5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 2.5 Stars, Reviewed by Kathie

Audio Review: The Enlightenment of Daniel by Eli Easton – Narrated by Tommy O’Brien

Title: The Enlightenment of Daniel (Sex in Seattle: Book Two)

Author: Eli Easton

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Narrator: Tommy O’Brien

Run Time: 5 Hours and 11 Minutes

At a Glance: The Enlightenment of Daniel is a great story, but the narration misses the mark.

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: Business tycoon Daniel Derenzo lives for his work until his dying father reminds him life is short. When Daniel starts to reevaluate his world, he experiences a startling revelation: He’s attracted to his business partner and best friend, Nick, even though Daniel always believed himself to be straight. In typical type-A fashion, Daniel dissects his newfound desires with the help of the experts at the Expanded Horizons sex clinic. He goes after Nick with the fierce determination that’s won him many a business deal.

Nick Ross was in love with Daniel years ago, when they were roommates in college. But Daniel was straight, and Nick patched his broken heart by marrying Marcia. Two kids and 14 years later, they go through the motions of their marriage like ships passing in the night. But Nick’s kids mean the world to him, and he’s afraid he’ll never get joint custody if they divorced. If he can trust his heart to an awakening Daniel, they all might find their way to a happily ever after.

Dividers

Review: What I hope for in any audio is a narrator who gives the story texture, adds personality to the characters, adds just the right amount of romantic spark between the main characters, and that the narration is able to sustain my interest so much so that I don’t want to leave my car until I hear the next chapter. The Trouble with Tony (Sex in Seattle: Book One), audio also narrated by Tommy O’Brien, hit all those marks.  As I’d stated in my review of that book, “Tommy was Tony.” He had the accent, he had the pacing, and he just made the book better! When I saw that the second book was being released on audio, I just jumped on it.  And, I can’t say I was completely disappointed.  It is a great story. Tommy O’Brien has a great voice. But, this time I felt that he was reading me a book, not telling me a story. Confusing, I know.

What I have come to expect from audiobooks is a performance. Different voices for the characters, changes of pacing as the scenes heat up or slow down, and emotion—please, give me emotion. If the character is mad, I want to hear it in his voice.  If the character is horny, I want to hear it in his voice. This holds my interest.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen with The Enlightenment of Daniel.  I really hope that with the third book, if Tommy O’Brien is the narrator, he can turn in a better performance.  I want it to make me want to stay in my car and listen to the end because it’s so good!

TNA_Signature_Kathie







 

You can buy The Enlightenment of Daniel here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

Standard
5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 2.5 Stars, Reviewed by Karen

Audio Review: Beneath the Stain by Amy Lane – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

Title: Beneath the Stain

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 16 hours and 36 minutes

At a Glance: Unfortunately, this narrator paired with this book just wasn’t for me, but in the end I was glad I listened to it, if for no other reason than my love of the story.

Reviewed By: Karen

Blurb: In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers – and their penchant for making good music when they weren’t getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends – especially Grant Adams – made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind.

Between the heartbreak of leaving Grant and the terrifying, glamorous life of rock stardom, Mackey is adrift and sinking fast. When he’s hit rock bottom, Trav Ford shows up, courtesy of their record company and a producer who wants to see what Mackey can do if he doesn’t flame out first. But cleaning up his act means coming clean about Grant, and that’s not easy to do or say. Mackey might make it with Trav’s help – but Trav’s not sure he’s going to survive falling in love with Mackey.

Mackey James Sanders comes with a whole lot of messy, painful baggage, and law-and-order Trav doesn’t do messy or painful. And just when Trav thinks they may have mastered every demon in Mackey’s past, the biggest, baddest demon of all comes knocking.

Dividers

Review: The Story:

When I read this book the end of last year, I was wrecked. This amazing, brilliant story took me on an emotional journey that even though I had read the reviews and heard what people were saying, I still wasn’t expecting it. I laughed and got angry, became an inconsolable blubbering, crying mess. It was awesome. For me, it is a story I have to be in the mood to read, though, because as much as I loved it, it is not one that I will probably pick up and reread as often as others, but it is there when I want to be torn apart and put back together again (every once in a while I need that). Reading this story, you get to watch a group of kids grow up and go through more than what a lot of people will ever go through. It isn’t pretty most of the time, it was hard and they had to work for it, they got hurt and hurt themselves, hurt others and ones they loved, but they stuck it out together. You get to see how strong they can be on their own, knowing that if they fall, there is a whole band of brothers there to catch them and carry them if needed.

Review: The Narration:

I saw that this book was out in audio and immediately added it to my wish list. I haven’t listened to any of Amy Lane’s books on audio, and knew that this one was going to be my first. It is by far my favorite of her books, and I couldn’t wait to listen to it. Five minutes after I received it, I put my headphones on and jumped right in. And then, it went downhill for me.

About an hour or two in, I had to stop listening and really was struggling because I love this book, I loved this story, but I was not liking the audio. I know sometimes my mood can affect what I like to read and listen to, though, so I thought maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace for it then. I switched over and listened to a different favorite and about a week later, I gave Beneath the Stain another shot. After another hour, I still just couldn’t get into it. There was something about the voices and the flow that just didn’t work for me.

I get that an audiobook is someone reading the book to you, but it shouldn’t seem like I am literally being read to, but that was how it was coming off. And then I though some of the narration came across a little cheesy, and I really struggled. I wanted to love the audio as much as I loved reading the book, but it just wasn’t happening, and I thought about not be able to finish it. I started seeing other reviews of the audiobook, and everyone else seemed to love it, so then I thought I must be missing something and decided to try and push through.

I started again and after about the 4-5 hour mark, I knew I would make it through. The more I listened the less I struggled with the narration, and realized more that it wasn’t the main characters I had an issue with as much as the secondary character voices. Through this experience I have realized that I really should listen to the audio samples since, of course, just like every book has people who will like it or not, the same will be said for a narrator. Unfortunately, this narrator just wasn’t for me, not for this book. But, in the end I was glad I listened, if for no other reason than my love of the story.

TNA_Signature_Karen






You can buy Beneath the Stain here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

Standard
2.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 2.5 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna, Tara Lain

Audio Review: Outing the Quarterback by Tara Lain – Narrated by John-Paul Barrel

Title: Outing the Quarterback

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: John-Paul Barrel

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours, 30 Minutes

At a Glance: This is definitely not my favorite from this author, and I am still not convinced audiobooks are for me.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Will Ashford lives in two closets. He meets his wealthy father’s goals as both the quarterback for the famous SCU football team and a business major, but secretly he attends art school and longs to live as a painter. And he’s gay. But if he can win the coveted Milton Scholarship for art, he’ll be able to break from his father at the end of his senior year.

In a painting master class, Will meets his divergent opposite, Noah Zajack. A scarred orphan who’s slept on park benches and eaten from trash cans, Noah carefully plans his life and multiple jobs so he has money and time to go to art school. Will’s problems seem like nothing compared to Noah’s. Noah wants the scholarship too and may have a way to get it, since the teacher of his class has designs on him–a plan about which Will isn’t happy.

Dividers

Review: Hmmmm. Where to start. I am really a fan of this author, but this book just didn’t work for me. I do think part of the issue was the narrator, but I also had issues with the story.

Will Ashford is the starting quarterback of the fictitious Southern California University football team, and his girlfriend is the head cheerleader. That would all be great except for one big fat problem – Will is gay. He has no desire to go to the NFL, and he really just wants to paint, so he’s taking a Master class under an assumed name. He’s a really talented painter, and he wants to win a scholarship to attend Art school so that he can leave his family expectations behind and not have to worry about tuition, etc.

In this class, Will meets Noah – who is both a model and a rival painter, and Will’s entranced by him. The instructor of the class is also interested in Noah, and his recommendation may be a key to getting this scholarship. For Will, though, trying to keep up on his painting class, his football practice, his other courses, his internship at his father’s company, as well as keeping off the radar of the campus YouTube gossip hound, and continue to feign interest in his girlfriend while also trying to keep the proverbial closet door shut and locked, is taking a big toll on him.

When Will runs into Noah outside of class, at one of Noah’s jobs, all he can think of is not being outed as an artist. Noah respects him as an artist, but he doesn’t think much of him as a person. And that’s before he knows that Will hasn’t exactly been forthcoming.

The character I like the most in this story is actually Will’s best friend Jamal, who is the center on his football team. He really is the kind of best friend everyone needs. I’m looking forward to reading his story, which is the second book in this series. Jamal always has Will’s back, doesn’t judge, and tries to do whatever he can to help Will out of whatever crappy situation he finds himself in. And Will would do the same for Jamal.

As the story progresses, of course Will cannot continue to hide his orientation from Noah when he is so attracted. They have a complicated relationship not only because of the art scholarship they both really want but because they come from such different worlds. Will feels trapped in the gilded cage, and Noah has never had any kind of stability in his life, other than what he has managed on his own.

Of course, as these things go, there must be a moment of truth when Will is put in the position to confirm or deny his orientation, his life choices, and his career aspirations. He is not only going to have to face the press, the football fans, and his father, but he’s going to have to face Noah and make a decision about how he’s going to live his life.

So why do I say this audio book didn’t work for me? Truly, I didn’t care for the narrator. To make sure, I read some of the book after I had finished listening to it, and I liked it a LOT more when I was in control of the story. His attempt at a sort of “sultry/sexy” voice for Will just was difficult for me to listen to and felt very put on and over the top. Then his older adult voice characterizations just did not sound right to me at all. Will’s dad and the art professor both sounded like they had chronic constipation. Honestly, the best characterization, I thought, was Jamal. That voice I could believe. He sounded age appropriate, and his speech pattern was much more authentic.

The other issues I had with the story are probably personal taste. I do not like penis nicknames and this one had a doozy. I know he’s a young guy, but no. And I also didn’t care for some of the other nicknames either. Finally, I just could not like Will as a character. The first, probably, eighty percent of the book, I felt like I was forcing myself just to get through it, and only in the last twenty percent did I finally want to know what was going to happen.

I will definitely read the next story in this series – but I will be reading it to myself. ;) As usual, YMMV.






You can buy Outing the Quarterback here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

Standard
4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Jamie Fessenden, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 2.5 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna

Audio Review: Murder on the Mountain by Jamie Fessenden – Narrated by Cliff Bergen

Title: Murder on the Mountain

Author: Jamie Fessenden

Narrator: Cliff Bergen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 7 Hours, 15 Minutes

At a Glance: The narrator in this case was okay, but I didn’t love his rendition of this book.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: When Jesse Morales, a recent college grad who aspires to be a mystery writer, volunteers to work on the summit of Mt. Washington for a week, he expects to work hard. What he doesn’t expect is to find a corpse in the fog, lying among the rocks, his head crushed. The dead man turns out to be a young tourist named Stuart Warren, who strayed from his friends while visiting the mountain.

Kyle Dubois, a widowed state police detective, is called to the scene in the middle of the night, along with his partner, Wesley Roberts. Kyle and Jesse are instantly drawn to one another, except Jesse’s fascination with murder mysteries makes it difficult for Kyle to take the young man seriously. But Jesse finds a way to make himself invaluable to the detective by checking into the hotel where the victim’s friends and family are staying and infiltrating their circle. Soon, he is learning things that could very well solve the case—or get him killed.

Dividers

Review: Murder on the Mountain marks my first foray into M/M audiobooks. I’ve been reluctant to dive into the audiobook pool because I usually have a VERY vivid movie going on in my head when I read books—a narrator may or may not capture my take on that movie. I had several friends recommend this book to me, so I thought I’d try it in audio.

I really liked the story of Jesse and Kyle. They meet after a tourist named Stuart has gone missing, and Jesse discovers the body after everyone on the mountain goes to look for him. Jesse has had a kind of strange afternoon; he remembers seeing Stuart – and his friends – earlier in the day, and he’s quite shocked to be the one to discover the body.

After the authorities are called, Jesse meets detectives Kyle Dubois and Wesley Roberts. Since he found the body, the detectives are quite interested in his statement. He immediately feels an attraction to Kyle, but he tries to keep his head in the game for the case at hand – which he believes is murder. It turns out that Jesse is an aspiring mystery writer, and this makes the detectives more than a little skeptical.

As the detectives begin to work the case, though, Jesse rather inserts himself into things by staying at the hotel where the rest of the friends and family of the tourist are staying. It turns out it is a wedding party, and the wedding was to have taken place that Saturday. There are a number of potential suspects, including the fiance’s family, and Stuart’s brother and best friend—it seems all have something to hide.

Kyle is quite unhappy at Jesse’s poking around, but he can’t help but be grateful for the information that Jesse is able to get by befriending the party. He also admits a number of things to Jesse, including his bisexuality and his devastation at the loss of his wife five years earlier. While they are getting to know each other, Kyle also worries that Jesse is putting himself right in the crosshairs of a killer. What’s to stop the murderer from going after Jesse if he – or she – determines that Jesse is getting too close?

There are a number of twists and turns, as you would expect with a good murder mystery. There might have been a number of motives for killing Stuart, but there are no clear clues or physical evidence that would tie any particular person to the murder. A lot of skeletons in a lot of closets are also revealed. As the whole sordid episode unravels, there is a suitably exhilarating climax.

I really enjoyed both the mystery part of the story as well as the budding romance between Jesse and Kyle. Kyle is actually interested in someone for the first time since his wife’s death, but he’s having a little trouble dealing with that emotionally. Jesse is a young guy who is not afraid to say what it is he wants. He really wants Kyle and he is very upfront about it. Both characters were likeable and believable. I also liked Kyle’s partner Wesley. He has Kyle’s back and his best interests at heart. As for the motley crew of family/friends/suspects, they made for an interesting and circuitous tale with several surprises thrown in for good measure. I would definitely recommend this story to any mystery lover.

However, I’m not sure I’m sold on audiobooks. The narrator in this case was okay, but I didn’t love his rendition of this book. I would have liked a little more energy, I think – although I thought he did a good job with Jesse’s part in particular. I’m reserving judgment, but I’m not 100% convinced that audiobooks are for me. I’ll try a few more before I decide, but definitely this does not convince me to steer away from reading my books.






You can buy Murder on the Mountain here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

Standard