This is an actor who could turn "Old Yeller" into an erotic novel, and the only audiobook narrator whose name I enter into the Search box here when browsing for a good 'read.'
Combine Slezak's narration with Sandra Brown's storytelling when she's near the top of her game, and you've got an entertainment so sublime, you could almost skip the pint of Haagen Daz Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream.
Rated the story 4 out of 5 only because I found parts of it predictable. I was having so much fun, it hardly mattered.
I'm a huge fan of Connie Brockway's so I chose this book expecting something a bit, well, steamier. This trilogy of connected stories is nicely done, and there some funny moments, but the love stories have little time to develop. There is one recurring character, a ridiculously flirtatious and spoiled younger sister, who is written as so unlikeable that I found myself actually resenting her HEA. Favorite character: the barbaric but mostly harmless laird who sets the stories in motion by kidnapping prospective brides for his embarrassed nephews. I enjoyed Susan Duerdon's narration, for the most part, but her female characters were almost impossible to distinguish from one another when sharing a conversation.
I hesitate to call this boring, because all three authors and the narrator do a competent job. However, when forgot to put this audiobook on pause while on the phone, then went back to it realizing I had missed several minutes of the second story, I didn't bother to go back and see what I had missed. That's pretty unusual for me.
A pretty piece of fluff.
After "The Last Victim," I was afraid Karen Robards had left behind the formula that's worked so well for her: contemporary romantic suspense, not erotic but nicely spicy; a sort of Sandra Brown Lite. (I mean this as a compliment. I've long relied on both authors for fun, sexy reads with hot alpha heroes; if Robards doesn't delve as deeply as Brown into her characters' angst and the conflicts between them, that's not necessarily a bad thing when I'm looking for escapist fiction.
In "Hunted," an implausible but ultimately enjoyable premise sets the stage for the couple-on-the-run storyline: a "rogue" New Orleans cop takes the mayor and other bigwigs hostage, and winds up kidnapping the pretty hostage negotiator who had a crush on him when she was a teenager. There's chemistry between them, a bayou to hide in, a fishing shack with a single narrow bed, and one appealing side character who is conveniently moved aside by the plot just in time for things to heat up between H/h.
In other words, this is the Karen Robards I've relied on for fast, sexy suspense tales like Paradise County, Bait, etc. No fan of the paranormal, I was more than pleased to spend a credit on this enjoyable return to the genre Robards writes so well.
Nicely performed by male and female narrators, who alternate chapters as the book alternates between male and female points-of-view. The actress is quite good (she also narrates the audiobook of Gillian Flynn's brilliant noir novel, "Gone Girl." The actor is good as well, although I wasn't crazy about the way he voiced the female character. Both narrators do pretty well with hero Reed's N'awlins cajun accent. In contrast to the previous Robards' audiobook, "The Last Victim," these narrators sound like grown-ups. A huge relief.
More like this one, please, Ms. Robards. It's this kind of book, not a flirtation with paranormal romance, that will keep you on my auto-buy list!
This was not what I expected.
I adored "Promise Me Heaven," fell head-over-heels for the darker and intensely erotic "All Through the Night," and was so excited to know that Connie Brockway had finally written the story of Giles, who was present in both of the earlier books as a rejected love interest and showed glimpses of unexplored depth.
I had read on the author's own website that this third book in the series would be very dark; that when we met Giles again, he would have changed a great deal from the earlier books. If that was Brockway's plan originally, something must have changed her mind along the way.First of all, we pick up Giles' story almost exactly where we left him at the end of "All Through the Night": engaged to scheming Sophia and unhappily accepting of the fact that he lost both Kat and Anne (heroines of the earlier books) to "better men." Secondly, "No Place for a Dame" has very little of the darkness that made "All Through the Night" an almost painful if ultimately rewarding romance. In fact, "Dame" is more lighthearted and comedic than even the first in the series. That's not a complaint, mind you; just not what I expected based on what I'd read.
If I had to choose a weakest book of the trilogy, I'm afraid it would be this long-awaited final chapter. That said, it's still a delightful, sweetly sexy romance with an unconventional, imminently likable heroine. Connie Brockway is always delightful, and Alison Larkin is a wonderful narrator for this series. The way Audible is pricing this series, any and all three are an incredible bargain.
I'm hoping to see more of Connie Brockway's work on Audible. In the meantime, if you haven't listened to "The Other Guy's Bride," you're in for a huge treat. It's delicious!
CAUTION: SPOILER BELOW. If you don't want to know how these characters meet and fall in love, don't read any further.
I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get to see Giles and Avery meet and discover each other. Instead, we learn that they've known each other for years, and have each secretly -and separately - longed for a deeper relationship with the other. That seems a bit like cheating to me. Silly, right? But for me, a big part of the sensual tension that builds between the couples in the first two books is in their first impressions of each other, the feeling of being drawn to the forbidden, the giving-in to physical temptation, accompanied however reluctantly by a realization that they are in love. In "No Place for a Dame," those moments of budding love are already in the past, and in fact there's nothing to keep these two people apart except for class distinctions that neither of them gives a fig about. The result is a romance that you can relax and enjoy, confident that it's headed exactly where it seems to be. That's not a bad thing, especially if "All Through the Night" left you emotionally exhausted from wanting that happy ending. But neither does it lead to those moments of OMG erotic discovery.
Still one of the best buys on Audible in my recent memory. Enjoy. And let's hope for more from Connie Brockway.
I can't honestly say whether the story was awful, or simply rendered almost unlistenable by the choice of a narrator who sounds almost like a little girl. It's frankly a little creepy to hear a sex scene read by someone so young, I'd want to see some ID before letting her see some of those words in print.
If you can tune-out the age issue, there remains a serious flaw in the narrator's interpretation of the key male character. He's described as having a sexy, smooth-as-honey Southern drawl. Unfortunately, the voice Lee gives him is a lot more backwoods than Rhett Butler.
Too bad. The story delivers an intriguing premise, with the psychic-medium heroine torn between a nice live guy and a life signs-challenged bad boy. I'm a little curious to know how it will play out in the series, but not enough to listen to more of this miscast production. If I can't resist the sequel, I'll be reading it in paperback.
I'm a big fan of Connie Brockway's and read this years ago, but had forgotten just how lusciously sexy this book is. Apparently the rerelease in paperback (and the new Audible recording) of this and the lighter, more playful "Promise Me Heaven" are in preparation for a long-awaited third book in the series.
"All Through the Night" is unquestionably darker than the first book, with a hero and heroine who are both wounded souls and have serious trust issues. Fortunately for readers who want to like our romantic protagonists, this author has a talent for creating heroes who brood just enough, but are never downright mean.
Narrator Alison Larkin charmed me in the fluffier (but still sizzling) "Promise Me Heaven," which introduced as minor characters the heroes of both "All Through the Night" and the upcoming final book in this series. When we first met Jack Seward, he had inadvertently caused a rift between the first book's hero/heroine, and received a broken hand in retribution. This book catches up with him some years later, scarred by more than just the imperfectly mended hand. He has survived being hanged, and is described as having a permanently hoarse voice as a result; Alison Larkin voices his character with erotic élan, interpreting the throat injury with a marvelously smoky baritone.
And Seward's voice isn't all that smokes. There are some beautifully written sex scenes here, with tension built with such teasing deliberation that it's almost torture.
For the price, I'm willing to bet there's not a more erotic or romantic chapter in Audible than the "chair" scene between thief-hunter Jack Seward and his caught cat-burglar.
Five enthusiastic stars. I can hardly wait for Giles' story.
When I first began reading Anne Stuart's "Ice" series, I was both drawn to, and repelled by, the extreme anti-hero nature of the male protagonists. Reading two or more in the series, though, you quickly learn that even the baddest of Stuart's bad-asses are basically tasty truffles, with a soft, gooey romantic soul at the center.
This is one of my favorites in the series, perhaps because the truffle in question, luscious Peter, decides pretty much from the get-go that he isn't going to allow anything horrific to happen to Genevieve. He can't bring himself to tell her as much, of course, because Stuart's Ice men are all about keeping control by intimidation. Which makes it all the more thrilling when they melt and fall in love.
"He decided to make some coffee. He selected a pod. He put it into the coffee machine. Then he pressed a button. There was a sputter and spurt, and then hot coffee began to fill the cup." Pedantic, much?
Linda Howard's latest reads like a short story that was made long enough to be marketed as a novel, by the laziest of means: describing the minutiae of each character's every thought and action, from "then she changed her underwear" (I am not making that up) to a study of how the heroine orders breakfast when she's running for her life. Apparently she is reluctant to try grits, and wonders what else she should have instead. The suspense was killing me! When the waitress suggested hash-brown potatoes as an option, and the heroine agreed that yes, she would like to have some potatoes, I could breathe again.
There's also quite a bit of another syndrome that bugs me as a reader: an author labeling a particular line of dialogue or internal monolog as "sarcastic" or "wry" instead of the more difficult alternative, which is writing a line that is clearly sarcastic or wry, coming from a well-drawn character. Even more egregious, when you're writing romantic suspense, is announcing to us readers that a couple have sexual chemistry, instead of creating that chemistry with a build-up of tension relieved by an explosive scene. The sex scenes here read like a sports play-by-play combined with a medical manual.
Am I ranting? You bet. When I pay to read, or listen to, lazy writing, I feel ripped off. If you feel the same way, save a credit and give Shadow Woman a miss. Anne Stuart's Ice series, this isn't.
Sometimes an actor's interpretation of a character is merely distracting; in this particular instance, it's wrong to the point of making me regret that I didn't read Chill Factor instead of listening. Stephen Lang does a credible job with characters that are meant to be 'played' for grins, like a just-the-facts-ma'am FBI director. But with one of the key protagonists, he couldn't be farther from the mark.
I'm talking about "Dutch," the ex-husband of the heroine. This is the character that sophisticated Lily is said to have found so charming and "erudite" when they met that she fell for him immediately. But as voiced by Lang, Dutch is cursed with a specific variety of overdone Southern accent that screams "inbred backwoods moonshiner." You can't even call it a drawl; it's as if Dutch is a slow thinker who struggles to speak; the polar opposite of anyone that magazine editor Lily would ever have found attractive.
In fact, until I got to the part of the book where Lily reminisces about their early relationship, and how Dutch captivated an audience when he spoke at a fundraising event, I actually there to be a backstory that would explain the horrible mismatch between the sophisticate and the yokel. He isn't written dim-witted, but he certainly SOUNDS it here.
If Dutch were a minor character, this off-the-mark performance wouldn't matter much. But if Sandra Brown meant to create the tension of a possible three-way love triangle between Lily, Ben Tierney, and Lily's ex-husband, Lang's portrayal of the ex makes it impossible to even imagine Lily and Dutch together in anything but a shotgun wedding.
Tight writing by Brown, and a suspenseful plot. Too bad the audiobook misses the mark.
Endearing, captivating, deeply satisfying. Protagonist Jake Epping is the kind of character Stephen King creates with such a deft hand: the reluctant hero, grounded in his reality and ours, who is handed terrible power and the chance to right horrific wrongs. A Frodo Baggins in khakis and a sport coat.
Like Tolkien's Frodo, ordinary Jake embarks on a quest fraught with dangers - not the least of which is the temptation that power brings. Like Frodo, Jake navigates his path with terrible grace, besting supernatural forces but forced to accept heartbreaking truths.
"Hearts can't break," Jake tells us. "If only they could."
In this epic journey of the heart, the most terrifying monsters are the If-Onlys.
Highly recommended, even if you have never been a fan of horror. There are horrific events in play throughout 11/22/63, but in spirit this novel is reminiscent of King's sweetly nostalgic short piece, "Stand By Me," which Ron Howard turned into a memorable film.
Actor Craig Wasson gives distinctive voices to dozens of characters, and does credit to familiar voices like JFK's. A few of the characterizations seemed a bit too comedic for the circumstances. But Wasson brings such clarity to dear, brave, unassuming Jake, it would just be mean to score the performance with less than 5 stars.
If you aren't familiar with Anne Stuart, don't let this book be your first impression. Her skills at plotting and characterization have evolved by leaps and bounds since this early effort.
The lead characters in "Into the Fire" are fairly one-dimensional, and it's not an enjoyable dimension. They maintain an I-hate-you/I-can't-resist-you relationship that would have been credible in a pair of teenagers. With these adult characters, it might even have been intriguing as the opening salvo of a reluctant, developing romance; a typical way of building sexual tension. But 'Nate' and 'Jamie' keep the childishness going for most of the book, exchanging petulant insults as often as they fall into bed, and usually within seconds of getting out of bed.
CAUTION: SEMI-SPOILER BELOW:
As for the suspense component, I just wasn't buying it. The fear factor here is based on the implausible premise that a man living alone in a creaky old building would remain oblivious to the fact that someone else lives there too. For months.
I'll continue to read Anne Stuart, but I'll stick with her newer novels. Live and learn.
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