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Monica E. Blood

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Kissing in the Dark (Grayson Brothers, Book 4) audiobook cover art

Nobody's perfect...that worked for me

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

Reviewed: 08-22-14

Quick summary
Duke Grayson, the third brother in this series, meets widow Faith Wilkins when her brother is caught stealing from the general store. He's immediately attracted to this beautiful woman who is understands the healing, medicinal properties of plants and, together with her three "aunts," has a murky past.

What I liked
The characters all exhibited some serious flaws and, at times, behaved pretty badly. Faith's secrets were explosive, adding intrigue and presenting what appeared to be a no-win situation. Even stalwart Radford, the oldest brother, showed some unattractive sides of himself. Even the children had some challenging moments. In spite of this, they were all very likable people who you rooted for and felt the pain of their circumstances.

The narration
Julie Motyka may not have the most distinctive voice but she's a strong storyteller and I never had issues distinguishing characters. For me, she's become synonymous with the series.

The bottom line
I really liked this story, probably my most favorite of the series so far. There are moments that will rip your heart apart and times when you'll laugh out loud. I never wanted to stop listening and loved how the issues were rough and the resolutions not always wrapped with a neat bow. Well done.

(I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review)

Lips that Touch Mine (Grayson Brothers, Book 3) audiobook cover art

Historical romance with contemporary romance

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

Reviewed: 03-21-14

The setup
Claire Ashier runs a respectable boarding house located near Boyd Grayson's saloon. She's a widow trying to support herself but can't keep boarders because of the noise from her business neighbor disturbing her customers late into the night. She wants to shut down the saloon. Boyd is sympathetic and taken by the lovely Mrs. Ashier but has no plans to close down his thriving business.

The issues
There's so much more going on here than a noisy saloon. Claire's deceased husband was an alcoholic and an abuser. When a group of women from the church begin talk of a temperance movement, Claire's enrolled into leading the effort. When the campaign strengthens, she's threatened and Boyd takes steps to ensure her safety. As they grow closer, they are at an impasse on how to move forward with a relationship while Claire associates alcohol with spousal abuse and marriage as a loss of independence.

What I enjoyed
There were so many layers to this story. What starts out as a simple issue regarding the noisy saloon evolves into situations regarding spousal abuse, the inequities between men and women's rights, alcoholism and family secrets. These subplots were seamlessly interwoven, making this a rich reading experience. Claire and Boyd's romance was complicated by her past and her baggage from her marriage. While there were moments where her stubbornness was irritating, it was true to her nature and the story. Boyd has his own issues, despite his affable and charming outward nature, and they have a place in this conflict.

The bottom line
I don't often find meaty and tough issues in historical romances that have contemporary relevance. This story offered so much more than the traditional romance and it was very well presented without burdening the love story. The narration continues to be subtle and understated, not overpowering a riveting story. Each book in this series seems to best the last so I'm excited about starting the next one. The Grayson brothers keep surprising me.

(I received an ARC from the author)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

The Longing (Grayson Brothers, Book 2) audiobook cover art

Lovely romance

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

Reviewed: 01-10-14

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Kyle's a little bit broken and Amelia's heartbroken and yet these two try really hard to make the best of their circumstances. She really wants to create a home and embraces his family. He knows she's been hurt and agrees to take his time getting to know her before sleeping with her. Even though they're keeping secrets, I admired their attitudes, even for that era. They're romance developed slowly and I felt like I was a part of it. It was lovely but not without issues.

There was a bit of intrigue and suspense, too, involving Amelia's father's business issues. I liked how it was seamlessly woven into the romance and the story.

Any additional comments?

I'm enjoying this series and I really liked this story. The evolution of Kyle and Amelia's relationship from friends to lovers was very nicely told, especially after having been dumped in the last book. The Grayson Brothers... diamonds in the rough, especially the audiobook experience.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Shades of Honor (Grayson Brothers, Book 1) audiobook cover art

A touching story

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

Reviewed: 11-06-13

What made the experience of listening to Shades of Honor the most enjoyable?

I was really drawn into the story and couldn't stop listening. It was also a wonderful change to be in an historical era set in America instead of Regency or Victorian England. Those societal restrictions can get tiresome after awhile. This was my first historical romance that I listened to and I was pleased with the experience. I'm also looking forward to continuing this series and hearing the stories of all the Grayson men, especially as Kyle's is next. I not only recommend the story but this format. 4.5 stars

Who was your favorite character and why?

This was a really touching story as Radford Grayson epitomizes the tortured hero, having experienced unspeakable war action that he relives through nightmares. Evelyn is a special woman who helps him overcome his misery and provides tender care to his daughter. They are both honorable people trapped in an impossible situation that Kyle Grayson had a hand in creating and perpetuating. I liked how the story developed and was emotionally connected to both Radford and Evelyn. I actually missed them when the story ended.

Which character – as performed by Julia Motyka – was your favorite?

Same as above

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I had moments of sadness where I came close to tears:)

Any additional comments?

The narrator did a good job in distinguishing characters and she managed the male characters skillfully. Her voice had a pleasant tone that worked for the story, even though the pacing was sometimes off.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful