Shayla Black's Wicked Lovers series is overall very good, but I just didn't like this one. The best parts were the cameos by previous characters in the series and the excellent narrator. The story itself was so unbelievable that I found myself rolling my eyes a lot and finally listening on double speed just to get through it so I could say I have listened to them all. I wanted to slap both main characters because Hunter was an insufferable bully, and Kata had no spine. I found very few redeeming qualities in either of them, and should have heeded the reviews I read on Amazon and skipped this one. Having said that, I still look forward to the next installments on Audible because the first 3 books were great, and I will listen to those again.
I know, right? As of this date, I'm looking at the Audible description of "Secret Santa: A Bluegrass Novella," and is listed as book 2.5 of that series when it is actually "A Bluegrass Brothers Novella" which would put it at about book 5.5 if you started with BG and moved on to BGB. Hellooooo, editors, publishers, anyone? How about considering it all one series instead of 2 since they are all in the same place with common characters who interact with each other? Loss of an overall star for making such a bad decision. OK, so that's why the confusion for the readers and for Audible's data entry peeps who I can't blame because it truly makes no sense. Characters from books 1, 2 and 3 of the Bluegrass Series are in here plus what would seem like spoilers for the next couple of books focused on Paige's brothers, which I am assuming to be the Bluegrass Brothers Series. (sigh) smh
Aside from someone (who should be fired, or possibly maimed) making the horrible mistake of taking A series of books about a KY town and its inhabitants and breaking it into 2 for no logical reason whatsoever, this is a very cute Christmas tie-in to the series...series-es? Having not experienced any of the BGB series yet, there was a bit of, "Who the heck ARE these people?" I think I will enjoy it more once I have "caught up." Even with the confusion, I found it to be a short, sweet and cute Christmas story and a bit of an epilogue/catch-up session. Not sure how many BGB books there are, so it may be an epilogue for the whole series (I'm going with one series here, people-OK?).
Eric G. Dove is a fantastic narrator and the reason I gave this series a try in the first place. His female voices are his only minor weakness, in that they are just OK, but hey, he's a guy....a guy with a very sexy guy voice, so forgiveness granted.
This is a difficult review to write because I really liked the book, the story and the characters. Unfortunately, I did not really enjoy the "listen." I think I would have enjoyed it better reading it myself, but since I have no time to do that, I am at the mercy of whoever gets picked to read. I'm going to focus on the narration since the story has been reviewed by others with which sentiments I can only agree wholeheartedly.
Valerie Gilbert was not terrible. I liked her accents, and I think she ALMOST did a great job, but it seems that she is allergic to the "hard G sound" in commonly used words. Unfortunately for me, I learned through this listen that I apparently have a hard time with that. (Who knew?) Based on her glowing reviews, I realize that it may just be me and a handful of others who this affects, but so you know, here it is: Words like "longer," "stronger" and "younger" have a "hard G," whereas "singer" does not. (Lon--ger, stron--ger and youn--ger versus sing--er). VG pronounced them all like long--er, strong--er and young--er.
It may seem knit-picky, but because the words were prevalent in the writing, rather than paying attention to the story, I was constantly finding myself wondering where the narrator grew up and why I have never encountered another person who pronounced those words in such a way. The next thing I knew, I was backing up the recording to catch what I had missed. It happened a lot, and it distracted me from being able to really get into the story like I wanted to.
Even so, again, I really did like the story. It moved a bit slowly, but as a first in a series, I expect that to some extent. I did speed up the audio to 1.25 and then to 1.5 to try and minimize what I found distracting, and to some extent, that did help. If I could read them, I would still think that was a better option for me. However, because of my interest in the story, even if this narrator is signed for the next books, I might get them...eventually, but with a better narrator, I'd already have them in my cart.
Look chickie, if people around you are getting beaten up and worse, and the cops offer to keep an eye on you for your safety, and a fabulously wealthy and gorgeous man who OWNS A SECURITY COMPANY wants to protect you, and your response is to tell the cops, "NO, no gizmos or gadgets. No unmarked cars," YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO LIVE!!!! Then, agree to "allow" the cops to watch over you IF they will keep that gorgeous hunk of man cake away from you (for his own good, so he doesn't get hurt, ya know). This is the point where I begin to agree with the bad guys who think the world would be a better place without you in it and to pity the great guy who will no doubt end up wanting to kill you in the future after you have ruined his life. I am so tired of the dumb chick stereotype.
Dear authors: Was there a memo that went out indicating that men equate stupid with sexy or that women relate to very stupid female characters? If so, I'm thinking that memo was sent on April 1st. Please disregard it.
Since I'm on a roll, the narrator is not great. Her voice is OK, but she reads like she's explaining something very simple to a small child. She also, unfortunately, mispronounces common words. My "favorite" was, "I'm not an in-VAL-id," (As in invalid driver's license, as opposed to IN-vuh-lid, a person who is not able to care for himself.) Sigh I'm not sure why these things get recorded. Is there no one monitoring the recording? Hellooooooo, "We need you to go back and start that paragraph again. This time, pronounce the word as IN-vuh-lid." C'mon! If a guitarist is recording a solo and hits a clinker, someone tells him to do it again. 1+1=2.
Oh, one more thing, there are a couple of paragraphs in which the author uses "his buttock cheek" to describe hot guy's ass during sex. Once would be funny. After the third or fourth use, I almost cried laughing, so there is some entertainment value there.
I agree with other reviewers that there were good parts, and it had potential but just fell flat. With a little rewrite/editing to add a few brain cells to the heroine and a more experienced narrator and/or some help in the studio, it actually could've been good.
It is a testament to the author's skill and her ability to create a story interesting enough for me to power through the AWFUL narration. I had forgotten the name of the narrator for Ilona Andrews' Clean Sweep who ruined that book (and that author since she apparently narrates many of her books) for me. Renee Raudman...NEVER again. Weirdly, my problems with her are different in the two books. (In Clean Sweep, she made a 20-something girl sound like an 89-yo southern belle in an old folks home- which was a major turn off for me.) In this book, it sounded like she was narrating with a retainer in her mouth. The resulting "schw" sound for all the "s" sounds was like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Daffy Duck, "Schweethearth, yer deschpicable." Sadly, you can't tell that from the audio sample since it is only seconds long and mostly consists of intro music. I'm guessing that's intentional.
As for the story, the characters were well-developed and interesting. There was great comedic humor mixed with pretty serious drama in a fairly realistic setting. It is romance, hence, "fairly realistic." I really liked the story, obviously, or I would never have gotten through the first chapter. I found myself liking these people and their town and wanting to know what will happen to them in the future and how they will grow and change. This is my first book by Marina Adair, and IF there is a different narrator for her other books, it will definitely not be my last. Unfortunately, I just DO NOT have the time to sit down and read, so if RR is contracted for more books, I will have to pass. This was a Kindle Unlimited Read and Listen for Free title. As such, I am satisfied with being introduced to a new-to-me author. However, had I spent a credit or cash, I'd have to ask for it back due to the heinous narration.
I liked a lot about this story. I wish it had been a bit more detailed, particularly at the end. Another 5-10 minutes wrapping it up would have earned it another star. I liked the characters and the premise enough to wish this wasn't such a short story. The narrator was OK, not fantastic-not horrific, not good-not bad, just OK. After a couple of recent "horrifics," I'll take OK. It is exactly as advertised, a short Christmas story. With Kindle Unlimited, this was a read and listen for free title.
Even though I did like it, I don't think I would have spent more than $3 for it, and I definitely would not waste a credit on it. However, it gave me the opportunity to check out a new-to-me author, and I think I'll have to see what else she has available.
First off, the female narrator sounds like a chipmunk. It quickly becomes VERY grating and distracting after being initially laughable. I have teenaged daughters, and if they or their friends sounded like this, I would sit them down and explain to them how having a ridiculous voice will do them no favors in life. The male narrator is OK, definitely nice to get a break from Miss Squeak since she only needs to be endured every other chapter,
The story itself was lighthearted and cute, but it would have been better if the female lead had been 20ish instead of 17. It is pretty unrealistic that a 17-yo high school student on a family cruise for her grandfather's birthday would be shacking up with a rock star on board the ship without grandpa knowing about it, even if she does have evil-stepsister-like cousins running interference. Plus, WHY would they do that when they hate her? I don't think having the room to themselves is a strong enough motivator. In any case, it is a very unrealistic, "No way that would ever happen" story that had a few cute moments. It's a "throw away" story. I cannot imagine ever wanting to hear it again, so I'm glad I paid almost nothing for it with Kindle Unlimited. Had I paid even $1.99, I'm sorry, but I'd have returned it for a refund.
I would be totally willing to give the author another chance, but unfortunately, I noticed that Cassandra Morris is the narrator for several of her other books, so again, sorry. I just can't put my ears through it again. It took all my will power to get through the CM chapters.
The world in which this story is set consists of Eden, a walled, government-run, community of "haves" who live in a very controlled and stepford-like community of rules that are very stifling and oppressive, particularly regarding behavior, and a more chaotic world outside the walls where various zones are controlled by gangs, and there is more of an, "If it feels good, do it" mentality. Violence, sex and feelings in general are discouraged in Eden, so when our heroine gets caught drinking and having sex, she is banished to the other side of the wall. She promptly gets roofied and stumbles into our hero who takes her to one of the women in his gang to keep her form ending up raped or worse.
It started out a little rough, in that I think there should have been a little more build up to how Noelle was feeling about her life in Eden before she was thrust into the depths of life in the O'Kane gang, but it smoothed out, and I found myself really liking the characters a lot more as the story went on and more was learned about them. She and Jasper had an instant connection because he saved her, and they built on that and had a few trials to overcome, but they were realistic, and I didn't find myself wanting to slap either of them too much.
The narrator was excellent. Her female voices and male voices were very good and varied enough to distinguish Lex from Noelle and Dallas from Jas. She performed the book rather than just narrated it, and I always appreciate that when it's done well. Overall, this was credit-worthy, although with Whispersync and Kindle, it's a bargain for cash.
TAKEN is a compilation of 6 novellas, 3 from the Tempting SEALs series (volumes 1, 3 and 6), 1 from the Elite Ops series (very short 1.5) and 2 from the Wounded Warrior series (1 and 2-not sure if there are more). They are companions to the TS and EO series, so they might be confusing if you're not familiar with them, assuming you care about the plot line. As always, it's Lora Leigh, so if you have a problem with hot sex, kinky sex, lots of sex and alpha males who say what they mean and what they want while using raunchy language, this is not for you.
Tempting SEALs Series:
1-RENO'S CHANCE: Reno Chavez pursues Raven MacIntyre in this novella that introduces the series and precedes book 2, DANGEROUS GAMES in which Morganna (Reno's little sister) and Clint (Raven's big brother) need to work together while Clint tries to avoid his BFF's sister and his sister's BFF who has tempted him for years with her hot body and sweet disposition...sure.
3-FOR MAGGIE'S SAKE: Follow up drama in the wake of DG where we find out more about the history and future of Joe and Maggie prior to moving on to books 4 and 5 (HIDDEN AGENDAS and KILLER SECRETS) where Kell and Ian, respectively, lose their hearts to the women made for them and take the series further into the goings on of the drug-cartel-leading, torturing, murdering and sex-slaving all around bad guy, Diego Fuentes. Mwahahahaha.
6-ATLANTA HEAT: Poor Macey, the super hot computer whiz, is not about to be the left single and happily bachelorified if Emerson, the Admiral's goddaughter, has anything to say about it. This novella rounds out the end of the TS series while leaving the evolution of the team and their families open for more exciting opportunities for further adventure.
Enter Elite Ops Series:
It all starts with book 1, WILD CARD, where we witness the destruction from the demons of Nathan Malone/Noah Blake in the aftermath of his torture by Fuentes and the hard road back to the light with the help of a good woman. We also are introduced to a new team of "dead men" which is partially comprised of and backed up by our old friends, the Durango Team, from the TS series above.
1.5-NIGHT HAWK is more of a prologue to book 2, MAVERICK, where the past comes back to haunt the teams when one of Diego's kidnap victims from the past is targeted again.
As of this review, books 3, 4 and 5 and novella 6 (HEAT SEEKER, BLACK JACK, RENEGADE and HANNAH'S LUCK) are not available on Audible, and this makes me very, very sad. However, the final book- 7 LIVE WIRE, in which Jordan Malone finally accepts he has met his match is available now. mm-hmm
1-Cooper's Fall and 2-Sheila's Passion are both set in Texas and involve ex-military men but have no crossover to TS or EO. Still, they're entertaining short stories and worth the listen.
The narrator is different than in the full novels, so the voices are not the same, but I think she did a decent job--no glaring problems I remember but also no praises to sing. My preference for the other narrator is most likely that I am more used to her than that JD was lacking in any way.
Definitely worth a credit-12 hours of solid entertainment. It is SO great to have these tie-ins to the series in one book and DEFINITELY nice that I don't have to cough up a credit or cash for each short story. Hopefully, this will become a trend and other series that have shorties will combine them like this. Now, I will wait/hope for the missing Elite Ops books to be produced quickly so I can listen to them in order.
This Colorado Mountain Series is another great one from KA. Having experienced both the Rock Chick and Dream Man series, I wasn't sure this would do it for me, but it absolutely did. As expected, there is a lot of action, including a broken engagement, a murder mystery, rape, suicide, loss of loved ones, past traumas and relationship baggage, all in the middle of ongoing danger and, of course, a very sweet love story with interesting supporting characters and side plots. Both the H and h are very likeable characters on their own, but they definitely bring out the best in each other when they're together.
Emma Taylor does an absolutely outstanding job telling this story in a way that, had I read the printed book, I would definitely prefer the audiobook. She seamlessly flows from a woman with a British accent to a gruff mountain man to a Colorado young girl to a snotty British whiner with an ease that is truly applause-worthy. She also narrates the next book in the series, Sweet Dreams, in which her performance is equally flawless. I can't wait for the rest of the series to be recorded and released. Definitely worth a credit, especially when you take the length into consideration, not a slow spot in the whole listen.
I love this entire series, but I know some people didn't care for the "weaker" heroines in the series. Even if I just described you, I think you will love Ally and Ren. This last installment has a LOT going on, even more so than the previous books, and I would say that they all have mostly non-stop, fast-paced, action/drama with a perfect amount of humor. This has one of my favorite Rock Chicks matched up with what may well be my absolute favorite hot guy of all time. There's obviously relationship drama between Ren and Ally, and while Ally is slightly clueless about her hot guy (as per usual Rock Chick form), her insecurity is well-founded, and thankfully, that is resolved pretty early on in the book. I like that she recognizes when she is wrong and is repentant about the trouble that caused. (What I'm saying is that she isn't a woman who just thinks she ain't all that and is a "pain in the ass" until Duke can finally "sort her out" a few chapters after you wanted to slap her and tell the guy to move on because he can do better.) Ren is definitely an alpha male, but unlike some of the Hot Bunch, he uses his "a-hole speak" sparingly and for good reasons, then cools down, reflects, apologizes if necessary and supports his woman no matter what. He loves Ally with no conditions, even when he really wants to insist on some. Oh yeah, Ren, BEST. GUY. EVER.
DRAMA: Ally wants to go into the "family business," but there's a lot of resistance. Rosie's back and brings trouble. Indy and the RC's are not happy with Little Miss Spill keeping secrets. The Rock Chick books are starting to be published, and hot-guy, macho-man badasses are NOT amused. Mr. Kumar needs help in the 'hood. Ren has family business problems of his own. There are weddings to be planned, and Todd is on-edge. Smithie's got troubles. Someone has a very creepy interest in Ally. And then, there's Darius.
If you liked the series, you will not be disappointed in the final book. The epilogue is awesome and promises that we will see at least some of these characters again, hopefully in the near future. Narrator is great for this series. 17 hours flew by. I laughed and smiled as usual, and I did actually tear up at the end because it's sad that it's over. For me, the Revolution is that I want to go back and start the ride all over again. SO SO SO worth the credit!
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