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  • Meant to Be

  • By: Jea Hawkins
  • Narrated by: Lori Prince
  • Length: 5 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41

Twenty years ago, best friends Alice and Misty shared a kiss, and then their entire relationship unraveled. Alice Cavanaugh has spent the past 20 years trying to forget her best friend's betrayal. She moved on with her life as a single mother and librarian in her hometown. But when Alice finds out Misty is coming for their high school reunion, she can no longer hide her feelings.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Lucky for both women that neither moved on!!

  • By Kara on 12-26-18

Lucky for both women that neither moved on!!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-26-18

"Meant to Be" is six hours long as an audiobook. I was very much looking forward to comparing Jea Hawkin's version of the second-chance lesfic trop with the much shorter treatment of the trope by Lucy Felthouse in "Another Dance".

Now, I know many people love this plotline, but as I’ve shared before, it's not my favorite. Though I do enjoy the stories, I don't believe in spending your life waiting to see if someone who left you 10 or 20 years ago just might come back to you for your mutual HEA. Giving that much power for your own happiness to someone who chose to build a life without you is just not for me. IRL, my first love, and then-current girlfriend, told me over the phone during my freshman year at university that she'd just gotten married...to a man. Not expected, and not fun. And while I'll always have some great memories of my first love, no...I do not spend my days pining for her and adopting cats waiting for inevitable loneliness in middle and old age.

Anyway...I share my perspective with you because while I don't penalize any book for being overly unbelievable, neither do I get all warm and gushy at second-chance HEAs and award instant five stars. I probably dissect the story a bit more than usual.

With all that in mind...this story is pretty unrealistic and unbelievable! Its very well written, its got some great dialogue, Lori Prince provides fantastic narration...but sheesh for both MCs! Actually, two sheeshes...each MC deserves her own!

38yo MC Alice is worried about her upcoming 20th reunion because she was mysteriously abandoned by her then bff and kind of girlfriend, the now world-famous musician MC Misty. Now, immediately after Misty left her, Alice decided to be a rebel and had a one-night stand with Bill, resulting in her now 16yo daughter...and after that hetero experience, Alice became confident that she's a lesbian. In theory, because she never dates.

Which works out well, because superstar Misty also never dates...because no-one could compare with Alice, her once-love, whom she abandoned, without explanation, and with whom she's never been in contact with for 20 years.

Anyway, they meet again, talk, sort of explain, sort of but don’t apologize, meet again, talk again, sort of explain more, do apologize, and then repeat that cycle for most of the book.

Yes, as 18yo's, each had fears and uncertainties...but they certainly didn’t have very good communication skills! Aannnnd...they still don't. Lots of flirting, explaining, apologizing and talking but not until the very VERY end of the book...no real communication between them. I didn't dislike either character, but neither did I really root for either of them, or for both as a couple. Misty is a doormat to her manager and label, and the ending made my eyeballs hurt with the rolling it induced. I had a very difficult time believing that both characters were lesbian virgins, and that Misty was even a hetero virgin. It just didn’t feel like true love waiting to be finally acknowledged as much as two women willing to live unhappy lives because of mistakes each made at 18 years old.

I liked the secondary characters, Alice’s friends and 16yo daughter. Misty's manager and label executives were pretty over-the-top...like evil Disney cartoon characters as one goodreads friend once quipped.

Back to my initial comment about comparing this plotline with a 1 hour vs. 6 hour treatment...the 1 hour treatment wins. MCs split, MCs reconnect, MCs still feel attraction, MCs apologize and begin building a life together. Yeah...1 hour covers it. While 6 hours gave more time to explore friends and family as secondary characters, too much of the additional 5 hours was repeating apologies and revisiting "what if" self-doubts and ongoing insecurities over and over.

So, I rate "Meant to Be"s writing and dialogue 4*, the MCs and their story as 2.5*, the narration as 5*, and overall...3.7*, rounded up to 4*.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

My rating and my review was not in anyway affected by my having been provided a review copy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Bottoms Up Bar and Thrill

  • By: Giana DeSalles
  • Narrated by: Leigh DeSalles
  • Length: 2 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 10

 Through coaxing and manipulation by her best friend, Maxine Dubois joins a “faceless” sex club. Her reasons for joining are mostly due to the breakup of six-year engagement to Thomas Carmichael III and...she is about to turn 30. She soon becomes addicted and enthralled but then is faced with deception and lies that turn her personal life upside down. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Erotica as a Shakespearean comedy

  • By Kara on 11-29-18

Erotica as a Shakespearean comedy

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-29-18

Bottoms Up Bar and Thrill delivers eroticism along with surprisingly serious discussions of the nature of love, lust, self-worth and whether The One really exists for anyone, much less everyone. The narrator did a terrific job with all of the voices, and I really enjoyed listening to her deliver the story to us.

I normally listen to lesfic, and while there is lesbian action, there is much more of a focus on hetero activities.

MC Maxine was dumped by her fiance of six years, and her bff, MC Kendra, finally succeeds in getting her to move on. What better way to lighten up than to join a faceless sex club? Antics at the sex club were confusing, though. Somehow anonymous sex with faceless partners kept turning into people requesting their favorites...I never figured out how that tied in with anonymous.

Well, Maxine has fun with a member (heh heh), the member has fun with her, the club owner (Jason) has the hots for Maxine, Maxine has the hots for the owner, another member requests Maxine, and Maxine discovers that girls can be fun too, Maxine argues with her misogynistic boss and interviews for another job, and bff Kendra also likes Jason.

I kind of liked Kendra, though she certainly chose an interesting way of getting her love interest to notice her. I also kind of liked Maxine's path toward self-empowerment, but I lost lots of respect for her during one of the scenes with her boss.

Jason felt too artificial. Super rich, super handsome, runs a sex club, no longer believes in The One, he believes there are multiple soul mates for each person, and the closest to people can get is through sexual intimacy. Maxine disagrees, she still believes in a more spiritual bonding. Cleverly, she points out that they call it soul mates, not sex mates.

Eventually, as in a Shakespearean comedy, true motives, actions and feelings are revealed. Human nature being human nature, much anger and non-communication ensues. After all the manipulation and hurt feelings, I thought the ending was too tidy of a wrap up for these complicated, flawed characters.

I rate Bottoms Up Bar and Thrill as 3.75* for the story and the characters, 4.75* for the narration, and I recommend the audiobook with a 4* overall rating.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

My rating and my review was not in anyway affected by my having been provided a review copy.


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box

  • By: Tom Lichtenberg
  • Narrated by: Tess Irondale
  • Length: 4 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

When I was born I was so small I was mistaken for a French fry. I was never an ordinary creature. My best friend was a seagull. I was strictly illegal. Artificially Intelligent Persons like me, commonly known as "apes", had been banned ever since that thing with the Twelve Elevens. Mother raised me for the black market. Buyers and sellers all had their plans, but then I grew a mind of my own. This is my story, the story of how my brain ended up inside this box.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic story of AI, from an AI's POV

  • By Kara on 11-20-18

Fantastic story of AI, from an AI's POV

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-20-18

How my brain ended up inside this Box is not lesfic, nor is it a romance at all...well...actually, since it's important to know and love yourself before you can love another...perhaps it's the required prequel to a future romance. What my brain unequivocally is, is an absolutely mind-bogglingly creative take on AI, and on humankind's reactions to AI. Narrator Tess Irondale brought MC candles' story to life, and along with candles we experience uncertainty, yearning, joy and wonder.

Candles is not the MC's real name, and we never learn what her real name is. She grows up thinking she's a girl, and she likes her sundress...but others call her a boy, and make her change her clothes and get a haircut.

Candles is an AIP - an Artificially Intelligent Person, and she shares with us her story of how she came to be, how she learned things that were taught to her, and how she learned things that were hidden from her.

People-people, she learns, have their own agendas and generally don't mean well for her. Bird-people are generally kinder, often quite funny, but sometimes rather dim witted. Other people have their own idiosyncrasies, and candles can converse with them all.

This book is very different from the 2014 movie Ex Machina, but it effectively makes us think of many of the same themes. Created to serve a particular purpose, what if the AI chooses independence? What would the AI want to do? Blend in, destroy, or choose something other than what a human would choose?

There is no omniscient narrator here; we learn of the world as candles learns of the world. What a ride it was! 5* for both the story and the narration!

How my brain ended up inside this Box is the first audiobook by the author, but I notice that he has numerous books available on Amazon, many of them available as part of KU, making it easy to explore his creative mind on Kindle. I hope that further books are released in audio format, and I hope that he continues using terrific narrators such as Tess Irondale!

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

My rating and my review was not in anyway affected by my having been provided a review copy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Dark Path of Romance

  • Kim and Angel, Book 2
  • By: J. Judkins
  • Narrated by: Angela Dawe
  • Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19

For Kim and her memory-challenged girlfriend Angel, a job searching for signs of alien activity implies sanctioned permission to do what needs to be done. Turns out, they’re going to need it! What they lack in skill and training they make up for with tenacity. But as a fan of science-fiction in all its forms, Kim feels up to the challenge. Their investigation attracts the notice of Naomi, an alien who’d rather find love and live in the world than enslave it. Naomi recognizes Angel as one of their own and dares to dream her own dreams of independence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic re-release with terrific narration!!!

  • By Kara on 11-08-18

Fantastic re-release with terrific narration!!!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-08-18

This re-release features Angela Dawe as the narrator; initially, the book was released as an audiobook with a male narrator - Richard Coombs. Now, Coombs may very well be a terrific narrator…but…did I mention he’s a male? This is a book about four lesbians. I tried listening to perhaps 20 seconds of the audiobook sample before deciding it wasn’t for me. Happily, the author realized the error of his ways and recommissioned an audiobook version with one of the very best lesfic narrators in the business - Angela Dawe!

Angela’s voices were fantastic! Naomi took a bit of getting used to, but I quickly liked her voice too. Initially, I felt that the audio speed was too fast. Searching Google for "normal human speaking speed words per minute", the first result (not a sponsored result) is "The average person speaks at somewhere between 125 and 150 words per minute. It's always better to speak more slowly than quickly.

Chapter One of Dark Path to Romance is 12:36 long, and contains 2,086 words. That's 167 words/minute (wpm).

Using the Audible 75% level, the speed becomes 125 wpm. Very understandable, and more pleasant than 167 wpm..though....a bit slow for me.

Why Audible allows nothing between 75% and 100%...yet provides speeds at 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, 2x, 2.5x, 3x and a particularly insane and unusable 3.5x is probably documentation for a true lack of users of audiobooks at Audible.
At an unavailable 90% speed we’d have 150 wpm. So, the Audible audiobook is empirically "too fast", and the "standard" range would be to play it back at 75-90% of the commercial file speaking speed.

Ahhh…but perhaps I nitpick. Please don’t be dissuaded by my geeky girl evaluation of what is a very enjoyable audiobook!

I rated the Kindle version of “Dark Path” 4*, and I rate the audiobook 4.6*, rounded up to 5* because it’s terrific fun and I’ll listen to it many times.

For the record, btw, I was offered a promo code for a free version of the original audiobook (with the male narrator), but I did not acquire the audiobook. That audiobook was also briefly available as part of the Audible Unlimited Romance subscription, and I did not access the book then either. I paid for the Angela Dawe version myself….and I’m very glad to have listened to the book.

Dark Path of Romance - Kim and Angel #2 is highly recommended for fans of silly sci-fi lesbian romance! There’s room for a book three….and I hope J. Judkins delivers!!

Here's my original review of the Kindle Version:

The Dark Path of Romance…Kim and Angel #2 picks up immediately after Book #1. The first book, A Date With Angel: And Other Things That Weren’t Supposed To Happen, is one of my favorite audiobooks - it struck a great (and unusual) balance between lesbian romance, sci-fi and comedy, and I’m glad to say that I also enjoyed the sequel - but with reservations. While the author corrects some of the writing flaws from Date With Angel, he introduces a few new ones in “Dark Path”.

Kim continues to have mixed feelings about her relationship with Angel. Oh, she now accepts that she enjoys sex, but she backtracks on her assertion of love for Angel, and decides to be the sexual aggressor so that Angel won’t feel compelled to marry her for sex. Yeah, she’s still slightly insane, but her plans do keep the book fun. Kim’s internal dialogs aren’t as repetitious nor as lengthy as they were in book one, and I was glad for the tighter writing.

We continue to see Angel primarily thorough Kim’s eyes, and Angel continues to concoct extravagant (and dangerous!) plans for the purpose of helping true love blossom. As one of the new MCs observes, both Kim and Angel are completely insane….”There seems to be a consensus on that,” Angel agrees.

Interactions between Kim and Angel continue to be fun, and their use of, and naming of, the alien device is both unexpected and fun. Conversations with Kim’s father provide further opportunities for terrific humor.

The two new MCs also have several hilarious interactions with each other, and with Kim and Angel, but it’s with these characters that “Dark Path” shows it’s biggest flaw: overall the book and these characters feel rushed to completion. There are several missed opportunities for minor editing and polish that would’ve really helped.

Naomi, an alien like Angel, yearns to be free of her masters and is thrilled to find that Angel found a way to freedom. She’s also astonishingly dim to be a high-ranking alien, and she embraces Kim’s suggestion to be a super villain as a path to individuality. Naomi also is hugely attracted to Melanie, a human, and her cluelessness as to Melanie’s mutual attraction results in some of the funniest parts of the book.

Melanie is the sanest of the four MCs, except for the fact that she’s hugely attracted to Naomi. Her role at Naomi’s cover company is never really explained satisfactorily (does she work for the government, spying on Naomi and the other aliens?), and she pretty much just serves as a straightman (in the comedic sense; she is after all actually a lesbian woman, not a straight man!) for Naomi and also for Angel’s plan to free Naomi.

A Date With Angel felt like a labor of love by the author. It was a bit on the long side, and I suspect he loved what he wrote too much to edit as much as it needed. “Dark Path” feels like lots of great ideas, has some very good dialogue and entertaining action, but I didn’t root for Naomi and Melanie nearly as much as I did for Kim and Angel in book one. I missed things like Kim’s slow recognition that she liked touching, kissing and being touched by Angel…and Angel’s growing realization that she too liked kissing Kim, and Angel trying to get to another base with Kim while Kim acts like she doesn’t want sex, but is constantly disappointed when sex doesn’t happen. There’s none of that level of interaction between Naomi and Melanie. Naomi and Melanie are more like a vaudeville act - funny but without any depth. Certainly their story didn’t really feel like a romance, despite the book title.

I think the author meant to finish this sequel some time ago, and suspect he finally decided it was overdue, and would spend time to just wrap it up. There is no cliffhanger, but the end does hint toward the possibility of a Book #3, continuing the adventures of Kim and Angel.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Coming of the Snow Queen

  • Mythic Erotica Series, Book 3
  • By: Alana Melos
  • Narrated by: Sierra Kline
  • Length: 2 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

In a modern day fantasy land, Kai and Gerta are sweethearts who are very much in love. When Kai is infected with a devilish malady and can only see the worst in people, he breaks up with Gerta and throws himself into the arms of the sensuous, sultry Snow Queen. Gerta goes on a quest of sexual awakening, learning about desire and ecstasy as she searches for her one true love. Will her quest end in rapturous happiness or will Kai refuse her for the cold, lust-filled embrace of the Snow Queen?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Intelligent and fun erotica with GREAT narration!

  • By Kara on 10-26-18

Intelligent and fun erotica with GREAT narration!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-26-18

“The Coming of the Snow Queen” is a very enjoyable erotic tale that is written intelligently and with great humor, and is narrated terrifically with great, err….enthusiasm and exuberance!

MCs Kai and Gerta are impacted by a lust devil’s effort to corrupt humans, and Kai leaves virginal Gerta to protect her from his lust. Gerta is desperate to find Kai and be reunited. Gerta has several, err, adventures during her efforts to find her beloved. It’s truly amazing the things Gerta is willing to learn and do while still technically keeping her v-card for Kai! She learns that “sex and tears are generally the easiest two ways to get what you want”…but the author duly cautions us not to use this lesson for evil! ;)

The story is very inventive and hilarious. We have talking plants, talking animals, iPhones and climate change. Except for the witch and a couple kidnappers, everyone is remarkably open and honest. Despite being horny and overtaken by lust, everyone asks for consent before helping Gerta learn new fun things to do.

Well, love is terrific and lust is amazing…but Kai and Gerta learn that when you combine both everyone can have a really enjoyable time! “Lust” by the way, is the word to use for a drinking game if listening to this book with a group. I wonder how many times it was used!

This is the second book I’ve listened to written by Alana Melos. She has a very creative mind and has a variety of paranormal, adventure and other erotic tales on Audible. For fans of intelligent erotica that includes men and explicit descriptions of men at play, there’s a goldmine of fun awaiting you. For fans of intelligent erotica featuring women who love women, there are scenes within many of the books for us, and I hope the author considers writing some books that don’t involve men in the err, activities.

This is the first book I’ve listened to narrated by Sierra Kline. Wow, is all that comes to mind…just wow! She was really fun to listen to. She keeps the book light and fun, and she adroitly shifts between characters while delivering terrific timing with the many clever asides to the audience. If anyone ever writes “The Naughty Adventures of Shakespearean Characters”, Sierra Kline will be the go-to narrator! She currently has an amazing 432 books on Audible, with 37 being part of the Audible Unlimited Romance Package, but sadly, nearly all look like “alpha male bangs girl” kind of stories. If and when her name ever appears as a narrator for lesfic….I’ll be very very happy indeed!

“The Coming of the Snow Queen” is a very fun, silly erotic story with very fun narration. I rate the audiobook 5*

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

My rating and my review was not in anyway affected by my having been provided a review copy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Homecoming

  • By: Marian Snowe, Ruby Grandin
  • Narrated by: Amy Deuchler
  • Length: 7 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 56
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 54
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 54

Scarlett McKennon’s life in the big city is a big flop. Her cupcake bakery went under, her roommate at her expensive apartment left her high and dry, and her girlfriend just reacted to “I love you” with “No thanks.” Her sophisticated metropolitan dream has crumbled all around her, and the only thing left to do is pull up stakes and return to the small town where she grew up. What could be worse than limping home in defeat? The minute she steps off the train, Scarlett finds out: her first love, Joan, is waiting there to drive her into town, looking quite sexy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic narration; characters fought attraction

  • By Kara on 10-26-18

Fantastic narration; characters fought attraction

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-26-18

“Homecoming” is a very well-written and wonderfully-narrated story of two women who spent far too long working hard at not being in a relationship (again).

I really enjoyed the many very fun silly and often snarky observations and comments from both MC POVs.

”If I hadn’t been there to give her a ride, she probably would have ended up sitting on her suitcase on the side of the road. Maybe playing a lonely tune on a guitar, or making friends with cute forest animals” - Joan

MC Scarlett is likable, but her choices confused me, starting with her moving back to her hometown after her business and her relationship failed in NYC. Why? No…not why did she experience problems in NYC, but why return home? She doesn’t move back in with her parents; they’re not even in town as far as I could tell. She doesn’t seem to have a single friend in her hometown, except for her one-time friend and high school lover MC Joan, whom she doesn’t want to bump into, much less spend time with.

There is smoldering attraction between our MCs, but Joan continues to deny to herself and to Scarlett that she’s a lesbian. Joan constantly pushes Scarlett away, and doesn’t even want to be seen in public with her, for fear the community will label Joan as lesbian…or even as a pedophile. Really? Really?

Yes, MC Joan was difficult to identify with. Desperate to be “normal”, she spent high school being as girly, i.e. non-butch, as she could, and desperately hid her lesbian relationship with Scarlett from her peers, from her father…and as much as she could…from herself. She coldly dumped MC Joan when Joan went off to college, maintained her facade of “the ideal doe-eyed apple pie baking country girl image” for herself and everyone around her. She married Brad, who was attracted to her fake image as his own personal rebellion from his wealthy parents. They tried and failed to have children, and eventually he recognized that Joan didn’t really love him so he found another woman to marry moments after divorcing Joan. Joan spends nearly the entire book denying her obvious attraction to Scarlett. I can understand teenage angst and confusion over sexual identity, but it was frustrating spending so much time with someone hidden deep in the closet, and unaware of the acceptance of lesbians in her own small community.

Despite being pushed away by Joan, Scarlett continues to pine for her. Eventually, her gay best friend Timothy arrives from NYC to chastise her for pining for a long-ago high school girlfriend who doesn’t want to have a relationship with her. He drags Scarlett to a lesbian bar, where everyone wants to be Scarlett’s new best friend. Timothy is an enjoyable character, though he is rather an over-the-top portrayal of a gay man…dashing fashion etc.

Well, as the weeks pass, Joan finally questions whether she wants to live her life pretending to be happy, but finds that Scarlett is now dating someone else instead of waiting for her. I liked her girlfriend Alice very much, and actually wouldn’t have minded if Scarlett and Alice had found happiness together. But, this is Scarlett and Joan’s story, and our MCs finally realize that while they may or may not be soul mates, they stop fighting their mutual attraction and decide to take “baby steps” into a future together, and we have a HFN ending.

This is my tirst time listening to a book narrated by Amy Deuchler; I’m happy to report that she was terrific, and I very much look forward to listening to her narrate additional books in genres I enjoy! Her narrative voices and performance really enhanced “Homecoming”.

I rate the audio narration as 5*, the writing as 4.5*, but the story and the characters as 3*. Overall, I rate “Homecoming” as 4* - recommended.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

My rating and my review was not in anyway affected by my having been provided a review copy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Confessions from the Heart

  • Confessions Series, Book 0
  • By: T.B. Markinson
  • Narrated by: Lori Prince
  • Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 29

Cori Tisdale fears she'll never find a woman who loves her for her and not because she has a famous mother and rich uncle. In an attempt to protect herself, she fills the void in her life with a "friends with benefits" relationship. That is until Cori meets the beautiful and mysterious Kat Finn. Cori quickly falls for the artist, and not everyone in her life is happy about it. Will Cori be forced to choose between love and friendship? Confessions from the Heart is a smart and funny prequel to the best-selling lesbian romance series.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Nope, not for me

  • By JulieM on 09-23-18

Engaging characters; fantastic narration!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-25-18

“Confessions From the Heart” is presented as a prequel to “The Confessions Series”. I’m not sure why the series is numbered 0,1,2 instead of 1,2,3…but as long as we read/listen in the correct order it probably doesn’t matter…though I am almost curious enough to ask the author. But, I digress. More on point - this is a very enjoyable book, with absolutely wonderful narration by Lori Prince.

I know, I know, I always applaud Lori’s narration…but she deserves it, and I want to do my part to let author T.B. Markinson know that the choice of narrator can absolutely make or break an audiobook. In “Confessions”, Lori’s range is showcased particularly well: MC Kat the artist purrs with a sultry sex-kitten voice, former jock MC Cori has a perfectly wry voice, sort of MC Annie has the perfect “no R Boston accent”, and other characters, both male and female, are given voices individually and terrifically as well.

Well, as my Goodreads friend know, I LOVE audiobooks, and it pains me when a bad narrator ruins a great story, so I enjoy a great story all the more when a narrator absolutely enhances the story. But even a great narrator can’t save a poor story, so I’m glad to let you know that Markinson provided a wonderful story; they make a great combination!

The book is filled with wonderful banter between characters, much of it will cause people around you to look at you oddly as you laugh while walking around with headphones. Oh…and do be sure to wear headphones in public…the sex scenes are erotic and wonderful, and you just may rewind and replay a few parts once or twice….you may.

The showcase romance is between Cori and Kat, but as in real life, there are complications. Cori has a Friends With Benefits relationship with BFF Annie, and as mutual friend Sheila observes, sometimes mixing sex with friendship can become messy. And, sometimes, one friend/lover falls in love while the other doesn’t even notice. Uh oh. I liked that tension between characters felt completely realistic and natural. So often lately, even lesfic books with HEA endings introduce some completely unnatural character behavior, or unnecessary new character, just to create turmoil that we are expected to accept and then be glad for the make up after the break up.

I really liked Sheila, by the way; she’s very caring as well as smart. Cori’s family members are included in the book, and her attitude toward relationships is influenced by them, of course. Kat’s parents are included only through Kat’s POV, and we learn how they have influenced who she is, and how she views self and relationships. The family members are realistically nuanced.

Cori’s path to participating fully in a relationship….a relationship she wants….is sometimes frustrating, and I felt she was sending mixed messages to Kat for too long. Kat is described in the blurb as “mysterious”, and I found her very interesting. She’s sexy and sensual, playful and serious. She teases, and she participates. There is major chemistry between Kat and Cori, and as dominant as Cori appears…Kat clearly is in control!

“Confessions” could have been made into a standalone book, with a typical HEA or HFN ending, and with some of the family issues that were raised left as unresolved, having been important only to the behaviors of Cori and Kat. But….it’s not a standalone, it’s the “prequel” to two more books, neither of which are currently available on Audible. (I do hope that Lori Prince is chosen once again as narrator!) I applaud T.B. Markinson for continuing with these characters, and I look forward to the sequels….but….reading the blurbs does make the next two sound much darker than did this first….sorry, prequel….book.

But, as much as I’m not a fan of angst in my lesfic, even for me it would become boring if all stories featured rainbows and unicorns. If any fictional couple can weather some real life drama…I’d bet on Cori and Kat. Markinson has created characters to care about, and I look forward to continuing their story. 5* for the prequel, “Confessions From the Heart”!

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

My rating and my review was not in anyway affected by my having been provided a review copy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • After the Glitter Fades

  • By: Diane Marina
  • Narrated by: Daniela Acitelli
  • Length: 10 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 58
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 54
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53

Siena Armetta. Film star, Hollywood icon, tabloid darling. To her fans and the media, she appears to be living a dream life. But things aren't always as they seem. Siena's number one rule in life - self-preservation at all costs. Admitting the truth could be a career killer. Enter Julia Westbrooke... Julia is soaring to new heights as a nationwide entertainment news anchor. Since coming out, she has been presented with countless opportunities - most recently, entry into a new circle of friends who are among the Hollywood elite, a circle in which Siena Armetta plays a starring role. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Realistic women find romance in Hollywood

  • By Kara on 08-31-18

Realistic women find romance in Hollywood

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-31-18

“After the Glitter Fades” caught my eye as soon as it was released. An author I’ve liked teamed once again with a narrator I really like, with a story that sounded interesting.

I was very surprised to find myself initially disappointed as I began the book. The characters were mostly likable, but they were all making annoyingly bad decisions. As 40yo women, I expected them to making better decisions than women in their teens or early 20s. I’ve got LOTS of books on my to-listen-to list, and perhaps, if this were a Kindle book, I would have given up early and moved on. But Daniella Acitelli is so enjoyable to listen to…I stuck with the book. Wow am I glad I did!

In “After the Glitter Fades”, author Diane Marina writes of people as they (we!) are IRL: flawed, mostly likable people who have made, and are making mistakes. Yet, they grow, they learn, and they are fiercely loyal to friends even in the face of outside and internal pressures and self-doubt and fears.

This is a slow burn romance with mostly fade-to-black episodes of lovemaking. This is not a book of instalove with a perfect trajectory for soulmates destined to have met and to be together, with detailed descriptions of bedroom or shower scenes that make us blush and, errr… re-listen once or thrice just to capture any important nuances that may have been overlooked during the first listen.

Once I realized that I should be enjoying a terrifically written and wonderfully narrated book that featured realistic people and realistic situations, I…well, really enjoyed the book! Why I began the book anticipating a fantasy romance, I just don’t know. Perhaps because of the Hollywood setting, I was expecting a typically unrealistic Hollywood story. Ultimately, I’m very glad it wasn’t!

Also, to be fair, I’ve recently been listening to, but have taken a break from, “Captain of Industry” by Karin Kallmaker, which also addresses the issue of being afraid of coming out for fear of destroying one’s career lead into damaging personal relationships, which, ultimately, are far more important than any career. I’m pretty certain I let some annoyance at that book leak into initial annoyance for this book. Especially since both books do feature flashbacks….not my favorite book narrative structure. The flashbacks in “After the Glitter Fades” are far fewer than with “Captain of Industry”, btw, and also fit into the plot much better. We aren’t expected to live in the past during a flashback, we learn from it.

Okay…let me try to comment on “After the Glitter Fades” without having to use a spoiler tag.

MC Siena is 40yo, and only realized she was lesbian when her then-husband Derek suggested it ten years ago. Derek, btw, is an amazing ex-husband. He loved Siena and was hurt once he realized she loved him, but wasn’t “in love” with him. As superstars of Hollywood, Siena and Derek are never out of the spotlight, even ten years after divorcing. Siena’s agent has her convinced that any hint of her being gay would destroy her career…and her career is all-important. At times, Siena is introspective. She recognizes that her public pretense is “a farce” and “ridiculous”. But she continues the charade. Constant migraines, and frequently not liking the person she’s become doesn’t change how Siena behaves, and it’s difficult to feel empathy for someone in a prison of their own making.

MC Julia is a very successful entertainment news journalist, and is also 40ish. The story alternates POV between Siena and Julia, which works very well as we follow their individual hopes, uncertainties and fears. I found Julia more likable than Siena because she has taken more control over her life. She’s “out loud and proud” as a lesbian in a male dominated industry, and she refuses to take advantage of friends for her television show or her career. I was, though, frequently annoyed that Julia vacillated between being willing to do anything to help Siena stay closeted, and being petulant and angry at she and their relationship being “hidden” by Siena. As the story progressed, I became less annoyed at Julia and more appreciative of the very realistic portrayal of conflicting emotions conveyed by the author and narrator.

Their mutual close friend Elise is also a complicated character. Sometimes I considered her insensitive of her friends and of Siena’s need for being closeted. She certainly has a past that she owns but isn’t proud of, and in the current day her decision to love a married woman adds one of many very realistic infidelity twists to the story. Her character and her past is woven very well into the story of Siena and Julia.

Other side characters are terrific! Siena’s sister Anna and Anna and Julia’s episode with the VW bus was as hilarious as it was emotionally tragic. Siena’s mother and her mangling of english idioms was often very funny too (“up the river without a kazoo”)! I especially liked Toni and Beth and “Laurel’s Cafe”, though I found it pretty unbelievable that a Hollywood star of Siena’s stature could regularly appear in public in Palm Springs for 4 months without anyone but Toni and Beth recognizing her!

As I said earlier, there are many frustrating character flaws, actions that lead to unintended consequences, and angst…but the characters and the story is stronger and more real because of this. “After the Glitter Fades” isn’t a Hollywood romance, this is a romance about people in Hollywood. Yes, there is an HEA (hooray!), but it results from learning to be brave and from giving second chances. 4.25* - definitely recommended!

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

My rating and my review was not in anyway affected by my having been provided a review copy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Chosen One

  • By: T. B. Markinson
  • Narrated by: Lori Prince
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53

Girls are a risk college freshman Ainsley Carmichael can't take. Her powerful political family sees her as the Chosen One who will someday be president. Upholding a carefully crafted veneer is second nature until the first day of class when Maya's mysterious gray eyes hold her in thrall. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great story, awesome performance!

  • By Monique Mehring on 05-29-18

Your Future Can Be Different Than Your Family Past

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-15-18

“The Chosen One” was absolutely delightful on so many levels: as a story of young love, as a story of family pressures and expectations, as a fantastic audiobook thanks to the wonderful narration by Lori Prince, and…for me personally….as a totally unexpected yet very enjoyable reminder of my own family history.

I first noticed “The Chosen One” at about the same time as I decided to listen to Erik Schubach’s “Emily Monroe Is Not The Chosen One”, and wondered whether the plots of a contemporary girl being groomed for political office and a normal girl constantly being mistaken for a look-alike superheroine could possible be similar. Believe or not…they are! But…I digress. Perhaps I’ll explore the similarities when I write a review of “Emily Monroe…”.

MC Ainsley is only 18yo, but because of the pressures she’s grown up with, she is much more mature than a typical university freshman. Likewise, MC Maya, also a freshman though she’s 21, has experienced more drama in life than is usual for her age, and is also quite mature. I point this out because while “The Chosen One” is a very delightful story of first love and young lust, the story doesn’t have the typical teenage YA or NA angst. Oh, there are certainly issues and angst for our MCs, but not of the young immature type.

We experience “The Chosen One” through Ainsley’s POV, and little by little we learn of the intriguing and mysterious Maya The Gray along with Ainsley, her hilariously quirky and devoted cousin Fiona, and Fiona’s lovestruck on-again, off-again boyfriend, the heavy drinking doctor Pat.

Ainsley and Maya have mutual insta-attraction and insta-lust for each other, but family differences quickly get in the way of their budding relationship. Ainsley’s ancestor arrived in the United States around 1652. Although he was an indentured servant from Scotland, essentially a slave, the Carmichaels long ago became part of the American establishment….especially the political establishment. Great things are expected of Ainsley, “The Chosen One”. Maya, on the other hand, is of mixed race heritage, and her chocolate skin, and her meager family resources, is met with disdain by Ainsley’s mother and grandmother. Maya tells Ainsley she feels the past of her ancestors’ slavery every day, whereas noone looks at a Carmichael and thinks of one arriving as a slave.

While differences in their race and income, doesn’t bother Ainsley at all, Maya and her mother have a mysterious secret; their past is hidden. Maya’s mystery adds a very nice element to the story. Having been betrayed by a close friend in the past, Ainsley is compelled to dig into Maya’s past, and Ainsley and Maya must explore the role trust plays in love as well as that of lust and like.

Yes, serious issues abound, but the book is so filled with humor during conversations and daily activities, and Lori Prince does such a wonderful job narrating the different characters, that the book is very fast moving and much lighter feeling than you might think from the heavy family issues and the mysterious pasts. I particularly like the imaginary newscaster in Ainsley’s head, often pointing out stupid things she’s said or done!

Speaking of pasts, I really enjoyed many of the comments relating to history, and references to the Carmichaels roles in politics over nearly 365 years of American life. IRL, my earliest immigrant ancestor arrived in the New World in 1630, more than 20 years before that of the fictional George Carmichael, and was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Various ancestors played many roles throughout much of the original Colonies, with the American Revolution, and with the waves of expansion to what is today the American Midwest and the West Coast. As with the Carmichaels, our family has had plenty of interesting characters over the years, but happily the levels of manipulation, adultery, and murder presented in “The Chosen One” greatly exceeds the shenanigans within my own family….well, as far as I’m aware ;)

“The Chosen One” ends, as one would expect for an 18yo and 21yo, with a HFN. Ainsley and Maya have the mutual respect, love and fortitude to one day realize their HEA, but it’s too soon to call that. This book could end here, most of the plot lines were wrapped up, but there could also be a sequel with more issues arising out of Texas, with the new shift in the Carmichael political power structure, and with Fiona and Pat’s love life. If there is, I certainly hope an audiobook version is released quickly!

4.5* for “The Chosen One”, rounded up for the terrific narration, and for making me dig into some family photos and papers I hadn’t looked at for awhile. It’s a fun book with a happy ending and I’ll listen to it again even knowing the answers to the mysteries.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

My rating and my review was not in anyway affected by my having been provided a review copy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Make Bright the Arrows

  • Flights of the Nanshe, Book 1
  • By: S. A. Huchton
  • Narrated by: Starla Huchton
  • Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 30

What starts off as a simple retrieval of stolen goods turns deadly when Leena Espinoza discovers a girl stashed in a cellar, her guardian murdered. The crew has a soft spot for hard cases, and despite Delilah's odd behavior, offers help instead of turning her over to the authorities. But what they don't know might kill them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable all-woman SciFi adventure

  • By Kara on 08-03-18

Enjoyable all-woman SciFi adventure

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-03-18

If Josh Wheden were given an opportunity to remake “Firefly” with an all-girl cast, he’d likely produce “Make Bright the Arrows (Flights of the Nanshe, Book 1)”. As it is, author Starla Huchton delivers an amazing homage to that classic SciFi series, and she narrates it herself terrifically, using multiple accents to great effect!

My favorite of her voices is that of Cynthia, the pilot, but alas, despite there being identical twins on board the SS Nanshe, this book is not lesfic, is not erotica and there is not even a romance. There is though, a hugely enjoyable story of smugglers with varied pasts, space battles, mysteriously shady organizations, and, as with all great SciFi stories…a human story of friendships and loyalties.

The story is told from the POV of Leena, one of the crew of the SS Nanshe. As the first person to find 15yo Lilah, she is put in charge of her until they find a safe place for her. It’s cute how they bond over watching Leena’s pan-galactic rodeo crush, braiding hair, and talking of climbing trees! I really love it when an author tells a story of real people, not just dazzling high-tech adventures. Well, it turns out that the safest place for Leena is on the smuggler ship, and dazzling high-tech adventures do abound!

As the SS Nanshe travels to different ports of call, we are often treated to very immersive descriptions of the locales, including Leena’s observations of how different the towns and life is now vs. just a few years ago. She finds "inspiration in the determination of people to carve out a life, even in dangerous places."

Another quote I liked was from Captain Edy when she tells Leena: "What we mean to other people doesn’t define us…but it does give us purpose."

There is lots of action packed in “Make Bright the Arrows”, but I was glad we got to know the characters as well as enjoy the action. The audiobook deserves my 5* rating, and I encourage anyone who loves strong women characters in a SciFi setting to listen to the book! Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve seen an audiobook being released a few weeks ahead of the Kindle version, btw!

The story wrapped up not quite as a cliffhanger, but certainly teases with further adventures for Lilah and all the others! I definitely look forward to the next book in the series!


I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

My rating and my review was not in anyway affected by my having been provided a review copy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful