Ellora’s Cave is Queen for a Day at Audible…or how I went shopping and failed at buying

Yesterday over 35 Ellora’s Cave erotic romance titles produced by Audible landed with a big splash in the Audible.com store. I dived in armed with one credit, prepared to spend more on Whispersync promotional pricing deals. Sadly, I left with my one measly credit still unspent, and without even one new audiobook in my library. The longer I spent browsing and sampling, the more confused and disappointed I felt. Since no vendor (neither online nor brick) should ever make a customer who is willing to give you money feel bad about the shopping experience, it’s not my fault! Failure to buy–when I want to–is so not me.

I’m admitting out loud right here and now that I loved Lora Leigh’s Men of August series when I read it a few years ago. Sharing and caring brothers with Big Issues, Heavy Emotional Baggage, and Childhood Sexual Trauma who find their HEAs in a close-knit familial way. Trope-y and imitated themes now, but original and shocking back in the day. So why didn’t I grab these? In this case it was narrator “Summer Roberts” (quotes because, please). She sounds 12, stretching maybe 15. I’m sorry, Audible, but that is creepy. Also, no whispersync. Moving on.

More Lora Leigh. Bound Hearts series 1,2, and 3 narrated by “Clarissa Knightly.” Haven’t read these, there’s no whispersync deal, and “Clarissa” does not speak to me. But wait! Bound Hearts 4 narrator is Nick Sullivan who is experienced with 130 listings at Audible. Maybe I’ll come back to this one. Maybe.

Feline Breeds books 1,2 and 3 narrated by “Stella Bloom.” Rejected because I tried reading the series opener way back when and…one word–barbed. Also “Stella” has no history. Please. A boatload more Leigh titles are coming up in October. I’m interested in Elizabeth’s Wolf since I remember that one fondly but who the hell is narrator “Maxine Mitchell?” Her voice sounds very familiar and it annoys the crap out of me that I have to try to figure out her other narrator name(s).

 From Laurann Dohner we’re offered four series and a novella. Ral’s Woman (isn’t he pretty?) is one I have on my Kindle but whispersync is not offered. So, no, because narrator “Simone Lewis” doesn’t sound all that appealing and she has no history.There are more books in the Zorn Warriors club that do come with whispersync. Go figure. Next, New Species series has 4 titles. Narrator for the first is Ali Ahn (I know her! She’s good.) and I can get whispersync pricing. This is a maybe. The others are read by “Vanessa Chambers” who has no other listings. Dohner’s Cyborg Seduction series has 4 books read by “Mindy Kennedy,” another one who dropped out of the sky. Are we seeing a pattern here? Mine to Chase novella read by newbie “Aisling Conaway” is offered at $10.46 for 2 hours and 51 minutes. Nope.

And finally Mating Heat 1 is narrated by “G.C. VonCloudts” and Mating Heat 2 by “G.C. Van Clouts.” LOL! Are you playing with us or what! This voice is extremely familiar to my ear and I will get your identity  sorted out. 

Rejected in short order:

  • Men with Tools books 1,2, and 3 read by “Kasha Kensington” No, no, no.
  • Phoenix Agency books 1,2,3, and 4 read by “Bethany Legare” No times 4.
  • No Mercy by Jaid Black read by “Tillie Hooper” Also Trek Mi Q’an (hated the book) and Enslaved by Jaid Black. 
  • Reaper’s Property read by “Stella Bloom” It was a bad book. Watching Sons of Anarchy is not “research.” I watch it, too.
  • Strangers read by “Tilly Hooper” Hey, I wonder if she knows “Tillie Hooper!”

Okay, so clearly I’m very irritated with narrators taking pseudonyms to narrate the erotic books we so love in Romancelandia. It works against narrators who already have a fan base. If I don’t know you have a new book, I can’t buy it, right? I’m even more annoyed with audiobook makers who think they can stick anyone in a booth and produce a winner. Using female narrators whose timbre and speech patterns sound too young to, ya know, have sex is a huge creep factor. You disrespect us! I spent a couple of hours earnestly shopping and couldn’t buy anything. Now I have a stomach ache. 



10 thoughts on “Ellora’s Cave is Queen for a Day at Audible…or how I went shopping and failed at buying

  1. Oh my. I don’t really do audio books so there is a lot going on here I hadn’t even really THOUGHT of. The idea of listening to a female teen/tween-sounding voice narrate erotica is just beyond the pale. I’m so picky about narration and mostly listen to YA books in the car with my own tweens. But on the flip side, having a favorite narrator could make all kinds of things accessible and/or enjoyable that might not otherwise have been on one’s radar. It’s really a new angle for me on romance reading – I feel like such a dweeb for not thinking more about this before now.

    • I’ve become an audiobook junkie in the last few years, following their meteoric rise in popularity. I’ve got a long list of favorite narrators (who sound like grownups!) who could have done great work with this material. What’s happening though is as more and more books are going to audio, more and more inexperienced actors are trying to be voice artists. Narrating audiobooks requires a unique skill set and practice. I think I shall become a crusading valkyrie for romance fans audiobook equality and respect. Where did I put my Brunhild helmet?

      Glad you’re dipping a toe in. There are fabulous audios out there. Hit me up for a rec any time!

  2. I agree with you 100% that I don’t like young/teen sounding female voices for erotic (or any but YA) romance. I listened to the original sample for 50 Shades and the narrator sounded about 14. I couldn’t have listened to her reading some of the scenes in that book.

    That narrator had also done some YA/middle grade books (under the same name), so I can kind of see how, since you can search for more by a favorite narrator, publishers might want a name that delinks their more explicit titles from those for younger audiences–just as a lot of romance authors have secret pen-names for their erotica/ER. On the other hand, Audible showed 50 Shades in their ads for months, so they aren’t exactly hiding more explicit titles. And I agree that there’s a shaming element in all of this–I have mixed feelings about authors who use secret pen-names, like their more erotic works are dirty, bad and shameful (a different name you don’t keep secret, but use for branding purposes, a la Cara McKenna/Meg Meguire, makes more sense to me).

    So basically, cheers to your rant! (Also, some of those names. . .why not just say “I equate narrating erotic romance with starring in a porn film”?).

    • It’s baffling to me as well that the Brain Trusts at Audible and EC are not getting this. The outrage over the YA narrator reading FSOG was over a year ago and it appears that the lessons from that debacle have been lost. I ended up buying the remastered version of FSOG because my curiousity was killing me and hey, I liked the books. All they did was electronically deepen her voice, but a lot more was wrong than her pitch. There’s a definite cadence and inflection we hear from young girls that differentiates their sound from a woman over 23 or so — a young woman in the work force who’s left high school and college behind. You can’t fix that with a digital remaster. Honestly though, the voices I’m hearing now on these new EC recordings are even more !OMG!TWEENY! And it is unpleasant. Sigh.

      Your analogy with porn star names is apt. I’m surprised they didn’t all call themselves “Jenna” which I’ve heard is THE porn star name. The lone guy in the crowd used his real narrator name. Yay Nick Sullivan for manning up! 🙂

      Also in terms of marketing, it makes no sense to glut the market with all your wares all at once. All those titles are listed on the Audible site haphazardly in no order at all. Totally unpleasant browsing experience. I had to make notes. On paper. Whoa.

      Yeah, I’m still cranky because I wanted something shiny and new and didn’t get it.

  3. Posting this comment from my friend Magdalen B who had trouble getting in through WordPress:

    I called someone on the phone, a professional woman I’d only worked with through email. When the phone was answered by the voice of a child, I was confused. I asked, in that voice that suggests I may have the wrong number, “Is Professional Woman there?”

    Of course it was she. She even admitted she sounds twelve and that her husband gets her and their daughter’s voices confused.

    So, yeah, if she narrated an erotic story? Blech. It’s not enough that she be old enough, she has to sound old enough.

  4. Hi Magdalen! Thanks for visiting. Yesterday I risked $1.99 on one of these and it was just as awful and uncomfortable as I feared. This was a big joint venture for these two companies. I wonder how they did in sales.

  5. This is a bit late, but I totally agree with you. I really don’t understand how these audiobooks have gotten so many positive reviews. Maybe the listeners followed a link from Ellora’s Cave to the site and haven’t listened to very many audiobooks before? I don’t have as much a problem with the narrator’s youthful voice as I do with how absolutely boring she is. Granted that the material she has to work with is….challenging, but she desperately needs to take some lessons from Lorelei King or Allison McLemore (narrator of the White Trash Zombie series).

    The funny thing is that Ellora’s Cave tried to get an audiobook line of their titles going a few years ago on their website. I listened to several samples. They were even more atrocious. The line wasn’t successful as you can imagine, so I was surprised when I heard they were going to be offered on audible. You could almost hope that they would take more care in producing titles that would available on audible, but apparently not.

    • Thanks for commenting, Cammy. I’m always happy to meet fellow audio lovers! Since I wrote the post I bit the bullet and tried two from the EC catalog. I had read Lora Leigh’s Elizabeth’s Wolf a few years ago in print and had fond memories of it. After listening to the audiobook read by I-don’t-know-who-using-a-made-up-name I really wondered who I was back then. It was truly awful both in content and overblown narration. Every word out of the heroine’s mouth was read in a tone of awesome wonder. Needless to say, this and her misplaced hero worship were unbearably annoying and unintentionally funny. I need to get around to posting a quick review at Audible to counteract the many squee reviews. I suspect you’re right — that the loving reviews are coming from EC fans who have no idea what they’re missing in these inexcusably bad audiobooks.

What say you?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s