Indianapolis, IN, United States | Member Since 2008
This is a pretty typical Amanda Quick novel, which I appreciate very much. I like the strength of her female characters and the clash/chemistry with her male protagonists. But AQ was the author who tempted me back into this genre a couple of years ago, after I refused to read historical romance for 35 years because of the rape plot device so many used back when I first started reading adult novels (which was in my early teens so, really, I'm not that old.) In Crystal Gardens: A Ladies of Lantern Street Novel, Evangeline is a woman with a paranormal power had which lead to an attack after a case,so the agency which employs her sends her to rusticate and recuperate. Of course, there are a couple of different mysteries to solve and personal issues with Lucas, the owner of the Crystal Gardens, a vortex of paranormal power. I have avoided most books described as "paranormal" recently because they usually involve characters I just can't accept, such as vampires, werewolves, demons, and the like, being featured as romantic heroes. I guess I am too old for some things. I read a lot of fantasy in my teens from authors such as Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffry, and Mercedes Lackey, so magic and psychic powers are more in my comfort zone as paranormal, and this novel is more in that realm. As for the narrator, it takes me a while to be comfortable with Justine Eyre, but I wouldn't avoid listening to a book because she narrated. She isn't my one of my favorites, but they can't do everything I want to hear. The editing and production values are good as well.
Setting: 1826, England
Narration: You know how, with some books, the narrator helps draw you in? You don't really notice the narration because it's so good? Yeah, well that isn't the case here. I kept getting pulled out of the story by the narrator's voice.
While this book has Christmas in the title, it isn't necessary for it to be in that season to enjoy it. It was good anyway.
Camilla Stuart is the 28 year old widowed companion to Lady Devonmont, who is estranged from her son, Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont. Because he never writes, never visits, the Lady is quite distressed. So Camilla sends him a message telling him that his mother is ill and he should come. When he gets there, he finds his mother in good health.
Except for a short interview with his parents when he was 21, then at his father's funeral, Pierce has not been home for 23 years. He was sent off to school when he was 8 and his parents never wrote or visited. He spent all his holidays with his father's cousin, where he was welcomed into the household. Needless to say, he is quite embittered at his mother for being sent away without communication or explanation, so he has ignored every letter she has written since his father's death, throwing them into a box, unread.
When Pierce meets Camilla, he his fascinated. While she is not his usual type, she is forthright, and she sees beneath his rogue's mask. He said he would stay only the first night, but he ends up staying and blackmailing Camilla into entertaining him every night in his bedroom. She reads to him, plays cards, or just talks with him. They do not hop into bed first thing, though he does flirt outrageously.
Character and plot development are good. I laughed at some of the dialog, and I shed a few tears as well. It's sweet.
This is a credit-worthy listen. I think it is an offshoot of another book, but it's a good stand-alone.
Setting: Atlanta, future
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narration: Renee Raudman does a good job of differentiating characters. It's great when a good narrator is combined with a good production team.
The protagonist, Kate Daniels, is a mercenary who deals with paranormal problems. Her guardian, the Knight Diviner in the Atlanta Chapter of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, was killed by someone or something, and she decides to investigate the murder. Though she expects to be discouraged by the Knight Protector, he actually sanctions her activity in that endeavor. Over the course of this adventure she deals with The Masters of the Dead, who control vampires; the Pack, a band of paramilitary shapechangers; a queen of the Undead; an ancient evil being; and a nice doctor.
I have to admit that I burst out laughing many times. The kind of laughter generated by the surprise of unexpected dialogue or actions. Like when she first goes to meet with The Lord of the Pack, a werelion, and calls "here kitty, kitty."
This is the first in a series, I got it on sale, and I figured "eh, why not?". I was pretty sure this would the only book in the series I would listen to, since urban fantasy is not my usual read. Now, I'm not so sure. I didn't expect to enjoy it this much.
Definitely worth the read.
Setting: England, 1887
Narration: I gave it 2 stars because I'm polite. Alrighty then... I cannot like Michael Page's voice, because it sounds like he is speaking from the back of his mouth, as if his vocal chords are tangled up. It wasn't irritating enough to make me turn off the book, but it did keep me from falling into the story as I do with a really good narrator. I will get the books I really want on Kindle rather than audio if he's the narrator.
The story has a nice plot. The hero is Winfield Elliott, Viscount Stillwell. He has the reputation of being somewhat of a rogue, plus he has had 3 broken engagements. But when his house burned, his stuffy side comes out, and so do his conservative ideals. The heroine is Lady Miranda Garret, a widow with a secret. She has been running her late husband's architecture firm, making her a (gasp!) woman of business. When her firm, Garret & Tempest, accepts the commission to rebuild, the architect is actually Lady Garret. But she had performed the same task when her husband was alive, allowing him to take the credit. In the Victorian era, women had their place, and that was in the home doing as their husbands directed, not performing in a man's profession. It was a time more restrictive to women of the nobility, as they were always in the eye of their peers, living their lives by what would or would not generate gossip. As Miranda and Winfield fall in love, the secret becomes harder for her to keep. So, the plot revolves around the secrets they have, as well as the matter of trust.
I enjoyed the novel very much. The plot, character development, and dialogue were above average. But if it had had a different narrator I would have enjoyed it more. It's worth the credit if you're okay with Michael Page performing it.
Setting: San Francisco, contemporary
Narration: Eva Kaminsky provides her usual performance. Average vocal range, not great with male voices.
Now for the story. This is third person, from Smith and Valentina's points of view. Smith Sullivan is a famous, hunky movie star. All those Sullivan men are gorgeous, but he is probably the best-looking of the lot. He is in SF to produce, direct, and act in a movie. Valentina Landon is the older sister and watchdog for her little sister, Tatiana, who is playing the female lead in the movie. Tatiana is 21, and not an air-head. Anyway, Smith is very attracted to Valentina, more based on her personality because she downplays her looks, wanting to appear professional. She is attracted to Smith because he turns out to be down to earth, and he actually has a personality of his own rather than one based on the character he portrays in the movie. However, she will not date anyone in the film industry. But he works his charms, she goes out with him anyway, then etc. It's a lovely little love story.
What bothered me about it? It's the movie they are filming. When have you, while watching a movie, known what the characters were thinking and feeling? Every time, because it is shown to you by action and dialogue (if it's a good film). In this case, the author doesn't show the dialogue and action so much as tell it. She tells you what the characters being played by Smith and Tatiana are thinking and feeling. I believe the "real" people should experience internal thoughts and feelings based on the action and dialogue being filmed.
Worth the credit if you are listening to the series.
This is my last review of The Sullivans. I read #8, Lori's story, on my iPad. I found it less compelling than the others, as though Ms Andre was getting tired.
I also read #9, the beginning of the Seattle Sullivans. I liked it a lot. I don't know how much interaction there is between the two families, so you may be able to read those as a different series. There are only 4 or 5 of the Seattle family. Apparently, #10 is the story of the parents of the 8 SF Sullivans. I believe all of them are on audio, but if I get them, it will be a while.
Setting:,San Francisco , CA, present day
Narration: Eva Kaminsky does a good job through this series, but her range isn't that great, so when there is more than one male in the scene, it is a little difficult.
This story had a meatier plot than the others. It is, of course, a love story, but there's more to it than that. This one, as with Sophie and Jake's story, dips into the past. This is due to a previous relationship in which Ryan and Vicki were close friends for a year in high school. They love one another, not only because of that year in school, but because the friendship grew through email and phone calls. Of course, they don't confess their love, so this is part of the conflict in the plot.
Now, around 10 or 15 years later, Ryan is a well-known professional baseball player in SF, and Vicki is a not so well known sculptor. She married a Svengali kind of fellow sculptor right after college and they lived a somewhat nomadic life. Apparently, her husband was condescending regarding her talent, as well as her refusal to join in sexual games with others in the arts community. She finally saw the light and divorced the control freak. Now she has returned to SF to apply for a fellowship. She calls on Ryan to help her out when one of the judges sexually harasses her. That guy is just icky. Now, Ryan moves her into his guest room because she was living in the Mission District, apparently a dangerous place. So, we have the conflict in the love story, and the fellowship contest with the creepy judge. See? A whole lot more than a personality-driven plot.
I do have a little bit of twinge issue with timing. First, the Army doesn't move families every year. That would be a waste of the tax payer's money. The only time a Soldier is at a duty station for less than 2 years is when he/she is posted to a hardship area, like Korea. In that case, the family stays behind. One year seems a little short for the development of lasting love. This story would still have worked with the family staying the minimum of 2 years. The other issue is with that gap between her leaving Palo Alto and returning to the area. Was it 15 years? Or was it that she was married for 10 years? I could not figure it out.
Anyway, you won't want to miss this one in the series.
Setting: San Francisco, CA. Contemporary
Narration: Ms Kaminsky gives us her usual performance. It's a good thing that all the guys aren't conversing, because there isn't a great difference in her men from one book to the next.
This is a standard romance with the focus on what keeps them from acting on their desire. Strange, because Heather is presumably a non-virgin, having had a couple of LTRs in the past, so what would be the big deal in starting a liaison. Perhaps it's because Zach is a man-ho, eschewing relationships wherein the lady is looking for marriage. There's really not much to the plot except for those personal issues which they don't share with one another. The sex is a bit graphic, but not so graphic that I would classify it as erotica.
Worth the credit if you're into the series. Actually, any of the books could almost be a stand-alone, except for the epilogue, which sets you up for the next book.
Setting: San Fracisco, contemporary
Narration: Eva Kaminsky gives a creditable performance. I think she is improving as she gets to know all the characters better.
This is the fourth in The Sullivans series. As far as a series goes, this one has good connectivity, with the family showing up as secondary characters in all the books thus far, though some are more prominent than others. In this book, Sophie's twin sister Lori and her brother (Jake's best friend) Zach are the main secondary people.
Successful owner of a chain of pubs, Jake McCann is a strong, brooding kind of man. He has secrets no one except Zach knows, and a horrendous upbringing. Though close to the family, he keeps his distance from Sophie "Nice" Sullivan. The family includes a winery owner, a world-renowned photographer, a firefighter, an actor, a choreographer, a professional baseball player, and the owner of a chain of garages. Sophie is a librarian. She is the quiet one, the observer.
After her brother's wedding in Napa, Sophie goes to Jake's rental house and seduces him. He tries to resist, but she is everything he has ever wanted, the woman he loves, though he will not tell her. After the wild night of love-making, while she's sleeping, he slips away and returns to San Francisco. It seems, to Sophie, that it was "wham-bam, thank you ma'am" when he avoids her, and doesn't show up as usual for the monthly family gatherings. This is a story of unrequited love and fear. Jake is afraid that he isn't good enough for Sophie, and she's afraid he will never return her love.
I liked this novel because, even though it starts with Sophie and Jake loving one another, there is still a sense of time passing as they work out the issues in their relationship. Everything doesn't happen at once. While it isn't a tear-jerker, it still pulls at the heart. I think Ms Andre is getting better with this series as she continues bringing life to the family.
It is worth the credit, especially if you have read the first 3 in the series.
Tomorrow, on to Zach's story.
Setting: San Francisco, contemporary
Narration: Eva Kaminsky continues to give a fine performance.
This is the 3rd in The Sullivans series. The plots in this series continue to improve with each book. The plot is related in 3rd person alternating between Gabe and Megan's point of view. In this one, Gabe Sullivan is a firefighter who, in the opening scene, rescues Megan and her daughter Summer from their apartment during a 3 alarm fire. The three meet more formally at the hospital where Gabe is recovering from an injury sustained during that fire. Summer immediately begins a steady hero-worship of Gabe, and does whatever she can to see him, dragging her mother along. Gabe is wary of getting involved with a fire victim due to a relationship that went bad in his past. He is attracted to Megan, but she, too, has issues related to men who take risks. She is the widow of a Navy fighter pilot who died while flying a small, privately owned plane. The plot takes place over several months, so there's a slower build-up in the relationship. Gabe puts his wariness aside and begins to pursue Megan, and soon declares his love. But, though they become lovers, Megan is loath to let go of her fears. She is afraid that if she lets herself love him, it would be too devastating if he went out to fight a fire and never came home. This is a sweet story with a side of steam. The sex isn't graphic enough to fall into the erotica category, and the only violence has to do with a couple of fires. This is the best of the 3 I've re listened to so far.
Worth the credit, for sure.
Now, off to #4, Sophie's story.
Setting: Mainly San Francisco present day
Genre: Contemporary romance
Narration: Ms Kaminsky once again provided a creditable performance. I'm getting used to her style, so any limitation are pretty much forgotten.
This begins right after the first book in the series. But, as with the first, the falling in love happens too quickly. Lust at first sight? Yes. Love within two days? Not so much. Maybe, despite the fact that most of my books are romance, I'm not a romantic. But I really did like the situation of two disparate people hooking up. Nicola picks Marcus up in a bar for a one-night-stand, but they can't get enough of each other, so they extend their sexual liaison through Monday. I think it started on Wednesday. I really like Marcus. He's conflicted about the differences between them. Then on Monday, Nicola decides that the relationship can't possibly work. So at least toward the end, you finally get a sense of time passing as they work things out. Surprisingly, the book doesn't end with plans to marry, or even cohabit. That's a change from what I usually read.
You will likely want to read the entire series because the characters are so likable. There are 8 San Francisco Sullivan's. You can space the books out, of course, I read them all practically back-to-back. I think I had to wait for the last two or three, but I got those as they came out.
Worth the credit and time? Yes.
Setting: Napa Valley, California, contemporary
Genre: Steamy romance
Narration:: Eva Kaminsky did a good job with differentiating characters, especially Chase's sexy drawl.
Okay, then. It was a dark and rainy night... Chase meets Chloe as she is walking along the side of the road, away from her wrecked car. He talks her into letting him take her somewhere, and she asks him to take her to a cheap hotel. Instead, he takes her to the guest house at his brother's winery. He is a photographer and plans to do a fashion shoot at the winery for the next few days. Chloe is wary of staying there because, as Chase had already figured out, she is the victim of domestic violence.
I had a hard time with the plot, because I cannot believe in the "love at first sight" trope. I just cannot fall into the story. I can see a casual hook-up happening this fast, but within 2 days, perhaps less, Chase is thinking long-term commitment. I know it happens, because my parents married after a couple of dates, but it was not a happy marriage. I just can't stop thinking that these people need to get to know one another better. Chase and Chloe's main characteristics were defined, but it's usually the little things that cascade into marital hell, and having this at the back of my mind prevented me from enjoying the story to the fullest.
There aren't too many sex scenes, but they were pretty steamy. Definitely on the erotic side. There is one scene of relatively graphic violence, but it is not sexual in nature.
Worth the credit if you can forget about the timeline and you like a little steam with your love.
Now, I'm off to re-listen to the second in The Sullivans series.
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