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  • I Could Write a Book

  • A Modern Variation of Jane Austen's "Emma"
  • By: Karen M Cox
  • Narrated by: Emily Rahm
  • Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich…” Thus began Jane Austen’s classic, a light and lively tale set in an English village 200 years ago. Yet every era has its share of Emmas: young women trying to find themselves in their own corners of the world.  I Could Write a Book is the story of a self-proclaimed modern woman: Emma Katherine Woodhouse, a 1970s co-ed whose life is pleasant, ordered, and predictable, if a bit confining. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A beautifully modern take on Emma

  • By B.A. on 01-23-19

The Matchmaker Meets Her Match

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

Reviewed: 01-23-19

Set in the early to mid 1970’s in Kentucky Blue Grass Country, this charming and inventive modern historical update on Jane Austen’s Emma brought back a wonderful sense of nostalgia along with sparkling cast of characters in this gently-paced slow-burn romance.

It’s always a fun scenario when the matchmaker meets her match, but this one adds in the long-time childhood friends to lovers trope as well. Emma Woodhouse, talented and clever, pretty and comfortably wealthy lives at home with her invalid father. She lacks for nothing and that includes having no desire to date and marry. But, she is happy to see those around her finding their special someone and if that means interfering in their lives to set them on the right track, well then… So, when a sweet girl comes to work at her father’s old law firm for her old friend George Knightley, she chooses to make over Mary and match her up with a young up and coming political guy and not the entry level legal aid working for George.
George Knightley watches in exasperation as Emma blithely ignores his warnings about the matchmaking and interfering in people’s lives. He knows there is something off about Frank Churchill, but she won’t listen to him about that guy. And, will she heed his inside track about knowing that Elton is not interested in Mary? All her life, she has been the darling with her parents, her aunt, her sister, and everyone else in Highbury. She is sweet, generous, dutiful, and good, but he sees the way she is naïve and limited as a result.
It is only after watching her grow up and when Frank Churchill shows an interest that George gets an inkling of his own feelings for Emma even as Emma starts to see where her constant blindness and mistakes about the people George warned her about might have made him hate her for good right when she understands her own heart.

I enjoyed how the author wrote flawed, but engaging characters who grow and learn. The romance was at a good pace since they were a pair who really were friends and nearly family-like until suddenly they are rubbing each other wrong and the sparks start flying for a new reason.
The historical and cultural setting of the 1970s in a small town in Kentucky with a refreshing diverse cast of characters coming from different social strata made for a couple really nice layers to the developed plot. There was a good tension as the whole cast of characters and not just the main pair interacted showcasing a few minor romances.

All in all, I was well satisfied. Emma tried my nerves for a bit when she started toying with people’s lives thinking she knew best, but there was also comedy in it because as listener I could see that she was headed for disaster. I loved the way the author brings the pair along through their separate, but intertwined lives to that lovely romantic moment of understanding. I can definitely recommend this one for those who enjoy the idea of a modern historical gently-paced remake on a classic.

Narrator Review:
Rating- 5
Emily Rahn was new to me. I took to her narrating voice from the start. She did great with both George and Emma’s alternating turns at narration and narrating the diverse cast from older to younger, genders, different regional accents, and even different social classes. The soft Kentucky southern accent was the most impressive since most people tend to exaggerate the accents of some of the southern border states. She had a good sense of pace and tone. She kept an even slow build story from sounding pedantic. Definitely will be watching for more of her work.

  • A Merciful Truth

  • By: Kendra Elliot
  • Narrated by: Teri Schnaubelt
  • Length: 9 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,981
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,722
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,711

Raised by a family of survivalists, FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick can take on any challenge - even the hostile reception to her homecoming. But she's not the only one causing chaos in the rural community of Eagle's Nest, Oregon. At first believed to be teenage pranks, a series of fires takes a deadly turn with the murder of two sheriff's deputies. Now, along with Police Chief Truman Daly, Mercy is on the hunt for an arsonist turned killer.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • No grit

  • By opus on 06-30-17

Taunt with Tension and Great Build to the Story

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

Reviewed: 01-17-19

After the heart-pounding and electrifying first book in the series, I was eager to continue the suspenseful stories of FBI Agent, Mercy Kilpatrick and local police chief, Truman Daly. Mercy is back in her hometown and slowly making in roads with her estranged prepper family while Truman is taking baby steps trying for a deepening relationship with the skittish Mercy. But, mysterious fires, trouble-hunting local kids, and a powerful local group who may be stockpiling dynamite for something big having them pushing hard on the trail of an arsonist and murderer. This was a real nailbiter and the big scene had me listening with bated breath. No sophomore slump for this series.

A Merciful Truth is book two in the Mercy Kilpatrick series. The case itself would work standalone, but the murder mystery/arson case is woven into a deeper larger story of romance, healing family, personal demons, and a strong connection with the first book. Best to get them in order.

Mercy has been away for FBI training in Quantico and in her absence, Truman is faced with a series of small, property damaging arson fires until the night a marksman opens fire on the police and at another fire a body is found and another deputy is shot at. Things have escalated and now it seems law enforcement is in someone's crosshairs.
Meanwhile, Mercy fears Truman is advancing toward the three little words that scare her the worst because she isn't sure she can trust him not to abandon her if she lets herself feel something deeper for him. Her heart tells her that Truman is a solid bet and means what he says, but she is still dealing with the after effects of a family who turned their back on her. She's made good progress with her sisters, but her dad and her surviving brother are full of anger and hate that they aim squarely at her.
Mercy's niece has a secret of her own, but when Caid's friends get them in trouble, her secret's out. But, Caid is in worse trouble than hiding a relationship with Kaley. His new employer and the growing numbers of rough-type men on the ranch seem to be hiding secrets from the police investigating a murder along with their escalating resentment toward government and those in law enforcement including Mercy's brother, Owen.

There was a lot going on in this one and plenty of motives and suspects for the arson and murders. Mercy and Truman are up against big trouble and I could see that trouble was going to come from all sides including from within Mercy's family. It wasn't hard to figure out who was responsible for what, but the suspense was more in how were all the innocent parties going to survive the fall out. The emotion is high in this one and the tension was drawn taunt before released in a thrilling finish. It's dramatic without being too much.

Teri Schnaubelt continues to deliver a fabulous performance with great impact. She narrated the pace, tone, situations and large cast with great skill and I love her as a match for this story and series of books.

All in all, I got probably one of the best romantic suspenses/ thriller romances that I'll experience all year. I loved how I was so worried about the characters and the situations that I couldn't keep my mind off this one even when I had to set it aside. I resented having to set it aside. I enjoy how the cases are set in a larger ongoing story and I can't wait for the next installment.

  • Spirit of the Knight

  • By: Debbie Peterson
  • Narrated by: Dawson McBride
  • Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 8

Renowned artist Mariah Jennings, hired to paint a 13th-century Scottish castle, gets the shock of her life when she encounters the handsome knight who has dominated a lifetime of portraits and sketchbooks. But Sir Cailen Braithnoch is no ordinary ghost, nor did he suffer an ordinary death. Magic of the blackest kind cast a pall over the knights centuries ago. As the ghost and his lady seek to unravel the paradox surrounding his death, black arts, otherworldly forces, and a jealous rival conspire against them. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow. Just. Wow.

  • By Anonymous User on 07-04-18

Modern Woman, Medieval Ghost, a Castle of Secrets

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

Reviewed: 01-12-19

A Scottish castle, an artist, a knightly ghost and his retinue, and a curse that holds them all in its thrall. Sounds like just my thing so I was enthused to jump in with a new to me author and narrator for this lively and engaging romance.

Spirit of the Knight opens with painter, Mariah Jennings, coming to the castle to capture several scenes for an art exhibition designed to preserve the past before it crumbles away. Painting medieval castles are something of a specialty since she's been seeing the same knight in her dreams since childhood and can see and interact with ghosts. Imagine her shock when the knight of her dreams turns out to be one of the ghosts of this castle and he acts like no ghost she has ever encounters- none of them do, but then again, as she helps Sir Cailen uncover the truth about himself and fellow knights, they learn that dark deeds happened in the past and are stirring once again.

It has been a while since I enjoyed a 'ghost' romance story. I know some folks can't get past the ghost bit, but I've never minded that type of unrealistic element. I enjoy the mystery of how the author is going to make this huge barrier work out.

Mariah and Cailen were an engaging pair from the moment they met. I thought it was hilarious that she just took his first few appearances matter of factly and left him scratching his head. When, in truth, she thought she was just delusional and seeing things. There was a sweet and fun quality to their relationship and I loved the knightly chivalry and her easy nature. Add in Cailen's knights who like to party like its 1999 and that castle was a happening place.

There was some lag in the middle, but it never actually lost my attention. I just wanted things to hustle of and get to the good parts again.

But, it wasn't all sun and fun. There was dark magic involved and a good mystery. There were a few modern-day villains, too. The reader/listener spots the one right away and I had the urge to kick him several times.

Dawson McBride's narration work was engaging from the beginning. I enjoyed it whether he was voicing Mariah's POV or Cailen's. He caught the tone of the story so well and delivered on the complication of her being a modern woman and Cailen and the others being from the past. I had no trouble seeing the story in my mind. I will definitely be looking out for more of his work.

All in all, this was a delightful story through and through, surprising me with just how much I was enjoying it so the hours clicked past and I didn't want to shut it off. Those who enjoy Highland castle settings, medieval historicals, ghostly romances, and some witchery will be the target audience for this tale.

  • A Merciful Death

  • Mercy Kilpatrick, Book 1
  • By: Kendra Elliot
  • Narrated by: Teri Schnaubelt
  • Length: 10 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,334
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,927
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,932

FBI special agent Mercy Kilpatrick has been waiting her whole life for disaster to strike. A prepper since childhood, Mercy grew up living off the land - and off the grid - in rural Eagle's Nest, Oregon. Until a shocking tragedy tore her family apart and forced her to leave home. Now a predator known as the cave man is targeting the survivalists in her hometown, murdering them in their homes, stealing huge numbers of weapons, and creating federal suspicion of a possible domestic terrorism event.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • i dont think this was written by kendra elliot

  • By K. Mathis on 03-27-17

Mercy My! This was Riveting!

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

Reviewed: 01-10-19

Preppers are being murdered in a small mountain town community near Bend, Oregon, and the FBI are called in to assist local law enforcement. A dedicated FBI agent has finally come home and old dark and guilty secrets begin to weigh on her under the sharp eyes of the new county sheriff. I have seen a few trusted bloggers review this series and I have been meaning to try it for myself, particularly after enjoying a book from another series this author wrote.

A Merciful Death brings a woman raised in a prepper household and community home after being completely cut off from her family. Mercy has worked hard to be a good agent in Seattle and now all her calm, professional investigative skill goes out the window when she must return to a place she never thought to see again. A chain of horrific deaths have the local law baffled and they need help stopping what is starting to look like a serial killer on the loose who is stealing stockpiled arsenals from the preppers and sovereign citizens of a small community. Mercy sees chilling similarities to crimes committed fifteen years before.

Truman Daly, once a big city cop, came back to the town of Eagle's Nest where he spent his summers and has settled into what he believes is his dream job. He likes that he can get to know people and be a true help here where there is no anonymity like in the big city. He isn't too proud to call for help or resent the FBI agents sent to help solve the murders. One of the dead is his own beloved uncle which is why he will be right there to help work the case. He is arrested by Mercy from the moment he meets her and senses there is a whole lot more than the baffling cases troubling her. He doesn't want to think about just why he wants to know all about her because they have a job to do and she's leaving right after the case is finished.

The cases are gruesome and have just enough clues revealed to tantalize for the longest time. I liked how the author slowly allowed for the listener to get to know the characters, the past, and steadily work the case. Now, there were times that I questioned detail choices, but then later decided it made sense considering what secrets Mercy was keeping and how the people who believed in the prepper way of life even moderately would have a different outlook on matters.

Speaking of the preppers, the description of their lives and preparations, way of daily living and interacting with the world was fascinating to me. I can totally see the sense in a lot of what they were doing, in moderation. I would definitely want a prepper or one raised in a prepper life, like Mercy, on my team if the whole power grid and tech come crashing down.

The narration is mostly shared by Mercy and Truman, but there are a few moments when the killer gets time. I thought those times were well down and revealed nothing except how dark he was. Those final scenes had me riveted and the stakes are high. The author wasn't afraid to slam at a reader's emotions and elicit a deeper response than thrillers or romantic suspenses generally generate.

The narrator, Teri Schnaubelt, was new to me. I settled quickly into her storytelling style and liked the way she voiced all the characters. She had a large cast of men and women, old and younger, and even achieved what felt like a local accent. She kept me engrossed the whole time and I hope she has the narration of the whole series.

All in all, I thought this was abso-fab and I am definitely going back for more. I want more Mercy, Truman, and dark, twisting murder.

  • Emma

  • By: Jane Austen
  • Narrated by: Nadia May
  • Length: 15 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 566
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 362
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 365

First published in 1816 and generally considered Jane Austen's finest work, Emma is a humorous portrayal of a heroine whose injudicious interferences in the life of a young parlour-boarder in a neighboring village often lead to substantial mortification. Austen brings to life a myriad of engaging characters as she presents a mixture of social classes as she did in Pride and Prejudice.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful!

  • By Kathleen on 07-16-07

A Matchmaker Meets Her Match!

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

Reviewed: 01-03-19

Each year, I read or listen to at least one of Jane Austen's novels, novellas, or letters. It had been some time since I picked up Emma so I was pleased to one-click the free version on Amazon and then upgrade for a dollar to the audio which was produced by Blackstone. I am hit or miss with their narrators, but Nadia May was fabulous. She had a good storytelling tone and pace, voiced the characters well, and was an overall good match for the story.

Emma is a wonderful novel set in an English Regency village. The plot is utterly character-driven and centers around a young, beautiful, woman of the gentry class who takes up matchmaking and improving an impoverished girl of obscure connections against the advice of family friend George Knightley all to rather interesting results.

And there ends my usual set up for a review. This book has plenty of reviews so I'm just going to ramble on about what jumped out at me on this latest experience with the book.

Austen said that Emma is a character that only she would love. That has always struck me. Emma happens to be liked by many even if she isn't their top favorite Austen heroine. Unfortunately, I have always been one of the crowd she was talking about who has never been enamored with Emma. I have read Emma a few times and love the overall novel and some aspects of Emma the heroine, but I can't get past her mistake of treating Harriet Martin like a project to alleviate her ennui. But, she has grown on me over the years. In fact, like all of Austen's heroines, I can see a little of myself in her particularly when I was her young age with mostly my wants and desires ruling my actions.

And, there, I suppose, I have learned to cut Emma some slack even if I still grind my teeth about toying with Harriet's future happiness. I can see just how sheltered and unsophisticated she is even though she is full of womanly grace, has pleasing manners, and comes from wealth and status. She's lived in a village all her life and doesn't travel to broaden her mind and experience. She doesn't read or spend time around learned people with the exception of Mr. Knightley who she dismisses as overly critical. The village doesn't offer her any real peers so there's a big fish in a small pond thing going on. No one else does anything, but praise her. That, right there- no one to hold up a true mirror to her- is what she really lacked. It is over the course of the novel that Emma realizes her folly when the influx of newcomers like Jane Fairfax, Mr. Elton, Frank Churchill, and Mrs. Elton, push her out of complacency and this brings changes showing she is not hopeless and is worthy of the gentleman who quietly waits for her to come into her own.

Each time I read this, something different stands out. This time, it was Mr. Woodhouse. While Emma's high-handedness with Harriet gets me a little irritated, it is Mr. Woodhouse- and Frank Churchill, I'll add- who get me seriously cranky. I know we all see Mr. Bennet as a lazy dad, Sir Walter as a terrible vain sort, and Sir Thomas as practically an absentee one from Austen's other novels, but Mr. Woodhouse tends to get a pass because of his illness and general silliness. However, when I thought about who could have been a larger influence on Emma other than just Mr. Knightley, it was Mr. Woodhouse who has her duty and show of respect. He can't care or see past his freakouts over his illnesses. He's silly so we laugh at him, but he's just as selfish and lazy as Mr. Bennet and Sir Walter and is lucky that Emma's going astray was not in the nature of Lydia Bennet's nor that her disposition wasn't that of Elizabeth Elliot's.

So, I had another enjoyable time with Austen's classic and learned to appreciate more about her writing through these characters going about their lives in the village of Highbury. I enjoyed seeing a young, promising heroine grow and appreciating the magnificence of Austen's Mr. George Knightley. New to me narrator, Nadia May, will be one I watch for.

  • Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone

  • By: Phaedra Patrick
  • Narrated by: James Langton
  • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 131
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 121
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 120

In the quiet village of Noon Sun, Benedict Stone has settled into a complacent and predictable routine. Business at his jewelry shop has dried up; his marriage is on the rocks. His life is in desperate need of a jump-start. And then a surprise arrives at his door. Gemma is Benedict's audacious teenage niece - the daughter of his estranged brother, Charlie. The two Stone brothers had a falling out and haven't spoken in almost two decades, since Charlie left for America. Reckless and stubborn, Gemma invites herself into Benedict's world.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Really aggravating..spoiler alert

  • By J Moore on 12-27-17

Gently-Paced Sometimes Tough Remaking For the Hero

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

Reviewed: 12-15-18

I was utterly delighted by the author's debut book, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper so when I saw that the author released another book and retained the same wonderful narrator, I had to get it without even looking at the blurb.

As with the first story, a man has reached a crisis point in his life and must now go on a personal journey to recover something that has been lost. Benedict Stone is a caregiver and a provider. He knows no other way and his biggest dream is to have his own children so as a family they can carry on tradition. His parents died hunting their precious gemstones when he was a very young man and he took on the care of his brother and the running of the family jewelry making shop.

Years later, he is slovenly, overweight, pining for the wife who moved out because she feels pressured by their infertility, yearning for the brother who left never wanting to see him again, discontent with his work, and ripe for it all somehow to be made right.

Into this dreary life of Benedict's comes his precocious teenage niece, Gemma. Slowly this odd pair grow close of their shared loved of the gem stones and the family traditions. Gemma's vitality and the secret pain he sees in her awakens Benedict and he is ready to make drastic changes and fight for what he really needs.

This was a slow-paced and subtle piece set in a small Yorkshire village. The author allows the reader to see and feel the effort that Benedict puts in. He has set backs, painful mistakes, and some triumphs as he works at changing things. It was sweet to see that while Gemma was wonderful for Benedict that he was also what she needed. The reader catches on to things before Benedict about Gemma's secrets and even what must happen for Benedict to freely live his life.

The gem stones are a major part of the story, literally and symbolically, as they help catalogue Benedict and Gemma's journeys. Each chapter is introduced by a different gem from Benedict's dad's journal with its properties and the significance attached to the gems. I spent a great deal of time curious about what was really going on with Gemma and what dreadful thing Benedict did to cause his brother to leave and cut him off. I suspected on both counts and I was mostly right. The author was not afraid to present a flawed hero, but I loved her Benedict and I was rooting hard for him to succeed on all counts.

James Langton was a supreme success once again. He voices the range of characters, including most of the village, and their quirks so well. His sense of timing and emotion were spot on.

All in all, this was another fabulous book and I look forward to more from the author.

  • The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn

  • The Bennet Wardrobe, Book 4
  • By: Don Jacobson, A Lady
  • Narrated by: Amanda Berry
  • Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

 The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn is the second part and conclusion of the Bennet Wardrobe volume, chronicling the life of Kitty Bennet in the Wardrobe’s universe. This novel takes listeners on a journey that stretches from the early 19th into the mid 20th centuries. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Life Comes Full Circle for a Vivacious Lady!

  • By Sophia Rose on 11-30-18

Life Comes Full Circle for a Vivacious Lady!

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

Reviewed: 11-30-18

The Countess Visits Longbourn brings things full circle for the dowager countess who was last seen as a youthful, petulant girl in those parts who stepped into the magical wardrobe and was never seen again. She has lived a lifetime away from family, but in her autumn years, she has work left to be done and now she goes about it with a panache that speaks to the delightful grand dame she has become.

This was a re-read for me and I enjoyed experiencing it in audio format with the engaging Amanda Berry as the series narrator. Her bright clear tone and command of a variety of voices made it an entertaining listen.

The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn is the third novel-length installment in the Bennet Wardrobe series. It is part two to The Exile: Kitty Bennet and the Belle Epoque. Thus, it doesn't make a good standalone or out of order.

This second part of Kitty's story picks up in the twilight of her life. After the death of her beloved Henry, she has devoted her time to the study of the Wardrobe and its mysteries so that she can use her expertise to go back and help lay the ground work for all that comes before and after her. Kitty takes that step back to where it all began for her- Longbourn.

This is very much a 'bridge' or transitional story to set up for what is to come and establish the explanation for how events of the previous books came to be laid out the way they did. How did the rules get laid down? How did the letters, the funds, and the governing body for the Bennet Trust come to be? It is all here . While, out of necessity, because of what was being put in place, this book got off to a slower start. It laid a lot of series ground work. However, after that was in order, the storyline took off. Kitty, in the role of the Countess of Deauville, becomes the new delight of London Society. She takes this time to guide a soul-searching Wickham and a vivacious Lydia, plays at matchmaker for a certain sergeant and his lady, and puts on a dazzling, glamorous Twelfth Night Ball with a mischievous Harlequin to delight us all. What a lush spectacle that ball was and I was thoroughly entranced by the imagery.

As a side note, I was tickled as before to encounter familiar historical and fictional characters. My favorite encounter was with Bernard Cornwell's character Richard Sharpe. He was a great mentor for Wickham.

All in all, it was a nice appetite whetting story that leaves me intrigued for what is to come. I can't wait for the further adventures of Lydia and other Bennets who encounter the magical time traveling Wardrobe.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Drums of Autumn

  • By: Diana Gabaldon
  • Narrated by: Davina Porter
  • Length: 44 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 28,064
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 23,657
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 23,557

Twice Claire has used an ancient stone circle to travel back to the 18th century. The first time she found love with a Scottish warrior but had to return to the 1940s to save their unborn child. The second time, 20 years later, she reunited with her lost love but had to leave behind the daughter that he would never see. Now Brianna, from her 1960s vantage point, has found a disturbing obituary and will risk everything in an attempt to change history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I Can't Get Enough!

  • By Eugenia on 02-15-10

Brilliant and Riveting! Lush and colorful!

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

Reviewed: 11-30-18

Over two years! Yep, I nibbled at this one for quite some time savoring it between other reads and listens. This was a re-read or I would have never been able to hold off like that for certain. This book hit me hard the first time around and this second time in audio was the same. Davina Porter is the voice of these characters for me and between her narration and the author's fabulous writing, I could see it all in my mind's eye vivid and sharply.

Drums of Autumn is the fourth installment in the Outlander saga of books that must be read in order. Jamie and Claire have made it to America and it was exciting to see them introduced to local Colonial politics and situations in the Carolinas, stay with Jamie's Aunt Jocasta on her plantation and experience that way of life before continuing up into the mountains where they, and Young Ian, settle. It is not the Highlands, but Jamie and Claire have found home. It is a hard and sometimes dangerous life on the frontier, but they forge on.
Meanwhile, back in the present Brianna discovers a disturbing historical newspaper article mentioning her parents and a fire. She and Roger MacKenzie have drawn close since Claire left through the stones for the past. She is determined to warn her parents so strikes out on her own. Roger follows her and they have dangerous adventures and encounters that will rival anything Jamie and Claire had been through in their youth.

One would think a re-read would be less of an impact particularly when the listener takes her time over it, but it was like reading this one for the first time in many ways. I hadn't realized how much I'd forgotten. The history and daily life on the Colonial frontier came alive and the characters are so fantastically drawn. Jamie and Claire's long love affair has not cooled and only grows deeper. I am still not a Brianna fan though I do adore Roger, I am a softie for Ian and love whenever Lord John is about, but it is Jamie and Claire who will always hold me focus.

Davina Porter is enchanting the way she vocalizes so many characters, accents, genders, and situations.

So, it was another engaging time with a favorite series. As I await the newest release, I will continue to slowly savor the re-reads and listens to this incredible series. I know it can be a daunting series because of the page-length, but it is well worth it.

  • A Bone to Pick

  • Widow's Island Novella Series, Book 2
  • By: Melinda Leigh
  • Narrated by: Christine Williams
  • Length: 3 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 510
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 414
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 413

Deputy Tessa Black gave up her career as a detective with the Seattle PD and returned to the Pacific Northwest island she calls home to care for her ailing mother. Tessa thinks her mother’s illness is the worst thing she’ll face - until she responds to a routine call in the state park and discovers a local man harpooned to a sign. As the murder investigation unfolds, it becomes clear that the victim harbored secrets. Together with her FBI agent best friend, Cate, and park ranger Logan Wilde, Tessa must connect the pieces before the murderer strikes again.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Much better than Close to the Bone

  • By Wayne on 11-04-18

A Gruesome Murder for Tessa, Strong Sequel

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

Reviewed: 11-30-18

The night's calm is broken by the sounds of a man screaming in great pain. Thus begins Sheriff's Deputy Tessa Black's investigation into the gruesome death of a well-loved artist. With the aide of her high school crush and her best friend's brother, Logan Wilde, she works the case and attempts to balance a situation in her home life. I found this second novella in the series just as engaging as the first.

A Bone to Pick follows on the heels of the events in Close to the Bone. It continues Tessa and Cate's investigation into their high school friend's disappearance, but shifts focus from Cate's POV to Tessa's and introduces a new murder to investigate. Book one introduced the history and way of life on the island and now book two is able to move right along with the new chain of events.

I enjoyed being along as Tessa worked the case, taking into consideration the way the locals on Widow's Island are isolated and have to do things a little differently even with their police work. I liked seeing Cate's brother, Logan, introduced into the story and getting to know this man who is trying to heal after his work as an Army Ranger of three tours of duty. The murder happens in the park and so he partners to solve the crime with a now grown up and capable Tessa who, yes, he notices she is all grown up without his matchmaking grandmother's help. Logan doesn't think any woman should have to take on his issues and Tessa's life is complicated with a mother diagnosed with Alsheimer's and a younger teen sister in her care. Again, I found the blend of character and relationships developed well with an engaging murder to be solved was done so well.

Christine Williams continues to delight me with her narration work She does male and female voices, age and emotion well.

Now, I'm caught up on the series and now have to kick my heels for another year to find out what comes next for Cate, Tessa, and the rest on Widow's Island. These well-developed and clever romantic suspenses are a series I can whole-heartedly recommend to others.

  • Close to the Bone

  • Widow's Island Novella Series, Book 1
  • By: Kendra Elliot
  • Narrated by: Christine Williams
  • Length: 2 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 765
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 635
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 631

FBI Special Agent Cate Wilde is back home on a remote Pacific Northwest island when she gets the call: a teenager’s skeletal remains have been found on a nearby island. Together with Tessa Black, a childhood friend turned local deputy, Cate confronts dreary weather and bleak leads to make sense of the death. The complications pile up as Cate is distracted by the coroner on the case - and by nagging memories that draw her two decades into the past. The remains suggest eerie similarities between this victim, and Cate and Tessa’s friend Samantha, who disappeared when she was fourteen.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not up to Kendra Elliot's normal standards

  • By Wayne on 11-03-18

Atmospheric and Engaging Suspense!

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

Reviewed: 11-29-18

A near-fatal gun shot injury brings FBI Agent, Cate Wilde, home to Widow's Island to recover. No sooner is she back home then bones are found and she is handed the case in conjunction with local law enforcement who happens to be her best friend and the island's new doctor who thought he left violent death behind back in LA. The atmosphere of the group of islands, the introduction to the characters, and the appearance of the bones made for a great introduction to a new series.

Close to the Bone introduces a place touched by the past and where mysticism and the supernatural are not laughed away. The discovery of some bones on one of the smaller islands near the home of a reclusive writer whose daughter went missing is the catalyst to bring together Cate and her friend Tessa to investigate the crime.

Cate left the island and rarely visits, but now an injury that has left her scarred in more ways than one has brought her back. She feels the pull of the island itself, the need to discover who the bones belong to, and also explore the attraction with Henry the new doctor.
Cate is the lead investigator and chooses to go back to the beginning and investigate the more recent missing girl's case. Henry works his first case as a coroner and feels a connection forming with Cate who plans to leave after she is cleared for regular duty back in Seattle. And, what of the twenty year old missing girl case that weighs heavily still on Cate and her best friend, Tessa, their missing best friend, Samantha?

This was novella-length and I was impressed with how well the author introduced setting, characters, and the case. The atmospheric backdrop and how the past weighs heavily on the present was a nice touch to set the mood and draw me in swiftly. The case of the bones is investigated and comes to a swift conclusion and the romance progresses nicely because of the page length, but there is also what will probably be the ongoing case of the older crime running through the series. I look forward to what comes next in the new installment that will shift authors and shift to the second female lead, Tessa.

This was my first occasion to listen to Christine Williams work. I thought she did a nice job. Her men's voices could be froggy, but I did like the way she spun out this story and would enjoy more of her work.

All in all, this first installment was a good hook and I enjoyed it. I look forward to what comes next in the series. Mystery and romantic suspense fans would probably enjoy this one.