Dawe's narration is once again wonderful. She does such an amazing job keeping the various (and MANY) voices in this series distinct enough.
I bought this on the strength of the two stories originally published in other anthologies ("Beat of Temptation" (BoT) and "Stroke of Enticement" (SoE)). However, the other two stories ended up becoming two of my favorites. I've listened to them multiple times now -- and I enjoy them just as much as BoT and SoE.
BoT gives us Nate and Tamsin's story - we know them from the main series and is a solid romance, although I got frustrated with Nate's inability to see how his actions were hurting Tami and in many ways wished she put her foot down earlier. He comes to his senses (as we know) and the ending is sweet.
SoE is one of my favorites of Singh, even counting her full length novels. There is just something about Annie and Zack's story that clicked with me. Annie is stubborn and strong, self-protective. And Zack - I love that he just "knows". It's a fun look into the power of a mating bond and what that would look like in two non-sentinal/lieutenant personalities. Simple, lovely story.
Cooper and Grace stole my heart in "Declaration of Courtship", despite their story following the traditional romance storyline -- he's tough, silent and determined to have her, but suffering and she is sweet, stubborn and determined to take care of him despite his protectiveness of her. This one is a fun repeat listen for the coaxing and convincing tactics that Cooper undertakes trying to convince Grace and her wolf to trust him.
With "Texture of Intimacy", Singh shows she can seamlessly write a story about a couple (Lara and Walker) who are still getting to know each other *after* the "fairy tale" has ended. This is a wonderful bit of writing which shows very clearly that the romance and the learning of each other doesn't end when the mating bond has snapped into place and that love has to be paired with understanding and compassion in a successful relationship. Also, Singh gives us a great peak into the lives of the Pack as they recover from recent battle and insight into some of the other primary and secondary characters we've fallen in love with throughout the series.
This book adds depth to the world of the Psy-Changling-Human triumvirate, but I feel like more than any of the others, it **does require previous knowledge of the series**.
That being said -- very, very, very interesting twists in the storyline over the course of this book. Hmmm...
Full of Counselor politics and a subtle discussion of what "justice" really is, Singh took the series in a new direction with this book and I like the method which she chose. Granted, reality outside of these books would probably have left a very different ending than what the author wrote, but in the setting created by Singh, it works.
I did drop the performance down to 4 stars from 5, ONLY because with so many characters, there were a few places where I couldn't tell the difference between the "husky" voiced heroine and the "rough" voiced hero. That being said, there around 50 regular occuring characters with distinct voices and this is the 8th book that I have listened too in the series (all narrated by Dawe), so honestly it's still a great job on her part.
A graduate professor of mine mentioned this book in passing in class February 2013. Curious, I downloaded it figuring it would be an interesting change to my normal commuter-student fair of light-hearted romances, stolid non-fiction and mind-numbing research articles.
This book captivated me. A mix of narrative storytelling, well-researched explanations and personal reflections, Cain lays out her premise: introversion is not weak, a fault or a social mistake -- it is hidden strength. Through a series of chapters organized around a particular area of research or myth surrounding introversion, she illuminates the way that American/Western societies have come to value extroverted personalities and the cost of that. Do not take this to mean that she is negating the value of extroverts. Instead, she frames and elloquently supports a very balanced view of introverts and extroverts, showing the strengths and weaknesses of each and how in a modern world that values extroversion to the extreme, introverts are the silent tigers with the power for change.
The only downside is one that many audiobooks would struggle with: Cain has created some questionnaires/"guess who" lists that do not translate well into audiobook format. Mazur does a wonderful job with the reading despite this. Her reading is calm, yet carries the subtle humor of Cain's writing. Well done and well-fit to this book.
On a side note: According to Cain's questionnaries, I am a highly sensitive introvert, who chooses to adopt an extrovert persona in her career. This fits both how I feel about myself and how people would describe me and has helped me to consider what choices I make at school, teaching and also with my downtime.
I am an avid Crusie fan, so when this was released I was very very tempted, but the supernatural aspect of it caused me to wait to buy it. I don't tend to enjoy ghost stories or "relationship revisits".
This one fits together somehow. All of the pieces work - its like Bet Me, but without the fairy tale aspect and with a more realistic "grit". Life happens, people fight, manipulate, make mistakes and aren't perfect. That comes through in this book without the sappiness of some of Crusie's earlier greats. Although this book is a romance, it's actually the interactions between Andie, the kids and the secondary characters who drew me in - and keep drawing me back.
Andie and the kids - "The 3 O'Clock Bake" and "bee-bopping around the kitchen".
Dennis & the couch.
Flo and her obsession with the Emperor (and horoscopes).
The nostalgia of this being set in 1994.
The fact that North and Andie aren't perfect and they spend a portion of the book not even talking, while we get to know everyone else.
This is just a good solid book and a good solid narration. There isn't one moment that sticks out as being overwhelmingly better than the rest. Each time I listen to it (and yes, this is a repeat listen), I pick up something new relating to the finish that I had missed before and enjoy it that little bit more. Dawe does a good job giving individual character to the each of the different character voices, including the ghosts (not all of which even have voices for her to portray).
Enjoy Crusie's tribute to a paranormal romace. It's well done, not overloaded with gratuitous vampires or ghosts - each of the ones in the story plays a distinct role, and is the story of two people who screwed up the first time around and their opportunity to get to know each other again.
I was anticipating loving this story as a light-hearted sequel to "What Happened In London". In some ways, that's exactly what it is - Miss Butterworth's author "Sara Gorley" strikes again in really awful (and yet fantastic!) gothic romances which make the interaction between the characters smile worthy. Yet this book deals with more somber themes in general than "What Happens In London" - the both the heroine and the hero are struggling with issues and Quinn briefly touches on women's rights (or lack thereof) in the era she writes in.
My one complaint about this book is that the heroine and hero waffle. I understand their motivations, I understand their logic, but they are both so clearly not okay with the situation she is placed in and flabbergasted that her relations would put her in this situation - yet reluctant to abandon the familial plans for her. I struggle with the on-again-off-again "I should, I shouldn't" aspect of the plot, even while I acknowledge that the reality of life at that time would have meant Annabelle would not have been able to simply ignore her family's plans for her, despite how despicable (or weirdly connected - there's a twist at the climax that I didn't anticipate) the villian is to Annabelle.
Olivia and Harry make quick appearances, but really Edward is the teaser in the book. Maybe there will be a book for him sometime? (Hint, hint, Ms. Quinn!)
I'm giving this three stars for story because it was 1) harder to pull me into, 2) a more frustrating listen plot-wise (Listen to Louisa already, Annabelle!) and 3) a little slower, yet heavier thematically than I was expecting. If I could give it three-and-a-half, I would because I do like that we get to know Sebastian-the-Charmer's more serious side and background and kudos to Quinn for not pretending that Annabelle could instantly make "the right choice".
To sum it up: Sara Gorley and her Miss Butterworth series made this book an entertaining read.
This book is made in the little interactions between the secondary characters and how that plays out in the relationship between hero and heroine. The plot is not deep, it's not complex, but it has a quirky sense of humor shown in how the characters interact with each other that keeps me smiling.
I should mention that part of what makes the character interactions so great is that Quinn wove in the details of a fictional book (Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron) that almost takes on a life of its own and adds color/humor to almost every interaction.
Harry, followed closely by Sebastian. Harry is so clearly a trooper - a "get the job done", steady, reliable guy and yet he can poke fun at Olivia, twit a Russian prince, enjoy annoying his sister and care for a drunken brother who clearly dislikes him at the start. I love that Quinn introduces us to his solidness right upfront and then as the book continues we get little glimpses into the rest of his personality.
"Confound their politics, frustrate their navish tricks, on thee our hopes we fix. God save us all." He stopped, deciding that the final verse wasn't needed. He rather liked ending on "navish tricks".
This is where Landor shows what a gem of a narrator she is. Although this scene would be fantastic reading just based on Quinn's writing of it, Landor actually sings the British national anthem in character. This is the scene I have bookmarked and listen to every time I need an instant pick-me-up -- and there's no romance in it - just one character twitting another for the heck of it. :)
I would give this a solid 4 stars -- I enjoyed the plot line, the characters, the romance, the action. I really like the way these two authors blend their writing styles. However, the mixing of the audio makes me drop it down to a three star max. The audio of the male and female narrations are not at the same basic volume level -- Raudman's voice is quite a bit louder, so when they are interacting, you either blare her voice to hear Lawlor's or you tone down the volume on Raudman's and strain to hear Lawlor. Not a quality audiobook recording in that respect.
The plot is good overall. I had a couple of issues with details that came up (or didn't come together as well as I think they could have) during the final chapters, but that hasn't stopped me from listening to it again. And I can just picture Moot staring at me, one-eyed as I drive over my local bridge...
I'll agree with previous reviewers that the male voices are off and not on-character. Clearly the narrator can do better voices (several of the secondary male characters are fine), but the main male voices are pip-squeaky and pubescent when they shouldn't be.
If you can get beyond that, this is a VERY light-hearted, laugh-out-loud romance. And it is a romance. Classic Crusie snark, a very little bit of mystery and a good dose of comedy make it a fun listen anyway in my opinion.
Another fun Quinn story and a wonderful start to a new series. The plot line in this book stands well on its own, but if you are familiar with several of Quinn's other series, you will enjoy the subtle references and tie-ins.The only thing that bothered me (and then only slightly) was a bit of a change in the heroine's point of view about her family's musical at the end. I'm looking forward to the next books and hoping that Iris and Sarah all get their turns. :)
I enjoy listening to Rosalyn Landor's narrations. She's done the narrations for many of Quinn's books and the narration for the one book that Landor didn't do drove me nuts. I'd like to point out that contrary to a previous review: if you liked the narration of Ten Things I Love About You or What Happens In London, you'll enjoy this one too -- it's the same narrator and just like always she gives the story that extra little quirk that makes it fun to listen to and will keep you smiling.
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