4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Elizabeth Noble, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Paranormal, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Electric Candle by Elizabeth Noble – Narrated by Faust Kells

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Amazon

Title: Electric Candle (The Sleepless City: Book Two)

Author: Elizabeth Noble

Narrator: Faust Kells

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 hours and 49 minutes

At a GlanceEven though this series is written by two different authors and performed by different narrators, it’s worth the read or the listen, whatever you prefer.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: When a vampire finds his soul mate, the bond is forever. It’s love at first sight. Or is it?

Flint, Ohio, Homicide Detective Jonas Forge has been a vampire for nearly two hundred years. He’s fought wars, seen life go from the simple but hard colonial days to the modern, high-tech world. He’s evolved with the times, adapting with each new era, blending into each new life. The one constant is his best friend and lover, Declan.

Until Forge’s soul mate tumbles, literally, into his life.

Even though they’re not fated to be together forever, Forge and Declan are perfectly happy. Despite the pheromone attracting him to his soul mate, Forge isn’t thrilled with the guy, and the feeling seems mutual. While trying to adjust to his clumsy soul mate and equally awkward feelings, Forge is on the hunt for the serial killer who’s leaving a trail of bodies, and who witnesses can’t identify. But Forge better watch out. When his work collides with his love life, things really heat up.

Dividers

Review: Electric Candle is book two in The Sleepless City series, which takes us back to Bogg’s Castle, where Simon, Ben, Lucas, Bogg, and Forge live.  Oh, and we can’t forget Moose!  Elizabeth Noble takes us on the second paranormal adventure, where Forge and Blair are our focus.

Oh my, Faust Kells brought so much expression and emotion to this audio, especially the humor.  I loved what he did with Blair. He brought youth, a little innocence and moments of maturity to this character. Lots of humor too when he and Forge first meet.

Lucas’s tone is more gravely and goes along with his persona of being a werewolf. The only voice I was disappointed with was Bogg’s, I wanted him to still have that southern gentlemen drawl portrayed in the audio Shades of Sepia, but he didn’t.

Even though this series is written by two different authors and performed by different narrators, it’s worth the read or the listen, whatever you prefer.  I was not disappointed.

(*Jackie, also did a great review of the e-book of Electric Candle in April 2015.)

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You can buy Electric Candle here:

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2.5 Stars, Allison Cassatta, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Kade Boehme, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Kathie

Audio Review: We Found Love by Kade Boehme and Allison Cassatta – Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: We Found Love

Authors: Kade Boehme and Allison Cassatta

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Narrator: Michael Ferraiuolo

Run Time: 7 Hours and 23 Minutes

At a Glance: Michael Ferraiuolo gave a great performance, but not great enough to overcome my issues with the characters.

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: It’s no surprise Riley Connors is dealing with issues. He was kidnapped as a young boy, and his parents abandoned him after his newsworthy return. He bounced from foster home to facility and back.

Now an adult, ghosts from his past continue to haunt him. After a suicide attempt, he is locked away in Hartfield so that people can make him tune in to emotions he has tried to bury.

Hunter Morgan had the kind of love that spans ages. But the stress of college and adulthood became too much to handle, and the love of Hunter’s life turned to drugs. After he overdoses, Hunter finds himself soaring out of control on the same miserable path. His brother finds him and calls an ambulance, and the sister Hunter would rather not have calls it a suicide attempt, landing Hunter in Hartfield.

Finding love isn’t easy, but it can happen under the direst circumstances. Together Hunter and Riley may be able to grow from their pain. But they will need to learn to live for themselves, letting love come second.

Dividers

Review: I really wanted to like We Found Love, but, unfortunately, I didn’t like ninety percent of this story. Riley Connors was too whiny, I mean really whiny, and I just can’t stand weak and whiny characters, no matter the justification. Most of the time he sounded like an adolescent, and I do know what that sounds like!

The ten percent I did like, in spite of the fact I never really bonded with Riley or Hunter (which could be my own problem rather than a reflection of the writing skills of Kade Boehme and Allison Cassatta), was when Riley left the treatment center and took control of his destiny. I also liked listening to the few moments that Riley and Hunter had together in the vacated wing of the treatment center. Those scenes were sensual and filled with a lot of descriptive detail.

My opinion of this audiobook is that the narrator, Michael Ferraiuolo, gave a great performance. He used distinct voices for each character which, when listening to an audiobook in the car, is very much appreciated as it’s a lot easier to follow the story. I will make a point to look for his name in the future. His performance adds a lot to the story, and the ending was great—the road trip HEA ending gets me every time. But be warned—whiny boys are running amuck throughout the story.

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You can buy We Found Love here:

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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.

Dividers

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:

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed By JJ, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Shira Anthony

Review: Stealing the Wind by Shira Anthony – Narrated by Michael Stellman

Title: Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea Trilogy: Book One)

Author: Shira Anthony

Narrator: Michael Stellman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 31 Minutes

At a Glance: Shira Anthony has a way of making a world come alive, which made me feel like I was on the ship and under the sea with the characters.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: Taren Laxley has never known anything but life as a slave. When a lusty pirate kidnaps him and holds him prisoner on his ship, Taren embraces the chance to realize his dream of a seagoing life. Not only does the pirate captain offer him freedom in exchange for three years of labor and sexual servitude, but the pleasures Taren finds when he joins the captain and first mate in bed far surpass his greatest fantasies.

Then, during a storm, Taren dives overboard to save another sailor and is lost at sea. He’s rescued by Ian Dunaidh, the enigmatic and seemingly ageless captain of a rival ship, the Phantom, and Taren feels an overwhelming attraction to Ian that Ian appears to share. Soon Taren learns a secret that will change his life forever: Ian and his people are Ea, shape-shifting merfolk… and Taren is one of them too. Bound to each other by a fierce passion neither can explain or deny, Taren and Ian are soon embroiled in a war and forced to fight for a future—not only for themselves but for all their kind.

Dividers

Review: Stealing the Wind is the first Mermen book I’ve ever read. I wasn’t sure at first how mermen could be sexy, but the author makes them very appealing. The story starts out when Taren, an indentured slave, is captured by a pirate. The pirate agrees to let him have his freedom in exchange for sexual servitude. Since Taren is attracted to the pirate, he agrees. However, before he can earn his freedom, he is in an accident, which results in him being rescued by a man named Ian. Taren is drawn to Ian, and when he learns that Ian is of the Ea people and shifts into a merman, his world is transformed.

I was initially drawn to Taren, but his time on the ship with the pirates was narrated so much that I lost a certain degree of interest. However, when Taren was rescued by Ian, things became interesting. Though Taren’s heart was at first split between Ian and the pirates, Ian is extremely drawn to Taren. I could really feel Ian’s pain over his love for him, which made their unions very erotic. The only part I didn’t really like about the book was the ending, since it kind of left me hanging. Also, I didn’t really connect with the twist, but despite disliking the end, I was entertained by the book as a whole. Shira Anthony has a way of making a world come alive, which made me feel like I was on the ship and under the sea with the characters.

Narration: Michael Stellman’s narration was perfect. I especially loved the voice he used for Taren, which was extremely erotic at times. Stellman used different voices for each character and was very expressive.

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You can buy Stealing the Wind here:

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna, Tere Michaels

Audio Review: Cherish & Blessed by Tere Michaels – Narrated by J.P. Handler

Audio Gem

Title: Cherish & Blessed (Faith, Love & Devotion: Books Four & Five)

Author: Tere Michaels

Narrator: J.P. Handler

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 5 Hours and 46 Minutes

At a Glance: Two wonderful and insightful stories giving us more glimpses into the life and family that Evan and Matt (one of my favorite characters of all time) are building together.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Cherish

After several years of happy coupledom, Matt and Evan can relax in the knowledge that their little family has survived the worst of it. The two older girls are away at college, the twins have yet to fully hit teen angst, Matt is doing well with his part time security consulting, and Evan is about to be promoted to captain—it seems like things are calm and bright.

Until they aren’t.

As the holidays approach, Evan and Matt get a shock no parent is ever prepared for: feisty Miranda, Evan’s eldest, has a new boyfriend, Kent, and they are talking marriage after just three months together. In fact, Miranda wants to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner—along with his parents, Blake and Cornelia.

Blessed

Lives are in transition as everyone gathers at the stunning Hamptons beach home of Daisy and Bennett to celebrate the christening of their new baby. Griffin and Jim—secretly growing tired of their rootless lifestyle—are in a rocky spot in their relationship. And as the godfather, Griffin finds himself yearning for something he’s sure Jim won’t be interested in.

Fatherhood.

Matt and Evan are looking to reconnect during the long weekend, as their respective careers pull them in separate directions. With less time spent together, Evan grows concerned about what will happen when the last two kids leave the nest.

Dividers

Review: This combination of two shorter episodes in the lives of Evan and Matt gives us more insight into how they are adjusting to combining their households and lives. Once again, Matt is the standout character for me in this series. He is the real glue that holds this couple and this family together, much to the chagrin of Miranda. He calms Evan, takes charge when needed, backs off when things get too hot to handle and pretty much absorbs the shockwaves of this family.

Matt and Evan have moved to a new house and have settled pretty comfortably into their lives together. Matt’s got his work and he still takes on the bulk of the household and child care responsibilities. His relationship with the twins is good, and he’s still closest to Katie. Of course, Miranda continues to be a thorn in everyone’s side. But never has she purposely tried to ruin everyone’s holiday and, in the process, potentially sacrifice what might be a solid relationship. As someone who has been through some pretty tense family holidays, I couldn’t help but shake my head at her antics (well, more like throttle her – not unlike my reaction to my own family, at times) and congratulate Evan and Matt on how they handled the whole situation. The other kids all get gold stars for doing their best to diffuse the uncomfortable circumstances. Comic relief is once again provided by Evan’s partner, and she definitely has some of the great lines in this story.

In Blessed, we get to visit not only with Evan and Matt but also Jim and Griffin as they all visit Daisy and Bennett’s beach house for the christening of their daughter. Evan and Matt have taken their relationship to a new level and are looking forward to a weekend sans children! The packing for this trip is hilarious, and I continue to adore Matt.

Jim and Griffin are at a bit of a crossroads in their relationship and they are having some trouble expressing their desires to each other. Evan and Matt see this and try to help by talking to their respective friends. Matt helps Jim sort out what he’s feeling, and Evan helps Griffin realize that he has to be honest with Jim. In the end, everyone has a great time, big decisions get made, and there will be new plans on the horizon.

Finally, we also get to enjoy a weekend away for Matt and Evan with no distractions, no kids, no commitments to anyone else – just a focus on themselves. They get down to the heart of their relationship, and it’s really sweet. Evan still struggles with expressing his feelings, but he’s come a long way. These guys are so fun to watch grow together, and it’s nice to see them work through their relationship and continue to move forward together.

I continue to love this series and while I still hear some Canadianisms in the narrator, I really enjoy his characterizations. I especially loved it that at one point he pronounced khaki like cocky. ;) I’m guessing he must have taken Geoff Knight’s pronunciation course!

 

 

 

You can buy Cherish & Blessed 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.

Dividers

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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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Karen

Audio Review: Waiting for Rain by Susan Mac Nicol – Narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

Title: Waiting for Rain

Author: Susan Mac Nicol

Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 10 hours and 17 minutes

At a Glance: The narration had me more invested in the story than I had been when I originally read it, and I am happy I gave it a chance.

Reviewed By: Karen

Blurb: The village of Stamford, the quintessential chocolate-box English scene, seemed an impossible dream for foster kid Toby Prentiss. Now he’s found a home among the haystacks and village fairs as the general manager for the Duck and Drake Hotel. With the fears and demons from his youth hidden away in this bucolic oasis, he’s very protective of who he lets in. Until he stumbles across shirtless carpenter Rain Engel building the hotel’s new custom-designed bar.

Working in the countryside, Rain prepared to face his biggest fear: sheep. He didn’t expect to deal with his second biggest fear: commitment. Toby’s controlled tough-guy façade coupled with his “find happiness where you can” optimism calls to Rain like nothing before. While Rain may be an exhibitionist, his romantic history forces him to hold his emotions close. As their relationship develops, secrets from their pasts drive a wedge between them: the ex-boyfriend who tore apart Rain’s trust and Toby’s history with the law. But can the secrets hiding among the quirky villagers bring them together? With missing sheep, pole dancing at the winter festival, and a crippling drought, everyone is waiting for Rain.

Dividers

Review: Just recently I have gotten more and more into audiobooks. Previously when choosing an audiobook to listen to, it was only books that I had already read and absolutely loved, those books that you can read over and over, and still find something new and amazing in them. Since audios were new to me, I was concerned that if I didn’t already love the story I would have a hard time staying interested and following along with the narration. Reviewing has changed this slightly. I still only get audios of books that I have already read, but now, as long as I at least liked the book, and have listened to the sample of the audio, and the narrator seems all right, I’ll give it a shot.

There have now been a couple books that weren’t my favorite, but the audiobooks made the story just that much better. Waiting for Rain is one of those books. I have really enjoyed all of Susan Mac Nicol’s books, and when I read Waiting for Rain, I enjoyed it. It just wasn’t a favorite. But Matthew Lloyd Davies’ narration, especially his voices for Toby and Rain, pulled me in and had me feeling more involved in the story and the love that developed between these guys.

Toby and Rain are super hot together, which, of course, I loved, but the story jumped around, I thought quite randomly at times, so it was the narration that had me more invested in this story than I had been when I originally read it. I’m happy I gave Waiting for Rain and Matthew Lloyd Davies a chance.

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You can buy Waiting for Rain 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, Dreamspinner Press, JR Loveless, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Kathie

Audio Review: Forgiving Thayne by J.R. Loveless – Narrated by Derrick McClain

Audio Gem

Title: Forgiving Thayne (A True Mates Novel)

Author: J.R. Loveless

Narrator:: Derrick McClain

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 11 Hours and 55 Minutes

At a Glance: I think that McClain has some room to grow in his performances, but overall, I liked the voices he chose for the main characters.

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: Nicholas Cartwright has done everything in his power to forget that night six months ago in Senaka when his true mate rejected him, leaving him shattered and disillusioned. Burying himself in his work, he pushes himself to the point of exhaustion while finding the touch of another unbearable. Suddenly his mate needs his help, and he may be asking for more than Nicholas can find it in himself to give.

Thayne Whitedove has always been a wanderer, spending his days on the road and his nights wrapped in the arms of whatever random hookup he meets, until a fateful mistake sends him rushing for the comforts of home. To his utter dismay, the only way to correct his error in judgment is to accept the one thing he’s never wanted: his mate. Thayne must decide whether to keep running or to stay and fight for Nick’s forgiveness.

Dividers

Review: Chasing Seth and Touch Me Gently by J.R. Loveless are my go-to audiobooks. I have listened to both audios at least four times and consider them classics. I follow J.R. Loveless on social media and was so excited when she posted she was writing Thayne and Nick’s story. My only complaint is that she didn’t write it fast enough!

I was not disappointed when I read Forgiving Thayne. I found the book to be very well written. I especially liked how she developed the character of Thayne, and the secondary characters of Sara and Elijah. Sara and Elijah just calmed everyone down, so steadfast in their leadership. In a lot of stories I have read, the bad guy is just that—bad, not a lot of dimension. J.R. Loveless gives the “Created One,” aka Matt, hopes, dreams, and in the end, peace as he laid in the Thayne’s arms. The author could have stopped there, but thank goodness she didn’t. Thayne deserved a no-strings-attached happiness with his mate, Nick. I was so happy that she allowed us to share in Thayne’s happiness by putting to rest the pact that was made so many years ago between Dakota and Thayne. Happily ever after, such a nice sound to that!

This is the first audiobook I have listened to narrated by Derrick McClain. I especially like narrators who perform the stories with their voices. I think that McClain has some room to grow in his performances, but overall, I liked the voices he chose for the main characters, and the whiny sneers of the Created One were painful to listen to but so fit the character. Great Job. Is this audiobook worth buying if you have already read the book? Yes. The voices the narrator created are worth the cost, and the story keeps you engaged to the end.

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You can buy Forgiving Thayne here:

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna, Tere Michaels

Audio Review: Duty & Devotion by Tere Michaels – Narrated by JP Handler

Audio Gem

Title: Duty & Devotion

Author: Tere Michaels

Narrator: JP Handler

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 5 Hours and 21 Minutes

At a Glance: A really engaging and enjoyable follow-up for Evan and Matt from Faith & Fidelity, as they – and their relationship – continue to evolve.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: After their happily ever after in Faith & Fidelity, Matt and Evan move forward to a new chapter of their lives — inside the bedroom and out — with some surprises in store for both. Evan struggles with labels and feelings, even as he wants to give in to his baser desires. Matt, now the ideal househusband of Queens, New York, has his own set of struggles — who is he now? What does he need and want?

A visit from his friend, and one-night stand, Jim Shea (of Love & Loyalty), throws everything into disarray as Evan’s jealousy and unease push Matt’s buttons — and not always in a good way.

Dividers

Review: Note: Duty & Devotion is book three in what is, so far, a five book series. I don’t recommend reading/listening to this one until you’ve at least read book one, as there are numerous spoilers. It’s not completely necessary to have read book two, but I would recommend reading that one before reading/listening to book four.

Let me start by saying that Matt Haight is one of my favorite characters in the genre. I love, love, love his personality. The contrast between Matt and Evan is part of what makes this couple so much fun. Evan is still, in some ways, very uptight, but Matt, with his wit and charm and ability to push Evan, keep them going. While I think both of them have some fears about their relationship and what it means – for their careers, the kids, the future – Matt is able to sense Evan’s reluctance and help him over the humps of living.

In this book, Matt and Evan are together, they have moved to a new house, Miranda is in college, and Katie and the twins are at home and taking the majority of Matt’s focus. He has built pretty solid relationships with these kids. Evan continues to work too much, and in some ways he takes Matt for granted – realizing, even as he’s doing it, that he is repeating the patterns of his relationship with Sherry. He also seems to have a pretty jealous streak that comes to the fore when it comes to Matt and his friendship with Jim Shea. He can sort of deal with it when Jim stays on the West Coast, but when he comes to town with his boyfriend Griffin, this brings up all kinds of issues for Evan.

While he agrees to dinner with Jim and Griffin, he definitely doesn’t deal well with the situation. He’s jealous of Matt’s relationship with Jim, and finds himself dealing with other very new emotions when he’s around Jim and Griffin. A crisis that confronts everyone leads to a lot of revelations and epiphanies for Matt and Evan – some that will change their relationship entirely.

There continues to be a lot of humor and warmth in this series – mostly centered around Matt and his relationships – with the kids, Evan, his friends and new friends. Evan’s coworkers are still supportive and also add a good dose of reality checks and humor. Heavy moments, and especially Evan still dealing with so many mixed emotions, the chief of them being guilt, add to the drama of the story. But, as usual, there is a great balance of light and dark, humor and pathos, and fun and games.

The narrator continues to do a good job with the characterizations in this series. I particularly like his way of conveying Matt’s playful side, but he also imbues him with both serious and realistic traits as well. Highly recommended for lovers of this series.







 

You can buy Duty & Devotion here:

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3 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Kate Sherwood, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna

Audio Review: More than Chemistry by Kate Sherwood – Narrated by Derrick McClain

Title: More than Chemistry

Author: Kate Sherwood

Narrator: Derrick McClain

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours and 13 Minutes

At a Glance: A humorous and fun story that illustrates that the heart wants what the heart wants.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Jack Lawson grew up poor and can’t forget it. He’s a huge success in the business world, but it won’t be enough until the image of “poor little Jack” is completely wiped away. When Jack runs into his old friend, Noah Mercier, he decides that Noah’s sister, an up-and-coming movie star, would be the perfect evidence of glamorous success. If Jack can win Hayley, it will be clear to everyone, including himself, that he has truly arrived.

The problem with Jack’s grand plan is that he’s more attracted to Noah. Jack’s never worried about the gender of his conquests, but Noah just isn’t flashy enough for Jack’s scheme to set the world on fire… unless Jack realizes he has practically no control over deciding who he wants—and even less choice in who he needs.

Dividers

Review: Jack is a self-made man who is the CEO of his company. He grew up in much different circumstances, though, so he still feels like he has to “prove” his success every day.

When meeting with a new ad firm, he recognizes Noah, a guy on the team, as a guy from his high school. He thinks he’ll be able to use this to his advantage, and so he decides that he will only work with Noah. This freaks Noah out because he’s really a tech guy – not a client guy. But Jack has a pretty quirky personality, and he really likes to mess with people, and he wants to control the situation with this agency. For his part, Noah is shocked that Jack even remembers him. But it seems that Jack actually does like Noah, and he wants him to succeed. They end up spending quite a bit of time together, and Jack really enjoys his time with Noah – they seem to be developing a real connection. Noah lacks a bit of self-confidence. He makes sure Jack knows he is gay. Jack is bisexual and really doesn’t seem to worry too much about labels or the gender of his partners.

When Jack discovers that Noah’s sister is a movie star, he decides that will be the final feather in his cap to show that he has truly arrived. He wheedles and coerces Noah into securing a date with Hayley (the sister) for a hockey game. Noah isn’t comfortable with that, but he gives in to the force of nature that is Jack, and he agrees to go with them to the game.

When the time comes for the date, though, it turns out that both men are having second thoughts and mixed feelings. There are some big surprises for Jack, and for Noah as well, and it turns out that sometimes what you think you want isn’t at all what you need.

I had forgotten when I signed up to review this audiobook that I had read the story several years ago, right when it was published. Kate Sherwood is a favorite author – her Dark Horse series is one of my all-time favorites, and my favorite ménage series to date. This is a MUCH lighter tale, and the narrator makes it that much more fun. His characterizations – particularly of the quirky and clueless Jack – are spot on and definitely enliven the story. I really loved the secondary characters too – especially Hayley and Jack’s assistant, Claire. I would definitely listen to another audiobook with this narrator. Definitely recommended for a delightful couple of hours fun.







 

You can buy More than Chemistry here:

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Remmy Duchene, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Deliver Me by Remmy Duchene – Narrated by Paul Morey

Title: Deliver Me

Author: Remmy Duchene

Narrator:: Paul Morey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 3 Hours and 56 Minutes

At a Glance: This is my first time hearing Paul Morey narrate. There is depth to his voice, and it’s very pleasing to the ear.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: The severe bullying he suffered as a teenager left Jack Flemming scarred both physically and emotionally. Now an adult, he has carved out a life for himself as co-owner of the Mechanic Shop. He enjoys his volunteer work with the throwaway boys and has a supportive best friend. When the past resurfaces in a phone call from Zachariah Durban, Jack discovers that while living is easy, forgiveness is much harder.

Zachariah Durban did a bad thing when he was a young punk of a teenager. But right after he did it, he knew it wasn’t right. Still, he ran away and made something of himself as a big shot author. Now, living in the south of France with writer’s block hitting him hard, Zachariah knows something has to change—starting with earning Jack Flemming’s forgiveness.

Dividers

Review: Jack Flemmings and Zachariah Durban were suppose to be friends in high school. Then the night of Winter Prom, Jack almost dies from an awful prank, and now their friendship is dead.

15 Years Later

In high school Jack took shop. At the age of twenty-two he was encouraged to go to college, and he got his mechanic’s license. He now owns his own garage, and he also volunteers at the Agency, a place for young boys, most who are gay and have nowhere else to go. Jack brings old cars in and helps the boys do repairs. The boys vote on what to do with the proceeds earned from sale of the cars. Jack also concerns himself with all the boys’ education, especially Jordan’s. Jack has big plans for Jordan. Is adoption in his and Jordan’s future?

Zachariah Durban ran away from what he needed to face fifteen years ago. He is a famous writer now living in the South of France. Zach has been carrying guilt and shame and a secret for those fifteen years, and time hasn’t healed him. His burdens have finally taken their toll, and Zach is having writer’s block because of Jack.

Jack’s friend and employee, Roberto, has been fielding phone call from Zach. Jack just doesn’t want to deal with Zach anymore, but Roberto finally convinces Jack to talk with Zach, who proposes a plan; he’ll send his private plane to pick-up Jack. Even though Jack considers not going, he gives in. Jack figures, what could he lose? He’ll just get this over with and never have to deal with Zach again.

When Zach finally tells Jack what he wants, there is a physical altercation, one that makes Jack leave Zach’s home. Jack finds his way to a café, where he meets Claudia, Zach’s sister. He explains the situation to her, and she insists that he stay at her home. Then Claudia calls and let’s Zach know where Jack is, but the question is, can Jack and Zach help each other heal old wounds, and do they want to?

This is my first time hearing Paul Morey narrate. There is depth to his voice, and it’s very pleasing to the ear. He gives a definite distinction to the characters’ voices, and emotions are clearly reflected. I especially liked the characters of Claudia and Roberto, as both were very supportive in their roles. Jenny was also a sweet little character.

Remmy Duchene’s Deliver Me was also a first for me. I liked the story and the characters. The only part I felt could have been handled differently was the fight at the high school reunion.

TNA_Signature_Maryann







 

You can buy Deliver Me here:

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3 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna

Audio Review: Not Just Friends by Jay Northcote – Narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

Title: Not Just Friends

Author: Jaye Northcote

Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 6 Hours and 47 Minutes

At a Glance: A coming of age story that doesn’t break any new ground but is an enjoyable story of self-discovery.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Leaving home to go to university is an exciting phase in anyone’s life. One that’s full of new places, new friends, and new experiences. But Lewis is not prepared for the sudden and intense crush he develops on his out-and-proud flatmate, Max—given that Lewis had always assumed he was straight. Max starts dating another guy, and Lewis’s jealousy at seeing them together forces him to confront his growing attraction.

When Max’s relationship goes awry, Lewis is the one to comfort him and one thing leads to another. But after a night together, Lewis is devastated that Max wants to go back to being just friends. Lewis tries his best to move on and their friendship survives, but the feelings he has for Max don’t go away. He faces other challenges as he deals with coming out to his parents, and needs Max’s support more than ever. But Lewis isn’t the only one who’s conflicted. When Max finally admits he cares for Lewis too, Lewis must decide whether he dares risk his heart again on being more than just friends

Dividers

Review: This is the second audiobook that I actually enjoyed listening to. Matthew Lloyd Davies made the story engaging, and he has a lovely accent. :)

Lewis has gone off to university, and he’s sharing a flat with a bunch of other guys. He is a bit wary to be out on his own, and since he is an only child, living with a bunch of other young people is also a new experience for him. The other guys in his flat seem to be fine, but then he meets Max – the last to arrive – and he is intrigued. Max is out and proud, and Lewis is a little bit stunned by this. He’s not homophobic, but he’s not totally comfortable either.

Lewis’s friendship with Max takes on a different flavor when he realizes he has a bit of a crush on Max. It forces Lewis to take a look at his past relationships – including his high school girlfriend and his best friend. But once classes start, Lewis meets some other people, including a nice girl from his course. He is friendly with her but realizes that this is not where his true interest lies.

Max is dating someone that Lewis doesn’t really care for, and he’s definitely realizing that his sexual orientation is not exactly straight. But this other guy doesn’t treat Max right, and after a weird break up/dumping, Max and Lewis spend a pretty steamy night together. Despite Lewis’s feelings becoming stronger, Max decides he doesn’t want another relationship and they should only be friends. The upside is that Lewis finally gets that he is definitely gay.

There is some angst around a developing family situation, but luckily it doesn’t have to do with Lewis’s self-discovery revelation. Lewis’s mother is a star in this story. I hope she finds happiness. :)

Lewis decides he really needs to move on to try to get over Max. He goes to the LGBT Society meeting and meets a new guy. They begin seeing each other casually, but Lewis can’t help still thinking of Max. He really still has strong feelings for Max that he wants to get over, because frankly, it hurts to see Max with other people, and he feels like he keeps getting a punch to the gut when he realizes Max doesn’t want him the same way.

As usually happens in these stories, there is a moment of clarity for Max, but the question is if Lewis is willing to risk his heart again. Luckily these guys have good and supportive friends, and, eventually, they figure out their issues. They are very cute trying to get it together, as two young guys who don’t really know what they are doing but are trying to determine that they want to try to do it together.

I really liked the narrator, and his characterizations and accent were perfect. Love British narrators for British stories. :) I would definitely listen to another book narrated by Mr. Lloyd Davies.







 

You can buy Not Just Friends here:

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Garrett Leigh, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Karen

Audio Review: Only Love by Garrett Leigh – Narrated by Michael Stillman

Title:  Only Love

Author:  Garrett Leigh

Narrator: Michael Stellman

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Run Time:  9 Hours and 5 Minutes

At a Glance:  Though some of the narrative seemed slow, this is an audio I’ll listen to again and again.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb:  The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves 32-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career. Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.

Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.

But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.

Dividers

Review:  Garrett Leigh did an awesome job with this book, showing two broken men dealing with serious conditions, outside family issues, and their pasts, but finding strength and love in each other.  When I read this book I fell completely in love with these characters, and was thrilled at the chance to hear the story come to life on audio.

When this audio first started, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. This is the first time I have listened to anything by this narrator, and by the end, I had mixed feeling about him.  I really enjoyed the character voices Michael Stellman used, especially for Jed and Max.  When the characters were speaking, the story came to life. Even now that I have finished the audio, I can still here their voices in my head when I think back on the story, and it will be those voices I hear in my head when rereading this book (because I will be rereading it often).  The issue I had with the audio is that the narrative parts of the book, when the characters weren’t speaking, seemed really slow to me and made the story drag a little bit.  Overall, though, I enjoyed the audiobook, and it will be one I will listen to it again and again.

TNA_Signature_Karen

 

 

 

You can buy Only Love here:

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Genre Romance, Jay Northcote, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

Audio Review: The Dating Game by Jay Northcote – Narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

Title: The Dating Game

Author: Jay Northcote

Narrator:: Matthew Lloyd Davies

Publisher: Jaybird Press

Run Time: 3 Hours and 6 Minutes

At a Glance: A sweet, zero-angst, simple little story about two guys figuring out that getting to know someone before hopping in the sack is all it’s cracked up to be.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Five sex-free dates. How hard can it be?
When they were at uni, Owen always had a bit of a crush on Nathan. But Nathan was apparently straight, and Owen was too busy with other guys to take his crush seriously.

When Nathan moves back to Bristol after a year away, Owen hears that Nathan has come out of the closet, and he propositions him. Nathan doesn’t want to be just another notch on Owen’s bedpost, though, so he challenges Owen to prove he can be serious: five dates before they have sex.

Owen doesn’t think that sounds too difficult. He’s expecting Nathan to find his charms irresistible anyway. But as they grow closer, Owen begins to care more about proving himself to Nathan than he does about getting him into bed.

Dividers

Review: When Owen’s old college mate Nathan moves back to town, Owen is all ready to charm his way into his pants. But, Nathan has another idea…to make Owen work for it. And, thus begins The Dating Game. Nathan is really just having a bit of a go at Owen when he challenges him to the five sexless dates; and Owen thinks that Nathan will cave well before the fifth date, so he readily accepts. Neither one expects to end up genuinely enjoying the little experiment – and, they certainly don’t expect to fall so hard for each other.

I love the British humor – which I suppose the British would simply call humor ;) – and Matthew Lloyd Davies gives listeners a wonderful narration of this lighthearted, fun story. I also have to tell you, listening to the sexy bits coming out of my car speakers in that proper British accent tickled me so much… I don’t know why the word ‘cock’ is so funny when heard in a posh accent, but my inner twelve-year-old shined through, and I couldn’t help but giggle. Silly hang-ups aside, though, there really were some great, funny scenes: In particular, the first phone sex attempt was adorable and awkward, and there was a rock-climbing date that had me smiling and chuckling at its fun sweetness.

The Dating Game is a sweet, zero-angst, simple little story about two guys figuring out that getting to know someone before hopping in the sack is all it’s cracked up to be, and that good things really do come to those who wait. The story was certainly predictable – I mean, it was no secret that they were going to go on the dates and fall in love – but, that didn’t necessarily take away from the reading/listening experience. I definitely enjoyed the audio, and would look for more titles narrated by Mr. Davies.

TNA_Signature_Jules






You can buy The Dating Game here:

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5 Stars, Andrew Grey, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Maryann

Audio Review: Upside Down by Andrew Grey – Narrated by John Solo

Title: Upside Down (Bronco’s Boys: Book Two)

Author: Andrew Grey

Narrator:: John Solo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 Hours and 47 Minutes

At a Glance: Another exciting book in the Bronco’s Boys series, and John Solo does a really good job on the narration.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Lowell Cartwright’s life as a mercenary problem solver has taken its toll, and after one more difficult job, he wants out. For help, he turns to Bull, a soldier of fortune turned club owner—not exactly a friend, but the best chance Lowell has. He visits Bull’s club to scope it out and meets Jeremy Hodgson. The twink captures his attention in a big way. Bull tells Lowell to stay away from the club until he decides whether he can help, so Lowell stays in town. When he spots Jeremy passed out on the floor of a convenience store, he goes to Jeremy’s aid.

Lowell piques Jeremy’s interest immediately, pushing all the right buttons. Then, when Jeremy needs help, Lowell’s kindness turns interest into something more.

But trouble comes knocking when Jeremy’s place is bugged. Maybe Lowell’s past is catching up to him, or maybe the danger centers on Jeremy’s roommate Tristan’s mysterious boyfriend. Whatever the source of the problem, the future Lowell and Jeremy hope for doesn’t stand a chance unless they can find a way to protect themselves.

Dividers

Review: Lowell “Spook” Cartwright is a mercenary and a master at creating different identities. He’s a gun for hire but is getting tired of the dangerous business he’s in, and he wants out. He has just returned from an assignment that didn’t go so smooth, and now he has to go on the run when his location is compromised. What he needs is advice and a vacation.

Jeremy Hodgson works as a software developer and his hobby is collecting comic books, but he has hopes to be a game designer one day. He’s feeling down because he sees his friends with boyfriends, and he hasn’t even had a date in six months. To try and let his worries go, he and his friend Tristan head for the dance floor at Bull’s, where Jeremy ends up dancing with a mysterious stranger. When Bull overhears Jeremy saying the guy was like an illusion, Bull comes up with an idea how to find out who the guy is. As it turns out, Spook is a man from Bull’s past, the man who’d tried to take Bull’s life, and when Bull confronts him, Spook explains that all he needs is help getting out of the mercenary business. When Jeremy overhears what Spook has said, he doesn’t know what to think, which leads to all sorts of questions to be answered, not the least of which is, will Jeremy still want Spook if he discover the truth about Spook’s job.

Andrew Grey’s Upside Down is another exciting book in the Bronco’s Boys series, and John Solo does a really good job on this narration, offering just the right amount of emotion to the story, with each of the characters having distinct voices. I really like the idea of Zach, Jeremy, Tristan and Kevin’s friendship, and how supportive they are with each other, and you can’t forget Bull—he’s just a big teddy bear. They all remain energetic, fun, and always caring characters.

TNA_Signature_Maryann






You can buy Upside Down here:

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4 Stars, Andrew Grey, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Maryann

Audiobook Review: Fire and Water by Andrew Grey – Narrated by Randy Fuller

Title: Fire and Water (Carlisle Cops: Book One)

Author: Andrew Grey

Narrator:: Randy Fuller

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 6 Hours, 33 Minutes

At a Glance: Fire and Water was a very good book, and I thought the narration by Randy Fuller was also very good.

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Officer Red Markham knows about the ugly side of life after a car accident left him scarred and his parents dead. His job policing the streets of Carlisle, PA, only adds to the ugliness, and lately, drug overdoses have been on the rise. One afternoon, Red is dispatched to the local Y for a drowning accident involving a child. Arriving on site, he finds the boy rescued by lifeguard Terry Baumgartner. Of course, Red isn’t surprised when gorgeous Terry won’t give him and his ugly mug the time of day.

Overhearing one of the officer’s comments about him being shallow opens Terry’s eyes. Maybe he isn’t as kindhearted as he always thought. His friend Julie suggests he help those less fortunate by delivering food to the elderly. On his route he meets outspoken Margie, a woman who says what’s on her mind. Turns out, she’s Officer Red’s aunt.

Red and Terry’s worlds collide as Red tries to track the source of the drugs and protect Terry from an ex-boyfriend who won’t take no for an answer. Together they might discover a chance for more than they expected—if they can see beyond what’s on the surface.

Dividers

Review: Redmond “Red” Markum is a police officer in Carlisle, where a bad drug is taking over the streets. Even though Red is courageous, kind and performs his job well, people are still afraid of him. When Red was younger, he was in a car accident that took his parents’ lives and left him scarred and disfigured. He tries not to let it bother him, but he has heard all the remarks and seen all the looks and still feels very self-conscious.

Terry Baumgartner is a young man who gave up a dream of being an Olympic swimmer. Terry let his good looks go to his head. His ex-boyfriend, James, has money and gave Terry anything he wanted. But James was always in control and took Terry away from his friends and his dreams.

After Red has dealt with one drug case, he gets another call about an incident at the Y. That’s where he first meets Terry, a lifeguard there. Red can’t help noticing how perfect the young man in the small red bathing suit is. Once Red has gotten the Y incident under control, he hears a remark that Terry makes to Julie, a co-lifeguard. Arthur, a paramedic who was called to the scene, also overhears Terry’s remark. He tells Red not to listen to them and invites Red to dinner at the Hanover Grill. It’s there that Red sees Terry again, and it’s there that Terry receives a bit of advice that will change the course of this story.

The next evening, Terry and Julie go to Lavelle’s, where they pick up meals to deliver to deliver to shut-ins. The deliveries go well for Terry, but at the last one, he is surprised when Red opens the door. Red is visiting with his Aunt Margie, the one who took him in after his parents’ death. When Terry shows up at her door, Red isn’t willing to let Terry in. Aunt Margie, however, smoothes things over and invites Terry to stay for dinner. When Terry gets a call on his cell phone, Red and Aunt Margie notice how frightened Terry looks, and then he makes a hasty retreat. Aunt Margie encourages Red to go after Terry to make sure he is all right. What will Red discover when he finds Terry? Will the mystery of the drug problem get resolved? Can Red and Terry both overcome their issues?

Fire and Water was a very good book, and I thought the narration by Randy Fuller was also very good. I could tell the difference between characters and their tones of voice. Fuller did a great job of narrating the various emotions. I read along with the audio and found some slight changes to the wording, which was all for the better. It made the characters’ manner of speaking a little more believable.

I would recommend giving Fire and Water a listen.

TNA_Signature_Maryann






You can buy Fire and Water here:

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3.5 Stars, Anna Martin, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 4 Stars, Reviewed by Jules

Audio Review: Summer Son by Anna Martin – Narrated by R.L. Davis

Title: Summer Son

Author: Anna Martin

Narrator:: R.L. Nelson

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 5 Hours, 51 Minutes

At a Glance: If you’re looking for a sweet, easygoing story, and don’t mind a bit of insta-love, then definitely give this one a listen.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Ellis Broad never imagined he would end up a single father before he turned twenty-nine. Then again, most of his expectations for the future evaporated when his husband of three years filed for divorce, leaving Ellis as their six-month-old son Harrison’s only parent. After the divorce Ellis hides, working from home on his small graphic design business so he can be a full-time dad. He succeeds until Zane Hadlin stumbles into his life.

Zane is everything Ellis desires and everything he fears at the same time. A former gang member from the wrong side of the tracks, Zane turned his life around after his older brother was killed in a shooting. Now an artist, Zane shows Ellis a path back into the world and all he’s been missing out on.

The only problem is, Ellis’s ex-husband hasn’t quite gone for good, and his digging into Zane’s past could drag up secrets no one is prepared to deal with.

Dividers

Review: I have to say right off the bat that I’m a big fan of Anna Martin’s books, and typically a huge fan of family stories. This should have been right up my alley. But, for a few reasons, Summer Son was hit and miss for me.

The main character, Ellis, is a single dad who has found himself in a day-to-day rut of caring for his six-month-old baby, Harrison, and working from home. If he’s not spending late nights up with Harrison, then he’s burning the midnight oil, finishing up some design project or other, and has basically given up on the idea of a happily ever after for himself. He’s wrong, of course, and his shot at happiness appears in the form of Zane Hadlin, whom Ellis meets on a very rare night out with friends. Zane is adorable, and the two of them together are very sweet. And, Zane with Harrison? Fuhgeddaboutit. I swooned so hard in chapter five, when Zane shows up in the middle of the night and helps Ellis with a sick Harrison, and then feeds and takes care of him in the morning so Ellis can sleep. Cute factor, off the charts.

I initially enjoyed the story and the narration. As far as I can tell, this is the first audiobook done by R.L. Davis, and overall, he does a very good job. I’ve discovered that I’m extremely picky about my narrators. I can’t tell you how many times I have started listening to a book, then turned it off within two chapters. That wasn’t the case here at all, though. Davis’s performance is, as I said, quite good. His voice is nice and lends well to the characters. He does a great job with a couple of the female characters; I particularly enjoyed what he does with Ellis’s attorney! I even stopped and made notes a couple of times while listening, that I could hear the smile in his voice and other little things that I liked. For the most part, his reading was solid.

There is a big glitch with the production, however, at the end of chapter 4 (the contents lists it as chapter 5, because they have the Audible intro as chapter 1). The audio cuts off about 10 pages at the end of the chapter, so you lose a whole section where Zane works/plays with Harrison at the art center, as well as a bit of insight into Zane and his career goals, and how he is with kids. Luckily a friend was able to loan me the book so I could see if my suspicion about the problem was correct, as the chapter ended so abruptly that I thought something had to be off. I read those pages for myself, but that was a bummer.

Things move along with the guys; they become close very quickly and decide to move in together. Ellis’s ex-husband, Oliver, is a giant prick, and tries to cause trouble with Ellis due to some unexplained prejudice he has against Zane. It is initially made out in the book to be a much bigger deal than Oliver just not wanting someone else to have Ellis, but that’s really all it turns out to be. I definitely felt like there was a lot of drama just for drama’s sake. Things with Zane and Ellis also moved much too quickly to be believable, and much of the ending seemed very contrived.

That being said, there were also a lot of things that I liked about the story. I loved the tight-knit community of friends and family that Ellis and Zane are a part of, and how they always have each other’s backs. I have a group like that myself, and there are times that I couldn’t have made it without them. Also, Zane as a younger guy with an old soul really worked for me. He had been through a lot in his life, and it was easy to imagine that he was pretty clear on what he wanted out of a relationship and for his future. I liked how driven he was. And, I loved the parts of the story where it was so obvious how much Ellis completely adored his son. Even though he didn’t choose to be a single parent, and things were tough, Anna Martin makes it clear that Harrison is Ellis’s world.

If you’re looking for a sweet, easygoing story, and don’t mind a bit of insta-love, then definitely give this one a listen. I think you’ll enjoy it.

TNA_Signature_Jules






You can buy Summer Son here:

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