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  • Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride

  • By: Eli Easton
  • Narrated by: Matthew Shaw
  • Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 156
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 154
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 153

Being a fugitive in the Old West shouldn’t be this much fun. The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run - all the way to Santa Fe. When he still can't seem to ditch his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail-order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters who want to kill him and the crazy, uncouth family of his "intended", Robby's only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it!

  • By Belen on 08-06-18

Great audio experience of a great book!

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

Reviewed: 08-24-18

I read this book when it came out several months ago, and it was an instant favorite. I'll read pretty much anything Eli Easton writes, but Robby Riverton was a great surprise and a fantastic story. It works really well in audiobook format; the length is perfect, the writing and action are snappy and come to life and Matthew Shaw does a great job with the performance, bringing every character to life.

This is like an old western with gunslingers and Wild West antics and I felt transported back to 1860’s America. Flat Bottom was so well-portrayed in the book when I read it, that listening to it come to life was like coming back to a familiar place. But nothing is done as well as the characters. I loved them all when reading, and Matthew Shaw makes them jump right off the page with his performance.

Trace is living his quiet, self-described lazy life as sheriff and trying to distance himself from his family while remaining close. Then Robby/Rowena shows up and it’s goodbye to their quiet, complacent lives. Trace’s family - Pa-Pa, Wayne, Roy and Clovis, the wives Marcy and Emma, and the kids - each of them were a delight. The family has a secret that the townsfolk of Flat Bottom shun and misunderstand them for, making them the outsiders in their hometown.

There are humor and sass to balance out the life-or-death plot, steam and romance where we need it, and threads of emotion carrying through the whole thing that tied the story up tight. This book and audiobook are ones I definitely recommend!

  • Smoky Mountain Dreams

  • By: Leta Blake
  • Narrated by: John Solo
  • Length: 14 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 145
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 136
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 135

After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he's center stage he aches for someone to see the real him. Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children's mother, he doesn't want more than an occasional hook-up

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Love this emotional book by an amazing author!

  • By Neta_BER on 10-29-17

Amazing voice acting brings story to life

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

Reviewed: 11-18-17

I absolutely love Leta Blake's books and have worked my way through the majority of her catalog, however Smoky Mountain Dreams is one I never got to until the opportunity to review the audio book came up. I was very torn over this book. There were some things I liked, some I didn't, but the amazing narration pulled everything together and gave it the boost it needed for me to enjoy.

Smoky Mountain Dreams is a long book. The plot doesn't take place over that long of a period of time, but there are a LOT of pages. The audio book runs just shy of 15 hours. Since the timeline of the story isn't that broad, the majority of the words are just tons and tons of detail and dialogue. This has its pluses and minuses. On one hand, there is a lot of detail and background and character building making the story very rich and the characters more dimensional. On the other hand, there are many places that really dragged. Listening rather than reading didn't afford me the chance to skim or read a bit faster over these dragged-out scenes as I would while reading. And several scenes could be cut or tightened up to shorten the overall page count without sacrificing the story.

As per usual for Leta Blake, the characters are very well developed and their connection is very well detailed and natural. There is no insta-love and no instant fixes. Jesse and Christopher are both "broken" men. Jesse's wife has been in a permanent vegetative state for the past five years, and he's raising their two children alone while battling with his sister-in-law over pulling the plug and allowing Marcy to move on. Christopher has absolutely zero self-confidence or self-worth. He's a musician who didn't make it in Nashville and is now singing back-up at a local theme park. His uber-religious family has shunned him and preaches at him on a regular basis. He's pretty convinced that runner-up is where he belongs and it's all he deserves. It's heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time. They do fit very well together - Jesse provides the strengh that Christopher needs in order to see he deserves more. Christopher provides the quiet support and understanding that Jesse needs in his hectic, stressful life.

The family dynamics in this book were very well done. I didn't necessarily like every family member, or every family interaction (as we aren't intended to), but the complexity of the families showed a lot of work on the author's part. Both main characters have varied, complex, dynamic relationships with each family member and I really appreciated reading about them and how they added to the story.

The thing that bothered me the most about this book was the weird reversal on the gay-for-you trope (which I hate). Rather than what you might expect - Jesse being a heterosexual man who is surprised to be attracted to a man - we find out Jesse is a gay man whose only heterosexual attraction and relationship was with his wife, Marcy - essentially, straight-for-you. The way Jesse thinks about and talks about his relationship with Marcy was very problematic for me. Jesse talks about how, while he loved his wife, he was very unsatisfied with their sex life after a certain period of time because he missed having sex with men. This just plays up the toxic idea that bisexual people cannot be satisfied in a relationship, and will always be missing what they don't have, will be unfaithful, or will end a relationship because they want the other gender. Throughout the book, this storyline continuously threw up red flags and made me uncomfortable. I didn't think it added anything to the plot that the inverse couldn't have done - Jesse married to a man who was involved in an accident and ended up in a vegetative state.

The narration was stellar and completely saved the story for me. If I'd read this book rather than listened to it, it very well may have been a DNF, or at least a not-right-now kind of read for me. However, John Solo does a phenomenal job. I haven't had the pleasure of listening to his audio books before, but that is a mistake that will be remedied. His pacing was perfect, the feeling and emotion he puts into the words just made everything better. It was true voice acting - not just reading words on a page. If you're interested in this story, I definitely recommend picking up the audio version and immersing yourself into John's narration. It was perfection.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful