Lover at Last by JR Ward

 Audiobook narrated by Jim Frangione 

With 16 hours invested in this audiobook that runs 22 hours and 22 minutes — I’m outtie. A few reasons why.

Ward has really lowered the bar on what qualifies as “tortured hero” for this new woobie generation. When you consider that Z was chained down, raped, and beaten for hundreds of years and that V’s daddy was the Bloodletter and his mommy the cruelly insane you-know-who, Quinn’s anguish over his unpleasant (yet imminently survivable) childhood in the lap of luxury is almost laughable. Quit your whining, boy!

Each of the original brotherhood vampires has a BIG backstory. They are full-blown ancient badasses worthy of their own books. Quinn and Blay are drama llamas — self-obsessed new adults. Yawn. No wonder there’s so much filler.
 
I lost track of the huge cast of new characters and story arcs stuffed in this book. I could not have been less interested. In fact, listening to it was a very effective sleeping pill.
 
My inner nitpicker went into overdrive but I won’t bore us all with the details. So much wrongness. The good news is that I’m finally done with future releases in this series. I’ll happily reread the good ones. The excellent entries are books 1-5 and 8. It’s hard to understand how a writer working within the world she created and with her own characters can be so uneven. 
 
Narrator Jim Frangione reads rather than performs and he did his usual Yeoman job as he has with the entire series. Although I thought I heard him occasionally sounding distracted or bored here; or maybe that’s just me projecting my feelings.
 
I have to grade Lover at Last a D. Jim Frangione’s narration rates a B-.

Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson

Audiobook narrated by Kathleen Early

I started reading romance novels about the same time Rachel Gibson started publishing them. I’m pretty sure I read Simply irresistible circa 1998 when it was new. I remember that I loved it — really, really loved it. When I saw there was to be a new audio production of the beloved story I had such tender feelings for, I was a little afraid to test my memory and see if my first hockey romance was as good as I remembered.

There’s an awful lot of talk in online romanceland about tropes-tropety-trope-tropes that serve a purpose for some reviewers to in allowing them to pigeonhole, condemn, dismiss, the lovely things about romance novels that made me fall in love with them in the first place.

Let’s see, here we have a bimbo-ish heroine, an alpha asshole hockey star hero, a meet cute, a one-night stand, a secret baby, a long separation, infidelity, an impossibly cute kid, and a woman who rejects help from her very rich (this was before billionaires were all the rage) baby-daddy.

I loved every word of it! It was fresh back then and holds up very nicely thank-you-very-much in the hands of a talented writer of Rachel Gibson’s skill who knows how to deliver a romance. It’s warm and funny and hot and sexy.

Narrator Kathleen Early does a pretty good job. There are narrators who could have punched it up some, but the story is most important here and Early didn’t add much nor detract from it.

Aftershock by Jill Sorenson

Audiobook narrated by Piper Goodeve

I’m a thriller fan from way back and the thriller aspect of Aftershock is well-constructed, taut, suspenseful, and, well, thrilling. Being buried alive under a collapsed freeway with a bus full of violent felons isn’t exactly a stroll through Disneyland. I like that the earthquake occurs at the very beginning allowing the listener/reader to get to know the characters as they cope with disaster. Sorenson doesn’t sugarcoat the grim and gritty reality of the survivor’s plight. Garrett and Lauren as well as the cast of secondary characters are meaty enough to sustain this darn good thriller.

Honor Bound by Sandra Brown

Audiobook narrated by Renee Raudman

I took a chance on this 2012 production of Sandra Brown’s 1986 category romance when I saw Renee Raudman’s name on it. Brown’s heroes from the 80s and 90s tend to be misogynistic jerks who do something awful to the heroine, thus requiring an extreme grovel.
But wait! Honor Bound is a precursor to Lethal and Smoke Screen in which the hero kidnaps his heroine for entirely justifiable, perfectly good reasons, of course. A nice serving of raw emotion and issues not easily solved. And hero Lucas Greywolf is not a jerk. Yay!
I liked it. THREE QUARTER MOONS for Sandra Brown and Renee Raudman. A very nice author/narrator pairing.

Edge of Midnight

Audiobook narrated by Bernadette Dunn

Edge of Midnight has interesting leads and Leslie Tentler is a compelling storyteller. Problem is I’m tired of this same story told over and over again by every author of romantic suspense. In fact, lore says that no romantic suspense author worth her salt can join the club until she’s written this story.

  • Serial killer targets heroine.
  • Cop/Navy SEAL/FBI agent swears to protect her with his life.
  • Heroine blithely/stupidly ignores dire warnings that she’s not safe and delivers herself into villain’s clutches.
  • Hero tortures himself with guilt but pulls it together just in the nick of time.
  • Rescue! Happily ever after.
I’ve read this plot dozens of times. Some writers like Tentler tell it better than others. But, gosh, I’d love some variation. Still, I’ll try this author again. She’s got a style. Dunn’s narration was appropriately suspenseful and a good match for the book’s content.

I liked it. THREE QUARTER MOONS for both author and narrator.

Knight by Kristen Ashley


Hard to believe that it’s been over a year ago that I experienced my first book from Kristen Ashley. Experienced is exactly the right word because you don’t just read her books. Approximately 500 KAs later, I admire the hell out of this woman. I still say do not start with Knight (do as I say, not as I did) because it is so over the top and not representative of her usual addictive style.

Anyhow, wrestle your inner book critic into submission before you read Knight and enjoy. It’s a barrel of monkeys.

I loved the Motorcycle Club as well as the ‘Burg series. YAY! for Ashley’s working class heroes and heroines.

I’m totally flummoxed as to where to start with Knight. I rated it three stars at Goodreads because my manifesto over there says that I award stars based on the entertainment factor. OMG OMG did this ever entertain. Allow me to tell you about it and you decide if you can handle it, my friends.

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