5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 1 Star, Reviewed by Amy, Tara Lain

Review: Canning the Center by Tara Lain – Narrated by John-Paul Barrel

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Canning the Center

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: John-Paul Barrel

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 9 hours and 17 minutes

At a glance: Tara Lain’s work shines through an otherwise flat and disappointing narration.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Six foot seven inch, 300 pound Jamal Jones loves football, so when he finds out the ultra-conservative owner of his new pro football team fired their current center because he’s gay, bisexual Jamal decides to stay in the closet and hang with the females. Then, at a small drag show, he comes face-to-face with his sexual fantasy in the form of Trixie LaRue, a drag queen so exquisitely convincing she scrambles Jamal’s hormones—and his resolve to nurse his straight side.

Trevor Landry, aka Trixie LaRue, hides more than his genitals. A mathematician so brilliant he can’t be measured, Trevor disguises his astronomical IQ and his quirk for women’s clothes behind his act as a gay activist undergrad at Southern California University.

To Trevor, Jamal is the answer to a dream—a man who can love and accept both his personas. When he discovers Jamal’s future is threatened if he’s seen with a guy, Trevor becomes Trixie to let Jamal pass as straight. But Trevor risks his position every time he puts on a dress. Is there a closet big enough to hold a football pro and a drag queen?

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Review: I just simply adore Tara Lain. In Canning the Center, she writes about a budding football player in the professional environment who is very aware of his sexuality and what it will mean for his future in professional sports. This is a super sweet and wonderfully told love story with a little bit of controversy and a lot of awesome.

Jamal is every man and woman’s dream man. Gorgeous, tall, dark, and handsome. I adored this character and all his sweet, gentle, and old fashioned ways—everything about him. He is coming to the realization that although he states he is bisexual, he is actually gay. Introduce him to Trixie LaRue, a wonderful drag queen who is confident even though Trevor—the man behind the makeup—isn’t, and this is a recipe for success. Trevor is a genius and all around awesome guy. It was fun to see these two fall in love.

There isn’t one bad thing I can say about this story, and that’s saying a lot considering that the narration was awful.

If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you’ll know I am not a fan of John-Paul Barrel. I don’t understand how this man is still narrating books. I’m sorry, I know that sounds harsh, but he’s monotone and speaks almost phonetically, like he’s reading out every syllable. Add in his trying to do Trixie LaRue, and she sings too? Ugh. I need to pay better attention to who’s narrating a story before I pick it for review.

For Tara Lain’s book to shine through this awful performance shows what a wonderful and fun story she wrote.

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You can buy Canning the Center here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

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3 Stars, Audio Book, BA Tortuga, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Ever the Same by BA Tortuga – Narrated by Paul Morey

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Ever the Same

Author: BA Tortuga

Narrator: Paul Morey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 hours and 32 minutes

At a Glance: Overall, I liked this story but felt it was missing something.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Audie Barrack is in it up to his elbows with a sick calf when his son’s school calls. Seems Grainger has gotten into yet another fight. When he walks into the principal’s office, he’s shocked to find his son has been fighting with a little girl named Randi.

A little girl with one blind dad and one dad who recently passed away.

Goddammit.

Dixon has lost his sight, his career, and his husband. Thank God for his brothers, Momma and Daddy, and his little girl, or he would simply give up. The last thing he needs is for Randi to start trouble at school, especially trouble that puts him in contact with another dad who might expect him to be a functional human being.

Dixon is struggling to live as a blind man, Audie is terrified someone might see he has a closet to come out of, and everyone from the school to both men’s families is worried for the men and their children. Unless they get themselves together and commit to change, neither of them stands a chance.

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Review:  I’m a big fan of BA Tortuga’s writing, and own several print copies of her books. I was excited to listen to this story—I’m definitely drawn to stories that are unconventional. Dixon was a great character, and he was put through some really trying times. When we are introduced to him and Audie, they meet because their children get into a fight at school. From then on, you meet a whole slew of characters—from Randi and Granger (the kids), to their respective families, and finally, the animals. The animals played an awesome part in the story.

The children really brought this story home for me. They are the glue holding it together, and without them, I feel this book wouldn’t have been successful. They were what was right about this story. But unfortunately, I felt that there were a lot of inconsistencies in the plot, and I had a hard time with Audie and Dixon’s families. These two men are not your conventional twenty-year-old guys. These are grown men facing very serious issues, yet they acted like they were very young, and they let their parents walk all over them.

Dixon was a great character whose growth is visible throughout the story. However, I really wanted to see him flourish as a blind person. Overall, I liked this story but felt it was missing something. The thing I think it’s missing is the actual romance. I felt like I didn’t get to see Dixon and Audie fall in love. It just was.

Narration: Ever the Same is performed by Paul Morey. That’s all that needs to be said. Morey is a consummate professional who does an excellent job narrating this book. He did a great job speaking for the children, which I always feel is a difficult thing to do as a narrator. He is absolutely fabulous.

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You can buy Ever the Same here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Cardeno C., Genre Romance, Giveaways, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy, Self-Published

Audio Review and Giveaway: Walk With Me by Cardeno C. – Narrated by Alexander Collins

Audio Banner - Walk With Me copy

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Walk With Me

Author: Cardeno C.

Narrator: Alexander Collins

Publisher: Self-Published

Run Time: 6 hours and 40 minutes

At a Glance: Cardeno C. continues to masterfully write amazing love stories that make me laugh and cry and root for the characters.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: When Eli Block steps into his parents’ living room and sees his childhood crush sitting on the couch, he starts a shameless campaign to seduce the young rabbi. Unfortunately, Seth Cohen barely remembers Eli and he resolutely shuts down all his advances. As a tenuous and then binding friendship forms between the two men, Eli must find a way to move past his unrequited love while still keeping his best friend in his life. Not an easy feat when the same person occupies both roles.

Professional, proper Seth is shocked by Eli’s brashness, overt sexuality, and easy defiance of societal norms. But he’s also drawn to the happy, funny, light-filled man. As their friendship deepens over the years, Seth watches Eli mature into a man he admires and respects. When Seth finds himself longing for what Eli had so easily offered, he has to decide whether he’s willing to veer from his safe life-plan to build a future with Eli.

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Review:  Once again, this is a true romance. Cardeno C. is a master at these slow burning romances that develop through friendship and later into love. Walk With Me is no exception.

Seth is starting work with Eli’s father as a Rabbi. The book starts here with Seth visiting the Block family. When Eli runs down the stairs and stops short, staring at Seth, this story begins. My God, I think perhaps Eli Block is at the top of my list of favorite M/M characters, this young man’s enthusiasm, joy, and certainty in his behavior.

And I love how Cardeno C. wove so many wonderful side characters into this story, but the major side characters were the weddings that Seth performed. One more hysterical than the next, I swear I was cackling in the car as I listened. There was only one thing that made me frustrated about this story—I feel like Seth’s years of denial and non-communication to Eli made Eli doubt himself and his feelings and confidence. That really hurt me. When they finally got together, I hated how tentative and afraid Eli was. This was quickly overcome and made better, but I just hated to see Eli hurt.

Narration: Alexander Collins was a new narrator for me, and he had me cracking up. He brought this well-written story to life. This was simply one of the best performances from a narrator that I have listened to; however, through the entire story I kept saying to myself, “This guy sounds EXACTLY like another narrator.” I will not list who he is, as I don’t want to take away from Mr. Collins performance, but it did distract me from the book a little.

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You can buy Walk With Me here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

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Cardeno C.About the Author: Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Cafe Risqué ~ SharedBlog | Pintrest | Google+ | Youtube

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify

*Some residency restrictions may apply

*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)

*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

This Tour Brought to You By Cardeno C. and:

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Cardeno C., Genre Romance, Giveaways, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy, Self-Published

Audio Review and Giveaway: Perfect Imperfections by Cardeno C. – Narrated by Charlie David

Audio Banner - Perfect Imperfections copy

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Perfect Imperfections

Author: Cardeno C

Narrator: Charlie David

Publisher: Self-Published

Run Time: 7 hours and 10 minutes

At a Glance: This love story is simply perfection.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Hollywood royalty Jeremy Jameson has lived a sheltered life with music as his sole focus and only friend. Before embarking on yet another international concert tour, he wanders into a bar in what he considers the middle of nowhere and meets a man who wins him over with his friendly smile and easy-going nature. Accountant slash bartender slash adventure-seeker Reg Moore has fun talking and drinking with The Jeremy Jameson and can’t say no when the supposedly straight rock star makes him a once in a lifetime offer: keep him company on his tour by playing the part of his boyfriend.

Listening to music, traveling the world, and jumping off cliffs is fun. Falling in love is even better. But to stay with Jeremy after the stage lights dim, Reg will need to help him realize there’s nothing pretend about their relationship.

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Review:  Oh, Cardeno C., this love story is simply perfection. This book is proof that fluffy happy stories are viable, and, if well done, can rock your world.

Reg is my ideal man. Big and manly but patient and warm. So warm, indeed, that Jeremy is drawn to him from the moment he wanders into a dive of a bar for some relief from his life as a famous rock star. After a drunken offer of company, these two lost souls start a journey of friendship and love that is magnificently built. There is no doubt that this story is anything but a love story—no false plots, no thrown in controversies.

JJ is definitely a bit of a spoiled brat who is used to getting his way. I do believe beneath that persona, he is just a lonely little boy whose mother is my version of a monster. At no point did I feel that this was too long or drawn out. I wanted the story to go on forever. The relationship was slow building, and the anticipation was killing me! The first sex scene was absolutely intoxicated, and the rest were just to die for.

Narration: Perfect Imperfections was my introduction to Charlie David, and it was an absolute pleasure meeting him as a narrator. He was entertaining and read the sex scenes incredibly well. He was definitive in his voice, and I was not once confused. Altogether, with Cardeno C. and Charlie David, this audiobook is a definite success.

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You can buy Perfect Imperfections here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Audible.com

Audible.com

iTunes

iTunes

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Cardeno C.About the Author: Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Cafe Risqué ~ SharedBlog | Pintrest | Google+ | Youtube

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THE GIVEAWAY

An Audio Copy of Perfect Imperfections

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

This tour brought to you by Cardeno C. and:
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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Elizah J. Davis, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Making Nice by Elizah J. Davis – Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

Title: Making Nice

Author: Elizah J. Davis

Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 10 hours and 31 minutes

At a Glance: A great story that could have been about five hours shorter.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Twins Blake and Bianca Dunlap have always been there for each other, ready to lend support and make sacrifices. Blake can’t imagine a bigger sacrifice than getting along with Bianca’s fiancé, Matt. However, Matt turns out to be more than the meathead Blake had dismissed him as, but Matt’s best friend, Ryan Everett, is a different story. Ryan seems intent on being an insufferable jerk as often as possible. The fact that Blake is undeniably attracted to Ryan only makes the whole situation more annoying.

Since they’ll all be stuck together for the long haul, Blake is determined to make nice. Unfortunately he overshoots, and he and Ryan end up on much friendlier terms than Blake intended. While he and Ryan agree there’s no harm in having a strings-free fling that changes when Matt and Bianca find out about it. As more complications arise, Blake and Ryan become more determined to do what it takes to avoid letting them down. But the only way to ensure getting through a joyous wedding and avoid the questions neither of them want to answer is to convince everyone it’s something more.

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Review: I had a hard time with this book. The guts of this book are solid. I was intrigued and loved every character. I love the dynamic of Blake and Bianca in conjunction with Matt and Ryan. I enjoyed Blake and Ryan falling in love. The hate you/love you was well done. I even enjoyed them trying to hide the relationship from Bianca and Matt. In theory, everything about this book works. Unfortunately, though, there is a point where the book stops working. A book with this content could easily have been half its length. Outside of these characters doing some silly lying and push/pull in their relationship, I felt that there was no real story. Any plot outside of their relationship was forced and things were added to make the story longer. For example, the situation where Ryan was fixing up his basement and then Blake misunderstanding, thinking he was cheating. After the argument and then, surprisingly, Ryan breaking things off, nothing drastic changed for Ryan to take Blake back. Growth was implied but not shown.

Narration: Michael Ferraiuolo did a great job of narrating. I hadn’t listened to him previously, and was pleasantly surprised by his work, but after about five hours, his voice could no longer hold the story up. I would definitely listen to Michael Ferraiuolo again.

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You can buy Making Nice here:

Audible.com

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mickie B. Ashling, Narration Rating - 3.5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Cutting Cords by Mickie B. Ashling – Narrated by John Solo

Title: Cutting Cords

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Narrator: John Solo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 hours 44 minutes

At a Glance:  I enjoyed this for its narration more than for its core story.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: When Sloan Driscoll and Cole Fujiwara become reluctant roommates, neither man is willing to share too much. Sloan is instantly attracted to Cole but knows it’s a hopeless cause; Cole has a steady girlfriend. But one night they share a joint, and Cole opens a window neither anticipated.

A relationship may be impossible—both men are living with heart-breaking secrets. While Sloan is smart, sassy, and a brilliant graphic artist, he’s also a pothead with severe body image problems. Cole, a former major league pitcher, has his own personal crisis: he’s going blind. Sloan and Cole are suffering on so many levels, they might not realize that the ultimate salvation could be within each other’s arms.

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Review:  There was truly a love/hate relationship for me with this story and its main characters. Sloan Driscoll was a loveable and damaged man you couldn’t help but want to wrap up and take care of, but I didn’t necessary like Cole Fujiwara that much… I sympathized with his plight but didn’t quite understand his insistence to not share his blindness. Mickie B. Ashling did a great job of making me understand, and in general I really enjoyed her writing, but what I didn’t enjoy was simple: the love story never progressed. Sloan and Cole had sex, and then they argued. Then Cole was almost abusive. Then this pattern cycled over and over, and you never actually witness the two characters falling in love.

I didn’t hate this book, really, I just wish there was more relationship development. The other thing that threw me off was that BDSM was introduced almost as an afterthought, and there was no lead up or anything. Sloan hooks up with a photographer, and suddenly, he is in this world and I felt it had no relationship to the story.

Narration: John Solo is a new narrator to me. He had kind of a weird rasp to his voice that I could take or leave. He did a wonderful job with the narration, though. His voice is just not my cuppa. He did make an average read better, though, and I would listen to his narration again.

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You can buy Cutting Cords here:

Audible.com

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4.5 Stars, AJ Michaels, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4.5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Pride and Modern Prejudice by AJ Michaels – Narrated by Rusty Topsfield

Audio Gem

Title: Pride and Modern Prejudice

Author: AJ Michaels

Narrator: Rusty Topsfield

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 hours and 31 minutes

At a Glance: A very successful rewrite of Jane Austen.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: What happens when Jane Austen’s immortal characters are thrust into 21st century Pennsylvania, with an all-male twist?

Liam Bennet has always been a good judge of character, but when William Darcy is thrown into his social circle, everything spins out of control. Darcy is proud, cold, arrogant—and strangely captivating. When Liam’s brother and Darcy’s business partner start seeing each other, Liam cannot avoid this enigmatic businessman. But does he want to?

As Liam struggles to find his identity in college and acknowledge his feelings, he must deal with the fortunes of his four brothers, his gossiping mother, and the possibility of a large inheritance that could save his family from financial ruin. Emotions come to a boil when George Wickham, a world-weary musician, stumbles into town and ignites a feud with Darcy. He threatens to expose a long-hidden past, and Liam must decide for himself who William Darcy really is and what he really wants.

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Review: I can’t imagine attempting to rewrite the amazing Jane Austen; however, I really enjoy films like Bridget Jones’s Diary and other attempts in the film world. I figured, what the heck, let me give the modern attempt at a written classic a chance. I am awful glad that I did. AJ Michaels successfully rewrote this take without tainting the original. She kept things just close enough to the original, while making the story her own. I kept trying to name the different characters as they were introduced, and matching them to Austen’s, which was fun and not at all distracting.

Now, Liam was a fun and exciting character. He has spunk for days and was completely okay with who he was. William Darcy was typical Darcy, gorgeous and somewhat cold, but completely honorable. I like how the author builds the relationship in more depth. One of Austen’s attributes in literature is her ability to make the readers draw their own conclusions. Michaels kept that up, and still gave me all I desired. There’s a healthy balance of story and sex, and this author can write a sex scene… (Wipes brow). I would 100% recommend giving this a read/listen.

Narration: I am extremely familiar with Rusty Topsfield as a narrator, and he never disappoints. He has such a diverse ability to drawn me into the story, though he doesn’t have particular skills in differentiating character, but it doesn’t bother me in the least. I am too busy being involved. I see his name and get excited!

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You can buy Pride and Modern Prejudice here:

Audible.com

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Historical Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton – Narrated by Scott Richard Ehredt

Audio Gem

Title: The Lion and the Crow

Author: Eli Easton

Narrator: Scott Richard Ehredt

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 5 hours and 3 minutes

At a Glance: If I could give this book 1000 stars, I would.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: In medieval England, duty is everything, personal honor is more valued than life itself, and homosexuality is not tolerated by the church or society.

Sir Christian Brandon was raised in a household where he was hated for his unusual beauty and for his parentage. Being smaller than his six brutish half-brothers, he learned to survive by using his wits and his gift for strategy, earning him the nickname the Crow.

Sir William Corbett, a large and fierce warrior known as the Lion, has pushed his unnatural desires down all his life. He’s determined to live up to his own ideal of a gallant knight. When he takes up a quest to rescue his sister from her abusive lord of a husband, he’s forced to enlist the help of Sir Christian. It’s a partnership that will test every strand of his moral fiber, and, eventually, his understanding of the meaning of duty, honor, and love.

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Review:  If anyone knows anything about me when it comes to M/M books, it’s that I DO NOT read Historical Romance; however, this is Eli Easton we are talking about, and I have literally read every book she has written. So, I gave in and said, “Let me review this book,” and this is what I love about reviewing. I am exposed to greatness, and let me tell you, the combination of Easton’s writing ability and Scott Richard Ehredt’s narrating skills are absolute perfection. I would give this book 1000 stars, if possible.

The story is all things. It brings us this environment of life and death and honor. It does involve the whole “we can’t be gay thing,” but honestly, it didn’t bother me AT all because the author was sharing the journey of these two men, who are honorable.

Christian has been abused his whole life by his brothers, but instead of shrinking, he rose to the occasion and became a great bowman and hunter. William is an accomplished knight who is out to save his sister’s virtue. Through coincidence these two men are thrown together. This journey was the true brilliance of this story. The relationship that grows is one of, first, undeniable attraction but the sheer refusal to act on it, into respect, and eventually a love for all ages. I very seldom cry when reading a book, and Eli Easton makes me thankful for the true love stories in this world, and gives me hope through the written word.

Narration: I don’t know what to say about Scott Richard Ehredt, except pure BRILLIANCE. This man’s voice is truly gooseflesh inducing. His British accent is Sexy, Demanding, Soft, Romantic…etc. I could go on and on. All I will say is that after I listened to this audiobook, I went in search of other books narrated by him.

I put this story on par with my favorite audiobooks of all time.

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You can buy The Lion and the Crow here:

Audible.com

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Cardeno C., Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 3 Stars, Reviewed by Amy, Self-Published

Audio Review: Strange Bedfellows by Cardeno C. – Narrated by Ron Herczig

Title: Strange Bedfellows

Author: Cardeno C.

Narrator: Ron Herczig

Publisher: Self-Published

Run Time: 6 hours and 48 minutes

At a GlanceI have not met a book by Cardeno C. that I haven’t loved.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Can the billionaire son of a Democratic president build a family with the congressman son of a Republican senator? Forget politics, love makes strange bedfellows.

As the sole offspring of the Democratic United States president and his political operative wife, Trevor Moga was raised in an environment driven by the election cycle. During childhood, he fantasized about living in a made-for-television family, and as an adult, he rejected all things politics and built a highly successful career as far from his parents as possible.

Newly elected congressman Ford Hollingsworth is Republican royalty. The grandson of a revered governor and son of a respected senator, he was bred to value faith, family, and the goal of seeing a Hollingsworth in the White House.

When Trevor and Ford meet, sparks fly and a strong friendship is formed. But can the billionaire son of a Democratic president build a family with the congressman son of a Republican senator? Forget politics, love makes strange bedfellows.

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Review: I am starting to place Cardeno C. on my auto-buy list, as I have not met a book by this author that I haven’t loved. What I think Cardeno C. is so amazing at is exceptional character development, and developing such a natural flow to the story—within and outside of the romance aspect. I really wasn’t excited to read a book about politics. Especially with the climate as of late. All I can say is, make sure you don’t let that stop you. Cardeno C. had me in love with Trevor from the start. I am typically not a fan of an introductory sex scene, but it worked in this case. I loved the dynamic of Trevor’s family life.

In stark contrast, I just wanted to shake, hug, love, and forgive Ford for who he is. Ford has amazing character, and truly wouldn’t make it in today’s climate of politics, as he is honorable. His family made me mad, but ultimately, the love between these two characters was the star. Wonderfully developed, I cannot recommend this book any more.

Narration: Ron Herczig was a new-to-me narrator. He did a good job with the story, and I really like him—with one exception—his cadence is entirely too slow. I mean, it is actually frustrating. If he spoke about two paces faster, I would have fallen all over him; however, the slow narration did lend itself well to the sex scenes. I wouldn’t look at an audio and see his name and say, “I MUST have that.” But he was sufficient.

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You can buy Strange Bedfellows here:

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2.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Katherine Halle, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Fixing the Hole by Katherine Halle – Narrated by Philip Alces

Title: Fixing the Hole

Author: Katherine Halle

Narrator: Philip Alces

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours and 7 Minutes

At a Glance: The best thing about this story was Phillip Alces.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Heavy rains and strong winds slammed an uprooted tree through Steve Crowell’s roof, leaving a gaping hole to match the one in his heart. After his ex left him for a younger man, Steve’s not sure he’s ready to handle another disaster. His best friend highly recommended the contractor, but the man’s already late, and when he shows up with his music thumping, Steve isn’t impressed—until Riley steps out of his pickup truck. Personable, gorgeous Riley talks a mile a minute, which Steve finds both ridiculously endearing and terrifying. Piecing together a heart isn’t as easy as fixing a roof, but Riley might just be the right man for the job.

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Review:  I love a great short story. There is definitely an art to writing a short story and developing a depth of character in such a short period of time. What I found with this story was that I like the characters well enough; I liked the big differences between the two characters, Steve, the more white collar, and Riley, the more Blue collar. I just had no vested interest in whether they got together or not. Fixing the Hole was kind of forgettable.

Narration: The best thing about this Story was Philip Alces, but I have a love/hate relationship with his work. I think he is an amazing narrator. I just personally don’t care for his voice that much. I find that you can have a great book turn bad with off-narration, but, in this case, Alces did everything he could to keep me interested. He always has great definition between his characters, and does a great job with his emotion. He improved this book for me.

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You can buy Fixing the Hole here:

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4 Stars, Anna Martin, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, M.J. O'Shea, Narration Rating - 1 Star, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Soufflés at Sunrise by M.J. O’Shea and Anna Martin – Narrated by John-Paul Barrel

Title: Soufflés at Sunrise

Author: M.J. O’Shea and Anna Martin

Narrator: John-Paul Barrel

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 hours and 17 minutes

At a Glance: I love M.J. O’Shea and Anna Martin writing together, and find that they mesh well, but I hope they pick another narrator for the rest of the series.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: “Welcome to a new season of Burned, where we find fresh new cooking talent… and a few culinary disasters! Every season we do something a little different, and this time it’s all about the sweet things in life. Get ready in week one as twenty pastry chef hopefuls and dessert connoisseurs compete for the thirteen coveted workspaces in our *Burned* kitchen. With stakes this big, we ask the one question on everyone’s mind: Do these chefs have what it takes to rise to the top? Or will they get Burned?”

Burned contestants Chase and Kai are attracted from the start and can’t wait to spend more time getting to know each other… until they see the first episode treatment and realize the producers intend to portray them as bitter enemies. At first it’s fun to pretend to bicker—enemies on film, lovers when the cameras stop rolling—but soon it’s hard not to take the faux rivalry seriously. It’s only when their choice is to band together and bake their way to the final or get burned that they find where their real loyalties lie.

Dividers

Review:  Sigh. Where to begin? I often listen to an audiobook and dislike the narrator, but I can separate the book from that narrator to gauge whether it is a great book with poor narration. Sometimes I don’t like either the story or the narrator. This is one case, though, where it was impossible for me to separate the narration from the story, so I am not going to review the book and the narration separately.

I picked this book because I have read (not listened to) other books in this series, and really enjoyed them. I love M.J. O’Shea and Anna Martin writing together, and find that they mesh well. So, this is by no means a bad review for them, but this narration was absolutely painful!

After listening to Souffles at Sunrise for five minutes, I was saying, do I have to continue? It took me two weeks of turning it on for an hour and then turning it off again because I couldn’t continue. John-Paul Barrel spoke as if he was trying to annunciate every single word clearly. It was like listening to an instruction manual.

I hope they pick another narrator for the rest of the series, as the stories seem to be fun and entertaining. I, however, would never recommend another book narrated by John-Paul Barrel.

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You can buy Souffle’s at Sunrise here:

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mia Kerick, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Random Acts by Mia Kerick

Title: Random Acts

Author: Mia Kerick

Narrator: Iggy Toma

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours

At a Glance:  I absolutely LOVED this book for the first 5 hours of Random Acts!

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Bradley Zelder can’t find his way in life. After struggling for nearly a decade, he has yet to complete his college degree. Working as a school custodian, living in blue-collar Landsbury, MA, his love life is as empty as the rest of his existence. But on his way home after another disastrous date, his truck breaks down in upscale Oceanside. When he thinks life can’t get any worse, a man who is the epitome of Boston elite and everything Bradley finds attractive and intimidating helps him move his truck to the side of the road. Ashamed of his lot in life, Bradley almost lets the opportunity slip away, but he comes to his senses in time and tracks Caleb down.

From a random act of kindness, romance begins to grow, filling all the dark corners of Bradley’s empty life—until a random act of violence threatens to take it all away. Bradley must step up and be the man Caleb believes him to be. Caleb rescued him from a life without hope. Can Bradley rescue him in return?

Dividers

Review:  I absolutely LOVED this book for the first five hours of Random Acts! Bradley is just enough of a cad that I hated him in the beginning but couldn’t help but root for him to be the better man I knew he could be.

Caleb, from beginning to end, was simply adorable and just enough of a sweetie that he truly brought out the best in Bradley, and I adored watching Bradley grow into this amazing man. Bradley’s family was fantastic, and all of Caleb and Brad’s interactions in this story simply blew me away. If this book had ended as a simple love story at around 60%, I’d have rated the book 5 stars. Unfortunately, though, when I looked at the time while enjoying it, I was saying, how can there still be three hours left in this story?

Then the random attack on Caleb happened, and the book took a complete nosedive for me. Character traits of Caleb’s, which were absolutely never even alluded to, were introduced, such as his severe depression and his family’s involvement in that depression. Random Acts changed from a wonderful and sweet love story toward a weird and incomplete conclusion.

Narration: Iggy Toma is a new narrator to me, and he was an absolute joy to listen to. I truly am enjoying how many wonderful narrators I am listening to. It seems more quality narrations are coming down the pipe as of late. He did a wonderful job of keeping me listening, even though this was a book I would have potentially put down. He did a great job with the accents and the female characters throughout the book. I look forward to listening to him again.

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You can buy Random Acts here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Eli Easton, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Pinkerton Road, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton – Narrated by Matthew Shaw

Audio Gem

Title: How to Howl at the Moon

Author: Eli Easton

Narrator: Matthew Shaw

Publisher: Pinkerton Road

Run Time: 5 hours and 52 minutes

At at glance: Eli Easton continues to mesmerize me with her amazing writing talents.

Blurb: Sheriff Lance Beaufort is not going to let trouble into his town, no sir. Tucked away in the California Mountains, Mad Creek has secrets to keep, like the fact that half the town consists of ‘quickened’—dogs who have gained the ability to become human. Descended on both sides from Border Collies, Lance is as alert a guardian as they come.

Tim Weston is looking for a safe haven. After learning that his boss patented all of Tim’s work on vegetable hybrids in his own name, Tim quit his old job. A client offers him use of her cabin in Mad Creek, and Tim sees a chance for a new start. But the shy gardener has a way of fumbling and sounding like a liar around strangers, particularly gorgeous alpha men like Sheriff Beaufort.

Lance’s hackles are definitely raised by the lanky young stranger. He’s concerned about marijuana growers moving into Mad Creek, and he’s not satisfied with the boy’s story. Lance decides a bit of undercover work is called for. When Tim hits a beautiful black collie with his car and adopts the dog, its love at first sight for both Tim and Lance’s inner dog. Pretending to be a pet is about to get Sheriff Beaufort in very hot water.

Dividers

Review:  When I saw this book on the list to review I was like, “Eli Easton and Shifters…SCORE!” I didn’t even read the blurb. I took the book for review knowing I had a long drive ahead of me, as I was going to see a friend in Tennessee. Let me just say that what I thought and what I got were COMPLETELY different. What a pleasant surprise and completely unique idea that, although seemed a little silly at times, had me absolutely absorbed. Lance takes himself so seriously, and Tim is such a scared little rabbit that the misunderstandings between them seem likely. I fell in love with Tim. I just wanted to wrap him up and take him home.

What I loved most about this story, though, was the town, all the eclectic and necessary characters that made up Mad Creek. His mother’ meddlesome ways were entertaining as heck. I also liked that there was some intrigue in the story, trying to figure out who the bad guy was. Overall, and as usual, Eli Easton continues to mesmerize me with her amazing writing talents, and I can’t wait for more of this world.

Narration: Matthew Shaw is a narrator who I haven’t listened to or heard of in the past. I have to say he did a wonderful job! He has such a wonderful lilt to his voice. His separation of characters was wonderful, and almost had a hint of humor in his voice. I am absolutely excited to see more audiobooks by this narrator.

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You can buy How to Howl at the Moon here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Cardeno C., Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Amy, Self-Published

Audio Review: Johnnie by Cardeno C. – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Audio Gem

Title: Johnnie (Siphon: Book One)

Author: Cardeno C.

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Self-Published

Run Time: 5 hours and 50 minutes

At a glance: Lions and Siphons and Tremblay… Oh my!

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: A Premier lion shifter, Hugh Landry dedicates his life to leading the Berk pride with strength and confidence. Hundreds of people depend on Hugh for safety, success, and happiness. And at over a century old, with more power than can be contained in one body, Hugh relies on a Siphon lion shifter to carry his excess force.

When the Siphon endangers himself and therefore the pride, Hugh must pay attention to the man who has been his silent shadow for a decade. What he learns surprises him, but what he feels astounds him even more.

Two lions, each born to serve, rely on one another to survive. After years by each other’s side, they’ll finally realize the depth of their potential, the joy in their passion, and a connection their kind has never known.

Dividers

Review: The only book I have ever read by Cardeno C. was Control, which was a co-written with Mary Calmes, so I was extremely interested in reading something from Cardeno alone. From the first word I was sucked into this unique and amazing story. Johnnie is such a fast and enjoyable read, with very little angst but enough heart and depth for me to fall in love.

To me, it is extremely hard to come up with something that makes a shifter story different from the others. I am jealous of Cardeno C.’s talent and imagination. I started this audio on Monday and listened straight through till Tuesday because I was so sucked in. I wanted to learn more and more about the rules of this group, and the gruff and tough Premier, Hugh, and the sensitive, abused Johnnie. I was taken on an adventure of discovery and love as Hugh and Johnnie find their way through the uncharted waters of this new and unconventional relationship in a Lion pride. I will say the end got a little sweet for my personal tastes…funny thing about that, though; Cardeno C. built the relationship so well that it didn’t bother me a whole lot. The only question I really wanted answered was the spines with the Premier. Once you listen to or read this story you will understand that question.

Narration: Lions and Siphons and Tremblay… Oh my. Oh sweet, sexy voiced Greg Tremblay, could you read every book to me? PLEASE! Your stinkin’ voice is so sexy, and you make me lose myself in your narrations. You read a sex scene like nobody’s business, and with very little fluctuation in your voice, tell me who is talking. Normally narrators make an attempt to sound extremely different depending on who is speaking. Your ability to distinguish a character with a subtle difference is intoxicating. Please keep on reading these wonderful M/M stories.

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You can buy Johnnie here:

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Kate McMurray, Narration Rating - 3 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: The Silence of the Stars by Kate McMurray – Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

Title: The Silence of the Stars

Author: Kate McMurray

Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours

At a glance: I really enjoyed this book, but the narrator didn’t make much of an impression.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Sandy Sullivan has gotten so good at covering up his emotions, he’s waiting for someone to hand him an Oscar. On the outside, he’s a cheerful, funny guy, but his good humor is the only thing keeping awful memories from his army tours in Afghanistan at bay. Worse, Sandy is now adrift after breaking up with the only man who ever understood him, but who also wanted to fix him the way Sandy’s been fixing up his new house in Brooklyn.

Everett Blake seems to have everything: good looks, money, and talent to spare. He parlayed a successful career as a violinist into a teaching job at Manhattan’s elite Olcott School and until four months ago, he even had the perfect boyfriend. Now he’s on his own, trying to give his new apartment some personality, even if it is unkempt compared to the perfect home he shared with his ex. When hiring a contractor to renovate his kitchen sends Sandy barreling into his life, Everett is only too happy to accept the chaos… until he realizes he’s in over his head.

Dividers

Review: I really enjoyed this book. It seemed real to me to have men of two completely different backgrounds get together and not have everything simply fall into place. Their lives are messy, and it takes some time to get things figured out.

Everett is from a more upper-class background with all that comes with that. Sandy has his own demons that haunt him. This story definitely worked, but at times it kind of got a bit predictable. I love that Sandy starts going to a therapist for his issues, but I felt that Everett’s inner monologue regarding whether he could be with someone like Sandy got a bit old. It never honestly seemed to come to a head between the two of them, but it was a bit repetitive.

I am born and raised in New York and love that Kate set this is NY. I really enjoyed that the city was somewhat of a character in the book. Overall a well written novel. I would definitely visit this world again.

Narration: Another first time narrator for me in Michael Ferraiuolo, it is weird that I didn’t have much of a reaction to his performance. I didn’t love him, I didn’t hate him. He was a means to an end. I guess that in itself isn’t good. I feel he did an adequate job but didn’t leave much of an impression.

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You can buy The Silence of the Stars here:

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Amy, Scotty Cade

Audio Review: Acting Out by Scotty Cade – Narrated by Randy Fuller

Title: Acting Out

Author: Scotty Cade

Narrator: Randy Fuller

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 Hours and 49 Minutes

At a glance: I look forward to Randy Fuller’s next narration.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: After one very long tour of duty in Afghanistan and an honorable discharge from the USMC, Elijah Preston comes home to nothing. He barely scrapes up enough money for a cheap motel in Quantico, Virginia, with no money-making opportunities in sight. A chance encounter in a local Walmart finally gives Eli hope for employment. Elijah is ready to sign on with Royce Mackey’s proposition… until he hears what’s required. Royce operates a gay military porn site and wants Eli as his next star, never mind that Eli isn’t gay. Desperate and broke, Eli grudgingly accepts Royce’s offer and soon finds himself immersed in a strange new world.

Hamish Turner’s been there before. Taking Eli under his wing, he teaches him everything he can about Royce’s operation. The two quickly become friends, easing the way for their first scene together. Awkward at first, they both ease into it and find there is more of a connection between them than either expected. Curious to see where their mutual attraction takes them, they begin a relationship off-screen. But life gets complicated when a crazed fan of Hamish’s starts sending threatening letters demanding the scenes between the two men stop. Or else….

Dividers

Review: I was so excited to read this story. Porn and military…I mean, how can you go wrong? Elijah comes home from service, but this was a bit confusing to me as I believe his family took all his money, but I felt this was never sufficiently addressed in the story. I would like to have had some closure with that situation.

In walks Royce and from that point, I fell in love with this story. I love the almost family-like environment that Royce creates at the abode. I also like that this is simply guys being guys. The sex scenes were HOT! The mystery as to who was stalking Hamish was a great mystery. Hamish and Elijah’s relationship was satisfying all the way up until the end of the book. I felt like it took the whole book to get to the climax…and then it was over before you knew it. I was left wanting more at the end. The book was over and I was in my car going, that’s it? Overall I loved this story, I just wanted a bit more of a wrap up.

Narration: Randy Fuller was new to me as a narrator. He did a wonderful job of narration. He has such a sexy voice, and it really translated well to the multiple sex scenes throughout the story. Characters distinguished themselves well, and I really enjoyed listening to him weave the story together. I look forward to Fuller’s next narration.

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You can buy Acting Out here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Audio Review: Rise & Fall by Charlie Cochet – Narrated by Mark Westfield

Audio Gem

Title: Rise & Fall (THIRDS: Book Four)

Author: Charlie Cochet

Narrator:: Mark Westfield

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours and 47 Minutes

At a Glance: Perfection…Simply perfection.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: After an attack by the Coalition leaves THIRDS Team Leader Sloane Brodie critically injured, agent Dexter J. Daley swears to make Beck Hogan pay for what he’s done. But Dex’s plans for retribution are short-lived. With Ash still on leave with his own injuries, Sloane in the hospital, and Destructive Delta in the Coalition’s crosshairs, Lieutenant Sparks isn’t taking any chances. Dex’s team is pulled from the case, with the investigation handed to Team Leader Sebastian Hobbs. Dex refuses to stand by while another team goes after Hogan, and decides to put his old HPF detective skills to work to find Hogan before Theta Destructive, no matter the cost.

With a lengthy and painful recovery ahead of him, the last thing Sloane needs is his partner out scouring the city, especially when the lies—however well-intentioned—begin to spiral out of control. Sloane is all too familiar with the desire to retaliate, but some things are more important, like the man who’s pledged to stand beside him. As Dex starts down a dark path, it’s up to Sloane to show him what’s at stake, and finally put a name to what’s in his heart.

Dividers

Review: MORE!!! That is all I have to say. These THIRDS books have made me a fangirl. I can’t help myself. I drive down the road listening to these books, and people look at me funny because I am tearing up I am laughing so hard. I have to say that Dex is one of my favorite fictional characters. The whole support crew makes me smile. This series is so well written, and when this book was over, I was sad. I wanted to listen to them all over again, so I, in fact, listened to this audio again as soon as it was done. You can’t ask for more in these books. You get comedy, true love, action sequences, 80s music and hot man sex. SIGN ME UP!

Narration: In my eyes, Mark Westfield can do no wrong. He is freaking brilliant. I read the first few books of this series…but after listening to them on audio, I will never go to the written word again. He takes these characters and brings them to life. He uses sound effects and his own particular style. Although he reads all the characters, I feel that Mark is Dex. Perfection…simply perfection.

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You can buy Rise & Fall here:

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, B.G. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, New Adult, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Anything Could Happen by B.G. Thomas – Narrated by Charlie David

Title: Anything Could Happen

Author: B.G. Thomas

Narrator: Charlie David

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 32 Minutes

At a glance: This was a good read but I didn’t think it was a great read. Charlie David, on the other hand, brought this book to life.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Moving to Kansas City could be the best thing Austin Shelbourne has ever done. For a start, he can stop living a lie and finally come out of the closet. And there’s a chance, though slim, that he might be able to locate the love of his life, Todd Burton. It had seemed like a good idea when he seduced his friend, but Todd freaked out and vanished. Austin hopes to find Todd, make things right between them, and win his love. But when he meets actor Guy Campbell, things get even more confusing.

The moment Guy sets eyes on Austin, he knows Austin is The One. But Austin makes it clear he feels a responsibility to Todd, and Guy has some dark secrets of his own. He’s found redemption in acting and directing, but worries that if Austin learns the truth, he might not be able bear it. And what if Todd accepts Austin’s apology and the love Austin offers? Guy wants Austin desperately, but he also wants him to be happy. In the play of life, with the happiness of good men in the balance, anything could happen.

Dividers

Review: I am so torn about this book. On one hand, I love the coming-of-age story that is Austin. I adore the support cast of Uncle Body and the people of the apartment complex. I adore Guy and wanted to wrap him up and take him home. I also really like the idea of the book. In theory, I think this book works. On the page, I had a bit of a hard time with it. Everything just wraps itself up into this neat little bow. I felt like it needed some messy. Overall, I wasn’t disappointed. I just felt like this was a good read but didn’t think it was a great read. I’d give the book itself 3.5 stars.

Narration: Charlie David, on the other hand, brought this book to life. From Uncle Body and his dog to the drag queens at the Steel Magnolia’s play, David makes this a bright and new experience. His Southern accent has just the right touch, and the innocence he inflects in his voice for Austin was perfect. I look forward to more books narrated by Charlie David.

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You can buy Anything Could Happen here:

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3.5 Stars, Drama, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Amy, Sara York, Self-Published

Review: Velocity by Sara York

Title:  Velocity (Flight HA1710: Book Two)

Author: Sara York

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count:  89 Pages

At a Glance:  While I liked this second entry in the Flight HA1710 series, I was a bit disappointed in it as well.

Blurb: The crash of Flight HA1710 brings life into focus for Phil Stewart. Before meeting Davin Tierney, love seemed only a myth to Phil, but one night in New York City changed everything, giving him something he didn’t even know existed. But Phil wasn’t comfortable saying I love you. During the crash, Davin suffers a brain injury, leaving him in a coma. Phil wonders how love can be so cruel to give him Davin and then take him away so suddenly.

Davin never intended to give Phil a second look, but Phil broke through barriers and made amazing overtures before stalling on the word love. The crash changes everything, and he’s no longer willing to play it safe, but can Phil actually change from the playboy Davin first met?

Dividers

Review:  While I liked this second entry in the Flight HA1710 series, I was a bit disappointed in it as well. This could have had the emotional impact that the first installment had, but fell flat for me. The writing was clear and easy to follow, but it had several inconsistencies that threw me out of parts of the story. They may have been personal issues, so YMMV. In the end, though, I did like the story.

This chapter starts with backstory of Phil and Davin meeting as Phil is taken to the hospital after the crash. He awakens and his utmost desire is to find Davin, but the nurses continue to sedate him when he inquires about Davin because he gets rather excited in doing so. More backstory happens in these drug-induced flashbacks, and we get to see a bit of the relationship of the two men pre-tragedy.  I really enjoyed the changes Phil was making in his life, and how shy Davin was becoming more sweet and sexy.
When Davin makes his physical appearance, I was relieved his injuries weren’t as serious as first presented. Yet, my angst-loving heart also quickened at this. How would these two men continue if one was disabled? Not that I wished Davin ill, but I love the dynamics of relationships, and this one had changed so much. How much more could they take?

But it was not to be. I won’t spoil it by telling you what happens, just know that I really started to have an issue with the story. Because of more inconsistencies with plot and the romance not matching, I am torn about my reaction to the book. It started out so wonderfully emotional and deep, but it ended up more about sex than anything else.

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You can buy Velocity here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Quiet Nights by Mary Calmes – Narrated by Greg Tremblay

Title: Quiet Nights (Mangrove Stories)

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator:: Greg Tremblay

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours and 11 Minutes

At a Glance: I have listened to Greg many times, and no matter how many times I hear his narrations, it always sounds like a fresh and new story with a new voice.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: It’s a lovely little life Kelly Seaton leads. He’s got his own landscaping business, a nice little house, and his best friend, Cosimo Renaldi, and Coz’s goofball family who have adopted Kelly as their own. Sure, it’s a little lonely at night, but it’s a sweet deal, and Kelly can’t chance ruining it by letting on that he wants more – has always wanted more – with Coz.

Then Kelly’s past comes to town, bringing bad memories and hurt feelings that start to break Kelly down, and Coz just doesn’t understand why Kelly won’t let him be the support and strength that Kelly’s always been for him. They’ve already been through war, Coz’s devastating injury, and starting new careers in Mangrove, Florida. Why shouldn’t they face their chaotic pasts and build their future of quiet nights… together?

Dividers

Review: As soon as I saw a Mary Calmes book on the review list, I snatched it up. I have read every one of her books, and here is why she moves me so much: Mary writes real people. She doesn’t just create a great love between two characters. She creates a universe of loveable characters that I couldn’t live without. Her books never lack in depth, even in a shorter story.

Coz’s family was one of my favorite parts of this story. They made me laugh and cry and wish for this book to never finish. The scene when Coz’s mother introduces her kids to her new boyfriend had me crying I was laughing so hard. Coz and Kelly’s relationship was the driving force of this story, and it was fun to see them realize that they belonged together. I did want the Britton situation to conclude earlier, but that is just a personal preference. I hope I get to visit Mangrove again soon.

Narration: Greg Tremblay. I mean, there is really nothing else to say. This seasoned narrator does what he does best: he gives life to a wonderfully told story with his brilliant performance. I have listened to Greg many times, and no matter how many times I hear his narrations, it always sounds like a fresh and new story with a new voice. He is one of the most talented in the bunch.

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You can buy Quiet Nights here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Jacob Z. Flores, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, New Adult, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Being True by Jacob Z. Flores – Narrated by Mark Westfield

Audio Gem

Title: Being True

Author: Jacob Z. Flores

Narrator: Mark Westfield

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours and 40 Minutes

At a glance: This book hit all the right notes in all the right places.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Truman L. Cobbler has not had an easy life. It’s bad enough people say he looks like Donkey from Shrek, but he’s also suffered the death of his policeman father and his mother’s remarriage to a professional swindler, who cost them everything. Now dirt poor, they live in the barrio of San Antonio, Texas. When Tru transfers to an inner-city high school halfway through his senior year, he meets Javi Castillo, a popular and hot high school jock. Javi takes an immediate liking to Tru, and the two become friends. The odd pairing, however, rocks the school and sets the cliquish social circles askew. No one knows how to act or what to think when Mr. Popular takes a stand for Mr. Donkey. Will the cliques rise up to maintain status quo and lead Tru and Javi to heartbreak and disaster or will being true to who they are rule the day?

Dividers

Review: Being True hit all the right notes in all the right places. First, let’s talk about Truman. How I adore this young man. He is the underdog that everyone roots for. In the opening sequence, I just wanted to take Rance and beat him. Javi Castillo, the boy/man we all hope to find and fall in love with—could he be more perfect?

What makes this story work is the well-built, believable relationship between Javi and Tru. Flores does an amazing job of telling this story through Tru’s eyes, but allows you to see Javi fall in love too. He weaves a wonderful supporting cast in the Castillo’s, and Tru’s mother, and a mouthy Goth chick who befriends Tru. Take all of those things, add the pressure of high school and just the basics of growing up, and what you are left with is a memorable coming-of-age story where the buildup and crescendo are well worth the wait. I would love a revisit of this couple in the future and even would love an update on Rance, who is the villain but also just a scared young kid, not sure of his place in the world.

Narration: I adored this book and when I saw that Mark Westfield was narrating, I was so stinkin’ excited. I am familiar with Mark from the THIRDS series, and know of his narration skills. He definitely brought his A-game for this book. He is such a talented narrator. Something as simple as a scene between Javi and Tru, where they are throwing the ball, is made more authentic because Westerfield makes Javi sound like he is farther away than Tru. I have heard a lot of great narrators of late, but Mark is by far my favorite, and he took this story to the next level.

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You can buy Being True here:

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5 Stars, Alix Bekins, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: Written in the Stars by Alix Bekin – Narrated by Peter B. Brooke

Audio Gem

Title: Written in the Stars

Author: Alix Bekins

Narrator: Peter B. Brooke

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 Hours and 12 Minutes

At a Glance: Peter B. Brooke IS FREAKIN AMAZING

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Bailey McMillan’s life is a mess. The general public blames him for his former employer’s nuclear pollution, resulting in professional disgrace. Humiliated, he takes a job as an editor at a science magazine run by his best friend, John. That part isn’t so bad; Bailey is fond of John, who seems to find Bailey’s abrasive nature amusing.

Unfortunately, working for John also leads to writing an astrology column in exchange for getting free rein in some op-ed articles—and then being sued over one. The (totally coincidental) accuracy of the column offers opportunity for further professional disgrace if anyone discovers its author—and then Bailey digs himself a little deeper.

In an attempt to prove astrology is bogus, he agrees to an experiment to date someone from each star sign. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Bailey’s got a stupid crush on John, who stubbornly insists on a detailed breakdown of every date—bad and otherwise. Bailey’s luck has to improve sometime… right?

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Review: I LOVE LOVE LOVE this story. It is getting harder and harder to find a truly funny and romantic story. This book gave me everything I asked for and more. It was light and fun, but with an incredible depth of feeling and character. Bailey is one of my favorite characters of late, and Alix Bekin made it fun to root for Baily, and go on the journey that he was on.

John was so sarcastic, and listening to the subtle queues of John falling in love with Bailey was incredible. I was truly sad when “The End” came along. The author definitely did a lot of research for this book. The horoscope references were on point, and I loved watching Bailey throughout the dates. I was trying to figure out which date was what sign through the whole book.

Narration: Peter B. Brooke IS FREAKIN AMAZING… This was a first time narrator for me, and his narration made an already incredibly written book so much better. Bailey was a complex genius, and I can’t imagine actually reading this in print after hearing Peter represent Bailey.

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You can buy Written in the Stars here:

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3 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: The Little Things by Jay Northcote – Narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

Title: The Little Things

Author: Jay Northcote

Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 31 Minutes

At a Glance: Davies narration was INCREDIBLE.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: There are lots of things that brighten Joel’s life. His three-year-old daughter, Evie, is one. His close relationship with her mother, his best friend from university, is another. Joel’s boyfriend, Dan, adds spice to his child-free nights, and Joel is pretty happy with how things are.

Then one cold and rainy night, everything changes. Joel’s life is turned upside down when he becomes a full-time dad to Evie, and his previously carefree relationship with Dan cracks under the strain.

Meeting Liam, who acts as if getting hurt isn’t a foregone conclusion, shakes Joel to the core. Their attraction is mutual, and Liam makes no secret of how serious he is about Joel. But Joel is wary. He tells himself he’s keeping Liam at a distance for Evie’s sake, when really he’s protecting his own heart. Taking a chance on this new relationship with Liam may seem a small step—a little thing—but is it one Joel can take after losing so much already?

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Review: The Little Things was my first novel by Jay Northcote, so I didn’t know what to expect. I am absolutely torn by this novel. I adore the author’s ability to write and develop characters. I fell in love with Evie and Joel (although he frustrated me). I enjoyed Dan, but Liam is the saving grace of this entire book. He was charismatic and loving without being over the top. The downside of this book was that it could have been at least 10,000 words shorter. To get to the point of progression, or in this case, Evie’s mother’s death, took too long. It was filled with a lot of mundane every life things that in small doses really make me love a book, but the story gets lost in them. Once the book got started, it was excellent.

Narration: There’ve been a lot of first time narrator’s for me lately, and Matthew Lloyd Davies was new to me as well. This is the first time I liked the narrator more than the overall story. Davies narration was INCREDIBLE. By far my favorite British narrator to date. He transformed the story into a true experience. Because of this I gave the overall rating of a 4.

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You can buy The Little Things here:

Audible.com

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Amy, Shira Anthony

Audio Review: Blue Notes by Shira Anthony – Narrated by Peter B. Brooke

Audio Gem

Title: Blue Notes

Author: Shira Anthony

Narrator: Peter B. Brooke

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 47 Minutes

At a Glance: I simply adore Shira Anthony’s writing, and Peter B. Brooke is one of the best narrators in the business.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancée, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. Then he finds his future wife in bed with another man, and he’s forced to rethink his life and his choices. On a moment’s notice, he runs away to Paris, hoping to make peace with his life.

But Jason’s leave of absence becomes a true journey of the heart when he meets Jules, a struggling jazz violinist with his own cross to bear. In the City of Love, it doesn’t take them long to fall into bed, but as they’re both about to learn, they can’t run from the past. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face the music.

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Review: I picked this audiobook because I simply adore Shira Anthony’s writing, and I enjoyed Blue Notes the first time, in written word. Jason (Jazz) is such a likable character, a character that you feel deserves a happy ending and pull for from the beginning. Jules is a damaged young man with an incredible heart. All I wanted to do was protect him. I felt truth and passion throughout all of this book. Anthony really wrote an incredible story, but her ability to write the supporting cast was what really made this book stand out for me. The world she builds is one I could and have visited over and over.

Narration: I was also a little apprehensive as most of this book takes place in Paris, and I couldn’t imagine the challenge this would have been as a narrator. I will, however, say that I’ve listened to Peter B. Brooke narrate books in the past, and was extremely impressed with his abilities. I was not disappointed. Brooke is one of the best narrators in the business. When reviewing an audiobook, what you hope for most is the ability for the narrator to define each character. Peter B. Brooke has that ability in spades. He also popped in and out of his French accent so smoothly, and made that accent sound genuine, not forced or fake. Combining his ability with Jules, who, by the way is one of my favorite characters, was unforgettable. I cannot wait to hear the rest of this series.

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You can buy Blue Notes here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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