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Gaele

We read to know, we are not alone ~ C.S. Lewis

Atlanta, GA

44
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 63 reviews
  • 63 ratings
  • 134 titles in library
  • 30 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
4

  • Designing Woman

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Elaine Raco Chase
    • Narrated By Sheila Book
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    What had come over her? Exactly who was she - Brandy, lady of the night, or B. J. Abbott, architect, whose dreams were filled not with erotic languor, but with visions of concrete and steel. Cast in an unfamiliar role, she had chosen to play it to the hilt, and loved the part...unaware that it would throw her into emotional chaos. The romance for every woman who's never had the nerve - a rousing passionate battle of the sexes takes place as each tries to outdo the other in a witty, erotic contest of wills!

    Jaime Minter says: "Fun, enjoyable read"
    "Real Dialog that will delight!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Cleverly written dialog with a realistic story and characters


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Characters are well developed and walk into the room to meet you


    What about Sheila Book’s performance did you like?

    Narrator voice is soothing, and easy to understand with beautiful enunciation. Less excited about accents added - but voices were clear to distinguish.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This is a laugh out loud book - with moments of chin dropping "I wish I thought of that when" moments


    Any additional comments?

    Tons of fun - great book for commuting as long as you don't mind the looks and stares from the laughing. Realistic story line that is character driven and does not disappoint.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Ladies' Paradise

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Emile Zola
    • Narrated By Lee Ann Howlett
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Country girl Denise Baudu arrives in Paris hoping for a position in her uncle's clothing shop. However, her uncle's shop, along with other small shops in the area, is doing poorly. This is due to the large store across the street - The Ladies' Paradise - which is swallowing up the small specialty stores by offering 'one-stop shopping' at discounted prices. 19th Century Paris is experiencing the dawn of the department store. Despite her loyalty to her uncle, Denise is drawn to the progressive Ladies' Paradise and it's owner, the driven but charismatic Monsieur Mouret.

    Gaele says: "rich and layered use of description"
    "rich and layered use of description"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Prodigious barely can encompass the volumes added to literature by Émile Zola. In this, his eleventh book that dealt with various familial and societal relationships, Zola creates captivating characters that both serve as witness to, and participants in the great changes that are occurring throughout Paris in the post 1860's world. Now familiar to many as the genesis idea for the PBS Masterpiece Classic series The Paradise, it was an interesting listen as I was able to work out the direct correlations between characters and the more composite or ‘informed by’ in the television version.

    Having read excerpts in the original French several years ago, the one lasting impression from the writing of Zola is his rich and layered use of description. Long unused, to attempt this book now, either in written or spoken version would be daunting – I would understand little at first go, yet the beauty of the phrasing and descriptions do resonate, even if their meaning is lost.

    The audio version is narrated by Lee Ann Howlett, to mixed effect for me I must say. While I can appreciate the effort put forth, the mispronunciation of Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle (often shortened to Mill for Mlle.) served to take me away from the story at each turn. There were some affectations of pitch and tone to elucidate a ‘younger’ speaker that were little more than grating, and I was pleased to see that as the story progressed the variations in the pitch of the speech lessened in impact. Howlett has a wonderful voice that was well suited to the narration of the story, and it would have been a far smoother listen for me had she not adjusted to accommodate changes in characters during conversations.

    This is ultimately a story that focuses on changes, large and small, both to society, a city and to the people who inhabit it. Historically it was a tumultuous time with wars, political unrest, the advent of more industrialized options for manufacturing, and most countries were dealing with economic hardships and food scarcity that often resulted in migration from small communities into the cities to find work. Denise is no different, heading to Paris to help her uncle in his small yet struggling shop. The new thing, a full-service department store full of ‘ready-made’ goods and providing goods to entice every consumer is opening, and she soon secures a position in the ladies department. The story not only shows the growth and changes occurring in the country and the city, but inside the store and with Denise herself, as she learns to ‘polish’ her appearance, and uses her not inconsiderable sense and reasoning to rise within the hierarchy of the store. Like all young women, Denise has secrets and dreams, and we are fortunate to see her journey. Far from being a staid and boring story that only will appeal to fans of historic fiction, this story has a bit of everything: conflict, history, love, loss and even drama in varying doses as the characters from the store live their lives and serve their customers.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Demon Master's Wife: Forced to Serve, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna McDonald
    • Narrated By Allyson Johnson
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Ania Looren would have chosen death over becoming a demon host, if she'd had a choice. But her mate Liam is master of the Demon of Synar, and made that decision for her in order to save her life. Her spirit now grieves for what she has become Ania fears the great harm she can cause using the demon's power. Unfortunately, Liam's reluctant embrace of being the demon's master, along with his refusal to discuss Malachi with her, leaves Ania facing her destiny alone.

    Gaele says: "complex and rich with characters that are distinct"
    "complex and rich with characters that are distinct"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Picking up right where the first book left off, I think that the novella was able to present much of the background information that is integral to this story, without dragging down the pace and flow with too much information. These books will not stand alone: you are well-served by reading them in order as only a nod is given to provide information from the first book.

    Aria is dealing with her hosting of Malachi, yet Liam’s brother Conor is still a great threat. In a secondary thread, Dorian and Gwen are still struggling with their on again off again relationship and attraction, it’s quite funny to see Dorian: an enlightened being totally and completely flummoxed by Gwen’s independence, sharp tongue and guarded heart.

    It is interesting to note that even though things are rather curiously jumbled in the relationships, and the men are really no more able to understand their women’s needs, that the underlying conflicts are all really about communication and honesty with the couples.

    But, Conor is providing a serious threat to all: wanting to claim Malachi for himself, and not all is well in the universe: Dorian is in trouble, and an ambassador that should have been working for peace is tied to Conor and determined to cause upheaval in Liam’s life.

    Each story is treated with respect and pacing that fits the action, even as all of the subplots do circle back to revolve around Aria and Liam. We also see a growth and development for Malachi, from demon with a very jaded approach and outlook toward the humans he encounters, he starts to see that he is also an integral cog in the works: and that there are those who will deal with him as a being worthy of acknowledgement, not just an unwanted tool. If you are looking for pure sexy talk and erotic moments, the use of some strange phrasing keeps the steam levels down, even as reactions are described in detail, although the emotional components are well detailed and explained.

    Narration is again provided by Allyson Johnson: she again does a nice job of bringing the characters to light with her use of changes in pitch and tone. Unfortunately, there were several sections where it took a moment for her to get into the voice that I had come to associate with a particular character, as well as obvious moments of ‘cutting in’ phrases that perhaps didn’t make the editing cut. There were several of these fluctuations in the production, and sadly they did pull me from the story for the moment until resolved. Compared to the first book’s recording there were some misses here that I did not expect.

    This has been a fun ride through these two stories: they are complex and rich with characters that are distinct and unique, even as they have traits that are all too human and familiar. I’m curious about the next step in the series.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Demon Of Synar: Forced To Serve Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Donna McDonald
    • Narrated By Allyson Johnson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    Being captain of his own rescue ship is the life Liam Synar has always dreamed of living. Being master of a hereditary demon is not. Coveting Malachi's power, his exiled evil brother hunts him to capture the demon that Liam's life mate unknowingly hosts. Putting Malachi inside Ania two years ago had been an act to save her when she almost died saving him. If only the demon hadn't killed again.

    Robbie says: "A Series Introduction"
    "no lack of characters to enjoy."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Starting out with a scene that turns out to be completely necessary for the background information, we are quickly introduced to Liam Synar, his best friend Dorian, his chosen mate Aria and the central character for conflict Malachi the demon in servitude to the Synar family.

    Incorporating multiple races of beings, the story is consistently informed by the behavioral customs and approaches particular to the different races, some even creating moments of levity to break up the overwhelming tension emanating from Liam Synar.

    There are many different elements coming to play in this story: good versus evil, knowing your partner, being honest about your history and background and being careful to listen, not just speak. Both Aria’ and Liam’s sides of the story are clearly laid out: nether was 100% honest: partly trust, partly selfishness on both parts, the story is really all about consequences, rebuilding trust and learning to be honest with one another.

    Toss in several beings that are intuitive to precognitive, a smart-mouthed and cocky female human-mix and some flirtatious male crew members and there is no lack of characters to enjoy.

    Narration in this story is provided by Allyson Johnson and she manages quite competently to present the voices of the characters with slight distinct changes in tone, pitch and delivery. Particular favorite of mine was her use of a whispery growl for Malachi, even in his conversation with Aria as she was demanding answers. Polished without great distracting moments, she kept the flow of the story without overdramatizing the author’s words.

    As a start of a new series this is one that is full of characters to give everyone a favorite. Stopping with plenty yet to be sorted and solved, I am looking forward to the next installment.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sirenz

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Charlotte Bennardo, Natalie Zaman
    • Narrated By Amanda C. Miller
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Bickering frenemies Meg and Shar are doing some serious damage at a midnight sample sale when the fashionistas find themselves arguing over a pair of shoes - with fatal consequences. One innocent bystander later, the girls are suddenly at the mercy of Hades, Lord of the Underworld himself. To make them atone for what they've done, Hades forces the teens to become special-assignment Sirens, luring to the Underworld an individual whose unholy contract is up.

    Donna says: "Cat fight turned friendship w/ mythological twist"
    "Loosely referential to the story of Persephone"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A fun urban fantasy with elements of Greek mythology, fashion faux pas, and the unique voicing of two high-school girls who are suddenly thrust together as roommates and co-workers and you just start to scratch the surface of this story.

    Shar and Meg are roommates for a unique high-school program: they are polar opposites, and fight about every single thing. Meg is the vegan, gothic chick: quietly obsessed with music and causes, and not really at all impressed with fashion or Shar. Shar is pink obsessed and fashion forward: at the center of attention and judgy as only a woman can be. The two have a volatile relationship, but underneath it all they both do understand that getting along is going to make their time in New York better. A Christmas break shopping trip ends up with the two girls coveting a pair of red shoes. When they tussle over the shoes, and a particularly hot boy, on the subway platform, the formerly hot boy falls onto the track and is cut in half.

    While the girls truly didn’t push him, Hades steps in and offers these two a proposition. Already familiar with their manipulations, determination and single-minded ability to focus on an end result, he convinces the girls to work for him as Sirens – minions to do his bidding and bring those who would barter their souls for some immediate advantage.

    From the first to the last – these two are really funny: their banter is clever and while they are often fighting over ridiculous things, there are hints that show the grudging respect that the two have for one another as their friendship does start to blossom during their new duties.

    Loosely referential to the story of Persephone and Hades, this retelling adds several clever twists to present a fresh perspective, as the girls rush to complete the tasks set before them and stay one step ahead of the gods that seek to thwart their progress.

    Layered with fashion references, descriptions and some truly laugh out loud moments, this story was an enjoyable listen that had me giggling frequently. Narration is provided by Amanda C. Miller, and while it took me a bit of time to get accustomed to her style, her voice in pitch and tone is perfectly suited to the characters of Shar and Meg. She does adopt a slight accent and adds some bass to voice the character of Hades, and while it was distracting at first, it soon felt right to fit his rather metrosexual presentation. Pacing was steady and there was a distinction when she voiced a particularly emotionally charged scene: you could feel the emotion that the writers wished to convey.

    As the first in a new series, this was a fun story that is appropriate for teens to adults: there are some more slapstick moments, but the language, scenes and fun of the plotting will appeal to many.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • First Surrender: The Serafina: Sin City Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 55 mins)
    • By Katie Reus
    • Narrated By Ryan Hudson
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (14)

    Sierra hit it off with Hayden from the moment they met. The dangerously sexy, tattooed ex-SEAL is one of the best friends she’s ever had - and the main star in her wildest fantasies. But he doesn’t see her that way. And she’d die of embarrassment if he found out she was still a virgin. When an attacker targets Sierra, Hayden’s protective instincts go into overdrive. With the attraction between them burning out of control, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her and convince her they’re meant to be together.

    Kelly says: "Great start to a new series"
    "perfect tone and presentation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first book in the Serafina, Sin City series is a wonderful novella and one of the better introductions to an author’s work that I have experienced. My first option to review a Katie Reus title starts in a Las Vegas casino and features characters that are familiar (I am told) from her Red Stone Security Series.

    Sierra is the head chef at the casino’s restaurant, and over the past year she and Hayden have formed a great friendship, although both have a closer relationship in mind. When she is attacked leaving work one night Hayden feels the need to step in and take care of her. Security is ramping up, and the questions about the ‘who’ and ‘why’ are on everyone’s mind.

    Hayden didn’t want Sierra to be alone, so he brought her home with him. While his intentions were leaning to seduction, his absorbed claiming of her, the comfort he feels with her, and the desire to share thoughts, feelings and his past with her have him confused. Always attracted to her, he was more than a bit broken when he retired from his military service, and she was the only one to call him on his bad behavior. Unknown to him, she was also fantasizing about him, and wanting to get closer, the only thing stopping her was her own issues with self-esteem. Growing up she was in the shadow of her older sister, always feeling chubby and less, and still believed that men would want her sister, not her, for romance.

    While there are a couple of steamy scenes, the more heartwarming moments are the honest communication and Hayden’s willingness to try to answer questions that are not easy, and his obvious desire to claim her for his very own.

    Narration is provided by Ryan Hudson, and he manages to balance soft moments with the harsher responses or action scenes without over-acting or overly emphatic expletives, tone changes or voice manipulation to indicate the different characters. It’s the perfect tone and presentation for a story told predominantly in Hayden’s point of view, and feels natural.

    My first Katie Reus book, and it will not be my last – she may even convert me from my lack of interest in ex-military stories, a trope that has never really stirred me to read.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Reluctant Bachelorette: A Romantic Comedy

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Rachael Anderson
    • Narrated By Jennifer Reilly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town's charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it's up to the viewers - not her - to decide which bachelors stay or go.

    Gaele says: "for listeners who want a light, fun easy listen"
    "for listeners who want a light, fun easy listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    Curious about the title, I thought this would be an escapist sort of romance, a bit different from my normal. Rachael Anderson has penned a cute story that is heavy on the pop-culture references, with the inclusion of the best friend’s little sister all grown up to add some romance.

    Taycee is a woman with a grudge: fairly childish in her reactions and responses actually. We start the story in her point of view, and then as the story continues it flip-flops between the two. Taycee was immature and a bit over-reactive for my taste, she does grow up and see that her perspective isn’t quite correct, but it took me a long time to warm up to her.

    Luke isn’t as bad as we are lead to believe early on: he’s not great at keeping in touch, that you can get, but his casual teasing manner and the way that he treats all of the women on the small town reality show is portrayed with a sense of believability. He’s working to revamp his image: although the small town reality show – in a dying farm community just doesn’t seem plausible to me.

    Now, Taycee has her own reasons for being such a pill – but her deliberate attempts to undermine Luke in the hopes to have him thrown off the show are weak and transparent. They do finally realize that the chance to see one another once again, and to act on the attraction that has Taycee acting like a 9 year old boy is too good to pass up. Their romance is sweet, not sexy, and the tentative steps they take toward together are enhanced by the glimpses into other contestant’s relationships as they too search for a happy ending.

    Narration was provided by Jennifer Reilly: while not distracting, her voice managed to carry the female characters with subtle distinction in pitch and tone, without great difficultly. There were some issues with the male character portrayals being less delineated, but not overly acted or presented, so the listen was smooth. Pacing in her narration is steady, perhaps a bit too steady: I tend to feel that conversations have a slightly quicker pacing, which would have helped to enhance the funny moments, and the steadiness did not really impart a great sense of emotion, which made the narration feel more like a read and less a performance. I experimented with the speed of the playback, and didn’t find a setting that wasn’t either too fast or too slow for my preferences.

    I think this is the perfect audio version for listeners who want a light, fun and non-challenging listen to pass the time.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Let the Wild Out

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Madelyn Porter
    • Narrated By Rebecca Cook
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Rachel Dunne thinks she's safe from the politics of her people by keeping a low profile in America. When she comes face to face with one of the clan chiefs in search of a mate, she's stunned yet incredibly turned on. There is a catch - one queen to two opposing clan chiefs. It's hard enough fighting off the advances of one sizzling hot piece of alpha man-flesh, can she possibly resist two?

    Gaele says: "Full of quick switches in action and location"
    "Full of quick switches in action and location"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A shifter romance unlike those I have read before, the insertions that brought a giggle were many. Porter starts the story with a nod to her publishing cohorts Mandy M. Roth and Michelle Pillow, at a book reading/signing as we are introduced to Rachel, the heroine.

    Rachel was raised by her aunt, a bird shifter with a penchant for keeping two lovers handy, growing herbs and other bits in her garden and the occasional arrest. Although as a bird shifter Auntie Elvie was arrested quite often, Rachel thinks she just enjoyed being in handcuffs. Alone in the world now, all of Rachel’s family has died, and she is hiding under the ‘shifter radar’ by not shifting.

    Douglas and William are chiefs of their clans, and their traditions require they share a wife, with the children from the unions being raised with each clan’s traditions and lore without regard to parentage. The eldest of the two chiefs gets the eldest child, the second goes to the next, and so on. It is time for them to choose their wife: preferably young, pretty and full-blooded shifter.

    When she is confronted with Douglas, a powerfully potent shifter, chief of a clan, and bearing the crest on his hand, her first instinct is to run: far away. When William arrives at her doorstep and she is hit with his animal magnetism, it is almost too much to bear. Whisked away to the clan chieftan’s home in the UK after a fire destroyed her lodge, she is slowly coming to grips with her feelings for the two, and the security that she feels when with them.

    There is a massive clash of wills: as clan chiefs both William and Douglas are used to being obeyed: but their revelation to Rachel that she can make a request and they are obligated to obey gives her a unique power that is far beyond her omni-shifter nature. It’s funny to watch the two as they angle for supremacy with her, and Rachel’s very matter of fact manner and way of putting them in line. In fact, several moments in this story will have you laughing at the dialog and the odd situations.

    Full of quick switches in action and location, while the story isn’t always smooth, it is always well told and depicted. Rebecca Cook’s narration is super, adding a gruffness to William and Douglas, some stealth and disdain into Magda, a touch of wonder underlaid with steel for Rachel. Her voice never interferes with the story, but moves smoothly from one situation or character to the next with precision.

    Above all else, this is a story of shifters and the animal desires that they all have are never far from the surface. Super hot sex scenes, some in ménage, some hot and frantic: the sexual tension and action is enough to fulfill every erotic romance fans needs, and the story will feed the romantic in you, even with the fur.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Before the Edge: On the Edge, Book 0.5

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Kallysten
    • Narrated By Todd Waites
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    For Lisa, The Cliff was just one more bar to visit, one more competitor to gauge on her way to opening her own club. The verbal abuse unleashed on her by a patron is unexpected, but not entirely unusual: As a vampire, she has been called worse than "killer" or "thing" before. What is new, on the other hand, is the intervention of the bar's owner. Lisa isn't used to humans trying to protect her, and she finds Brett strangely endearing. For his part, Brett isn't all that comfortable being around a vampire, but now that he has thrown out the lout who was insulting Lisa, he can hardly ask her to leave. After getting to know her a little, however, he starts seeing the woman beyond the fangs, and when she returns the next night he's ready to share a dance with her…or even a little more….

    Gaele says: "Kallysten has chosen well. Waites’ narration"
    "Kallysten has chosen well. Waites’ narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    The introduction to Kallysten’s On the Edge series is now in audio form. I’ve read this in eBook form, so I already was familiar with the story, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to relax and listen to the story again.

    Enter the world where vampires are citizens, and like many places, prejudice and discrimination against those who are ‘different’ runs rampant. Brett owns a local bar, and while he doesn’t personally know any vamps, he isn’t willing to allow anyone to be belittled in his establishment.

    Lisa is a leggy blonde with attitude and confidence. She also happens to be a vampire and while not in need of rescue from an angry patron who is looming over her, Brett’s quick response to the situation in defense of her was surprising.

    I enjoyed the interplay between Brett and Lisa: Kallysten brings you characters that arrive formed, and through their interactions and actions you see them develop and fill out. While both have some issues and reservations, they are well-matched and paired, and their chemistry is steamy and sexy: there are no sparkles here unless it’s in a lame dress or a piece of jewelry.

    The narration for this novella is provided by Todd Waites; with a Midwestern-feeling accent his delivery is smooth and rhythmic without great modulation in pitch or tone to delineate character differences. His delivery was neither too fast nor to slow, and he manages to add a touch of emotional nuance that deepens the impact of the words.

    For her first foray into the world of audio, Kallysten has chosen well. Waites’ narration is well-suited to the story and the novella format of this series gives listeners and readers lots of options without great time investment. If you want an entrée into a ‘different style’ of vampire story, that mixes characters, emotions and sex with equal abandon this is a great one to investigate.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Second Son

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Elise Marion
    • Narrated By Piers Gibbon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Let the Magical Mayhem begin! Cindy Eller has not one, but two weddings to prepare for in less than two weeks when the cupcakes hit the fan - a mysterious man has appeared claiming to be betrothed to Cindy and insisting she must marry him before her sister's nuptials can take place.

    Gaele says: "appreciated the depth and growth of the characters"
    "appreciated the depth and growth of the characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The second in the Kings of Cardenas series, The Second Son picks up and continues the story established in The Third Son. While you aren’t required to read or listen to these books in order, some of the subtleties that establish the relationships and history are difficult to provide without retelling large swathes of text, so I would recommend you take these in order.

    Set in a fantasy world, yet informed with references appropriate to the mid 1800’s Europe including clothing, societal expectations and the courts of royal houses, Marion has created a lovely world full of references, characters and emotions that will captivate and intrigue. The old king is dead, and Damien, the third son, has ascended to the throne. His remaining brother, Serge, has been ill, comatose with little hope for his recovery for the past year. And yet, he awakes, and sends his brother, Damien, into a landslide of guilt.

    Isabelle was under the protection of the Cardenas royal house since early childhood and the demise of her parents’ reign in Barony. Groomed to marry the first son, her marriage was cut short by her husband, the crown prince’s death. She has been in mourning, yet comfortable and cared for in the Cardenas royal household, while she would like to return to rule her own country of Barony, she knows that it is little more than a dream.

    I couldn’t help but feel for both Serge and Isabelle: she is willing and trained to rule, and to take the mantle of her country would be the logical step. Although, she was without a king: a situation that the Privy Council needs her to rectify. Logically, Serge is the correct choice. His experience both in upbringing as the spare for the heir gave him unique perspective on the requirements for a king, while his military experience, bearing and the respect gained by his men would make him a formidable opponent for the uprising rebels in Barony. He has always had his eye on Isabelle, and when he finds her reactions to him are as steamy and sensual as he had hoped, he has lost his heart.

    Isabelle is wonderful, if a bit immature. Still in love with her first husband, her choice of Serge was made with her head, not her heart: unfortunately she refuses to see that she too is in love with him, even as her grief for Lionus is raw. There is a core of steel in there however, with a genuine will to do the best for her people that she can. Still the twists and turns of the ones who would bring Cardenas to heel are moving through the story, and Isabelle needs to learn to find her own way after wounding Serge deeply with her revelation.

    We also get an introduction to the Lady Knights of Barony, as Isabelle is determined to learn to fight and protect herself, and be of use to her people. I think I appreciated the depth and growth of the characters and story more than in the first book: Isabelle was hard to not like. Having decisions made for her most of her life, it was fun to see her gain confidence in her own abilities, and taking charge of her life, even as she is mere putty in Serge’s arms. Steamy and sexy, with plenty of action, emotion and appearances from secondary characters that we already know, and the moments with the Lady Knights add some ‘girl power’ to the story as Isabelle manages to find her own way in a life that is far different than the one she pictured only a few years earlier.

    Narration for this story is provided by Piers Gibbons, and his voice, while not overextending in pace, tone or affectation, manages to provide a clear delineation between characters, while adding emotive emphasis that is pleasing to the ear. His smooth diction with crisp enunciation and seamless delivery enhance the words on the page, and do not distract with unnecessary flourishes.

    I received an AudioBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Reclaim My Heart

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Donna Fasano
    • Narrated By Amy McFadden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Sixteen years ago, Tyne Whitlock cut all ties to her past and left town under the shameful shadow of a teenage pregnancy. Now her 15-year-old son is in trouble with the law, and she is desperate for help. But reaching out to high-powered attorney Lucas Silver Hawk will tear open the heart-wrenching past in ways Tyne never imagined.

    Forced to return to the Delaware Indian community where Lucas was raised, Tyne and Lucas are tempted by the heated passion that consumed them as teens. Tyne rediscovers all the reasons she found this man irresistible, but there are scandalous secrets waiting to be revealed....

    Gaele says: "the story is loaded with hope"
    "the story is loaded with hope"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had previously read this book for review, and pleasure, and like all of the stories written by Donna Fasano the characters are approachable, the story is laden with situations and emotions that are easily accessible: real stories that are easy to understand and relate to no matter your personal circumstance.

    This book focuses on a crisis point in single mother Tyne’s life, when her son Zach is arrested for vandalism and brought before the judge. Zach is a fairly typical fifteen year old boy: testing the limits, sullen and often reserved. Add to that his mixed race heritage and his mother’s never ending struggle as she works long hours to keep the household moving and you have a scene that is familiar to many, yet heartbreaking every time it happens.

    Tyne is beside herself, and seeks the advice of the only lawyer she knows. Lucas is a high-flying attorney, unaware of the fact that Tyne was pregnant when they separated after a teenage love affair. Tyne’s family was distraught when their daughter announced her pregnancy, made even more disturbing when Lucas, a Lanape Indian boy, was named as father.

    The story manages to incorporate all of the backstory and the current struggle that the three have: Zach’s anger and frustration with his mother for always working his learning about his heritage, and relationship with his father is a highlight, but Tyne and Lucas have many issues to sort out between the two of them, and both Lucas and Tyne have unresolved family struggles to sort out if they are to put Zach back on the right path.

    Narration in this audiobook is provided by Amy McFadden, she does a workable narration although it took some time to get used to her overly enthusiastic voice manipulations to delineate character differences. While the voices were clearly defined, there was often an emphasis on getting the ‘tone’ to match character, rather than presenting the often emotionally laden subtext hidden within the revelations: a lack of pauses in expected places that would have given the listener the full benefit of the revelation were missing. Narration wasn’t distracting, per se, but not as smooth an integration of the story as I would have hoped.

    I’ve often said that Donna Fasano is one of my favorite authors, and this book or audiobook version continues to reinforce that point. A touch more sensual than many of her titles, the characters are real and breathing, and the story is loaded with hope: hope that everyone will find their own happiness and place in the world, no matter the obstacles.

    I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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