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  • A Duke in Shining Armor

  • Difficult Dukes
  • By: Loretta Chase
  • Narrated by: Kate Reading
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 427
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 387
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 386

Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, will never win prizes for virtue. But even he draws the line at running off with his best friend's bride. All he's trying to do is recapture the slightly inebriated Lady Olympia Hightower and return her to her intended bridegroom. For reasons that elude her, bookish, bespectacled Olympia is supposed to marry a gorgeous rake of a duke. The ton is flabbergasted. Her family's ecstatic. And Olympia? She's climbing out of a window, bent on a getaway.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderfully humorous and entertaining!

  • By Millicent j Hill on 12-13-17

Loved absolutely everything about this novel...

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

Reviewed: 06-20-18

... especially the parts where I laughed out loud.

This is a wonderfully witty, charming, sweet love story that is not only quite adult but also genuinely, surprisingly funny. If you can listen to Kate Reading render Olivia and Ripley's adventures as she runs from her wedding without laughing out loud, your made of sterner stuff than I. The characters have depth and are believably drawn and the narration is just absolutely brilliant.

It's 11 hours of sheer, exciting, what-will-happen-next fun.

Highly recommend.

  • The President Is Missing

  • By: Bill Clinton, James Patterson
  • Narrated by: Dennis Quaid, January LaVoy, Peter Ganim, and others
  • Length: 12 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,568
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4,239
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,214

The White House is the home of the president of the United States, the most guarded, monitored, closely watched person in the world. So how could a US president vanish without a trace? And why would he choose to do so? An unprecedented collaboration between President Bill Clinton and the world's best-selling novelist, James Patterson, The President Is Missing is a breathtaking story from the pinnacle of power.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Wanted it to be so much better

  • By K. Moeller on 06-18-18

One or the other -- but not both...

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-08-18

I usually enjoy James Patterson's work but this one is just not working for me.
While I think the plot is formulaic and the characters are predictable, I could hang in there if only I didn't have to listen to Dennis Quaid. He's awful as a narrator. He seems to be substituting scenery-chewing for narration. He's terrible at women AND accents and I really can't listen to it any more. So, I can forgive either tepid writing or really bad narration, but not both.

Audible gets this one back.

  • For the Roses

  • Claybornes' Brides, Book 1
  • By: Julie Garwood
  • Narrated by: Mikael Naramore
  • Length: 22 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 580
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 523
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 524

The Clayborne brothers were a rough gang of street urchins - until they found an abandoned baby girl in a New York City alley, named her Mary Rose, and headed to Blue Belle, Montana, to raise her to be a lady. They became a family - held together by loyalty and love, if not blood - when suddenly a stranger threatened to tear them apart.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful Story

  • By 🇺🇸🌸DARA on 12-14-13

I love Julie Garwood but...

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-29-18

... this one goes back to Audible. I can't even finish it.

Pros:
-The premise is wonderful. Orphaned New York street urchins rescue a baby girl from a trash heap and raise her in Montana.
-Nice variety of characters sprinkled generously throughout the story.

That's pretty much it.

Cons:
- Main characters that I've encountered so far (Mary Rose, the four brothers, Harrison, Eleanor) are reduced to archetypes who are much too perfect in their assigned roles. It's not "real." Adam is always wise and knows everything. Rose is kind and generous to the point of occasionally risking her life or the family's stability in order to not have to say , "No." "Eleanor is perfectly horrible. Harrison is so perfect in every skill he has picked up since leaving Scotland that one wonders that he can't fly. Yes, it's like that.
- Too many I-can't-buy-that plot devises inserted. For example, the four street urchins and Mary Rose speak fluent French. There is no explanation (at least as far as I got before I gave up) for when or how they managed this while making their way from NYC to Montana, keeping themselves and a baby alive and building a wildly successful ranch. It just is. Side note: I loved the letters the brothers wrote "home" telling about their journey through the years. Unfortunately, that clever device was grossly underused while dialogue was beaten to death.
- Much, much, much too much dialogue. It was an extreme-eye-roll provocation at times. Long discussions about stuff that mostly didn't contribute anything to the story.
- Much too long without sufficient plot movement to make the wait and the **pain worthwhile. I've given up 13 hours in and I just can't do it any more. I no longer care.
- Finally, **the narrator is amazingly bad. He has a reasonably good range of voices but he can't act! Sometimes it was so bad, I would lose track of the story because I was groaning in anguish. Worst of all was his Scottish accent. One of the two principle characters - Mary Rose and Harrison - is a Scot. Did nobody think it might be a good idea to determine that Naramore could actually DO that accent? It's hard to describe how badly he mangles this but try to imagine that he sometimes sounds Italian, sometimes sort of American southern [???!] and sometimes - most times - like an American trying to do a Scottish brogue but failing. And I haven't gotten yet to the part where British aristocrats are introduced. The mind boggles.

If the narrator wasn't so awful, I'd probably try to wade through the last ten chapters (nine hours!) but I just can't.

I recommend many of Garwood's books, but not this one.

  • Castles

  • Crown's Spies, Book 4
  • By: Julie Garwood
  • Narrated by: Heather Wilds
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 757
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 687
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 688

Orphaned and besieged, Princess Alesandra knew that only hasty marriage to an Englishman could protect her from the turmoil in her own land. To the amusement of her makeshift guardian, Colin, younger brother of the Marquess of Cainewood, the bold raven-haired beauty instantly captivated London society. But when Alesandra was nearly abducted by her unscrupulous countrymen, the fighting instincts that won Colin a knighthood for valor were kindled. Deceiving himself that he wanted only to protect her, Colin swept her into a union meant to be a marriage in name alone...yet Alesandra's tender first kiss and hesitant caress ignited a wildfire in his soul.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • COLON IS A BODY PART NOT THE LEADS NAME!

  • By Tx2Stepn on 11-07-13

Found treasures and a lost narrator

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

Reviewed: 05-10-18

Pros: Garwood is a marvelous, imaginative story-teller. The reference to "Castles" in the title becomes clear as the plot progresses, but the treasure hunt aspect is also fun. The murder mystery added an exciting aspect to the story of Alesandra and Colin (along with revisits with Nathan and Caine, Jade and Sarah)that was reasonably effective.

The story started out a bit slow, but I was glad I stuck with it as it picked up nicely and was a satisfying end to the series. It also checked all the steamy romance, HEA boxes nicely.

Con: I have loved this series since book 1, so I was sad when I realized Susan Duerdon wasn't reading the final episode. Ms Wilds isn't an awful narrator, but her reading really was missing a lot of the finesse of Ms. Duerdon and she definitely changed the "character" of the characters.

Her pronunciations, as others have pointed out, were inconsistent with previous books in the series, especially Sarah and Colin (and even within this book itself; she pronounced "Colin" at least three different ways.)

Something about her reading sucked the humor out of the parts that would have otherwise sparkled with wit. I recognized the places where, if Duerdon had been reading, I might have laughed out loud. Wilds planed all the "edges" off Garwood's marvelous, interesting characters, leaving them all sounding much alike. She especially seemed unable to read the men so that their characters weren't really flat. I guess it's not really fair to say, but I'll say anyway, that Duerdon knows how to make the male characters -sound- as completely and marvelously male as Garwood wrote them to be and Wilds just doesn't.

It's an OK listen and I'm glad I finished it, but the narrator definitely did not do it justice. For that reason, while I will likely listen to the other 3 again some time, I won't listen to this again.

  • The Gift

  • By: Julie Garwood
  • Narrated by: Susan Duerden
  • Length: 12 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 853
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 783
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 778

The New York Times best-selling author of Ransom weaves the delightful, sensual story of two lovers destined for high adventure and blissful rapture! A child bride, Sara Winchester had grown into a winsome beauty, joyfully anticipating the day when her husband Nathan, Marquess of St. James, would return to claim her heart at last. Nathan had never bared his soul to any woman, but he was soon utterly beguiled and exasperated by Sara’s sweet, defiant ways. With their future at stake, they would discover the true destiny of their passion... for all time!

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Very Funny moments but not much substance!!!

  • By Cam on 11-26-13

Third in a wonderful series

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

Julie Garwood has a number of gifts, my favorites of which are her imagination and her wonderful wit. In "The Gift" she has created an interesting story and filled it with characters who have depth and wit. The book is exciting, with a riveting plot and lots of what-will-happen-next adventures, but it is also sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and, yes, nicely steamy.

Nathan and Sara are brave and smart and funny and vulnerable and sweet and richly romantic. I also fell for Matthew and Jimbo and Aunt Norah. Actually, I kind of fell for all the characters, even the nasty ones. We revisit Caine and Colin and Jade, for those who have read the first two books in the series. And, of course, Susan Duerden's narration is masterful. She really knows how to bring these charming characters to life.

I highly recommend this little jewel from Julie Garwood.

  • The Bees

  • A Novel
  • By: Laline Paull
  • Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy
  • Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,261
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,145
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,143

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive's survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw, but her courage and strength are assets. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect nectar and pollen.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Favorite Book of 2014

  • By Emily - Audible on 12-07-14

Hours I Can Never Get Back

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

Reviewed: 04-13-18

I stuck with this novel in spite of misgivings that arose fairly early on. Now I wish I hadn't. I kept thinking it would get better. It didn't. But the premise was so fascinating and the reviews so gushingly favorable that I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, I found the pace very slow and the narration grating. I also struggled with the "Mary Sue" qualities of Flora and idea of talking bees really distracted me badly.

I don't recommend this one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Scribe of Siena

  • A Novel
  • By: Melodie Winawer
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Cambell
  • Length: 16 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 328
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 315
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 313

Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother's affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined - a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I hope this is the first in a series!

  • By Taryn on 05-30-17

Potential Unfulfilled

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

Reviewed: 03-30-18

I sometimes liked --- but did not love --- this book.

Pros:
--Ms. Winawer wove an intriguing tale of mystery, time travel, romance and history. Her research was clearly in depth and serious.
--She captured my interest and imagination as regards life in 14th Century in Italy and the Black Plague.
--Her descriptive skills are impressive. She brought some scenes "to life".

Cons:
Narration--
I have not read the dead-tree version of this book, but I assume it was not written with characters speaking in Italian accents. Why the narrator and director chose to read most of the Italian characters with accents puzzles me. I found it distracting. Otherwise, she did an OK job.

Time travel classic error --
When Beatrice passes from one era to another, her "stuff" goes with her but in one notable case (tiny spoiler alert) a very old product from the 14th century that she brings with her from the 21st century becomes "new" again when she brings it with her back in time. Of course, any time travel story veteran knows that now there are two versions of the same book in the same time and that's a major no-no. In addition, if that happens to 14th century stuff brought back in time, then why do the 21st century products she brings back in time not disappear because they didn't exist then?

Paranormal too? Wha...? Ms. Winawer did not need to include the whole paranormal empath nonsense. I never did figure out the point of that.

Too much detail --
The story bogged down in several places because of the incredible amount of detail the author included. It was as if she was channeling Diana Gabaldan, another time-travel/historical fiction writer (the Outlander series.) I found it very frustrating to be just getting involved in the tale and suddenly be bogged down with details that seemed inserted just because they could, but didn't advance or improve the story.

Overall, I didn't love this one.

  • Getting Schooled

  • By: Emma Chase
  • Narrated by: Zachary Webber, Andi Arndt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,561
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,489
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,490

Garrett Daniels has this whole life thing figured out. The cocky, charismatic former high school star quarterback is an idolized football coach and "cool" teacher in the hometown where he's not just a golden boy - he's platinum. He has good friends, a great house on the lake, and the best damn sidekick a man could ask for: Snoopy, the albino beagle. Then...Callie Carpenter comes home.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 stars = I freaking LOVED this audiobook!!!

  • By Angela S Goodrich on 02-28-18

Emma Chase Overcomes a Really Bad Cover

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

Reviewed: 03-26-18

Pros:
--- The book brings us Chase's usual sense of humor along with her keen knack for hitting all the romance buttons.
--- The hero and heroine are believable and "human".
--- The narration is excellent. Andi Arndt is the mistress of the romance heroine and this performance is no exception. I had not heard Webber before and he did an excellent job. I'd happily listen to him narrate the phone book.
--- The story is a classic romance, with all the bumps along the road to a HE giving us a sweet, funny, somewhat hot story to "sweep us off our feet".

Cons
--- Chase really tasked me with believing the unbelievable. A hospital bed for two was quite a stretch (trust me on this - there is no such thing). A ten-month leave of absence in which one's newly-awarded promotion is held? Not on my planet. At least, not in the US in California in a theater. In fact, a broken leg that requires ten months of 24-hour care was quite a stretch.

But if you don't mind the "Wha...?" moments, this is a very nice addition to the Emma Chase collection. It won't leave you pondering life's great questions, but it will leave you smiling.

I recommend it.

  • The Tuscan Child

  • By: Rhys Bowen
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble, Katy Sobey
  • Length: 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,970
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,823
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,821

In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal. Nearly 30 years later, Hugo's estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father's funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Knocked this one out of the park

  • By Anne on 02-22-18

Knocked this one out of the park

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

Reviewed: 02-22-18

Rhys Bowen long ago proved her ability to develop interesting, complex characters and intriguing mysteries.

This novel, however, is her absolute best. Set in 1944 and 1973, the premise uses the classic devise of exploring the same story from two points of view and, in this case, two time periods. Hugo Langley is living the situation in 1944 which creates the mystery for Hugo's estranged and troubled daughter Joanna to figure out in 1973 as she comes to terms with both his death and her life.

I don't want to offer any detail that would allow any kind of spoiler, but I can safely tell you that Ms. Bowen has created a mystery, a romance, and a kind of coming-of-age story that will keep you curious until the very end. Nothing much is at is appears to be.

In addition, Ms. Bowen has used language beautifully to bring several complex characters to life in settings that allow the reader to see, feel and smell.

Finally, the narrators are both excellent. Katy Sobey does a wonderful job with Joanna's voice and the characters that live the story with her in 1973 as Joanna tries to solve the mystery she finds in her father's will. But Jonathan Keeble is simply outstanding reading Hugo as a British pilot trapped in a tiny town in Italy under German occupation as the Allies get closer.

I highly and enthusiastically recommend The Tuscan Child. Don't hesitate. Get it.

87 of 90 people found this review helpful

  • The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

  • By: Mariana Zapata
  • Narrated by: Callie Dalton
  • Length: 16 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,135
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,931
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,935

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans, and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary. But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good slow burn

  • By catkit on 09-30-16

So Mediocre

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

Reviewed: 02-21-18

Nothing about this book is all that good.

The narration is only OK. Ms. Dalton's performance was uneven. Sometimes the voices were well-distinguished -- I could tell who was speaking. But then she'd seem to lose the knack and they'd all sound pretty much the same. And she did NOT use the Canadian "eh" correctly. In fact, her performance made Aidan's character sound distinctly un-Canadian.

The plot had definite potential, with elements that told a coherent story and made me want to know what happens. However, it's a romance so the outcome was not in question in that we were clearly headed for a HEA. Thus, it's how you get to the HEA that makes a romance novel stand out and Ms. Zepata really buried hers in endless detail and (often-repetitive) dialogue. The pace of this novel is agonizingly slow. So little happens for long stretches that I wondered if she was being paid by the word.

I felt like the author had missed the opportunity to round out the Aidan and Vanessa characters by giving more time to each of their back stories (Vanessa's mother and sisters, Aiden's abusive father, even Zach) rather than what Aidan ate or Vanessa's running. A lot of the characters lacked depth.

The other problem is that her basic mastery of English grammar is sufficiently lacking so the novel felt in a lot of places like the sloppy first draft rather than a carefully crafted and proofread professional publication. Did her publisher never think to offer her an editor? The author made so many really basic errors that, for me, they became a distraction. The worst was her egregious abuse and misuse of the present participle -- "spotting Aidan across the room, he..." Aaargh! She almost never used the devise correctly! To her credit, she did use "could not have cared less" correctly (so many authors don't these days, opting instead for the clearly nonsensical "could have cared less.")

So, when the grammar errors stand out as remarkable, what does that tell you about the overall quality of the read?

This novel gets a big "meh" from me. I don't recommend it.