I currently have three romance novels on my Nano. Started book 1, couldn't hack the narrator. Started book 2, couldn't deal with the heroine. I should have led with book 3, Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. I'm one of those compulsive-must-finish-the-book readers and it's saying something that I left the first 2 books unfinished to listen to Bet Me.
OK, nuff about me - the book is funny, angsty, romantic and real. There's not a lot of bacon to go with all that sizzle, if you know what I mean, as our H/h (Cal & Min) don't really get together until the final chapters. However, if you're looking for a well written, warm story about real girls with curves, this is just your speed.
Cal is a womanizing guy who doesn't get why that's a bad thing. He's so not into Min in the beginning that I was a little turned off. Min is a bit on the heavy side and wears ill fitting clothes as armor to ward off womanizing jerks. The plot (starting with a bet) brings them repeatedly until they start to see beneath the outer layers and figure out, well, what you figure out in a romance.
Ms. Crusie writes an enjoyable story with real life characters. I firmly believe romance stories are escapist comfort and this story hits that mark dead center. It was great to read about a normal (e.g., not size 2) woman and hear how a hunka-hunka sees her 'fat' as curves.
Deanna Hurst does a great job narrating the story. She and the sound team do a great job of differentiating characters and conversations, as in when Min talks to Harry (Cal's nephew) on the phone. I thought she did a great job on the male voices, which are sometimes a challenge for female narrators. It was such a pleasure listening to her that I wore my Nano to bed while on a business trip. Her voice literally lulled me to sleep. I also did this because I was engrossed in the story and didn't want to turn it off yet. (I sometimes have trouble sleeping while at hotels and find certain narrators to be soothing enough to help me turn off my brain - this is a good thing!)
Based on Bet Me, I'll listen to other books by Ms. Crusie and will listen to other books narrated by Ms. Hurst. I may re-listen to Bet Me sometime in the future, when I've forgotten the enjoyable details of this story.
I have come to really enjoy Jennifer Crusie's writing, particularly her snappy sense of humor. This story is somewhat dated (it is set in 1992) but very enjoyable if you're looking for a light romance with some mystery, family drama and a few ghosts.
Angela Dawe is a good narrator and avoids the trap of hoarsely voiced men. She voices a variety of characters from old to young, alive to ghostly, making it easier to understand who is speaking and bringing young Alice, in particular, to life.
I prefer a bit more romance to my stories and a stronger hero. North is ok, just didn't set me on fire.
Good, fun listen - I enjoyed both the reader (Aasne Vigesaa) and the story. It had fun, snappy dialogue, lots of overlapping subplots and a yummy (if not alpha male) hero. Davie Dempsey and Tilda Goodnight are a good combination. I'm not sure I would have stuck with it if this were on my Kindle but Ms Vigesaa's narration is what made it sing.
Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson is a lighter romance, albeit with a hot alpha male (Zach) as the hero. Ms Gibson does a great job with the characters, including Zach's daughter and Adele's niece, Kendra. It was cute, snappy and a fun listen but I was ultimately let down by the short and convenient wrap up-Ms Gibson had a great plot but didn't make the most of it. I liked the narrator (Nicole Pool) and thought she did a great job with the various voices and accents. Would I listen again? Maybe. But I'll have to rewrite the ending in my head. I'm a fan of hot alpha males and prefer a little more grit in my stories; I'm taking two stars off for the weak ending and the mystical element that distracted from the story more than it added.
A Little Night Magic, narrated by Amanda Ronconi, was a fabulous listen. It was funny, sweet and enjoyable. Ronconi's interpretation was perfect for the story, with only one small, off note (she mispronounced "burying the lead", a newspaper saying for not leading with the most important part, as 'burying the led" - I use this saying a lot so it distracted me to hear it like that). I wouldn't have bought this book based on the summary but Audible.com had a great deal and I took a chance. Based on this reading, I would happily listen/read to another Lucy March story and will be happy to listen to other titles read by Ms Ronconi.
Among other things, Ms March gave us some great phrasing. My favorite is "contact fat", which our heroine, Olivia, says she gets just by serving the delicious food at Crazy Cousin Betty's restaurant. She is well paired with Tobias, the hero, and the secondary characters are well drawn. Definitely an enjoyable read that I will likely listen to again.
Welcome to Temptation is a great read that doesn't carry any of the angst of newer novels (no tortured heroes or heroines), with believable characters, great dialogue and storytelling. First published in 2000, there's a little bit of a dated feel (e.g., no one has a cell phone except for the mayor, who has a "car phone") but it's aging well. And, yes, it makes me feel weird to refer to a book published in 2000 as 'old'....
Phin and Sophie are our H/h. He's the mayor of Temptation, she's a newcomer from the wrong side of the tracks. Secondary characters abound and the plot is rich with details. There's plenty of sizzle, a decent amount of bacon and a whole lotta fun. Ms Crusie's lovely writing style handles all of the details without distracting from the story. As with other Crusie novels, there is a bit of a mystery (murder! blackmail! assault!) but it's lightweight. Well, unless you're the guy that bites it. Well, nobody liked him anyway.
I have one nitpicky little beef with the story. Ms Crusie relies a little on the sentence construction of "...", Phin said. "...", Sophie said. It gets a little grating when a scene starts to get long (imagine repeating he said. she said. he said. she said. over and over again). I don't know if it's ok in print but annoying on audible or what. Just saying it kept popping up to irk me. It's not enough of a problem to take off a star though.
I listened to this book (audible.com) and LOVED the narrator, Aasne Vigesaa. She made this older book come to life with her reading. I would listen to anything she narrates, she's that good. She's the icing on the cake that is Jennifer Crusie, who writes with a light hand that seems to say, "Don't mind me, I'm a bit of fluff" but who's writing is really snappy and makes you laugh, sometimes snort, all the while raising the temperature. Ms Vigesaa complements the story beautifully. Not a surprise then, that I'll finish the series and probably relisten to this. Given the memorable dialogue, I might get it for my Kindle.
More mystery than romance. This is an older Nora Roberts book and it shows its age. Although it's not bad, it's not in the same class as her newer releases. Tucker and Caroline are a southern boy (well, man) and a Yankee raised woman with southern roots. The backdrop to their romance is a serial killer loose in Mississippi. Plus, there's some family drama for both Tucker and Caro (his nickname for her). Not unusual, since what's a romance without tension?
My impression is heavily affected by the narration, which was not a winning performance IMO. Plus, I am a stickler for knowing the age of a book because it sets an expectation (e.g., if you think the book is a fresh release and about a current time, then it feels weird if the details are in the 80s). I looked around on Amazon to find when Carnal Innocence was first released but couldn't find anything older than a few years. Listening to the book, it became clear the book was written in the late 80s or early 90s. While it's true to the time (e.g., no cell phones, only one mention of a desktop computer), it still didn't work well for me. I think it was the performance. God bless the narrator, Tom Stechshulte, but he can't do a female voice without conjuring images of every man-in-drag (think Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire). On the other hand, he did a great job with the southern men, and in such a way that you knew exactly who was talking without needing their name. I love a good southern man's accent - there's something about their cadence, their timbre and their speech that just makes me want to cozy up to him. However, Mr S's vocalization of Caro just didn't work and it distracted me every time 'she' opened her mouth.
If you're a diehard NR fan, you'll probably want to read this. If you're a mystery/romance fan, this one will also work. However, I don't recommend the audible.com version - I was driving through west Texas (5 hrs each way) or I would never have finished it. Getting 10 hours into it after that drive, I couldn't not finish it. I definitely won't be listening to it again or reading it in print. I'll also have to hear a sample before listening to another of Mr Stechshulte's work.
Not what I expected, definitely not. I was expecting a romance with some mystery and instead this is a mystery with some romance. The H/h circle each other endlessly (while the mystery plays out) and the final chapter is where they really come together as a couple. Too little, too late for my taste. If the romance portion of the book had been a little more developed, I would have given it another star. I'm thinking of books like Dream Man by Linda Howard, for example.
I also had a few plot issues - overall, the mystery is well developed but it starts to get sloppy toward the end. Jake and his brother Nick are both law enforcement and are both representing their agencies (County Sheriff and FBI) in the investigation of their father's case. Wouldn't this be a conflict of interest? I can't imagine any DA agreeing to have a case investigated by a family member because of the potential trouble it would generate if the case were to go to trial. I was equally distracted by the fight scenes that take place near the end of the book. Maybe it's because I was listening (audible.com) and not reading that they struck me as fake. E.g., does anyone still refer to a 'karate chop' motion in today's fiction? Maybe so, but more important is how Jake comes out the victor, without harm, in every fight and regardless of who is armed, who has the element of surprise, etc. Then there is the repeated reference to who the mastermind is - Jake & Nick catch the bad guys but they talk about who was in charge. Yet they never follow up, this particular thread is just left to unravel for someone to maybe pull it loose in a future book. Not all loose ends have to be tied up by story's end (this is not Charlie's Angels, after all) but somehow I'd have liked it if Ms. Herron had acknowledged the we'll-never-know aspect of this one, or maybe never raised it at all.
***END OF SPOILERS***
Those items were irksome but overall, the book was good. I picked it up thinking it was a romance, however, so be aware it leans more toward mystery.
Could not get into the story or the performance. The plot sounded great in the summary but the story just never took off - I felt like, instead of a bright and sizzling fabric, I was seeing an old, dusty version.
WTH! I'm listening to the story and then, between chapters, this muzac comes on and plays between chapters. Annoying enough. Then, it keeps playing over the beginning of the next chapter, so it's hard to hear the story. Seriously? If it happens again, I will NOT be buying another story by SEP. There's plenty of good stories out there and this hamhanded editing isn't doing anything but getting in the way.
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