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'Nathan

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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  • 260
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  • Summer's Cove

  • By: Aurora Rey
  • Narrated by: Hollis Elizabeth
  • Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 61

Emerson Lange knows that life comes with no guarantees. After her parents' unexpected deaths, she drops out of medical school and moves to Provincetown to pursue her real passion - art. Darcy Belo is also no stranger to life's unexpected twists and turns. She never expected to become a single mother at 22, but she has no regrets over moving back home or the life she's built with her son. A chance meeting at a wedding sparks an instant attraction between them, but pursuing it is not without complications.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Overall great sequel!

  • By Mrs. NY on 10-29-17

A lovely performance and a wonderful romance

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

Reviewed: 10-18-18

This audiobook hit the trifecta for me.

First, the performer was solid. The character voices had nuance and were so easily parsed that dialog tags could have been removed and it would have made perfect sense. More—and this is so rare I want to aim a flashlight at it—the young boy's voice came across naturally and never felt forced or overblown. I believed Liam, and every "Yes!" and "Cool!" that came out of his mouth felt dead on target. It's possible I was a Liam, which maybe biases my point of view, but that nerdy boy had my heart the moment he said "Science project."

Second, the characters—Darcy and Emerson—felt <i>right</I> together, even when they weren't so sure. Darcy being a woman who became a mother quite young, has adopted a life of structure, rules, and boundaries: most especially the latter in the case of dating, since previously, there have been women who've done wrong by Liam (her son) during (or after) their relationship. Emerson, with a far more take-a-chance outlook, doesn't really fit in well with that, but a fling? For sure. I loved that Darcy had a great life balance—her son came first, absolutely, but not in a "I can have nothing that is not him" way, and her boundaries here helped that make internal consistent sense.

Emerson was another easy-to-identify-with character, an artist who previously strived to be the "perfect daughter" for her now-deceased parents, who had even begun a medical degree as part of this, before losing her parents and realizing this wasn't what brought her bliss. Now she's an artist, which is a really, really tough life to make work (and be able to eat and pay rent), but she makes it happen by having realistic expectations, working her butt off, and ensuring she paints enough for profit outside what she paints for joy. I loved her realism, her willingness to try, and her awareness that the sparks between she and Darcy were off-the-chart, and worth the potential trials involved given their mismatched lives.

Rey brought such an A-game here. The issues that spring up between Darcy and Emerson are natural and all-too-easy to imagine happening, they both have to fight their own natures, and the final few twists on their road to happiness had me grinning. It was lovely.

Third, the setting. I've never been to Provincetown (I know, I know), but stepping back into the Cape End Romance series was like snuggling down into a comfy blanket. You can tell Rey has done her research, and the Flour Pot Café features enough—Darcy works there—that fans get a chance to check-in again with Lia and Alex (and you get to see their wedding!)

I can't wait for Spring's Wake.

  • Sparks like Ours

  • By: Melissa Brayden
  • Narrated by: Melissa Sternenberg
  • Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 175
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 168
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 167

Gia Malone wants only to be the best surfer in the world. Her biggest obstacle is the annoyingly perky Elle Britton. But there's a lot about Elle that Gia never noticed, like her surprising sense of humor and picture-perfect mouth. Elle Britton is tired. All she wants in the world is a little peace and quiet. But with Gia Malone closing in on her ranking, she has to surf her best. When the media picks up the story of their neck-and-neck status, Elle finds herself forced further into the spotlight, this time alongside Gia, the knockout with the killer shred and sexy smile. 

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not My Favorite

  • By Fruscella on 09-14-18

A Competitors-to-Lovers Done Especially Well

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

Reviewed: 10-07-18

I listened to this one as an audiobook while walking the dog and doing chores over a week or so. I savoured it, which isn't to say I wasn't hooked, but more that the pacing here was really consistent and gave nice pauses where I could (just) stand to pause it to hold onto the story for a few more dog walks at a time.

This book in the Seven Shores quartet lands upon Gia, the top-ten surfer we've come to love through the first two books, and settles itself pretty quickly into what could be in the hands of a lesser author a simple play through of the "enemies-to-lovers" trope (or, maybe just "dislike-to-love"). Gia plays her life pretty close to the chest, and she's worked damn hard to get where she is, and isn't one to mince words—which leaves her to be far, far less outgoing than one of her competitors, Elle, who is currently number one in the surfing rankings.

Elle—to put it mildly—drives Gia nuts. She's so plastic and fake and bubbly and always "on" and it's so obvious no one can be that upbeat and happy and perfectly perky all the time.

And then they land a co-sponsorship, which means spending time together, and it turns out Elle isn't by any means plastic. And Elle starts to realize Gia has more to her than just being a grumpy and silent and talented athlete. They bond. They help each other out once or twice, and then... well, like the title says, sparks.

I love where Brayden went with the conflict of their relationship, because (a) it wasn't something I'd seen before in a (fr)enemies-to-lovers plot, and (b) it was about the two women making a choice between two very important things. It wasn't miscommunication. It wasn't a misunderstanding. It was a realization that two things they wanted very, very much weren't going to be compatible in the short (and maybe even long) term.

I loved that.

I also loved the resolution having impact, and something I rarely ever see in sports-related romance, which I would love to see much more often, but I don't want to spoil it by spelling it out here.

I should note the performer continues to be excellent in this audio series, and her tones and accents nabbed and grabbed throughout, and as always the characterization was solid in her hands. If you've not tried this series, grab them in order, and feel confident in getting them all in one go.

Now I'm so looking forward to the last of the quartet, Hadley.

(Also, I wonder if I could convince Brayden to write a Christopher story for me.)

  • Season's Meetings

  • By: Amy Dunne
  • Narrated by: Nicola Victoria Vincent
  • Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 132
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 128
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 127

Catherine Birch is a lonely workaholic who hates Christmas. This year, she is being forced to celebrate with her best friend's family in the Highlands of Scotland. Having missed her flight, Catherine reluctantly ventures on a road trip with beautiful stranger Holly Daniels. Although polar opposites, the intense attraction between them is unmistakable. Just as Catherine begins to think spending Christmas with Holly might not be so bad, a raging snowstorm leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great book!!

  • By Mrs. NY on 11-04-17

Rekindle Your Enjoyment of the Season

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

Reviewed: 08-07-18

A "forced proximity" holiday romance, this story matches Katherine (a workaholic who has buried her feelings after a terrible breakup) with Holly (a vibrant, if stubborn, business owner) on a trek up to the middle-of-nowhere Scotland. Instead of their destination, they end up crashing in Holly's car in the middle-of-even-less-where, and find themselves snowed in at a honeymoon cabin rented in a small town.

Katherine's history with Christmas is such that she doesn't really celebrate, whereas Holly brings her vibrant spark to everything, especially ugly holiday sweaters, baked goods, and general Christmas cheer. But as the two feel sparks that aren't at all due to the ugly wool jumpers, they navigate the reality of their two very different lives, the friends they have in common, and wonder if things are worth the risk.

Katherine's friend Beth was one of the few narrative pieces of this plot that I wished worked out just a little differently (Beth lived through a relationship meltdown that divided her family, and imposed a kind of "Never date within our circle!" rule on Katherine thereafter, a rule which dating Holly would break). Put simply? I'd've happily loved it if Katherine had decked Beth and never spoken to her again. It might have been the audio performance, but there was zero redeeming features in Beth and Katherine's relationship beyond the daughter that Katherine loved, and I wanted her to be much, much clearer in Katherine placing boundaries with Beth. Like, a lot.

That said, it's a tiny slice of what otherwise was a book that charmed me start to finish, and it wasn't out of character for Katherine to be somewhat under the sway of what few close friends she had—being very much alone in life, it made sense for Katherine to value Beth so highly, even if this reader wanted her to cut and run and never look back.

If you're feeling a bit grinchy about the holidays, Season's Meetings is just the audiobook to restore a little bit of faith in the holidays. The performer did a lovely job with range of voice, and accents were spot on, as was the pacing and emotionality.

  • First Position

  • By: Melissa Brayden
  • Narrated by: Katrina Holmes
  • Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 266
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 252
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 252

Anastasia Mikhelson is the rising star of the New York City Ballet. She's sacrificed creature comforts, a social life, as well as her own physical well-being for perfection in dance. Even her reputation as the Ice Queen doesn't faze her. Though Ana's at the peak of her career, competition from a new and noteworthy dancer puts all she's worked for in jeopardy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bravo

  • By realdog on 10-27-16

A Lovely Oil-and-Water Romance

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

Reviewed: 07-04-18

First off, I'd forgotten so much about being a Scooter. I loved the touches throughout this story about what goes on behind the scenes for major theatre, and how easy it is for the people involved to place too much above their own well-being.

This was a really enjoyable audiobook, but a minor warning: if injury descriptions make you queasy (as they do me), it's worth being forewarned. It also was unflinchingly honest about how many dancers (and dance managers) are willing to often push those dancers too hard when injuries happen (you can totally feel Brayden's background in the theatre world here, she knows her stuff cold).

Brayden does banter so darn well, and First Position has little cameos offered like presents to her readers. The narrative itself—a kind of just-shy-of-enemies-to-lovers with oil-and-water approaches to art—was layered and nuanced and entirely entrancing. The modern dancer character clash with the classical ballerina felt completely natural.

The narrator was lovely, and I'll look our for more of her performances, too.

  • Cold to the Touch

  • By: Cari Hunter
  • Narrated by: Nicola Victoria Vincent
  • Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 96
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 93

Winter in the Derbyshire Peaks: months of knee-deep snow, short days, and rocketing crime rates. Detective Sanne Jensen is living in self-imposed isolation and quietly falling apart, while Dr. Meg Fielding, Sanne's best friend and occasional lover, is struggling to cope with her violent brother, who is back in town and demanding money that she doesn't have.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • great series.

  • By Tanya on 06-16-17

An incredible follow up in the 'Dark Peak' series.

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

Reviewed: 06-22-18

This was so good, and the narrator, Nicola Victoria Vincent, is fast becoming a favourite. I need to find other books performed by her, ASAP. Her range of accents is incredible, and her performance of the various characters in Cari Hunter's books are brilliant.

Sanne, Nelson, Meg... in the space of two books, I've grown so fond of the cast of Hunter's Dark Peak series that I'm a little sad to know I've only got one more book remaining. In the space of time between book one and two, the reader is quickly made aware that things have changed between Meg and Sanne—I know, I know, I had a moment of panic, too—but in Hunter's able hands, the narrative ducks and weaves and left me completely satisfied with the journey.

More, the thriller unfolding in the background is total Cari Hunter A-Game: it's engrossing, it's befuddling, and it's resolved through a realistic mix of detective work, intuition, and luck. The verisimilitude that Hunter puts forth in this aspect of her writing is brilliant. Ditto in the sub-plot of Meg's family, which returns in the form of her brother and is very, very unwelcome.

I can't wait to get to 'A Quiet Death.'

  • No Good Reason

  • By: Cari Hunter
  • Narrated by: Nicola Victoria Vincent
  • Length: 8 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 155
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 149
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 150

Detective Sanne Jensen (not blonde, not tall, definitely not Scandinavian) and Dr. Meg Fielding (scruffy, scatterbrained, prone to swearing at patients) are lifelong best friends, sharing the same deprived background and occasionally the same bed. When a violent kidnapping stuns the Peak District village of Rowlee, both women become involved in the case.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • YA?

  • By Donna on 06-11-17

Atmospheric Dark Thriller Performed Perfectly

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

Reviewed: 05-10-18

This was fantastic. First off, the setting of the mystery—the Peak District—lived and breathed as part of the story. Fans of setting-centered mysteries will adore that facet of this book. I cannot tell you how amazingly immersive this was, and especially having grown up in the north of England, it was like walking back in time, frankly. I picked this up after a recent visit to the very area in question, (I even took a walk along the Peaks).

The set-up begins with the discovery of a woman who has escaped capture, only to fall among the treacherous geography of the area. Detective Sanne Jensen and Dr. Meg Fielding are our heroines, and their characterization peels back in onion layers, piece by piece. They've been friends since their rocky childhoods, and sometimes more than that, but neither is willing to quite risk more than their odd, not-quite-defined partnership of support, caring, and—yes—sometimes sex. The relationship between the two women carries as much of the story as the hunt for the sadistic bastard still at large.

This dark story doesn't hold back any punches, many of which land squarely on the chins of the main characters. I really enjoyed this aspect: by the end of the novel, both characters are crossing the finish line mentally and/or physically drained, and that felt real.

I should mention I listened to this on audiobook, and I say that because the audio performer was sheer bloody perfection. Nicola Victoria Vincent blew me away. Accents, characterization, cadence, and pacing? Every step of the way, her performance had me drawn completely into the narrative. It's always a joy to listen to an audiobook done well, but it's even better to find an audio performer who is so good I'm bookmarking all of their other work.

I'll be picking up the next Dark Peak audiobook right away.

  • Code Silver

  • The Sierra View Series, Book 1
  • By: Max Walker
  • Narrated by: Jason Frazier
  • Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 73
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 73

Noah Silver is having a difficult time. With his mom passing and his dad growing more and more difficult to live with, he's pushed into an unorthodox way of making money. He knew that being a cam boy would be temporary, but he didn't realize how drastically it would change his life. He had no idea he would meet the man of his dreams because of it. He also had no idea he would become the target of a serial killer because of it.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good listen, except serial killer plot a bit much

  • By CK on 02-27-18

Solid romance, just slightly mis-labeled

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

I listened to this book before (and during) a flight to the UK, and as always, the narration from Jason Frazier shines. With Frazier's voice, characters spring to life, with vocal quirks and cadence that add vim to even the most mundane of scenes.

Code Silver struck me as an extended meet-cute story; basically, the set-up is listed in the blurb, but it's this: a cam-boy making savings to set up his personal training business, and a doctor who has connected with him online, and a chance encounter puts them both in the position of meeting face-to-face, and having secrets.

Dean, the doctor, can't figure out a way to say he already knows about Noah's online career (and, frankly, thinks it's hot), and Noah's trying to figure out how to broach what he does. Add to that their emotional baggage, and I was worried I was in for a tale where a single sit-down and chat would have resolved all the conflict. But no, it's actually quite a lovely (and and early resolution) and the bulk of the tale is really more about the two getting to know each other, and spending time together, and—of course—a few erotic passages. The romance/meet-cute/evolution of the pair was enjoyable and fun.

However, I'm still not sure about the inclusion of a particular sub-plot: there is a violent serial killer that appears in the story, and it felt a little lost, sudden, and coincidental, and given how it wasn't even remotely mentioned in the blurb it left me wishing I'd known that "full-length, steamy gay romance" was going to include bloody moments. Even just the inclusion of the word "thriller" would have helped adjust my expectations for its inclusion.

  • The Disappearing Andersons of Loon Lake

  • By: Jess Wells
  • Narrated by: Jess Wells
  • Length: 2 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Love, loss, irony, and humor abound in the lives of eight families living around Loon Lake, a shallow fishing spot in Northern Michigan. Whether it's the story of a young dreamer and a bully, a man looking forward to retirement and the family that stands in his way, a teacher facing ethical choices, or a family coping with disaster, these stories delight.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A gentle, lovely collection

  • By 'Nathan on 05-08-18

A gentle, lovely collection

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

I loved this.

I'm a lover of short fiction (as I'm sure everyone is already aware) and having loved Jess Wells's other works (especially A Slender Tether), this was an instant choice for me, and perfectly timed. It became a wonderful companion on an overnight flight to the UK.

Often in collections, the stories might touch each other thematically, but sometimes not even that comes together. Not so in The Disappearing Andersons of Loon Lake, where each story was a lovely complement to those that came before. I caught myself with a little smile on my face at the end of most of the tales: there's a gentle humour at play here, and—again—while flying across the ocean, it was a welcome respite indeed.

I listened to this book on audiobook, so I should add that it's such a joy to listen to a book narrated by the author when the author is so gifted at performance.

  • Meet Me in the Middle

  • By: Yvonne Heidt
  • Narrated by: Leslie McDonel
  • Length: 7 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 42
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 42

Veterinarian Aislin O'Shea runs a busy clinic. She wasn't looking for a relationship. She’d already had the perfect one. She certainly wasn't attracted to fancy pants executive, Ms. Zane Whitman -- she wasn't her type. Zane Whitman had it all. Stellar career, wealth, exclusive social circle, and models vying for her attention. Impulsive, emotionally charged Aislin was not her type. Two women from the opposite side of the tracks. Neither one expects meddling from an unexpected source on the Other side. Neither one knows the train is coming. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Overall Decent Book!

  • By Mrs. NY on 05-07-18

A fun clash of characters

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

Reviewed: 04-24-18

This was really fun, had a thread of klutzy meet-cute throughout that I really got a chuckle out of, and the inclusion of a dash of the paranormal—our heroines are watched over by the women in their lives who loved them and have since passed on—was right up my alley.

Zane is confident, secure, meticulous. She's a wealthy woman from a wealthy family who is a lawyer and knows she has to be 110% to measure up to her role. She likes to keep things clear and predictable: including the supermodels she dates, knowing full well they're mostly in it for the connections and networking she can offer as a member of the elites.

Aislin is a wee Irish hurricane. She's a veterinarian, and her life is generally more-or-less chaos. Her family is incredibly loud, but down-to-earth and super-caring, and if it wasn't for them, she'd never have made it though the loss of her previous love, Shannon. That it's time for Aislin to potentially move on hasn't really occurred to her, but with some preternatural help from Shannon, Aislin's grandmother, and Zane's mother, a nudge puts the two women on a collision course.

And boy do they collide.

The will-they, won't-they of Meet Me in the Middle is relentless. Aislin doesn't trust well. Zane doesn't compromise well. They both are quick to temper and have many assumptions about each other to work through. Honestly, at one point I wanted to smack each of them. Okay, at least at one point. But they're fun, the cast of characters (and especially animals) around them was a joy, and I liked the scheming ex as a hurdle, too. Their characters made sense, even as they made me want to screech at them.

I listened to this on audiobook, and for the most part it was decent. There were a couple of odd pronunciations (literally a couple: poultice and mistrial) where I had to stop and make the book jump back thirty seconds. Pull-tease? Mystery-al? Other than that, it was good, characterizations were on, and the variation in voice performance never held any confusions over who was speaking, which I love.

  • The Ghost Slept Over

  • By: Marshall Thornton
  • Narrated by: Jason Frazier
  • Length: 6 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 42
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 41

When failed actor Cal Parsons travels to rural New York to claim the estate of his famous and estranged ex-partner, he discovers something he wasn't expecting - the ghost of his ex! And, worse, his ex invites Cal to join him for all eternity. Now. As Cal attempts to rid himself of the ghost by any means, he begins to fall for the attractive attorney representing the estate. Will Cal be able to begin a new relationship, or will he be seduced into the ever after?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Funny Love Story

  • By Jessica on 02-07-18

Fun and a Great Travel Companion

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

Reviewed: 03-17-18

Cal, an actor just shy of being of quality enough to make a go of it, is doing his best with his one-man show (though his best isn't enough to stop living out of his truck) so when he gets a call from a lawyer and it's something to do with his ex, he's not exactly over-the-moon. But it turns out his ex has died, and he left Cal everything.

Selling his truck, Cal meets with the lawyer, who is quite handsome, and learns that everything is actually quite a lot. Given that the two broke up on very bad terms, and Cal hadn't spoken with his ex in years, it seems too good to be true, but he's not in a position to argue with something lucky. He'll liquidate everything, and try and launch his acting career for good.

Unfortunately, his ex has different plans—as does the lawyer—and things get complicated.

Did I mention the ex is a ghost now? A selfish, manipulative, and very determined ghost who wants Cal to join him in the afterlife forever because... well, that gets complicated, too.

I listened to this book on my way to and from Hawai'i, on some very long (and often delayed) plane flights, and it was the perfect escape. As always, Jason Frazier's performance was above-and-beyond, and his characterization of voice had me wishing I could reach into my phone and strangle the ghost (seriously, the dripping contempt and haughty arrogance was so pitch-perfect).

This was fun, and amusing despite a few darker topics and turns. Happily recommended.