5 Stars, Amy Lane, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Fairy Tale/Mythology/Folk Lore, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim

Audio Review: Truth in the Dark by Amy Lane – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

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Title: Truth in the Dark

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator:: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 4 Hours and 40 Minutes

At a Glance: Truth in the Dark is a fantastic fairy tale, and I loved how this one ended.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: “I am not beautiful…”

Knife’s entire existence has been as twisted as his flesh and his face. The only thing beautiful in his life is his sister. When Gwennie is obliged to turn a suitor down because she fears to leave her brother to the brutality of their village, Knife is desperate for anything to ensure her happiness.

Her suitor’s cousin offers him a way out, but it won’t be easy. Aerie-Smith has been cursed to walk upright in the form of a beast, and his beloved village suffers from the same spell. Aerie-Smith offers Gwen a trousseau and some hope, if only Knife will keep him company on his island for the span of a year and perform one “regrettable task” at year’s end.

Knife is unprepared for the form the island’s curse takes on his own misshapen body. In one moment of magic, he is given the body of his dreams—and he discovers that where flesh meets spirit and appearance meet reality; sometimes the only place to find truth is in the darkness of a lover’s arms.

Dividers

Review: Truth in the Dark was actually the very first book I ever read by Amy Lane. I started off with a sample and before I knew it, I was downloading the rest of the story on my Kindle, and I haven’t missed one of her stories since, so when I saw that the book had finally made it to audio, my reaction was…MINE! And wow! It did more than meet my expectations as one of my all time favorite stories.

Nick J. Russo is a fairly new-to-me narrator, but Dreamspinner Press and Amy Lane picked a winner for narrating this novel. Russo did an amazing job of bringing Naef (aka Knife) to life. I could actually close my eyes and picture everything in my mind’s eyes as Russo narrated the story. I could feel Naef’s bitterness for the curveball life had thrown at him; yet knowing that deep down in his soul lay a beautiful person that only a beast could see. I could also sense the burden that Aerie-Smith carried inside him over one selfish act that affected not only him but his people as well.

Truth in the Dark is a fantastic fairy tale, and I loved how this one ended. And, it’s a highly recommended listen, a novel I would gladly listen to again and again. If you can’t listen to it, read it!

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5 Stars, Audio Book, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, K.C. Wells, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Reviewed By JJ

Audio Review: Damian’s Discipline by K.C. Wells – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

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Title: Damian’s Discipline (Collars and Cuffs: Book Five)

Author: K.C. Wells

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 14 Minutes

At a Glance: I recommend Damian’s Discipline to fans of M/M Romance who appreciate the D/S lifestyle.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: The man who pimped Jeff may be in prison, but Jeff is still living the nightmare, selling himself to men and relying on pills to manage. Then he meets Scott, a young American man who could easily have been where Jeff is now. Scott’s friends extend a helping hand to Jeff, and he grabs it.

Leo and Thomas bring Jeff to stay with Dom Damian Barnett until they can find him someplace more long-term. Still grieving from losing his sub to cancer two years before, Damian agrees to help. But when he glimpses the extent of the damage, Damian wants to do more than offer his guestroom. Jeff is not a submissive, but Damian can see he desperately needs structure in his life. It’s up to Damian to find an answer.

He never expects that what he discovers will change both their lives. 

Dividers

Review: Jeff is another boy who was abused and pimped out by Curtis Rogers. After Curtis’s arrest, Jeff ended up on the streets as a rent boy. When Leo and Thomas learn about Jeff, they get him to stay with Damian, a Dom who loves to nurture. Though Jeff isn’t particularly submissive and has a deep seeded mistrust for Doms, Damian is able to get Jeff to accept his protection. Damian also gives him the opportunity to make something more of himself. Despite Damian’s influence, Jeff struggles with an addiction to pills which he uses in order to cope with what happened to him. Their time together is not easy, but they end up developing an attraction for one another.

I really loved this book. Jeff has some serious trust issues, but he lets Damian take care of him and even gives up some control. Though the book is mostly outside the realm of BDSM when it comes to sex, it still was an amazing read. I liked that Damian was willing to give up his D/s lifestyle in order to be with Jeff, and it was especially nice that he wasn’t forced to do so. The ending of Damian’s Discipline was a pleasant surprise, with some guest appearances from other books coming together in an emotional finality of sorts.

I recommend Damian’s Discipline to fans of M/M Romance who appreciate the D/S lifestyle.

Narration: The audio performance of this book was excellent. I almost forgot that this was an audiobook since I wasn’t pulled away from the story even once.

As a side note, this book can be read as a standalone, but due to the multiple tie-ins from previous book in the series, I recommend reading books 1-4 prior to reading this one. Additionally, book 6 starts at the exact point where this one leaves off.

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4.5 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, K.C. Burn, Narration Rating - 4.5 Stars, Reviewed By JJ

Audio Review: A Dance with Domination by K.C. Wells – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

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Title: A Dance with Domination (Collars and Cuffs: Book Four)

Author: K.C. Wells

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Run Time: 7 Hours and 12 Minutes

At a Glance: I really enjoyed the audio performance on this book. Nick J. Russo is very talented when it comes to making a separate voice for each character.

Reviewed By: Johanis

Blurb: Recently returned to the UK after living in the States since he was eleven, Andrew Barrett is determined to keep busy and make a new life for himself. He works full time as a copywriter and strips at a club on Canal Street on weekends. But it still leaves him too much time to think. Then he finds the BDSM club, Collars & Cuffs, where at twenty-nine, he is their youngest Dom. Young doesn’t mean inexperienced, however. All this activity keeps him focused with no time to dwell on the past. But the past has a way of intruding on the present.

It’s been four long years since Gareth Michaels last set foot inside Collars & Cuffs. But when he finally summons his courage and steps back into his former world, he finds the man who drove him away is still a member, and what’s more, he wants Gareth back. Two men in pain need the freedom they find in each other, but it takes another man’s horrific plans to make them see it.

Dividers

Review: A Dance with Domination is definitely one of my favorites in the Collars and Cuffs series. Andrew works as a stripper, but he’s also a Dom and he ends up joining the Collars & Cuffs BDSM club. Since he suffers from losing someone he loved, he distances himself, avoiding intimate contact with subs in order to guard against the possibility of becoming attached. Andrew befriends a fellow stripper, Gareth, and later discovers that Gareth is a former sub at Collars & Cuffs. When Andrew realizes Gareth wants him, they hit it off, but their union is short lived. Jealousy and misunderstandings tear them apart, but when others get involved, they are able to sit down and resolve their differences. In addition to coming together as a couple, they’re able to share scenes at the club.

Andrew’s character was the thing I loved the most about this book. Andrew was introduced to the BDSM world at a young age, so though he is young, he has a lot of experience. Unlike the older alpha type Doms at Collars and Cuffs, Andrew is coveted for his beauty, grace, and skill as a Dom. I loved seeing Andrew in his role as a stripper. It was so exciting to see a tough Dom doing a lap dance for alpha type customers. The role reversal was quite sexy. At one point Andrew has to be saved from a drunk man who holds him down and attempts to assault him.

Though I don’t think this book was as emotional as some of the previous books in this series, it was certainly hot, and I loved the happy ending. I recommend A Dance with Domination to anyone who loves erotic romance, BDSM, and kink.

Narration: I really enjoyed the audio performance on this book. Nick J. Russo is very talented when it comes to making a separate voice for each character. The only thing that threw me off was that I didn’t like the breathy voice the reader gives Leo. It wasn’t how I imagined Leo to sound. However, since Leo only played a small roll in this book, it didn’t make much difference.

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4 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, K.C. Wells, Narration Rating, Narration Rating - 5 Stars, Parker Williams, Reviewed By JJ

Audio Review: Someone to Keep Me by K.C. Wells and Parker Williams – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

Title: Someone to Keep Me (Collars and Cuffs: Book Three)

Authors: K.C. Wells and Parker Williams

Narrator:: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 7 Hours and 44 Minutes

At a Glance: This story drew me in because of the travel and adventure aspect of it, and I really enjoyed the audio portion of this book.

Reviewed By: Johanis

Blurb: Eighteen-year-old Scott Keating knows a whole world exists beyond his parents’ strict control, but until he gains access to the World Wide Web, he really has no idea what’s out there. In a chat room, Scott meets “JeffUK.” Jeff loves and understands him, and when he offers to bring Scott to the UK, Scott seizes his chance to escape his humdrum life and see the world. But when his plane touches down and Jeff isn’t there, panic sets in.

Collars & Cuffs favorite barman and Dom-in-training, Ben Winters, drops his sister off at the airport and finds a lost, anxious Scott. Hearing Scott’s story sets off alarm bells, along with his protective instincts. Taking pity on the naïve boy, Ben offers him a place to crash and invites him to Collars & Cuffs, hoping his bosses will know how to help. Scott dreams of belonging to someone, heart and soul. Ben longs for a sub of his own. And neither man sees what’s right under his nose.

Dividers

Review: Someone to Keep Me is a sweet, romantic, and sexy love story between a young guy and an older man in a BDSM relationship. The story starts out with a high school graduate, Scott, who meets a guy online who lives in England. When the guy buys him a plane ticket, Scott decides to get on the plane and see what happens. However, Scott arrives to find no one waiting for him. He is alone in a foreign country, with no money, phone, or credit cards. He thinks he’s in trouble but receives an offer of assistance from older man named Ben, who works at the Collars and Cuffs BDSM club. Scott does not want to return to his homophobic parents in the States, so the guys at the BDSM club want to help him out. Despite Ben’s financial restraints, he agrees to let Scott stay in his home. Scott decides he wants to be trained as a submissive, and when Ben becomes his trainer, their relationship develops into something more.

This story drew me in because of the travel and adventure aspect of it. There is something very exciting about getting on an airplane and seeing where it takes you. In Scott’s case, he put himself in a dangerous situation and was lucky that someone kind like Ben found him. Compared to book two in this series, this book went into the BDSM and sexual aspect a lot sooner. Scott is a virgin but is curious, eager to learn, and anxious to have his first sexual experience. Although this book is primarily a romance, the scene where Scott loses his virginity made the book well worth reading. I had trouble connecting with the romance due to Ben’s preoccupation with money and how this affects his relationship with Scott. Scott’s desire for Ben is very passionate and moving, but Ben’s practicality made me feel like the romance was one sided. Overall, the book was enjoyable and very sexy.

Audio Review: I really enjoyed the audio portion of this book. Each character had a different voice, which made scenes with multiple characters easier to follow. The accents used were believable and did not distract from the reading in any way.

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4 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, K.C. Wells, Narration Rating - 3 Stars, Reviewed By JJ

Audio Review: Trusting Thomas by K.C. Wells – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

Title: Trusting Thomas

Author: K.C. Wells

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 9 Hours and 58 Minutes

At a Glance: I was initially irritated by the dialect switching, especially when British words were read in an American accent, but by the end, Trusting Thomas was very moving and made me cry.

Reviewed By: Johanis

Blurb: Christmas is a time for goodwill to all, but Collars and Cuffs co-owner Thomas Williams receives an unexpected gift that chills him to the bone. A Dom from another Manchester club asks Thomas for his help rescuing an abused submissive, Peter Nicholson. Thomas takes in the young man as a favor to a friend, offering space and time to heal, but he makes it clear he’s never had a sub and doesn’t want one.

Peter finds Thomas’s home calm and peaceful, but his past has left him unwilling to trust another Dom. When Thomas doesn’t behave as Peter expects, Peter’s nightmares begin to fade, and he decides he’d like to learn more about D/s life. A well-known trainer of submissives, Thomas begins to teach Peter, but as the new submissive opens up to him, Thomas finds he cares more for Peter than he should. Just as he decides it’s time to find a permanent Dom for Peter, they discover Peter’s tormentor is still very much a threat. With their lives in danger, Thomas can’t deny his feelings for Peter any longer. The question now becomes, can Peter make it out of the lions’ den alive, so that Thomas can tell his boy that he loves him?

Dividers

Review: Trusting Thomas is a sweet romance between a younger guy and an older gentleman, set in England. Although the backdrop for the story is a BDSM club, there is not much in the way of BDSM in the book. The story focuses more on healing from abuse and finding love when love seems impossible.

Peter, a twenty-six year old submissive with an abusive Dom, is rescued from his abusive master and taken to Thomas, who is the owner of a BDSM club. Thomas agrees to look after the boy and later, agrees to train him as a submissive. Since Peter has been abused so badly, his training begins with menial tasks and progresses slowly in order to give him time to heal from the psychological trauma inflicted on him by his previous master. Though Thomas is just his trainer, both grow to have feelings for one another. Due to the thirty year gap in their ages, Thomas denies his feelings for the boy, and by the time he realizes he’s in love, Peter’s past comes back to haunt them.

Although this book was not what I expected, I strongly recommend it to those who love sweet romances with a happily ever after and a little bit of kink sprinkled in. There was not a lot of sex, but some pretty hot scenes with sex toys and romantic love making. I was at first uncomfortable with sex between such a young guy and an older man, but this was because Peter was so broken and submissive due to being the victim of violent rape and abuse, that it made him seemed much younger than he was. However, by the end of the story, I really thought Peter needed a loving, caring father-figure like Thomas who would never dare hurt him. The romance element builds slowly and starts to appear half way through the book, but by the end, it was very moving and made me cry.

Audio Review: The reader for this audiobook, Nick J. Russo, is very talented; however, he read the book using American English for the narration and British English for dialogue. I was initially irritated by the dialect switching, especially when British words were read in an American accent. I would have preferred to listen to the entire book in a British accent since the book was written in British English. After completing thirty percent of the book, though, I was able to listen without being drawn away from the story by the dialect switching.

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

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

Title: Beneath the Stain

Author: Amy Lane

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 16 hours and 36 minutes

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

Reviewed By: Karen

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

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

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

Dividers

Review: The Story:

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

Review: The Narration:

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

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

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

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

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3.5 Stars, Audio Book, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, K.C. Wells, Narration Rating, Reviewed by Amy

Audio Review: An Unlocked Heart by K.C. Wells – Narrated by Nick J. Russo

Title: An Unlocked Heart

Author: K.C. Wells

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Run Time: 10 Hours, 4 Minutes

At a Glance: Overall, I liked the story and where Wells took Leo and Alex, but the narration didn’t work for me.

Reviewed By: Amy

Blurb: Since the death of his submissive lover two years ago, Leo hasn’t been living—merely existing. He focuses on making Collars & Cuffs, a BDSM club in Manchester’s gay village, successful. That changes the night he and his business partner have their weekly meeting at Severinos. Leo can’t keep his eyes off the new server. The shy man seems determined to avoid Leo’s gaze, but that’s like a red rag to a bull. Leo loves a challenge.

Alex Daniels works at Severinos to scrape together the money to move out on his own. He struggles with coming out, but he’s drawn to Leo, the gorgeous guy with the icy-blue eyes who’s been eating in his area nearly every night.

Leo won’t let Alex’s hesitance get in the way. He even keeps him away from the club so as not to scare him. And as for telling Alex that Leo is a Dom? Not a good idea. One date becomes two, but date two leads to Leo’s bedroom… and Alex discovers things about himself he never realized—and never wanted anyone to see.

Dividers

Review: I adore BDSM and was so excited to listen to K.C. Wells’ story, as I like her writing. I really loved the supporting cast that she builds in this story; they add a fun and light dynamic to this story, which counterbalances its more serious aspects. Sev was a great character, and I adored that she included a supporting love story for Pietro. Alex finds his confidence and social skills improving through his growing relationship with Leo as he navigates his first ever relationship.

Add a little D/s to it and you get a well balanced plot. I did feel that some of the conflict in this story was overdone, but overall, I liked the story and where Wells took Leo and Alex.

Narration: Nick J. Russo is the narrator for this book. I have listened to him several other times and LOVE HIM. He narrated Bolt Hole and Racing the Sun by Amy Lane, and I adore his southern cadence. Unfortunately, however, I felt he was the absolute wrong choice for this narration. I am saddened by this as I really like K.C. Wells’ writing, and for the most part liked An Unlocked Heart. It was at times hard to focus on this story, as I couldn’t separate Nick’s southern accent from the dialect of the writing, which was notably British. I know it shouldn’t have mattered, but I kept expecting a British voice and got Nick Russo’s. It pulled me out of the story so many times…it really did ruin this book for me. I think I actually want to go back and read the e-book to see how I react to the written story.

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