4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Narration Rating - 4.5 Stars, Reviewed by Lisa, Tara Lain

Audio Review: Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain – Narrated by K.C. Kelly

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Amazon US

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Title: Knight of Ocean Avenue (A Love in Laguna Novel)

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator:: K.C. Kelly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 9 Hours and 33 Minutes

At a Glance: K.C. Kelly delivers a knock-out performance of Knight of Ocean Avenue.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: How can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor’s license he so desires, and fear of his mother’s judgment blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz—Chase Phillips—a rising-star celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted—stalwart, honest, brave—but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?

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Review: As a general rule, I don’t listen to audiobooks, and I think each of us, to a reader, will acknowledge that we can read just fine all by ourselves, so when I choose to listen to a book, the last thing I want is to be read to. I want to be performed for—I want the narrator to use inflection and to vary his cadence and to show his acting prowess by bringing each character to life through the vocal gymnastics it takes to make every role player unique and distinct.

Well, let me just say that K.C. Kelly mastered Tara Lain’s Knight of Ocean Avenue, elevating this novel to something so much more than a simple romance.

First off, I believe it helps that this story is so damn lovely that it’d have been a complete shame to hand this performance off to someone with lesser talents than Kelly so obviously possesses. Can a twenty-five year old man not know he’s gay? I don’t know if I can give that an unequivocal yes, but Ms. Lain and Mr. Kelly sure made me believe it was possible. First of all, Billy Ballew (whose last name, I must confess, did, unfortunately, go through a couple of different pronunciations throughout the narration) is a great big loveable, beautiful man. Billy may be a blue collar diamond-in-the-rough, but the guy’s got a heart of gold as well as a sterling reputation with the men he supervises on his construction crew. K.C. Kelly endears Billy to us by helping us understand, through the author’s prose, what an upstanding good guy our romantic hero is—in spite of the fact he also will be the first to point out all of his own failings, the biggest of which plays part in his not taking the test to get his contractor’s license. And, as we continue to listen to Billy’s inner dialogue, we witness the slow realization that his relationships with women haven’t failed for lack of good intentions but have failed in a lack of enthusiasm for being with a woman. Billy, simply put, is so busy trying to live up to his mother’s expectations of him as a straight man that he’s only succeeding in living down to all that wasted potential.

That all changes, however, as Billy’s going through his latest breakup, and, just as his bruised and battered self-esteem is busy warring with his confusion over why he can’t keep a woman, he ends up coming to the rescue of Chase “Shaz” Phillips. And, comes face-to-face with his destiny.

As a flamboyant designer, K.C. Kelly brings Shaz to life in all his fabulous fabulousness, and he’s the perfect foil to Billy’s physical masculinity. Shaz is out and proud and shines in all his gay glory, while Billy can’t figure out why the hell he’s drawn to the gorgeous Shaz like a magnet to steel. Once it dawns on him that he’s actually attracted to Shaz in a sexual way, and we see that Shaz is equally enamored of the fashionally challenged and straight Billy, we watch (or listen, rather) as Billy wars with the knowledge that Shaz’s flamboyance may be an obstacle to any sort of relationship—even a friendship—because Billy can’t see himself in any sort of scenario in which he’d fit into Shaz’s world or Shaz would fit into his. Which goes a long way to grabbing us by the heart and gives the story its emotional punch.

Filled with a great cast of supporting characters, from Ru, Shaz’s best friend and business partner (who sounds like a cross between Truman Capote and Droopy Dog, which made me smile), to Billy’s sisters (who I loved), to Billy’s co-workers, Knight of Ocean Avenue is such a pleasure to listen to. Even the urge to dislike Billy’s mom is tempered by our understanding that she truly only wants what’s best for her boy, and thought she was bulldozing him toward happiness when in truth she was making him miserable. But, where the rubber meets the road, she proves that what’s best for her son is her unconditional love for and support of him.

There’s nothing sweeter than a well written romance, unless it’s a sweet and well written romance being narrated by a talented voice actor. Which K.C. Kelly is, in abundance. He delivers this story to his listeners with such a deft voice, bringing Billy and Shaz to life, helping us feel how grateful these two men are to have found each other, that he almost makes us forget he’s reading Tara Lain’s words.

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You can buy Knight of Ocean Avenue here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Kim Fielding, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: The Tin Box by Kim Fielding – Narrated by K.C. Kelly

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Title: The Tin Box

Author: Kim Fielding

Narrator:: K.C. Kelly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 26 Minutes

At a Glance: Kim Fielding has delivered an outstanding story well worth reading, and K.C. Kelly delivers an excellent performance of The Tin Box!

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: William Lyon’s past forced him to become someone he isn’t. Conflicted and unable to maintain the charade, he separates from his wife and takes a job as caretaker at a former mental hospital. Jelley’s Valley State Insane Asylum was the largest mental hospital in California for well over a century, but it now stands empty. William thinks the decrepit institution is the perfect place to finish his dissertation and wait for his divorce to become final. In town, William meets Colby Anderson, who minds the local store and post office. Unlike William, Colby is cute, upbeat, and flamboyantly out. Although initially put off by Colby’s mannerisms, William comes to value their new friendship, and even accepts Colby’s offer to ease him into the world of gay sex.

William’s self-image begins to change when he discovers a tin box, hidden in an asylum wall since the 1940s. It contains letters secretly written by Bill, a patient who was sent to the asylum for being homosexual. The letters hit close to home, and William comes to care about Bill and his fate. With Colby’s help, he hopes the words written seventy years ago will give him courage to be his true self.

Dividers

Review: Lynn wrote such a lovely review of The Tin Box two years ago that I knew eventually I would have to break down and read it. It’s been sitting on my TBR shelf forever, but lo and behold, it came out in audiobook too! For me, it’s so much better when a story is read to me. Especially if it has content in it that might disturb me, angst filled parts that I would normally skim over and miss something important because I can’t take it anymore. Audiobooks force me to slow down and really get the full impact of a story.

I’m a bit biased when it comes to mental asylums, since I’ve had a family member who’s been in and out of them since he was seventeen. He’s now sixty-two and is residing in one, in their dementia and brain trauma unit. Mental hospitals have come a long way since I first visited him in one when I was eleven years old, and yes, there are some abuses that still occur with patients if family or advocates are not on their toes and looking out for them.

I was so impressed by the way William used Bill’s letters to motivate him into leaving his comfort zone and become more confidant as a gay man. Colby was such a tease as he flirted with William, and I loved how these two interacted with each other. I felt the emotion in Bill’s voice as K.C. Kelly read Bill’s letters and related all the abuses he’ suffered through. Some, but not all, of the description of the asylum brought back some pretty painful and sad memories as a kid visiting one of those places. As you can probably tell, Bill kind of holds a special spot in my heart, as well as all the others who have been placed voluntarily, or involuntarily, in mental hospitals. So many are left in these places and then forgotten.

Kim Fielding has delivered an outstanding story well worth reading, and K.C. Kelly delivers an excellent performance of The Tin Box! Once again he did a wonderful job with all the characters’ voices.

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You can buy The Tin Box here:

Audible.com

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Kim Fielding, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Housekeeping by Kim Fielding – Narrated by K.C. Kelly

Title: Housekeeping

Author: Kim Fielding

Narrator:: K.C. Kelly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours, 42 Minutes

At a Glance: Even if I’m reluctant to try an audiobook, knowing Kelly’s work through previous experience is a sure bet I won’t be disappointed in the narration.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: When Nicky Hauser walks in on his restaurant-owner boyfriend having sex with a waiter, Nicky loses his lover, his job, and his home all in one night. Although he’s nearly thirty, he’s never settled on a true career, and he has nothing to show for his years with Tom. Depressed and unable to find work, Nicky ends up couch-surfing with friends until he lands a house-sitting gig for a wealthy family.

When Nicky’s clients discover that he loves to clean, demand for his services skyrockets. Word of mouth leads him to Spencer Cartwright, a busy computer consultant and a slob. Spencer and his wife divorced when he came out, but he’s never found the time or courage to settle down with a man. As Nicky sets Spencer’s house to rights, the two men find friendship. But Nicky’s past experiences make him wary of risking everything on love.

Dividers

Review: Since there’s an ebook review of Housekeeping done by our very own sweet Jackie, and she wrote such a wonderful review, I decided to try the audible version of Housekeeping instead of only reading the ebook. Not to mention Kim Fielding is fast becoming an auto-buy author for me. I just love the stories I’ve listen to or read by her so far. She has a writing style that grabs you from the first page on, and I found that Housekeeping is a romance I enjoyed listening too.

Nicky is someone I would absolutely love to come live with me—a man who loves to clean…need I say more? I just thought it was a shame his previous boyfriend was such a sleaze.

As for Spencer, he’s cute in his own way, even if he is a slob, and I was so tickled pink when I found out that this was no rushed romance. These two MCs take their time getting to know each other, and I love a story that allows the couple interaction and getting to know each other instead of the WHAM BAM, now we’re in love version of romance.

Another plus for Housekeeping is K.C. Kelly, who is one of my favorite narrators. Even if I’m reluctant to try an audiobook, knowing Kelly’s work through previous experience is a sure bet I won’t be disappointed in the narration. I love that he throws something called emotion into his narrating without overdoing it, and he’s got a voice that sure as heck doesn’t put me to sleep, which is not good, especially while I’m driving.

So, I would recommend this audiobook or the ebook version of Housekeeping to anyone who loves a sweet, getting-to-know-you romance. I would do a re-listen just for the fact that Nicky is my fantasy man when it comes to cleaning. My toes are curling on this one since I’m a little OCD myself.






You can buy Housekeeping here:

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Frog by Mary Calmes – Narrated by K.C. Kelly

Title: Frog

Author: Mary Calmes

Narrator:: K.C. Kelly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 5 Hours, 23 Minutes

At a Glance: Worth listening to over and over again

Blurb: Weber Yates’s dreams of stardom are about to be reduced to a ranch hand’s job in Texas, and his one relationship is with a guy so far out of his league he might as well be on the moon. Or at least in San Francisco, where Weber stops to see him one last time before settling down to the humble, lonely life he figures a frog like him has coming. Cyrus Benning is a successful neurosurgeon, so details are never lost on him. He spotted the prince in a broken-down bull rider’s clothing from day one. But watching Weber walk out on him keeps getting harder, and he’s not sure how much more his heart can take. Now Cyrus has one last chance to prove to Weber that it’s not Weber’s job that makes him Cyrus’s perfect man, it’s Weber himself. With the help of his sister’s newly broken family, he’s ready to show Weber that the home the man’s been searching for has always been right there, with him. Cyrus might have laid down an ultimatum once, but now it’s turned into a vow-he’s never going to let Weber out of his life again.

Dividers

Review: Omg, I just can’t get enough of Frog by Mary Calmes! I read it a couple of years ago and had a tough time letting it go then. For me, it’s the type of story that sucks you in immediately and doesn’t let go of you, even long after you’ve finished the last page. The audio version of this book did more than meet my expectations, and I swear this is K.C. Kelly’s best performance yet. Listening to Weber’s sexy drawl had me riveted throughout the narrative, and I could understand why Cyrus loved this man so much. What a way to start a long, boring commute! It was such an enjoyable experience. That I ended up, once I finished the audio, rereading the e-book again. What a hangover!

There is one thing I would highly recommend for those that may be reluctant to try Frog in e-book or audio, and that is to go directly to Lisa’s earlier review of the book. It’s an awesome review and describes perfectly what this story is about.

Thank you Mary Calmes and Dreamspinner for an outstanding audio. Frog is worth listening to over and over again for this audiobook listener.






You can buy Frog here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, J.D. Ruskin, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: When One Door Opens by J.D. Ruskin – Narrated by K.C. Kelly

Title: When One Door Opens

Author: J.D. Ruskin

Narrator:: K.C. Kelly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 8 Hours, 50 Minutes

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Logan Sellers’s parole officer has issued three commandments: stay sober, stay employed, and stay out of trouble. At first Logan thought those three simple rules would be easy to follow. But that was before he accepted a side job assisting his boss’s housebound agoraphobic nephew, Caleb. Continue reading

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2 Stars, Andrew Grey, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Kathie

Audio Review: Snowbound in Nowhere by Andrew Grey – Narration by K.C. Kelly

Title: Snowbound in Nowhere

Author: Andrew Grey

Narrator:: K.C. Kelly

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 hours, 1 minute

Rating: 2 Stars – Plot/3 Stars – Narration

Blurb: When a funeral calls his friend Martin away, sunbelt resident Chris is left alone in Martin’s cabin in the dead of winter – and in a blizzard to boot. When the power goes out, Chris thinks he’s going to freeze to death. Luckily, Horace drops in to check on him – and then runs out after a few kisses, leaving Chris upset and feeling used. Horace does come back with explanations, but is their time together keeping each other warm enough for them see they belong together? Or are these sudden emotions the product of being snowbound? Continue reading

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