All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard

Unabridged Audiobook narrated by Kate Forbes

Abridged narrated by Megan Gallagher 

I’ve often said that I came to romance through the door marked Romantic Suspense and All the Queen’s Men is that door. Back in 1998 I picked up the paperback on a mass market table in a mall bookstore. I’d been reading a steady diet of man thrillers and my joy knew no bounds as I sat in that mall food court falling in love with my new discovery. A thriller with romance, a hero who falls hard when he zeroes in on his woman and…sex! Do I love it as much now as I did way back then? Why, yes, even more now that I own two audio versions, a Kindle book, and more than one paperback (just in case).
John Medina is the sexiest, coolest, most mysterious, and darkest special ops guy ever. He’s hotter than James Bond; a hero that every woman can love. I’ve read countless romantic suspense series  with covert ops guys who are pale shadows of the original iron man John Medina. There is nothing he doesn’t do better than anyone staying cool and composed as he stares down and outsmarts the baddest terrorists. All while clad in his tailor made Armani tux. Oh yeah, baby. It’s a new world order.

I love this book so much that a few years ago I jumped at the chance to buy an abridged cassette (crackle-hiss-crackle) copy on eBay. As abridgments go, this one produced in 1999 is excellent. Megan Gallagher hits the bull’s eye, eerily voicing John and Niema almost exactly as I had imagined them. Her reading of Niema’s turbulent emotions as expressed in inner monologues is spot on. Gallagher doesn’t change her pitch between characters, but voices personality and attitude so distinctly that there is no question of who’s speaking. And although this is far from a light-hearted book, Gallagher handily conveys Medina’s impish sense of fun when he isn’t being a total badass. Oh, and there’s a bit of the kink in Medina’s seduction of Niema, thus proving that kink was not invented this year.
The unabridged version narrated by Kate Forbes was produced in cassette (crackle-hiss-crackle) format in 2001 and has been mysteriously languishing in the publisher’s vault until its digital release in 2012. I’ve enjoyed Forbes’ narrations before but I was disappointed in her performance with this book. Her reading is adequate, but lacking that elusive sparkly quality that makes a book come to life. I don’t have any specific criticism of Forbes; I just wish she’d punched it up. Gallagher nailed it and Forbes…didn’t.
Love, love, love Linda Howard’s book. BLUE MOON for sure.
Gallagher gets a FULL MOON for making me happy and Forbes a WAXING MOON for not quite being there.

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