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Angela S Goodrich

Key West, FL United States
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  • The Master Will Appear

  • By: L.A. Witt
  • Narrated by: Michael Ferraiuolo
  • Length: 12 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 56
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 56

Dr. Mikhail “Misha” Budnikov takes one look at fellow fencer Ryan O’Connor and instantly knows his type. The undisciplined hothead is all ego with no finesse and even less control. In short, Misha’s pet peeves personified. To put the arrogant kid in check, Misha challenges him to a sparring match, which he predictably wins. Not so predictably, Ryan asks him to be a mentor and show him how to fence. Startled by the moment of humility, Misha agrees. What begins as fencing lessons becomes something much hotter, and before they know it, Misha is giving Ryan an entirely different kind of education. Dominance, submission, pain, pleasure—at the hands of an older, experienced man, a whole new world is opening up for Ryan.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Narration peeve

  • By SassiKassi on 08-01-18

Ferraiuolo’s narrative performance was spectacular

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

Reviewed: 08-10-18

I received a free audiobook copy of this book to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

I cannot do The Master Will Appear justice in a review. This is probably going to become one of my top re-listens because I’ve already listened to in four times this week. Witt did an amazing job with this story – I hated the characters I was supposed to hate, loved the ones I was supposed to love, and felt an unexpected level of sympathy for Ryan, just as I suspect the author intended. Ryan is the poor little rich boy you’re supposed to feel bad for, but many authors fail at making that character sympathetic. Ryan’s self-awareness of how he appears to the world as "the boy who has it all" is refreshing. He knows that no one on the outside looking in is going to see any more than they expect and rather than whining about how no one understands him, he sallies forth, doing the best he can with what he has, including trying to protect himself from the viper’s nest that is his dysfunctional family.

As much as I love Ryan, Misha is who makes the story for me. Witt managed to create a character who is a mentor and a teacher, without him feeling the least bit paternal toward Ryan. I’ve really got to start a “Seductive Character” shelf on my Goodreads account because I’ve found a handful of characters who are so well written that they seduce me into their story and Misha is one of them. There is such a perfect balance between Misha and Ryan that I had no problem believing in their relationship. Neither man is perfect, but they are perfect for one another. And the BDSM scenes are not only hot, they’re beautiful. The way the two complement one another, despite their age difference, despite their financial difference, and despite what should be a power imbalance but isn’t, is absolutely beautiful. The angst surrounding the conflict was, for me, just the right amount. I knew what was going to happen and the author made her characters suffer just enough emotionally and then allowed them to resolve the issue so that they could get back to suffering the right way physically. The epilogue was everything I needed it to be. I was so glad to learn how things worked out for Ryan and his family and for Ryan and Misha. Even though I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters (which explains the repeated listens), it was the ending I wanted for them.

Michael Ferraiuolo’s narrative performance was spectacular. When reading a book, I find it quite jarring when the author writes a character’s inner thoughts in a different voice than their speaking voice. Although Witt does not do that here, Ferraiuolo utilized a non-accented voice for Misha’s inner thoughts versus the Russian accented voice for his speech. Had I been warned about it ahead of time, I would have been skeptical at its success, but as Misha has much to contemplate when dealing with Ryan, it proves to be quite vital in conveying to the listener what is said versus what is thought. This became even more obvious when I stumbled through a couple of scenes when Ryan’s thoughts differed from what he said, and it took me a moment to parse out we were going back and forth because as the American student, Ryan’s inner voice and speech voice didn’t differ as much as Misha’s did. The voices for the entire cast of characters were great, but I love, love, love that Ferraiuolo crafted a voice for Misha that was as seductive as the words the author penned. Absolutely fabulous performance. Witt has a talent for choosing the perfect narrators for her stories and The Master Will Appear is no exception.

  • Leaning Into the Look

  • Leaning Into Series, Book 6
  • By: Lane Hayes
  • Narrated by: Nick J. Russo
  • Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 25

Grant Kostas may not love his job, but he’s better at sales than he thought. And when he’s poised to bring in the biggest account of the company’s history, even his father is impressed. His parents accept he’s gay; they just wish he’d meet a nice Greek man. Between getting dumped by his long-term boyfriend and finding a new place to live in the city, Miles Harrison is nearing his wits end. He’s not sure why he thought rooming with his boss’s friend was a good idea. Miles has had a crush on Grant for years. However, he knows attractive people aren’t always pretty on the inside. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Perfect!

  • By Renate on 07-10-18

5 stars = I freaking LOVED this audiobook!!!

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

Since getting to know Grant a little better in Josh’s book, Leaning into Touch, I was excited to cue up Leaning into the Look. Being as I didn’t read the blurb beyond learning it was Grant’s book, my excitement ratcheted up when I realized Miles was being positioned as his love interest. Normally, I would have carried on and enjoyed the ride, catching up with the other couples while watching Grant find his Mr. Right, but I HAD to run over to Audible to skim the blurb to make sure Miles had indeed been tapped for the role. I’ll admit to engaging in “goody, goody” hand claps and a massive grin before resuming the audiobook. I’ll also admit to having my exuberance dashed just a bit when Eric revealed why Miles was back on the market, even more so when he revealed he’d discarded his signature fashion accessories. Poor Miles. Yet I sallied forth, knowing that Lane Hayes would make it all work out in the end. And I was not disappointed, not one bit.

While it becomes apparent as the story moves forward that Grant’s friends know him very well, with most of their circle having had front row seats to more than one of his low points, Hayes has managed to keep Grant even more of a mystery than I ever expected. For the most part, Grant appears to be a dutiful Greek son whose life choices have been guided by and for his family and the family business – with Steroid Steve from Leaning into Touch being the break in that public persona. But as Leaning into the Look is told from Grant’s point of view, giving us access to his inner thoughts and demons, it becomes obvious rather quickly that how he presents himself to those outside of his family and inner circle of friends is one heck of an act. To put it simply, the boy is a mess. And that turns out to be something he has in common with Miles – the disparity between the public persona and the inner turmoil is tremendous and unexpected. Few people would suspect a former underwear model would have self-esteem issues, but Grant’s head is a minefield of self-doubt. That Grant sees a kindred soul in Miles, someone who is by no means perfect, yet is perfect for him, is what made their love story so believable for me. Listening to these two navigate a relationship they agree not to have yet can’t seem to avoid was a delight.

Also unexpected was the level of heat that Hayes unleashed this time around. I’ve found each of the couples’ bedroom gymnastics to be steamy, but Grant and Miles seemed to raise the bar… a lot. Maybe it was the naughty nature of their first hookup or the secret nature of their continued liaisons, but the sexual chemistry between these two was just so much hotter than the previous couples – and that heat was ratcheted up by Nick J. Russo’s performance. Russo always does a wonderful job at the mic, but he shined at capturing both men’s vulnerabilities, strengths, and sensuality. I actually had to stop the audiobook while listening to it at work because it got steamier than I expected… and I listen via earbuds, so it’s not like anyone was going to overhear. Cold drink and a fan, anyone? I was particularly impressed with how well Russo conveyed Grant’s frustration and desperation the night Tom showed up for dinner. Hayes penned one heck of a come-to-Jesus scene and Russo proved he was up to that challenge. Seriously, that scene wouldn’t have played out half as exciting in my head had I read the book instead of listening to the audiobook. It was so well done, I wanted to give Grant a standing ovation after he lost it. I’m already looking forward to listening to Leaning into the Look again… and again… and again. This entire series is on my re-listen list as I love spending time with the guys and watching them find their other half and right now, Grant and Miles are my favorite couple.

  • With a Kick: Collection No. 1

  • By: Clare London
  • Narrated by: Joel Leslie
  • Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14

This collection includes the charming London-based novellas of the With a Kick series - A Twist and Two Balls and Slap and Tickle. Also included are two short stories featuring the characters in these titles.   

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great stories, amazing narration!

  • By Carra at Making it Happen blog on 07-13-18

I absolutely adored the stories in With a Kick #1!

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

Reviewed: 07-19-18

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

I absolutely adored the stories in Clare London’s With a Kick Collection #1. Listeners are treated to two novellas and two short stories, one of each for two different couples, all performed by the extremely talented Joel Leslie. With the ice cream shop, With a Kick, being the common denominator between the couples’ stories, listeners are also treated to glimpses into Patrick and Lee’s business woes and a professional relationship that seems to be getting a bit more personal.

First up are Eddy and Nuri in A Twist and Two Balls. An aspiring actor frantic to make it to a rare audition, Eddy underestimates the cab fare and overestimates just how much money is in his wallet. Realizing that he’s not close to his destination and had already exceeded his dwindling funds, he guiltily attempts to stiff the cab driver so that he can make the rest of the trip on foot and maybe make it on time as the London traffic isn’t allowing the cab to move. Unbeknownst to Eddy, he’s caught the eye of the cab driver and rather than detaining Eddy, Nuri follows him on foot as Eddy attempts to bluster his way out of the situation he’s created and still make it to his audition on time. It doesn’t work. But the day turns out so much better, even with the missed audition because Eddy now has himself a suitor. In a case of opposites attract, the high-strung Londoner, Eddy, finds his perfect match in the calm and collected Turkish cab driver, Nuri, who not only balances Eddy out in temperament, but also comes with a large and extended family – something Eddy has longed for for years as an only child of parents who travel extensively for their acting careers. While I suspect some readers and listeners will wonder how the laid back Nuri is able to put up with Eddy’s melodramatics, I’ve been Nuri before. I know that as stressful as it can be to deal with such a partner’s often unconscious need to be the center of attention, the Eddys of the world are at their best when they turn their spotlight on their partner, who is their anchor and the center of their world, and those are the moments the outside world often doesn’t see and are why we love our high-strung, drama queen partners so much. Obviously, Eddy and Nuri’s romance struck a personal chord with me, which increased my enjoyment, but I would have loved it either way, especially as Joel Leslie does such a wonderful job of capturing Eddy’s moods – of which there are many – as well as Nuri’s loving patience.

Whereas the first story was sweet, Slap and Tickle, is a lot steamier, but just as enjoyable. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I realized that the second couple were shaping up to be a May-December romance, but I certainly wasn’t expecting their blossoming relationship to have D/s component at all. But wowzer! When Bryan’s natural inclination to be a bit bossy rears its head during a casual interaction with Phiz, whose nervousness and anxiety make him appear high-strung, it becomes apparent that we’ve got another opposites-attract romance unfolding and it’s going to be a HOT one. Again, Leslie’s vocal talents come into play perfectly as he conveys Bryan’s quiet command and Phiz’s relieved acquiescence when Bryan takes charge – both in and out of the bedroom. I loved how Bryan’s need for order made him a natural match for Phiz and that the domination and submission aspect of their relationship was not a formal arrangement, but rather a personal exploration of their individual needs. Argh! I don’t think I’m explaining it right. At the beginning of the story, Bryan is ashamed of his desires, but as his needs and wants enable him to give Phiz what he needs and wants, Bryan learns to accept and embrace who he is and what he needs. And because of that personal acceptance, Bryan’s character grows a bit over the course of the novella, manifesting in a way that spells good news for With a Kick.

The bonus short stories were an absolute delight. I won’t go into either of them as I don’t want to ruin the surprise for others, but I will share that Eddy and Nuri’s is a magical Christmas tale and London brings the heat once again to Bryan and Phiz’s Valentine’s Day activities. Much like their respective novellas, the shorts for each couple are sweet (Eddy and Nuri) and steamy (Bryan and Phiz) and do a lovely job of rounding out the collection. I thoroughly enjoyed the stories that London has penned and Leslie’s performances for all four. I really hope that With a Kick Collection #2 will be available on audio soon, with Leslie at the mic again, as I cannot wait to see who’s up next to find love and ice cream.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Redesigning Max

  • Foothills Pride Stories, Book 2
  • By: Pat Henshaw
  • Narrated by: David Ross
  • Length: 2 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 33
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 34

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene's Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Much better than book 1 & I really enjoyed it.

  • By Angela S Goodrich on 07-02-18

Much better than book 1 & I really enjoyed it.

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

Reviewed: 07-02-18

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

I enjoyed Redesigning Max a lot more than What’s in a Name? While I could have used a few more scenes focusing on Fredi and Max’s developing relationship, I found both men to be more interesting characters, especially Fredi. He introduces himself as a successful architect and interior designer who’s more than willing to turn up his twink dial – adding a bit more swish and exaggerating his lisp – to seal the deal on a new contract. As if that weren’t enough for me to adore him, his refusal to back down from bullies and his ability to have his own back were the icing on the cake and the cherry on top. Add in Max, who is not what he appears and is everything Fredi didn’t know he needed, and I was far more entertained during this visit to the Sierra Foothills – even if the homophobia was more blatant and more dangerous than in book one.

One of the things that made Redesigning Max fun was that the differences between Fredi and Max that are so obvious at the start of the book are soon outweighed by the unexpected commonalities the two have. Fredi makes it clear that he is not an outdoorsman, yet he and Max share a love of birdwatching and it’s that shared love which elevates his designs for Max’s redecoration. Even though there is an immediate attraction, Max’s inexperience and Fredi’s “No Dating Clients” rule means the guys take some time getting to know one another instead of jumping straight into bed. In spite of this, the reader (or listener) is still only provided a few scenes that are deep enough to connect with the characters fully. Ugh! I’m not saying this right. I really liked both Fredi and Max, and I was invested in their relationship and them building a future together, but it’s as if Henshaw planned a bigger story than the novella format allowed for, so we didn’t get to delve as deep into the relationship as I would have liked. In addition to the romance, there is a romantic suspense element that heightens then tension a bit. The romantic suspense thread was well-telegraphed, but considering this is a novella, it would have been difficult for the author to build much mystery into it, so Henshaw relies on the crime itself and the characters’ confusion over who could have done such a thing as the means of building the tension – and it worked out very nicely.

For me, David Ross’ narrative performance got better from book one to book two. Perhaps the characters posed more of a challenge or maybe Ross was more comfortable with the tone of the series, but I LOVED the sassy vulnerability he infused in Fredi and the scared excitement of Max. Both men felt more realistic and like people I’d enjoying spending time with. I’m not sure what else to say except that I’m hoping to have a chance to listen to book three, Behr Facts, as I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to the Sierra Foothills.

  • Dim Sum Asylum

  • By: Rhys Ford
  • Narrated by: Greg Tremblay
  • Length: 9 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 274
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 267
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 265

Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division faces a pile of challenges far beyond his human-faerie heritage - snarling dragons guarding C-Town's multiple gates and exploding noodle factories. After a case goes sideways, Roku is saddled with Trent Leonard, a new partner he can't trust, to add to the crime syndicate family he doesn't want and a spell-casting serial killer he desperately needs to find.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Haunting and delicious...can't wait for more!

  • By danielle on 08-02-17

One of my favorite audiobooks!

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

Reviewed: 07-02-18

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

Dim Sum Asylum is one of my favorite audiobooks, especially when I’m in the mood for fantasy. I have long been fascinated by the fae, so Rhys Ford had my complete attention with Roku’s human-faerie heritage. The cherry on top was that the audiobook was narrated by my favorite narrator, Greg Tremblay. How could I resist? I couldn’t. My mistake was in not writing up my review as soon as I finished listening to the book the first time. Yeah, you read that right, the first time. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to Dim Sum Asylum over the past several months, hence its five-star rating.

“I hated running first thing in the morning.” Not only does Ford insure that I’ll love Roku right off the bat with this thought, but we’re dropped right into the middle of the action as the book begins with Roku chasing down a suspect who’s stolen a clutch of dragon eggs. A very valuable clutch of dragon eggs. And the thief is his partner on the force. The chase is exciting until Arnett demonstrates just how dirty of a cop he is and murders an innocent bystander in an attempt to escape. While the murder is tragic, Ford uses it as a way to show just how good of a man Roku is and why he works so hard to right the world’s wrongs instead of embracing his father’s Yakuza ties and stepping into the role his grandfather would like to groom him for. But that’s merely the tip of the iceberg in this novel as Roku has to train Trent, his new partner, keep his ghosts at bay, track down a magical serial killer, avoid his grandfather’s continued overtures to join the family’s criminal enterprises, resist the temptation of his new partner, and still get home in time to feed his cat, Bob – who I absolutely freaking adored, especially at the very end. Fortunately for me, Roku succeeds at the right tasks, fails at the tasks he needed to, and averages 50/50 on the cat (lol). One of the things I enjoy most about Dim Sum Asylum is that even after repeated listens, I realized that Ford doesn’t telegraph who the serial killer is. The reader or listener isn’t meant to “solve” the case before Roku and Trent do, they’re meant to enjoy the ride – and I do every single time I cue it up.

For me, this is possibly one of my favorite performances by Greg Tremblay. Between the Asian accents, the Scottish accents, and the American accents – both male and female – Ford certainly kept him busy and Tremblay demonstrates that he was up for the challenge. Roku is such an emotive character and the narration clearly conveys his frustration, irritation, sadness, grief, happiness, attraction, and most importantly, his determination. There’s a scene in the book where Roku is talking things out with the morgue tech and I felt like I could actually hear the gears grinding in his head and see him pacing the room as he reasons through what they know, attempting to connect the dots back to the killer. Once again, Tremblay has impressed me with his ability to breathe life into an author’s words, bringing Ford’s world and characters to life in such a way that I get lost in the story, forgetting for several hours that dragons and faeries and magic aren’t real – at least, not in my world. Thank goodness for re-listens, so I can return to Dim Sum Asylum anytime I want.

  • Kairos

  • By: Mary Calmes
  • Narrated by: Michael Fell
  • Length: 5 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57

Joe Cohen has devoted the past two years of his life to one thing: the care and feeding of Kade Bosa. His partner in their PI business, roommate, and best friend, Kade is everything to Joe, even if their relationship falls short of what Joe desires most. But he won’t push. Kade has suffered a rough road, and Joe’s pretty sure he’s the only thing holding Kade together. Estranged from his own family, Joe knows the value of desperately holding on to someone dear, but he never expected his present and past to collide just as Kade’s is doing the same.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Excellent Listen

  • By S Wilgus on 03-26-18

It felt like 2 separate stories. I still loved it!

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

Reviewed: 07-02-18

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

This was an odd one. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Kairos, because I did. A lot. I just didn’t expect the story to move from a romantic suspense storyline to a traditional romance complete with a family reunification, an unofficial adoption, and a marriage proposal (of sorts). It’s almost as if Mary Calmes intended to write two short novellas featuring Joe and Kade and, in the end, opted to write a short novel to give a more complete story for the pair. For me, it works because I enjoy Calmes’ writing, but for some readers, the change in tone might prove jarring.

Readers (or in my case, listeners) are dropped into Joe’s life right before shots are fired that will turn both his and his best friend Kade’s life upside down. Joe harbors an unrequited love for Kade, but it’s the kind of love that means Joe keeps Kade in his life, being the best friend he can be while tamping down on his romantic feelings so those feelings don’t negatively impact their personal or business relationship. This is why Joe finds himself protecting their target from Kade’s fury when Declan reveals who wants him dead. Luckily for all three men, Kade’s temper doesn’t prevent him from thinking clearly about the danger they’re in and they get the heck out of the Dodge before everything explodes around them. After a rather intense scene in which Joe proves he’s not Kade’s doormat – something that wasn’t entirely clear before – the three men hopscotch their way out of town, leaving incriminating evidence in the hands of someone who had the power to bring down the bad guys, thereby protecting young Declan. It’s when they land in California that part two of the story begins and Kade forces Joe to face his demons. And now that I’ve typed that, the two different tones of Kairos make more sense. Both Kade and Joe had demons they had to deal with before their life together could begin, but Kade’s demons were far darker and more dangerous than Joe’s were, hence the move from romantic suspense to a more traditional feel-good romance. While I don’t want to give too much away regarding Joe’s reconciliation with his family, I will say that they’re a hoot, particularly his mother. As usual, I would have loved for the story to continue on, so I could see where their new beginning would take them. I can only hope that Joe and Kade eventually make an appearance in another of Calmes’ books.

Kairos marks the second audiobook narrated by Michael Fell I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. I enjoyed the contrast in voices he performed for Joe and Kade. While the gruffness of Kade’s voice was perfect for the character Calmes has created, I did wonder more than once if it hurt Fell to perform because of its harshness. Kade’s gruffness was balanced out by the calm and steadiness of Joe’s voice, making it easy to see why Joe was Kade’s shelter from the storm. Declan’s voice was also perfect, conveying the young man’s vulnerability and fear so clearly that it was even easier to hear when he began to feel safe as he spent more time in Joe and Kade’s presence. Fell did a great job of creating voices for the entire cast of characters, but I really, really liked what he did with the main three characters’ voices. I suspect that I enjoyed Kairos more as an audiobook than I would have as an ebook and that’s because of how well Fell’s performance signaled the change in the story’s tone. This is definitely one for my ever expanding re-listen shelf. It’s also got me wondering which characters other than Sutter may have popped up in Calmes’ other books – my to-be-listened-to list is getting longer and longer each time I cue up one of the author’s audiobooks.

  • What's in a Name?

  • Foothills Pride Stories, Book 1
  • By: Pat Henshaw
  • Narrated by: David Ross
  • Length: 2 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 56
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 53

Barista Jimmy Patterson thinks it's a good idea to get rip-roaring drunk on his birthday after he's dumped by his boyfriend. When a burly bar owner rescues Jimmy, the night starts to look up. Now Jimmy just wants to know the bartender's first name. "Guy" Stone gives Jimmy seven guesses, one for each night he takes Jimmy out on a date. While Jimmy's trying to come up with his name, he's distracted by the destruction of his coffee shop and what looks more and more like a hate crime.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sweet romance

  • By Riva on 12-19-16

Enjoyable but not memorable

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

Reviewed: 07-02-18

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

Hmmmm… I’m at a loss as to how to review What’s in a Name? It’s not a great book and it’s not a bad book, it’s just kind of lackluster. It had moments of levity and of seriousness, but aside from the main characters’ real names, it’s not all that memorable. I think Pat Henshaw attempted to pack several plot points in the novella in an effort to keep the story moving and the reader engaged, however, they weren’t fleshed out enough for me to really connect with Jimmy and Guy (no, that’s not his real name… or is it?). As a huge fan of well-written novellas, I wanted to love this audiobook, but I just didn’t. I’m not sorry I listened to it, but it didn’t come close to meeting my expectations beyond a few particularly entertaining scenes.

Sadly, this is one of those times when the narration didn’t bolster the story either. This isn’t the first of David Ross’ narrative performances I’ve listened to, and despite thoroughly enjoying his previous work, he failed to draw me into the story and keep me there this time around. Yes, there were a couple of scenes that had me stopping what I was doing so I could give Jimmy and Guy my undivided attention, but they weren’t enough to suck me into the story on a whole. Granted, the story itself couldn’t keep my invested and engaged completely, so I’m not sure how much of my impression of Ross’ performance is on it and how much is on the story. While Ross did create easily identifiable voices for the main characters, I think his performance lacked the edge I would have expected in the more suspenseful scenes, causing the characters to come off as too laid back and uninterested in what was happening to them.

What’s in a Name? is one of those audiobooks that entertained me for few hours, without leaving me bemoaning the lost time. It’s an enjoyable story that had its moments, but it’s not one of those audiobooks that will be cued up again for repeated listens. With that said, I am looking forward to listening to Redesigning Max to learn more about Jimmy’s friend, Fredi, and to see if there’s a noticeable improvement in Henshaw’s writing and if Ross found his voice for the series. A girl can hope.

  • Poppy's Secret

  • Dreamspun Desires, Book 28
  • By: Andrew Grey
  • Narrated by: John Solo
  • Length: 5 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 38

Pat Corrigan and Edgerton "Edge" Winters were ready to start a family - or so Pat thought. At the last minute, Edge got cold feet and fled. Pat didn't bother telling him the conception had already gone through and little Emma was on her way. He didn't want a relationship based on obligation. He'd rather raise his daughter on his own. Nine years later, Emma and her Poppy are doing fine. Edge isn't. He realizes what he threw away by leaving, and he's back to turn his life around and reclaim his family.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good story overall

  • By ScrappyMom on 05-10-17

4 stars = I REALLY liked this audiobook!

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

Reviewed: 07-02-18

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

Poppy’s Secret is a very sweet, second chance romance with just enough angst to keep me entertained, but not so much that it enters new adult territory. I have to hand it to Andrew Grey on this one, the angst that occurs bleeds over from Pat and Edge’s time together in their early twenties, appropriate for the young men they were but not the more world weary men they are now, and for the most part, both men seem to recognize when their disagreements begin sliding back into the land of immaturity and actively try to reign it in, wanting to deal with the problems of the present without so much of their baggage from the past controlling them. It’s a fine line for an author to write and Grey does it well, yet still allows for human nature and hurt feelings to result in the men succumbing to the angst and drama when tensions run high – and there are plenty of reasons for them to run high.

When Pat’s partner left him nine years ago, on the cusp of them beginning a family together, he made the difficult decision to raise the child their surrogate gave birth to on his own and keep their daughter’s existence a secret from Edge, allowing the man he loved to begin the life he obviously wanted more than the family they had planned. Edge’s return to town throws his world into chaos as Pat worries what the man he once loved will say when he learns of Emma’s existence, especially when Edge learns the real secret that Pat has kept all these years. Assuming this isn’t the first romance you’ve ever read, you’ll figure out what the secret is pretty quickly, possibly before you even start the book. However, don’t let that deter you because Grey’s talent in Poppy’s Secret is taking a predictable plot point and crafting a believable story that has an unexpected twist or two to keep you from feeling like you’ve heard this story before. For me, one of the plot twists was one that forced me to abandon the audiobook for several months because I had to be in the right frame of mind for it. No, it’s nothing horrific – this is a Dreamspun Desires title, after all – but it’s a topic that’s I’m sensitive to, to varying degrees throughout the year. This time around, the issue didn’t bother me at all and I was able to listen to the entirety of the audiobook without any problems. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did have to pause the sexy times scene that occurs while Edge is painting because it was a bit too hot for me to listen to in public; yeah, that one tapped right into my voyeuristic nature and had me dropping everything I was doing just so I could listen to it closely… twice… okay, three times. As much as I enjoyed that happy ending, it doesn’t compare to Pat, Edge, and Emma’s happy ending, especially as envisioned by Edge. That really was a beautiful dream.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, John Solo brings a beautiful, storyteller voice to the Dreamspun Desires audiobooks. In Poppy’s Secret, he not only nails the men’s angst and frustration, but he does a wonderful job of conveying their fears, their hopes, and their love. I’m not sure how to preface this, but he also performs Emma’s voice in an interesting way. Rather than trying to feminize his voice and/or trying to make it sound younger or high pitched for a young girl, Solo seems to use a different cadence (I think that’s the right word) when Emma speaks. When Emma talks, there’s a sing-song quality to her speech that I think works far better than a pitch change would have. I don’t know if I’m making any sense, but I think people who listen to the audiobook will understand what I’m bumbling all over here. Needless to say, I really enjoyed Poppy’s Secret, loving the conflict and angst Grey forced Pat and Edge to navigate through to achieve their happy ending, as well as the way Solo brings each character to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Starting Point

  • Turning Point Series, Book 3
  • By: N.R. Walker
  • Narrated by: Sean Crisden
  • Length: 8 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 50
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 50

Matthew Elliott is a recovering man. As an ex-cop and ex-fighter, his new job teaching kids at the local community gym about drug awareness and self-defense, is a little bit of both. His new focus on helping street kids is helping him heal, and with Kira by his side, he's making strides. Brother and sister, Rueben and Claudia, are homeless kids and they're very much alone. As they strike a chord with Matt, he does everything in his power to help them. But when Ruby and Claude need more help than he bargained for, it stops being about work, and starts being about home.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Don't want the series to end...

  • By ReadingMad100 on 10-08-18

A perfect ending to the series!

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

Reviewed: 07-02-18

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

Now THIS is the almost perfect ending to the Turning Point series. I say almost perfect simply because I’d love to see more of the story past the epilogue, but it certainly lived up to its title of Starting Point because it finally closes the book on a big part of Matt’s past while setting him and Kira up for the rest of their life together. Fair warning, this installment pulled on my heartstrings quite a bit and I found myself shedding tears more than once, but I also found myself laughing at twice as many scenes. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of heart pounding action as well.

For as much as much as Matt drove me bonkers in Breaking Point, it made the progress in his healing – both physical and mental – even more apparent. I loved that Matt was so committed in getting better and sticking with his counseling, especially when he felt as though his therapist was judging him. Matt still got stuck in his head and second-guessed himself a lot, but his self-awareness grew over the course of the novel, thus enabling him to see when he began to fall into his old patterns of negative thinking and he could redirect himself to break that cycle. His desire to get better, to vanquish his inner demons so he could have a long, happy, and healthy life with Kira was admirable. Just as admirable was his desire to do what he could to help Ruby and Claude. Even though he’s the only one who cannot see it, Matt’s work at the center fulfilled him in a way that being a cop didn’t – it gave him a chance to make a difference one kid at a time. Matt has learned the hard way that he cannot save the world, but he knows he can still save lives by making a difference in the lives of the kids’ who show up at the fight club. While I could have done without how realistically life treats kids like Ruby and Claude, it kept me glued to my Echo Dot as I prepared for the worst to happen, hoped the best would happen first, and waited on bated breath as the story played out in both heartwarming and heartbreaking ways. Walker excels at keeping me on tenterhooks.

I must say that as impressed as I was with Sean Crisden’s narration in the first two books, he blew me away with Starting Point. Matt is still dealing with a lot of guilt he’s taken on from Point of No Return and Breaking Point, and it’s so clear to hear it in his voice, as is his determination to get better. Even more striking is how the narrator strikes a balance between Matt’s feelings of powerlessness and acceptance when the vertigo hits him hard. Matt knows there’s nothing he can do about the vertigo, but he doesn’t have to like it either. What really surprised me though, is that the author shifts the point of view from Matt, who’s been our narrator for all three books, to Kira. I was not expecting the shift in perspectives, and not only was it invaluable to the series, but Crisden made the change so seamless that it took me a few seconds to realize what had happened. This isn’t because the voices used were similar but rather because as the other main character, Kira has been front and center throughout the series, so I didn’t initially recognize that we were in his head and not listening to him speak. And I loved that we got part of the story from Kira’s perspective because it signaled that it was no longer just Matt’s journey (it hadn’t been for a while) and it gave series fans a chance to see Matt through the eyes of someone who loves him because Crisden made sure that was in Kira’s voice, the love he has for Matt and how important Matt is to him. Walker and Crisden did a fabulous job on Starting Point, making it a perfect ending to the series and beautiful beginning for these two men.

  • Breaking Point

  • Turning Point Series, Book 2
  • By: N.R. Walker
  • Narrated by: Sean Crisden
  • Length: 7 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 69
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67

Book two in the Turning Point Series. A fight for what's right becomes a fight for his life. As guilt plagues him, Matthew Elliott's world begins to spiral out of control. The harder he holds on, the more it slips through his fingers, and he's helpless to stop it. Entering into the underground cage-fighting scene, he starts out fighting for what's right. The deeper he gets, the more guilt consumes him - the more pain he takes for his penance - and he's soon fighting for more than justice. He's fighting for love. He's fighting for his life.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not perfect, but darned great!

  • By ReadingMad100 on 10-01-18

5 stars = I freaking LOVED this audiobook!!!

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

Reviewed: 07-02-18

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

Breaking Point returns us to Detective Matthew Elliot as he embarks upon his biggest investigation since the Tomic case, quite possibly of his entire career. That’s a little bit of a spoiler, but as it’s something you learn very early in the book, I’m okay with disclosing it because it weighs heavily on my review. Before I devolve into what is going to come across as a gripe-fest, let me state clearly that I absolutely loved this audiobook. The tension came from an entirely different source this time around, but I was still glued to my Echo Dot, listening intently because I needed to know how things were going to play out for Matt. Knowing that there’s a third book in the series only alleviated my fear that Matt wouldn’t make it out alive, but as I haven’t read the blurb for Starting Point beyond the mention of Matt recovering, his survival was the only outcome I was certain of when things started getting dicey in Breaking Point.

There are two main sources of conflict in the story, one external and one internal. The external source was the undercover investigation Matt embarks upon. This part of the storyline produces a level of action and suspense similar to what we saw in book one because of the criminal elements and the danger inherent to his job. The internal conflict nearly drove me nuts. Why? Because I was too far into Matt’s head, feeling his sense of isolation, his guilt, his anger, his fear, and his anxiety. Between Walker’s wordsmithing and Crisden’s performance, I felt as though I was being dragged down Matt’s rabbit hole, whether I wanted to be or not – and I didn’t want to be. The rational side of my brain is screaming at Matt, “Why haven’t you taken any time in the past year to discuss the possibility of undercover work with Kira?!?!?” Wondering more than once why he wouldn’t let Kira know there was an ongoing investigation without telling him the details, especially after I got the impression that it was Matt’s decision to keep it a secret from Kira, not a mandate from his boss. Matt’s internal conflict trampled all over my last nerve because it’s so well done and feels so real.

As a reader, Matt’s withdrawal and sense of guilt over lying to Kira seems overblown. His internal insistence that he’s no longer a cop – while he’s working undercover – is absurd and annoying and reeks of self-pity, but I suspect that’s the point. Matt’s isolation from all members of the force puts a huge strain on a man who is used to constant camaraderie. This, in turn, puts a strain on his relationship with Kira. And while, to an outside observer such as myself, it seems overdramatized, I worry it’s not and that far too many in law enforcement find themselves in similar situations. With that said, I still wanted to smack Matt Moonstruck style and tell him to snap out it. Contradictorily, the psych student in me was fascinated by how Matt’s guilt surrounding Kira’s abduction in book one resurfaced in some extremely dangerous ways. And while the story is told from Matt’s point of view, I still found myself wanting to pull Kira aside to tell him to stay strong, not to give up on Matt, and to THINK about who the man he loves is at his core!!! I was irrationally annoyed that Kira didn’t figure out what was going on, while wanting to comfort him at the same time. And then, when everything went down as it did and the fallout from it, oh, my heart hurt for both men. Not surprisingly, I was exceedingly pleased when Yumi made her dissatisfaction about the investigation known at the end of the book (hehe). It’s odd not to say the ending was perfect when reviewing an N.R. Walker book, but not only does Matt’s story continue in book three, he also paid a really high price to close his investigation and it left me conflicted. Because of that, I am, for once, very happy that I’m a tad behind on my reviews as I have the audiobook for Starting Point cued up to listen to next.

Regarding the narration, I was very pleased to see that Sean Crisden had reprised his role as Detective Matt Elliot. Crisden did such a good job in creating voices for the main cast of characters in Point of No Return that I cannot imagine someone else at the mic. The narrator not only expresses the despair and darker emotions Matt experiences this time around, but Crisden also makes Kira’s worry, resignation, and anger so obvious that you cannot miss it in a single word. However, I must admit that the snicker-inducing jock strap shopping scene was even more entertaining in audio versus reading it. Yet none of it compared to the level of emotion shown when Matt and Kira finally reconnect or with what happens in the final chapter – something I’ll leave as it’s meant to be, a surprise for other readers. Now I’m off to listen to Starting Point because I must know if Walker has given these two men the happily ever after they’ve earned with their blood, sweat, and tears.