Kerrigan Byrne is quickly becoming a favorite romance audible author! I really enjoy her highland historical novellas (I've probably listened to each of them 3-4 times each by now) so while I was pleased that she had a full length novel available on Audible, I was a bit hesitant to download it because I thought without the berserkers and banshees and historical context, the bloom might quickly come off the rose, so to speak. I am here to tell you - I was wrong! Totally loved this story, and really hoping the next installment comes out soon.
The story is VERY Dharma meets Greg, if Greg was an FBI agent and Dharma was the lucky survivor of an attack by a serial killer. Seriously - she's a vegan (Bacon doesn't count) who teaches the un-copywrighted (un-trademarked?) version of Bikram yoga and he's a classic meat and grease and tv dude, and never the two shall meet blah, blah, blah. At first I was concerned the readers were going to get a lecture on organic living (read: Byrne did not harp on about it like Diane Duvall did in Darkness Dawns, in case you read/ listened to that one) but it quickly becomes clear this is the fodder on which these star-crossed lovers must base their "we could never work" assumptions.
But of course lust has a way of pushing all of that to the side, and over the course of the investigation and hunt for John The Baptist, the two can't keep their hands to themselves, and hotness ensues. And of course by the end they realize how much they looove each other and can't live without each other. Cue the HEA!
Byrne did a great job of keeping the story and the romance moving along without falling short on either count. Derek Perkins is an excellent narrator - my only criticism is that his American accents are just a bit off, and don't sound quite as genuine as I'd hoped. But that being said, I'll take a British male narrator with less-than-perfect American over most of the female romance narrators out there if for no other reason than I like my men to sound very manly, and most lady narrators out there simply can't or don't get the job done for me.
When I checked the author's website, it looks like there are several more lined of for this series....which is AWESOME! I just hope they get turned into audiobooks, and anything else this wonderful author has published already!
I'm really at a crossroads about this book. I think Sevastyan is a hot character, as is the chemistry between Nat and him, BUT. I am OVER this format. If anything, this second part of The Professional is making me question Ms. Cole a bit. Would all of her books be this frustrating (not just in the good "Next time on..." way) if published in installments? Although we finally got some deliciously delicious sex, that was the only good part. The rest was b.s. drama between the two, without any of the anticipation and build up from Part One, and by necessity no HEA we're going to get from Part Three. Or should I say, the HEA we'd better get!
In my review of Part One, I made comment that I wished I'd waited to purchase until the entire thing was published (preferably as one volume). This installment only reinforces my earlier opinion. Because it ended on a cliffhanger, part of me wanted to download the next one right away and keep going. But, I was so irritated with Natalie and a little bit Sevastyan, that I still haven't bought Part Three. I probably will sooner than later, but since it feels like I'm having to overpay for a less-than-awesome Kresley Cole story that isn't even narrated by Robert Petkoff....I'm not in a huge rush. Ya know?
I'm now on Book 8 of this series, so I guess it's time to gush about it for a minute!
I was kind of burnt out on PNR when I decided to pick up this audiobook. So glad I did! Although the world Ms. Laurenston creates is not noticeably different than others I've read (maybe the most obvious difference is that shifters seem to be the only paranormal element to the stories?), she totally makes up for the lack with legitimately good writing and character development. And she's got a great narrator to back her up, so that should really seal the deal for anyone who likes a good shifter romance. Total bonus (according to moi)? This first book in the series is actually two shorter stories, introducing you to two couples who have some social ties, but are separated enough that you get two completely different introductions to the Pride series for the price of one. Who doesn't love a good deal?!
I admittedly didn't love the first story about Dez, a full human cop from the Bronx, and Mace, a lion shifter who's carried a torch for her since they were kids. This one didn't get me fully hooked, but I was enjoying the narration and the presentation of the world Ms. Laurenston was giving, and found myself wanting to listen at every available opportunity. Maybe I was just out of it when I listened, because that's the only time it's happened so far!
The second story I enjoyed much more. I really liked Ronnie Lee Reed and Brendan Shaw, and found their story much more enjoyable. I mean, hi, it's love at first sight for Brendan. That's always good for me. Also thought the sex was hotter, for sure. But what made me remember this story more than the other? Perhaps because they're both shifters? Maybe because I love crazy southerners? Or could it be that I'm just a sucker for a man getting into a brawl with his own family over a woman (cuz I'm messed up like that)? Ummm, all of the above!
In general, this series is totally worth the time and credits. All the books contain humor, intrigue, interesting characters and some decently hot sex scenes. (I say decently hot because they don't really get HAWT like a Kresley Cole, ok real talk, like a Robert Petkoff-narrated book, but they still get my pulse going.) I also can't over-emphasize how much I like a well-written book containing characters that don't have to do stupid and completely absurd things to propel the plot. I've thoroughly enjoyed every installment, and have already re-listened to one of the books that particularly grabbed me. If this kind of thing is your bag, you really can't go wrong.
I saw a lot of stellar reviews for this book, and I love me a good suspense/ mystery novel, so I was really excited to start this book.
The premise - wife goes missing on the 5th anniversary of her marriage, and it quickly becomes clear there is something amiss. Did the husband do it? What's he hiding? - and format really grabbed me. The book is written both from the first-person perspective of the wife, Amy, starting from the moment she and Nick meet, as well as from the first-person perspective of the husband, Nick, starting from the day Amy goes missing.
I was hooked.....for the first few hours. But maybe I've read/ watched to many of these kinds of tales, because about 1/4 of the way in, I had a very strong (in the end correct) hunch about what was really going on, which made me completely lose interest in the story. In fact, it took about 3 months of periodic listening before I finally decided to just bear down and finish this thing.
Again, the "twist" was a far-gone conclusion. Also, I've watched Luther on BBC (which I LOVE) so Amy just felt like a more annoying and if you can believe it, less sympathetic version of Alice. (Ok confession, once Amy comes clean about setting Nick up for a fall and stops being polite and starts getting real - yes, I just quoted The Real World! - she's actually more interesting than fake Amy, but still wah wah compared to other literary and screen sociopaths.)
I appreciate that the ending is kind of effed up and not an "HEA" (read: Amy doesn't gets what's coming to her) but after having spent 16+(?) hours with these completely un-likeable characters - seriously, there is nothing redeeming about the Dunnes - the least Gillian Flynn could have done was give the reader a satisfactory ending. Instead of, what? Crazy is as crazy does? After all of that BS, the least she could have done was kill, paralyze or seriously maim one or both of this married pair. Is that so much to ask?
So, the big Q is would I recommend it??? Ehhh. Now that I know it's being made into a movie.....maybe just wait for the movie. And if you just love it SO much, then read the book. That way, if you don't like the movie, you've only wasted 2 1/2 hours of time, not 6 times that amount on the book.
p.s. The narrators were easily the best part of this story. In particular, Julia Whalen did a fantastic job - her bomb narration skills were all that kept me going through Amy's sections sometimes!
Bravo to Tina Folsom for writing gay characters into her Scanguards Vampires series, and double bravo for actually dedicating a whole book to a gay love story!
We've known for some time that Thomas holds a flame for young Padawan, Eddie. And while I was hopeful that we'd hear their story, I wasn't going to hold my breath. So when I saw there was finally a Thomas-Eddie story out there, I actually skipped 2 books in the series because I was so excited for this one. Totally worth it!
Writing a gay romance is probably a fine line to walk as a traditionally heterosexual author since you can't really anticipate how readers will react, and what they can handle, but I think Ms. Folsom navigated through it beautifully. I especially appreciated that Eddie sort of came into his gayness through the course of the story, which I think may be what happens for a lot of people who come out later in life. It added a lot of realness to the story, and in some ways, kind of makes this one the sweetest of all. You really feel for Thomas, who's resigned himself to never having his feelings reciprocated, but you also feel for Eddie, who starts having real feelings for Thomas, but is so confused about the whole thing.
Obviously there is gay sex involved, so if that's a problem, turn back now. But really, that just means more male pronouns, more BJs and more anal sex, which come up in a ton of regular M-F erotic novels anyways, so unless you have a problem with homosexuality on principle, this novel isn't any racier or more shocking than any other book in this series.
If you enjoy this series and are cool with boy-boy love, totally worth a credit.
As a side note, I actually liked the previous narrator for the series, but not mad about Eric G. Dove taking over the reins. He has a kind of gruff but young voice that I like, and he did a good job of differentiating between Thomas and Eddie.
I thoroughly enjoyed Kerrigan Byrne's first set of novellas, Unclaimed, and it quickly became a go-to when I was low on book money and needed to re-visit my own library. So, naturally I was thrilled to see Audible had made another set of her novellas available. This set, Reclaimed, I like even better than the first! Both are well-written and well-narrated, but I just enjoyed the characters more in this set than the previous, and find myself now wanting to listen to this one more than Unclaimed.
The one thing I'd like to note that Ms. Byrne did that is quite impressive, is that each story is highly individual to each pairing. Sometimes in a series an author ends up re-creating character patterns or relationships, where it becomes hard to separate different couples from each other after you've read through six. Not so with these six total highland historical novellas. Each is unique, and as I listened to each for the first time, they all felt fresh and new.
And I know some people don't love short stories, but if you're waffling, these are the ones to give it a go with! Even though each story is only a few hours, they don't feel underdeveloped at all. They really are well balanced - if you like PNR or historical romance with a little magic, it's not even a question. Just add to cart. And if you haven't listened to her other stories, add those too.
Before I gripe about the format, let me be clear that I did very much enjoy this first installment of The Professional. It's written in first-person (Natalie's - only acceptable reason Robert Petkoff isn't narrating this Cole story) which is a nice change, and she doesn't seem to be prone to the over-reacting a lot of that IAD heroines tend to do. The chemistry between the two lovebirds is hot for sure, and I'm surprised at the lessons on Russian culture. Wasn't expecting it but really liking it!
Now, the format of this story. It's about 4 hours, and I got the book on sale for $5. Not too bad. But, this is only part 1 of 3, which means in the end I'm going to end up shelling out $15 (or more) for this story by the time it's done, when the IAD novels are less than $10 a pop. LAME! And on top of it, you're going to make me wait a total of 6 weeks to finish the story. I can understand the appeal from a publisher's perspective, and maybe for the print reader, but for audio folks, it's a bummer situation.
So, the book is good, but had I been really thinking/ what I'd do if I could do it over - I'd wait to see if they end up releasing it as one volume in a few months at a standard price. Because if you start, you're going to end up like me and overpaying...because now I can't NOT buy the next one as soon as it becomes available since I'm totally sucked into the story!
Having already read the book, re-listening in preparation of seeing the movie was great. I was able to enjoy the events as they unfolded without stressing about what was going to happen. Hearing the story again was also a reminder of what a great novel this is, regardless of intended age level.
Peeta is definitely a favorite, because his intentions are always clear, and he has remained true to himself throughout the changes happening in Panem. As Haymitch comments, Peeta is better than all of them, and I tend to agree.
Grace Kelly realness. She's a good narrator and has great diction, but having her narrate these books is like....wearing a ball gown to a baseball game. The dress is amazing and gorgeous, but totally out of place. This is how I feel about this narrator for these books. She has such a strong finishing school sound to her voice that is rather jarring when most of the main characters are from parts of the world where you'd expect a more "relaxed" voice. I didn't need to hear a West Virginia accent for Katnisss or anything, but someone with a less formal tone would have fit the overall feel of the books better.
I'm sure whatever tagline that's being used is fine.
This book is awkward compared to the first and third in the series, but I think that's generally the way with Part Two stories in general. Regardless, it's fabulous, engaging, gets the reader thinking about a lot of "big" issues, and in general is so much more awesome than the Twilight series. Even my mother, who is a Classics and Non-fiction elitist in general, loved this series. Really nothing not to like. Get to listening already!
For PNR, not too bad. The twist in the plot of this one is that there are Immortals and Vampires. Both drink blood, both sensitive to light blah blah blah, but apparently all Immortals are just good, and Vampires can't help but become bad. I'm waiting for that mold to be broken at some point in the series if it continues, but for now, thems the brakes.
In general the quality of the story was good. No unnecesary character drama, no insipid heroines, just straight forward PNR (heavy on the romance) with a little suspense/ mystery thrown in for good measure.
Ms. Potter does a good job of reflecting her narration pace with the pace of the story, so when stuff gets heavy, she gets heavy, etc. She also does Brit accents very well (I know she does a lot of highlander stories) so that's a sweet bonus.
Sadly, no. I got a little bored halfway through so I had to step away for a bit before I could finish. That being said, it picked up pace toward the end and I'm probably going to get the second book in the series with my next credit.
Here are my negative comments that made it not a 5-star rating:
1) As others mention, there is a LOT of heavy-handed promotion of the organic lifestyle. I'm totally down with all of it, but it's not only jarringly out-of-place in a PNR, it really disrupts the story. If it had been brought up once or twice when Sarah and Roland first get to know each other that would be fine, but Ms. Duvall has to drop not-so-subtle hints throughout the entire book, at which point it's like, OK, I GET IT. The Horse is dead. Please Stop Beating It.
2) PRIUS ENGINES DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT ROAR TO LIFE. THEY ARE SILENT UNDER 10 MPH. DO BETTER RESEARCH NEXT TIME, KTHX.
3) I'm sure many, many, many women love men who are all sensitive and talk about their feelings and such. I guess I have too many strong and silent men in my life, because I actually find it to be....too much. Too mushy? Too metro even? I dunno. Feel like their actions, not their words, should be the demonstration.
As a short story, I loved it! It only clocks in at around 5 hours, but I felt it was a fully realized story, and I definitely connect to the characters and their romance. Sometimes I listen for twice as long without getting the same result.
I appreciated that the plot wasn't driven by silly decisions or overly emotional characters, but was a sweet story that seemed real, minus the whole shifter thing. Actually reminded me of both Alpha and Omega and Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs. Quiet romances. I like 'em!
Okay x 3. Her Irish accents sound slightly cockney, but thankfully Ronan is American so it's not as noticeable as in the other books in the series. Otherwise she does a good job. You can tell who's who.
I was halfway through book 2 in this series and it started to lose my interest so I decided maybe I just needed to not read about cats for a while and picked this one up. So glad I did! I really enjoyed the story, and appreciated that it was a concise telling. I'm a huge fan of short romance stories if done right. I actually went back and listened to this again I enjoyed it so much! It seems pricey for being on the short end, but I think it's totally worth a credit!
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