen as well.’ I’m too soft on my characters, I know that. K.A. Merikan are brutal on theirs.

The book comes with warnings, but after having read Wrong Way Home, this book felt tame in comparison. Yes, there’s dubcon. Yes, there are morally ambiguous characters. But I always understood their motives. I empathized with the characters. I grieved with them. I felt their pain.

Julian Reece is a wastrel. He sometimes writes, often carouses, and loves his drink. His father wants to marry him off because he’s obviously incapable of holding down an honorable profession. The Black Sheep. Sir Evan Penhart is the opposite. Left destitute by a reckless brother, he tries to hold together the family estate, all the while knowing it’s a fruitless gesture. He’s forced to turn to a life of crime to save the servants he considers family. The Rotten Apple.

The two men are an unlikely pair – especially since Julian is definitely straight. But there’s something about Evan that calls to him. Perhaps their coupling was inevitable. It was definitely interesting. Also, as a historical, there is always the threat of discovery and of the gallows. Another layer of danger.

In case you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed the book. Could the first half have been shorter? Probably. Was the last half worth the price of admission? Oh hell yes. James Reily is a new narrator to me and I have to say I liked him. I settled quickly into his appropriately British accent and the rest was magic. So, I would definitely say check this one out.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for alias11
  • alias11
  • 04-05-20

Historical M/M Adventure Romance

I really enjoyed the background and events of this book, and the tale of two men coming together and finding love. I love historicals, and books that envision the struggles that men loving men faced in times where the penalty for such behavior could be death. It was interesting to watch as Julian slowly came to understand and accept his feelings for Evan. That said, I did feel the story dragged a little, especially toward the end with all the capture, escape, running, capture, etc, and it did get rather violent toward the very end. I would have loved an epilogue showing how things were a year or two later.

Just as a warning for sensitive types, there is some non-con/dub-con sex, and what could be considered a rape early on. It's not violent, but it is non-consensual. Also there was an overuse of the "c" word to insult men, which I found odd and jarring.

The narration was great and really seemed to fit the characters and the times.

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook and am voluntarily leaving this honest review.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Belinda Zamora
  • Belinda Zamora
  • 04-05-20

Historical regency drama teeming with emotion

I absolutely loved this decadently delicious historical highwayman romance.
The MC's Evan and Julian aren't necessarily the best depictions of humanity, they're both flawed and could even be considered anti-heros.
I really enjoyed the slow-burn and build-up of their relationship.
The initial animosity between them which lead to such great angst and tension.
There was plenty of fast paced action and suspense along with plot twists.
This was a grand, passionate and adventurous tale.
James Riley did an amazing job of richly and vividly depicting the Cornish countryside and bringing these characters to life.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Martin Moore
  • Martin Moore
  • 03-13-22

Quite a ride

A ripping yarn. A roller coaster ride. High adventure full blown romance. Edge of the seat! Wow.