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

Audio Review: The Mating of Michael by Eli Easton

Audio Gem

Title: The Mating of Michael

Author: Eli Easton

Narrator:: Michael Stellman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 55 Minutes

At a Glance: The book and audio are hot, the characters are well developed, and the narration is spot on. I recommend it heartily.

Reviewed By: Kathie

Blurb: Everyone admires Michael Lamont for being a nurse, but his part-time work as a gay sex surrogate not only raises eyebrows, it’s cost him relationships. Michael is small, beautiful, and dedicated to working with people who need him. But what he really wants is a love of his own. He spends most of his time reading science fiction, especially books written by his favorite author and long-time crush, the mysteriously reclusive J.C. Guise.

James Gallway’s life is slowly but inexorably sliding downhill. He wrote a best-selling science fiction novel at the tender age of 18, while bedridden with complications of polio. But by 28, he’s lost his inspiration and his will to live. His sales from his J.C. Guise books have been in decline for years. Wheelchair bound, James has isolated himself, convinced he is unlovable. When he is forced to do a book signing and meets Michael Lamont, he can’t believe a guy who looks like Michael could be interested in a man like him.

Michael and James are made for each other. But they must let go of stubbornness to see that life finds a way and love has no limitations.

Dividers

Review: The Mating of Michael is a great book and a phenomenal audiobook, and I connected with so many of its characters. I felt the pain and anguish when James cried out, “Momma, my legs don’t work.” I could “live” his sense of frustration at having to depend on others in the care facilities his Mom placed him in. I found myself celebrating his feelings of accomplishment as he built a life that depended on no one but himself. Control over our own lives is a powerful feeling. A skilled storyteller does that for their readers, allows us to “live vicariously” through their characters.

Michael has the strong desire to care for others. While doing his internship at a VA Hospital, he came to realize that patients need the human touch, not in a clinical way. The turning point for Michael was a patient at the VA, a gay man who’d lost a leg and suffered from PTSD. Michael instinctively knew that this man, needed to be reminded “that being alive meant the possibility of great pleasure, not just pain.”

After Nursing school, Michael became a certified sex surrogate, working for Expanded Horizons Clinic. He also worked for a company called Happy at Home, caring for patients who want to be home but need extra care to stay there. Eli Easton introduces us to one of Michael’s patients, Marnie, the eighty-nine-years young, former burlesque dancer. Listening in as Michael is painting Marnie’s fingernails a flaming red—“Red lips and red nails, cock you hip, it never fails.”—is Marnie’s secret to how she attracted the men. What a hoot she was. She never failed to make me smile.

Eli Easton made the characters come alive, from descriptions of what they looked like to the reactions they had to rejection and attraction. I loved following Michael and James’s journey of new love, broken hearts, powerful and detailed lovemaking (thank you for that), and a happy ending. Oh, how I love a happy ending. But not just any happy ending! A happily-ever-after where I have been fully drawn into a story by a writer, and a story that has that AW! factor.

Michael Stellman gifts to this audio was his uncanny ability to develop and portray all the characters of this story, giving each one a unique voice and a personality. His performance of The Mating of Michael adds to the story, brings the character to life, and above all, complements Eli Easton’s talent as a storyteller. The book and audio are hot, the characters are well developed, and the narration is spot on. I recommend it heartily. Don’t miss it!

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You can buy The Mating of Michael here:

Audible.com

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, J.H. Knight, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Sadonna

Audio Review: The Last Thing He Needs by J.H. Knight – Narrated by Michael Stellman

Audio Gem

Title: The Last Thing He Needs

Author: J.H. Knight

Narrator: Michael Stellman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 22 Minutes

At a Glance: This is an angst filled read of a dysfunctional family, with the eldest son trying to hold things together by himself for so long that he has trouble recognizing when and from whom he should accept help.

Reviewed By: Sadonna

Blurb: Tommy O’Shea is raising his seven younger brothers and sisters without any help from his drug abusing father and stepmother. Since he was fifteen years old, he’s managed to keep the children fed and out of foster care. It takes up every ounce of his energy and the last thing he needs is romance complicating his life further.

Rookie cop Bobby McAlister doesn’t belong in Tommy’s harsh world, but Tommy can’t push him out. As their unlikely friendship turns into a tentative relationship, they weather the daily storm of Tommy’s life with a lot of laughs and more than a few arguments.

Tommy isn’t used to trusting outsiders, and he’s never asked for help in his life. But when a tragedy strikes the O’Shea family and threatens everything he’s fought for, he’ll have to learn to do both to recover from the brutal hit.

Dividers

Review: Finally! An audiobook I enjoyed! The Last Thing He Needs has convinced me that, with audiobooks, the narrator makes the story. After two misses, this one is a hit.

Tommy O’Shea’s life is crappy on his very best day. His mother died when he was young, and his father chose again, unwisely, and his stepmother is a drunk/junkie as well. He has shouldered the responsibility of his younger siblings, really, since was fifteen. At twenty-two, he just keeps trying to keep it all together. There are seven other O’Shea children – from Colleen, who is seventeen, down to twins Zoe and Max, who are still babies. In between are Mikey, Collin, Davey, and Carrie. Each of them is dealing with the family drama in their own way.

When Colleen calls Tommy to tell him that the babies are sick and crying, he needs to get them medicine, but he doesn’t have the money. He thinks he’ll lift them from a convenience store, but he’s thwarted by a cop he knows, and who knows him and his family situation. Although he’s not happy about Bobby butting in to his life, he is desperate to get home to the sick kids and solve the current crisis.

When Bobby starts hanging around more, and then they meet in a very unexpected venue, Bobby and Tommy become more than friends. Bobby get a little bit pushy in what Tommy sees as “interfering” in his life and his family troubles, but Tommy is beginning to feel something for Bobby, and he doesn’t want him to leave either.

As you might expect in a family with this much crap going on, there are always the potential threats from the mostly absent parents—who can show up at any time and wreak havoc on the tenuous peace, interference from Child Protective Services, or the kids themselves, who are growing up way too fast. Bobby and Tommy generally work together when these things come up, but Tommy continues to have a hard time accepting help, and he definitely feels like Bobby can do better.

The kickass character of the piece, though, is Bobby’s mother Judy. Once she gets involved in the O’Shea family, nothing will ever be the same. She is a formidable opponent, and Tommy has a feeling he will never gain back the control he once had. He would be right. :)

Of course, there are a number of crises that occur – both for Bobby and for Tommy. There are some pretty serious issues in their relationship that have to be resolved, or they won’t have any future – even as friends – if they can’t get past them. When things come to a head, Tommy and Bobby will both have to fight for what they have together, and it will affect the entire O’Shea family. These guys have to work really hard for their happy ending.

I’m so happy I finally liked an audiobook. Michael Stellman really brought life to this story. His characterizations were spot on – nothing over the top. His Tommy and Bobby were perfect in both the tone and delivery. His voice really kept me engaged in the story. I definitely will get another book that features this narrator. So far, my favorite of the audiobooks I’ve listened to.







 

You can buy The Last Thing He Needs here:

Audible.com

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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.

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You can buy Only Love here:

All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Eli Easton, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: A Prairie Dog’s Love Song by Eli Easton – Narrated by Michael Stellman

Title: A Prairie Dog’s Love Song

Author: Eli Easton

Narrator:: Michael Stellman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 2 Hours, 5 Minutes

At a Glance: If you loved the book, then you’re in for a treat with the audio version.

Blurb: Ben Rivers always was a showman. He won awards in 4-H and rodeo competitions from the time he could walk, and he’s happiest in the spotlight. So when he got the chance to be a star—in porn—he took it. He still loves Montana and everything about being a cowboy, but when news of his alternate identity leaks out, he figures he’s lost the town’s goodwill forever. Clyde’s Corner would never accept an openly gay cowboy, even a hometown boy born and bred.

Joshua Braintree always had the notion that he and his best friend’s kid brother, Ben, would end up together. Ben’s always been a diehard cowboy, just like him: they need the land and its freedom as much as they need air. So when Joshua learns Ben moved away from their small Montana town to be a porn star in Vegas, he can hardly believe it. He’s determined to finally declare himself and bring Ben home.

Despite his longtime crush on Joshua, Ben won’t be as easy to tame as Joshua’s “lost cause” horses. It will take a lot of heart and holiday spirit for Joshua to convince Ben that even old prairie dogs can learn new tricks in the name of love.

Dividers

Review: Our very own Jackie did an awesome review of A Prairie Dog’s Love Song over a year ago, and I was so impressed by it that I immediately went out and got my own e-copy of the book. I simply adore Eli Easton’s stories a majority of the time, but this one didn’t hit me like her other Christmas stories. For me, it didn’t work because I really love to see my characters intermingle with each other throughout the book. I had mixed feelings because I love to see the good, the bad, and the truly ugly when two people start to admit their feelings. In A Prairie Dog’s Love Song the two characters, Joshua and Ben, are together briefly at the beginning and a little bit towards the end. Mostly the story was about Joshua coming to grips with going public about his sexuality. Which is fine. Like I said, my problem was more in missing a connection with both characters.

Now, I know mood can sometimes affect a story, so when I saw that this book had come out on audio I thought to myself, what am awesome way to give a story a second chance. Believe me when I say this: I’ve changed my mind about A Prairie Dog’s Love Song thanks to the change in perspective I’ve been given. By listening to the story, and it being given a different voice, it was a heck of an improvement over the voice I’d given it in my imagination. I got more out of A Prairie Dog’s Love Song than when I read it, so it’s moved up a notch in my opinion, and I can finally agree with Jackie’s review.

Michael Stellman has become one of my many favorite narrators, and I can’t seem to get enough of him. I love how he brought A Prairie Dog’s Love Song to life, and even though the characters didn’t mingle that much together, at least I got to know them better individually through Michael’s narration.

If you’re like me and didn’t like the book, you may want to give the audiobook a chance. It sure changed my original opinion. If you loved the book, then you’re in for a treat with the audio version.






You can buy A Prairie Dog’s Love Song here:

Audible.com

Audible.com

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