Nova Praetorian by N.R. Walker ~ Audio Review

N.R. Walker - Nova Praetorian Audio Cover fhv34Title: Nova Praetorian

Author: N.R. Walker

Narrator: Joel Leslie

Genre: Historical

Length: 12 hrs, 24 mins

Publisher: N.R. Walker (27th August 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Quintus Furius Varus is one of the best lanistas in Rome. Tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit, he trains the best gladiators bound for the arenas of Rome. When Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, he attends the Ludus Varus for purchase of the very best. He puts to Quintus an offer he cannot refuse, and Quintus finds himself in Nea-polis, contracted as a trainer of guards instead of gladiators.

Kaeso Agorix was taken from his homelands of Iberia and delivered to Rome as a slave. Bought by a senator to be trained as a guard, his fate is handed to the man who would train him. Absent free will, Kaeso knows his life is no longer his own, though he soon realizes the gods have fa-vored him when he learns his new master has a kind heart.

Quintus and Kaeso forge a bond that far exceeds the collar at Kaeso’s neck, and together, they discover the senator’s move for promotion has an ulterior motive. Thrown into a world of politics and conspiracy, of keeping enemies close, they move against time to save Rome before traitors and the gods themselves see to their end.

And in doing so, see the dawn of the nova praetorian – the new guard – rise.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Nova Praetorian is a standalone historical romance by NR Walker. I am somewhat familiar with NR Walker’s previous work, and while I recall enjoying the books, I’m fairly certain that this is the first historical book I’ve read (or rather, heard) by Walker.

I have a complicated view on historical MM romances. I’ll be up front. In the world of MF romances, historical romances are the only ones I really like to read. So, I’m already inclined to like MM romances. However, because of historical views of homosexuality I find some difficult to read and that just means I really need to be in the mood for an MM historical romance.

Now, this leads me to an equally complicated view on Roman historical romances. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of such romances that are set somewhere close to Pompei on Volcano Day. And part of me finds that a tad bit tedious. Yet, with Ancient Romans (as well as the Ancient Greek) were a much more accepting society when it came to homosexuality… and so my mixed feelings continue.

But as soon as I started Nova Praetorian I was completely blown away.

This is a story that has it all. Political intrigue, power plays, gladiatorial fights, a couple with an intense attraction and loads of sexual tension, that also demonstrates the diversity of the Roman Empire. There is a lot of development as we get to know the characters and their motivations, but there is also a great rhythm throughout the story which weaves together political games, action/fighting scenes, wonderful romance between the two MCs and some great sex scenes too.

The story opens with Quintus Furius Varus, he owns a gladiatorial school which had been passed down from his grandfather and father before him, and is well renowned for training some of the most fierce and strongest gladiators, both male and female. He has interesting back story, where he lost his parents but was raised by two house slaves who kept the gladiatorial school going through Quintus’s childhood. However, now as an adult, his reputation has garnered the attention of a powerful senator that wants Quintus himself to train the senator’s own guard as the man makes a play to gain more political power.

This is how Quintus meets Kaeso. Kaeso was taken from his homeland of Ibera (comprising parts of modern day Spain and Portugal for those playing at home) by the Romans when they had come to his villages and destroyed everything, as well as killing his beloved family. Kaeso arrives in what is near modern-day Naples defiant. However, with the fear and heartache that had brought him to Rome against his will, he discovers he is given to a man who is nothing but kindness, even to slaves. The two men become close, although Quintus is insists on being noble and not taking advantage of Kaeso.

The men have to battle their feelings for each other, the physical attraction, as well as watching every step they take as the senator brings danger and intrigue. They even find themselves in the orbit of the Roman Emperor himself. I really loved – and was really relieved – when I got to read a really nice HEA because it was one well deserved for both Quintus and Kaeso.

The narration of this story was performed by Joel Leslie. I suppose like television, even ancient people tend to have a British accent (or something similar to one) in audio books. But that is not a bad thing. Leslie’s narration is a wonderful performances that keeps the momentum of the story going strong. He managed to nail the pronunciation of so many Latin words and keep it even throughout the course of the book. I also love the voice he gave Quintus and Kaeso, in particular I loved his portrayal of Kaeso. A totally wonderful performance that brings so much more life to the book.

Amazing story. If you’re a person who is unsure about historical romances, I recommend this one as an a good example of a thoroughly well written and well performed story.

The Spirit Key by Parker Williams ~ Audio Review

Parker Williams - The Spirit Key Audio Cover dvnj74fTitle: The Spirit Key

Series: Lock and Key 01

Author: Parker Williams

Narrator: Collin Darcy

Genre: Paranormal, Spirits

Length: 10 hrs, 29 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (5th July 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 3.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: When he was eight years old, Scott Fogel died. Paramedics revived him, but he came back changed. Ghosts and spirits tormented Scott for over a decade until, thinking he was going mad, he did the only thing he could.

He ran – leaving behind his best friend, Tim Jennesee.

Scott’s had five normal, ghost-free years in Chicago, when the spirit of Tim’s mother comes to him and begs him to go home because Tim’s in trouble and needs him.

He isn’t prepared for what he finds when he goes home – a taller and sexier Tim, but a Tim who hasn’t forgiven Scott for abandoning him…a Tim whose body is no longer his own. The ghost of a serial murderer has attached itself to Tim, and it’s whispering dark and evil things. It wants Tim to kill, and it’s becoming harder for Tim to resist. To free the man who has always meant so much to him, Scott must unravel the mystery of the destiny he shares with Tim.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: The Spirit Key is the first book in Parker William’s paranormal series, Lock and Key. The audio narration is performed by Collin Darcy.

I don’t have a heck of a lot of experience when it comes to Parker Williams. I think I’ve only ever read one or two books by the author, books that from memory I know that I enjoyed them for reasons that escape me at this point in time. I also have much the same opinion of Collin Darcy as the narrator, I know that I’ve heard him narrate at least a couple of audio books before but nothing immediately comes to mind. So, I’ve effectively come into this book blind and with no expectations.

Overall, I found this a rather enjoyable story, although I admit that I found it a tad slow in parts. I really enjoyed the way Williams told the story, first starting in flashback before picking up and telling the story. I felt that the voice and tone of Collin Darcy really complimented the personalities of the characters. It certainly enhanced the story for me and particularly enjoyed the voice he gave one of the MCs, Scott.

I don’t want to go too much into the story, because I feel that the blurb tells the reader everything they need to know and I don’t want to spoil anything terribly. There is a lot of internal battles and self-discovery that dominate much of the book, as well as exploring the evolving relationship between the two MCs. You can’t say that there is no character development, because there is so much depth and complexity to these character. Unfortunately, I just felt that there were times where I was missing an emotional connection to either MC.

The story is mostly told from the POV of Scott Fogel. He starts the book by going through the events of his childhood, specifically from the moment where he had drowned in an accident before being revived, that led him to leave his family and friends behind and ran away to Chicago. It’s a really sad and heart breaking start to a story, he details his trauma while he is dealing with the talent that came about after he drowned, the ability to see and communicate with ghosts/spirits. But the death of his best friends mother brings her ghost telling him he needs to go home and help his friend. And so he does.

Scott arrives on the doorstep his best friend, who he happens to love, Tim Jennessee. Adding to the stress of having to confront the people he ran away from, after not seeing any ghosts while in Chicago, the dead are once again appearing to Scott. It’s a rocky start, but Tim’s heart isn’t totally hardened to Scott. It’s more that he spent five years worrying and grieving over his friend, unsure of what to think. Then Scott reappears.

It takes time for these guys to get on track and that’s when the next major part of the plot kicks in. Scott discovers that an evil spirit has latched onto Tim and his working on making him weaker until it can make Tim his instrument to kill. But there is a mystery that begins to unravel, relating to Scott’s talent and Tim’s mother. It’s an interesting turn.

I’m interested to see what happens next in this series and where it will take us.

Don’t Judge by A.E. Via ~ Audio Review

A.E. Via - Don't Judge Audio Cover s en3784ujTitle: Don’t Judge

Series: Nothing Special 04

Author: A.E. Via

Narrator: Aiden Snow

Genre: Contemporary, Action, Men in Uniform

Length: 9 hrs, 48 mins

Publisher: A.E. Via (24th July 2019)

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Detective Austin Michaels didn’t think life could get any better after he was accepted into the most notorious narcotics task force on the East Coast, headed up by two of the baddest Lieu-tenants with the Atlanta Police Department – Cashel Godfrey and Leonidis Day.

Michaels knew he would fit right in as the team’s sniper, having received his fair share of com-mendations for marksmanship. He was just as badass as the rest of the twenty brothers that made up their team. But when Michaels lets their prime suspect get away from a huge bust with over a quarter of a million dollars in drugs, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it right.

Left with no other options, God chooses to bring in outside help, calling on his long-time friend and bounty hunter, Judge Josephson.

Judge was considered one of the best trackers during his enlistment in the United States Ma-rine Corps. After retiring, he used those skills to become one of the most sought out fugitive trackers in the country. When Judge gets a call from his old friend needing his help, he quickly tells God, yes.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Don’t Judge is the fourth book in A.E. Via’s Nothing Special series. It is important to read these books in order, there is a whole cast of strong secondary characters who have already had their romance story told and so it would be rather confusing to jump straight in at book 4.

I really only know A.E. Via’s work from this series, which I have loved. To be perfectly honest I am actually kind of surprised at how much I got into this series. However, there is so much going on, so much depth to each character and so much plot and character development. This is an action filled series with off the charts steamy sex scenes that can satisfy all the reader’s needs.

And being that this is the audio, we once again have Aiden Snow, who has done the narration on the previous books, working his magic at bringing the characters to life. He has the perfect tone and timbre that suits the rough and tough world of a police narcotics squad, as well as an equally rough bounty hunter. Absolutely love his narration and cannot think of any criticism.

Onto the story itself:

The main characters of this instalment of Nothing Special series is Detective Austin Michaels and bounty hunter Judge Josephson.

Austin got the job of a lifetime, in the equally revered and feared Atlanta PD narcotics squad run by Lieutenants Leonides Day and Cashel Godfrey (who also happen to be life partners, their story kicks off the series in book 1). Another plus is that because there are a number of gay men, a number of whom have lovers within the team, Austin is proud to serve in the most accepting and diverse group in Atlanta PD. Even if they do get stares and whispers from others who are less tolerant. However, you cannot argue with results.

Austin is a sniper and like his team mates, is dedicated to making busts and bringing down some of the most dangerous drug lords in the city. However, when a bust goes wrong, Austin is not only injured but he also balmes himself for letting a very important man get away from them.
God and Day, although against Day’s better judgement, bring in God’s old buddy from the military, who is now a kickass bounty hunter, Judge Josephson (as well as his awesome dog, a Great Dane). Judge is hired to help bring in the man that they lost, and it is Austin who is paired up to go with Judge.

Judge and Austin don’t exactly hit it off straight away, in fact, they do not get along. Joseph is surly about the job as he realises that he doesn’t have too much time left in the bounty hunter game, as both he and his dog are getting too old to keep up. Austin is high strung because he blames himself for losing their man and therefore is the reason that Day and Knight brought in Judge. These guys are complicated, there is great sexual tension between them from the start. Yet, they have complicated personal lives that pop up during the course of the book and the job of chasing one man down does get a tad complicated – but not impossible with the help of the people of the Atlanta PD Narcotics team.

This was a great addition to the series. It’s full of danger and tension (both the sexual and dangerous kinds). If you love a gritty cop story, with great sexual chemistry, high danger and high adrenalin that will keep you going from beginning to end of the book, I recommend to give this whole series a try and not just this book.

Whiskey and Moonshine by Elizabeth Noble ~ Audio Review

Elizabeth Noble - Whiskey and Moonshine Audio Cover lwe024Title: Whiskey and Moonshine

Series: Dreamspun Desires

Author: Elizabeth Noble

Narrator: John Solo

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 6 hrs, 51 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (20th June 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Like a well-aged whiskey, master distiller and old-money entrepreneur Malone Kensington is elegant and refined. Unfortunately he’s also a perfectionist who is more dedicated to the suc-cess of his generations-old company than his own love life.

That company needs a public spokesman.

What Colton Hale lacks in sophistication, he more than makes up for with the charisma that’s al-lowed him to survive on the street from a young age and charm his way into the lucrative – if overwhelming – public position at the Kensington Distillery. When Mal takes Colt under his wing, hoping to polish off his rough edges, opposites attract and a passionate romance blossoms de-spite the differences in age and background. But can it survive a Kensington Board of Directors who believe Colt is nothing but a gold digger and a kidnapper determined to profit from the love of Mal’s life – dead or alive?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Whiskey and Moonshine is standalone romance set in Tennessee, obviously amongst whiskey and moonshine stills by Elizabeth Noble. This was published as part of Dreamspun Desires, which is always a plus for me. The fact that John Solo is the narrator is another plus for me.

I really haven’t heard too many books narrated by John Solo lately. However, it is always awesome to hear the man perform. He is one of those narrators that has a voice that suits so many different genres of romances and different types of characters. I love how Solo manages to convey the emotions of both Mal and Colt, the two MCs. I always enjoy his performances and this is no different. It enhanced my experience and my enjoyment of the book. Overall, an excellent narration that I cannot fault.

This is a completely charming and sweet romance. The story focuses on the Kensington Distillery which produces whiskey and moonshine, and the very sexy man who is dedicated to his family’s company and making it more accessible for the younger generations that is the focus of this story. To do this it is decided that they need to employ a young, passionate person to be the PR face of the company.

The story opens with Colton Hale, he’s twenty-four and has been living on the streets of Toledo since he was fifteen. The most recent run in with violent thugs has Colton ready to make a new start, so he gets the first bus that will get him out and his new adventure starts. The bus ride brings him to the Kensington family’s whiskey distillery. They’re a rich and hugely successful distillery in Tennessee. Colt manages to get himself a job and just six weeks later shows his ingenuity and passion for his work that leads him to another job for the company.

Mal, the head of the Kensington family company which had been previously run by his mother, sees a lot of potential in Colton. There’s the potential Colton has to help sell the whiskey brand on social media and help the company branch out, but he has to hold back his attraction for the man, even though he knows Colt’s shady past. The two men work well together and Mal decides to use the age gap between them as the excuse he needs to mentally force himself from pining for his social media face of the company.

I’ve read this story before and while I remember liking it, I forgot about the awesomeness that was multiple references to the Joss Whedon TV showed Firefly. Because I’m a nerd and a browncoat and the fact that it features so prominently in a book I enjoyed was shiny. I’m a total sucker for Firefly. Because of that I see the name Mal and I think Captain Malcolm Reynolds – though I can never say I was disappointed to realise that this Mal is short for Malone. But it is sweet and smart Colt, who hasn’t had the best 9 or so years of his life getting into Firefly into the book that got to me. I really enjoyed the imagery conjured when Colt mentions the last line in the theme song, relating it to the backdrop of the rambling Kensington distillery/estate. But the best part, when everything seems to be falling apart Colt uses a Firefly reference to get Mal to help him.

This was a really enjoyable story. The characters were relatable and felt accessible to the reader, or at least to me. Again, the Firefly fan in me was totally appeased. While this isn’t actually set in a boardroom this is still at heart a story about a powerful CEO finding love in an unexpected place. So, I suppose if you like any romance set around vineyards and in boardrooms then this is one to enjoy. There is also an interesting celebrity element, where Colt navigates the world of social media and gains fame as the face of the Kensington brand. Others may also enjoy Colt’s storyline which is very much a rags to riches tale.

Spell Cat by Tara Lain ~ Audio Review

Tara Lain - Spell Cat Audio Cover cnw74NTitle: Spell Cat

Series: The Aloysius Tales 01

Author: Tara Lain

Narrator: K.C. Kelly

Genre: Paranormal, Witches

Length: 6 hrs, 48 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (17th June 2019)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: When Killian Barth, history professor, meets Blaine Genneau, quantum physicist, they ignite their own big bang. But Killian can’t pursue a physics professor – or a human. As the most pow-erful male witch in 10 generations, Killian must bolster his dying race by reproducing – despite the fact that he’s gay.

Even a fling with Blaine is out of the question, because Killian has been told sex with humans drains his power. But if that’s true, why can young human Jimmy Janx dissolve spoons with the power of his mind? If Killian can sort through the lies he’s been fed, he’ll still face his biggest obstacle – convincing rational scientist Blaine to believe in magic.

With his ancient and powerful cat familiar, Aloysius, on his shoulder, Killian brings the lightning against deceit and greed to save Blaine from danger and prove love is the greatest power of them all.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Spell Cat is the first book in Tara Lain’s paranormal romance series, The Aloysius Tales. This narration is actually from the recently published second edition from Dreamspinner Press. Before coming across the audio of this story, I’ve not read either edition of this story. However, I thought the plot sounded interesting and more often than not I’ve really enjoyed Lain’s work (probably with a preferences towards her recent stuff than the older stuff).

The narration of this book was performed by KC Kelly. Who did a good job, creating tones and voices not only for the two MCs, but a whole host of minor characters, which also included a couple “European” and “Russian” type accents. It was honestly a great performance and I think this is one of those books where I wouldn’t enjoy as much if I simply read it book myself.

I will admit, I did a bit of research, because from the blurb I found it confusing as to why the series was called the Aloysius Tales. Then I actually started the book and then I realised: Aloysius is the name of the damn cat.

The story starts with Professor Killian Barth, a history professor who specialises in the history of witchcraft. The subject he teaches is popular – from kids wanting easy grades to others who find it cool to study witches. He also happens to be a bona fide witch, the most powerful witch for 10 generations and is known as the witch master, a powerful figurehead in the community. The witches are dying, the witch elders telling everyone that this is because witches have been diluting their powers by “mixing” with humans. And being the most powerful male witch means that his power-hungry mother and another power-hungry elder, have orchestrated an arranged marriage between Killian and the most powerful female witch to ensure the purity of the witch line. The biggest issue being that Killian is gay.

This makes Killian a heart breaking figure because he has never allowed himself some measure of happiness. He has been told his whole life having sex with humans will deplete his powers and make him weaker, yet he is comfortable and prefers to be in the human world. Perhaps worst of all, when he meets physics professor Blain Genneau, there is an instant spark of attraction between the two men. Which only serves to make Killian more miserable.

The story, shortly after Killian is introduced to his new familiar, the black cat Aloysius, is Killian’s battle to be find out what exactly is behind the whole “humans deplete a witch’s power”. All to find a way out of his arranged marriage and maybe even find some kind of happiness, no matter how temporary. Killian is definitely the main character here, although Blaine I felt got about as much “air time” as the secondary characters such as Killian’s fiancé Lavender and Killian’s strange student Jimmy Janks. In some ways that didn’t feel very fair to their romance, but for the overall story it worked that this was predominately told from Killian’s POV, and Killian has a lot of thing going on.

I recommend this one to those that love paranormal fiction, in particular those that like witches and magic. This is a first in a series which follows the influence of familiar Aloysius on the witch community and the love lives of a select few. I’m keen to hear or read more.

Heart Untouched by Andrew Grey ~ Audio Review

Andrew Grey - Heart Untouched Audio Cover ncsk47Title: Heart Untouched

Series: Hearts Entwined 03

Author: Andrew Grey

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 5 hrs, 38 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (27th June 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: An accident crushed Duncan’s Olympic dreams and landed him in a chair, but he knows it’s time to get his life back on track – and he has a plan in mind. Working with his friend Todd, an Olym-pic skeleton racer, on a promotional campaign will not only help Duncan regain some direction, but it’ll give Todd the financial boost he desperately needs. The sport Todd loves is draining his resources – so much so that he’s thinking of giving up racing just to make ends meet.

As the two men work together, their friendship blossoms into much more, and suddenly the future is looking brighter than it has in a long time. But just when love, happiness, and success seem within their grasp, the USOC steps in with plans to stop their campaign. That’ll mean an end not just to Duncan’s business, but to Todd’s dreams…and Duncan isn’t about to let that happen to the man who means everything to him.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Review: Heart Untouched is the third book in Andrew Grey’s Hearts Entwined series. You don’t necessarily have to read the series in order. However, since the couples of the previous books feature heavily I think it would make more sense to read the series in order, but that is only my opinion.

Andrew Grey is a go to author for. I could gush for a long time about how much I love his writing. I love the knack he has to make deeply emotional characters, with equally emotional and relatable storylines. I also love the knack he has with characters which are either differently abled or single fathers – I’m truly a sucker for those types of books in general.

The audio narration was performed by Greg Tremblay. Tremblay is a brilliant narrator and I have enjoyed many of his performances of Grey’s work. I love how Tremblay enhances a book by just changing his tone, giving characters their own voices and sometimes making audio experience more relatable and easier to connect to characters than just reading the book.

Part of me was a little disappointed that I didn’t love the book as much as I normally would an Andrew Grey book, and I got no idea if there has to do with either the story itself or the narration. Nonetheless, this was still an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable read. I just hold Grey to higher standards, haha.

The story starts with Olympic skeleton racer, Duncan. Unfortunately, a major accident during competition has not only shattered his dreams of competing in the Winter Olympics, but he is also now confined to a wheelchair. Duncan is lost now, but his friend and one of his fellow skeleton racer teammates, Todd.

Being an Olympian is not an easy thing. Obviously, one has to be absolutely awesome at their chosen sport. But there is also the endless need for funding so that they can take months at a time to train and meet whatever other requires are set by the US Olympic Committee. Back home, Todd is making money but is feeling the noose of tight finances threatening his Olympic dream. Add to that his friend Duncan has had his life shattered, receiving very little help from the sport governing body that had dictated their lives for so long, leaving Todd with rather mixed feelings. But with Duncan struggling, Todd also needs to help his friend. Lucky for Todd he works as a mechanic for a man who employs both a blind man and a deaf man, so he has the support of his wider group of friends to help Duncan find his way through his new normal.

The romance between Duncan and Todd is sweet and slow-burning. The fact that these guys are friends and have great chemistry is a plus. While there were times where the story felt a little flat, it was OK because these guys felt like your normal, down to earth sort of blokes. This is a real sweet, heart-warming and generally just filled with hope.

In Safe Hands by Victoria Sue ~ Audio Review

Victoria Sue - In Safe Hands Audio CoverTitle: In Safe Hands

Series: Heroes & Babies 02

Author: Victoria Sue

Narrator: Michael Pauley

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 7 hrs, 31 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (27th June 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Former helicopter pilot Maverick Delgardo’s injuries ended his Air Force career, leaving him bit-ter and one drink away from becoming an alcoholic. When his sister asks for his help on a pri-vate protection case to babysit a disgraced pop star, Mav reluctantly agrees.

Deacon Daniels, onetime lead singer and idol to his teenage fans, saw his career and reputation ruined when a reporter’s exposé led to a devastating scandal. Without money or a job, a heart-broken Deacon has lost custody of his baby niece. And just when Deacon thinks his life can’t get any worse, a stalker’s threatening messages escalate to murder.

Mav only agreed to one meeting, but his protective instincts kick in, along with an attraction to Deacon. When the body count increases, however, Mav is unsure he is up to the task of pro-tecting Deacon from a killer. But it is too late for Mav to step away, now that he’s lost his heart, and he must find the strength to reassure Deacon and his niece that they are in safe hands no matter the cost.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Review: In Safe Hands is a standalone novel by Victoria Sue, with the audio narration performed by Michael Pauley. Both the author and the narrator are people whose work I know and am aware of, although I couldn’t tell you anything from the top of my head. Honestly, I was just intrigued by the blurb. I was sucked in by a down on his luck celebrity, a cute kid and a tough former Air Force helicopter pilot turned bodyguard. If that’s the type of thing you like as a reader, then I don’t think you got anything to lose by giving this one a go.

Michael Pauley’s narration is great. I really enjoyed listening to him perform this story. I can’t really single anything in particular out, it was overall a very enjoyable listen. I do think that this is the type of book that I would enjoy less if I read because of the emotion and tone given to the reader by the narrator.

The story itself was good. I really did like it, but I think that there were times where it felt a tad bit flat. While I enjoyed the chemistry and interactions between the two MCs, I felt that there were times where I just wanted them to get their shit together. Yet, I also found the MCs really interesting, I loved their individuals flaws and challenges that they have to face, this definitely made for a more enjoyable story.

The story starts with former Air Force pilot Maverick Delgardo. He suffered injuries which ended his career in the Air Force, leaving him scarred and also suffering PTSD. From a long hospital stay and rehab he has had a difficult time adjusting to life outside of the military. He finds himself languishing in his sister’s basement, medicating himself with alcohol to deal with his PTSD. However, his sister, who is an ex-cop and now runs her own business (she has a complicated back story too), wants to bring Mav in (as they had originally planned some time ago) to act as private security. Through her connections, they have been requested to provide security for a celebrity, who has seen his fame decline and reputation ruined from circumstances beyond his control.

That celebrity is Deacon Daniels. And not only has the scandal destroyed his life, leaving him with no money, no job to make money and also in danger of losing his home and all his belongings. Perhaps the worst of it is, it has also led him to losing custody of orphaned his baby niece, who he adores with all his heart. It is absolutely heart breaking when he tries to hide the fact that losing her has hurt him more than he lets on at first.

Mav had been ready to meet the guy and turn him away. An instant attraction and his instincts for danger has him looking into the case more. However, as the guys get to know each other, the attraction gives way to genuine affection. Mav has to get his broken self together so that he can help Deacon find out who is stalking him and get custody of his niece.

Tigerland by Sean Kennedy ~ Audio Review

Sean Kennedy - Tigerland Audio Cover 345jhdTitle: Tigerland

Series: Tigers and Devils 02

Author: Sean Kennedy

Narrator: Dave Gilles

Genre: Contemporary, Sports

Length: 8 hrs, 31 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (December 15th 2014)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: After an eventful and sometimes uncomfortably public courtship, Simon Murray and Declan Ty-ler settled into a comfortable life together. Now retired from the AFL, Declan works as a football commentator; Simon develops programs with queer content for a community television station.

Despite their public professional lives, Simon and Declan manage to keep their private life out of the spotlight. Their major concerns revolve around supporting their friends through infertility and relationship problems – until Greg Heyward, Declan’s ex-partner, outs himself in a transpar-ent bid for attention.

Though Simon and Declan are furious with Greg and his media antics, they can’t agree on what to do about it. Declan insists they should maintain a dignified silence, but both he and Simon keep getting drawn into Heyward’s games. Simon and Declan will once again have to ride out the media storm before they can return their attention to what really matters: each other.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Tigerland is the second book in Sean Kennedy’s Tigers and Devils series. Book 2 picks up a little down the track after the end of the first book, so it is important to read – or listen – to this series in order. I adore this series and have read it as it has been published. Being an Australian, I was attracted to a book that talks about something I am familiar with (although I don’t follow AFL it is impossible not to know something if you come from Australia – unless you’re New South Wales or Queensland, that is). It also sounds exactly like an Australian, it’s funny how much I realise Australian English is just sas ridiculous as US English. However, Kennedy writing, quirky and very well developed characters led to me falling in love with the first book of the series.

If you read my review for the audio book of the first book, it was clear that while I listened to and enjoyed the book, which I already knew I loved, to say I had a lot of problems with the narration is an understatement. However, with book 2 we have a new narrator, Dave Gilles. I’ve heard Gilles’ accent for a number of Renae Kaye’s books (set in Western Australia), so I knew what to expect and looked forward to his work. While he isn’t Australian he does an excellent accent and he has clearly done his research when it comes to pronunciation. Overall, it was a great performance and I honestly have nothing bad to say. Gilles did an awesome job giving voice to Simon and Declan, as well as their friends Roger, Fran, Abe and Lisa, as well as Nyssa, newcomer Cobie and Simon’s arch nemesis from book 1, Jasper Brunswick (real name Jon Brown). We are also introduced to a new character, the villain of the piece

Fans of the first book will not be disappointed with this sequel, Simon is as snarky as ever and Declan has come a long way from a closeted to openly gay football god to retired openly gay football god. Since injuries that have been plaguing Declan since book 1 forced his early retirement, the pain was too raw to go into coaching and so went to being a commentator and panellist for many of the numerous footy shows for a commercial television network (trust me, there’s A LOT of those IRL, and in my head it’s Channel 9 or 7 that he’s working at, haha). Simon has also had a career change, from being director of an indie film festival to a content producer for a LBGTQI community television station. However, after being together for three years Simon and Declan have to deal with their next big storm in the shape of Declan’s ex while he was still in the closet, a fellow AFL player. Simon and Declan go through their own ups and downs with Greg Heyward causing trouble with his media frenzy, maliciously dragging Simon into the mess and making him the bad guy. On top of that, we also see Simon’s pain and need to help his friends financially when he sees Fran and Roger go through hell when it comes to infertility preventing his best friends from starting a family.

It’s not difficult to feel for Simon as he tells the story. He gets a lot of shit thrown at him. And despite having the support of Declan, as well as Simon supporting Declan throughout the Heyward saga, Declan’s media silence over the various claims does hurt Simon. These guys still have and do a lot more growing as characters and as a couple throughout this book. The ups and downs make the guys really relatable and makes the relationship feel real.

Like the first book, this is great for fans of the sports romance genre. Although for fans of Simon and Murray and Declan Tyler, this a great continuation of their story.

Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy ~ Audio Review

Sean Kennedy - Tigers and Devils Audio Cover 2wb36vTitle: Tigers and Devils

Series: Tigers and Devils 01

Author: Sean Kennedy

Narrator: Paul Morey

Genre: Contemporary, Sports

Length: 15 hrs, 51 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (7th March 2013)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: The most important things in Simon Murray’s life are football, friends, and film – in that order. His friends despair of him ever meeting someone, but despite his loneliness, Simon is cautious about looking for more. Then his best friends drag him to a party, where he barges into a foot-ball conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler – unaware that the athlete is present. In that first awkward meeting, neither man has any idea they will change each other’s lives forever.

Like his entire family, Simon revels in living in Melbourne, the home of Australian Rules football and mecca for serious fans. There, players are treated like gods – until they do something to fall out of public favour. This year, the public is taking Declan to task for suffering injuries outside his control, so Simon’s support is a bright spot.

But as Simon and Declan fumble toward a relationship, keeping Declan’s homosexuality a secret from well-meaning friends and an increasingly suspicious media becomes difficult. Nothing can stay hidden forever. Soon Declan will have to choose between the career he loves and the man he wants, and Simon has never been known to make things easy – for himself or for others.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Tigers and Devils is the first book in Sean Kennedy’s series of the same name. I’ve read this whole series a few years ago and absolutely adored it. I also absolutely adore Kennedy’s spin-off series, Get Out. The narration of this book was performed by Paul Morey, not a narrator that I am able to recognise by name, but according to my audible app and my reviews, I’ve listened and enjoyed his narrations in the past.

I feel a strong connection to these books, because this is an Aussie author, from a football (AFL) obsessed state (Victoria). I am originally from the equally AFL obsessed state, South Australia, but I get the feeling. Living in New South Wales (and recently seeing this discussion in one of by Facebook groups), I know New South Welshmen and Queenlanders won’t believe the AFL fever written in these books as being accurate but trust me it is real. Every other state other than Queensland and NSW are AFL mad, those other two heathens are obsessed with Rugby League and Rugby Union. (Jokes, I don’t follow any sport codes, but living in NSW for 3 years I hear no AFL and am absolutely sick of NRL in a way I used to hate hearing about AFL). So yes, call me obsessed with this series and I am also one of those weirdos that doesn’t like sports IRL but am a total glutton for sport romances. Add to that, the scenery of Melbourne and the feel of it is so familiar and authentic to me. Yet, unfortunately, I shake my head at how horrible culture is in the AFL that I think if any player was outed or came out, even in 2019 it would be as prickly as Declan’s journey as penned by Kennedy in 2013.

So… I guess I’m here to talk about the book.

Firstly, I’ll explain my review. Needless to say after the above outpouring, this is a 5-star book for me. However, the narration for me left a lot to be desired, which I give 3-stars, hence the 4-star overall rating.

I’ll get the unpleasant part out of the way, my opinion on the narration. And it’s a long story that I have to tell because I can be a drama queen. Ultimately, though I know it is down to an American narrator butchering the pronunciation of many words and places horribly, the saving grace was at least the butchering was done in the said American accent and not in a false Aussie accent. Since this is a long book and I was making a long flight to one of these said AFL obsessed states recently, I decided this would be the perfect way to pass time – I love the story so if I lost some details because of the noise of the planes or airports it wouldn’t matter. So, at the first airport I press play as I wait for my plane to board. I lasted less than a minute. Within the first few sentences, as main character Simon explains Aussie Rules Football and the league, I hear Melbourne pronounced Mel-born (we say Mel-ben) and Brisbane pronounced Bris-bane (we say Bris-ben). Yes, I know Australians are lazy with their talk, as a South Australian I ridicule NSW for not pronouncing all the letters and syllables in words, but… and I’m stepping down from my soap box. And so I switched to another audio and left it for 2 weeks before trying again. It took me a bit to get used to the narration and ignore the pronounciation hiccups but I am so proud that I persevered because for me the story was completely worth it.

Anecdotally, I can tell you that I know of two other Australians, both from Melbourne, who hold the same opinion as me (to the point I had to convince one of them to move onto book 2 because the narrator does change). But you can take what you will from my opinion, I would say that this is like times I read English people get annoyed at non-English narrators butchering the local accents but I listen and like the performance well enough.

As for the story itself – oh, there was a story, I hear you say? Because I feel like and have been complaining for the past 350 words.

The story is about Simon Murray, a Melbournian who works as the managing director for a local indie film festival who loves his football that this is the only conversation he happily gets involved in when his best friends, Roger and his wife Fran, drag Simon to a party against his will. It is at this part he meets AFL God, Declan Tyler (Trademark Pending), who betrayed his Victorian fans by moving to the island state Tasmania and is now on the injuries list more than the playing list.

Simon is a prickly sort of a man, his got a quick wit and a sharp tongue. He’s not antisocial I feel he’s just particular in who he hangs out with. And while he marvels at Declan Tyler on the footy field, he sees the man as a stuck-up arsehole. Declan, who is very much in the closet being that he is a professional AFL player with a multi-million dollar contract, is intrigued and he forces himself into Simon’s life. Turning Simon’s world and his heart upside down. Their relationship starts out as a secret, with only their best friends knowing about them. However, life gets complicated in so many ways, especially when you’re a football god in the public eye.

They are a quirky couple and are the epitome of the saying that opposites attract. Simon and Declan have a wonderful chemistry, which I don’t think is diminished by there not being not many (if any) actual sex scenes. I feel that there is a great intimacy reflected between the characters by the little touches and the passionate kisses which Simon describes. I really liked it and is one of those cases for me that shows you don’t need useless and seemingly never-ending sex scenes in a book to make a romance. These guys have a lot of depth and they develop so much throughout the course of the book. It felt real and for me that made the characters more relatable.

The secondary characters also have a life and depth of their own. They aren’t token characters and I loved them all as much as I love Simon and Dec. Simon’s assistant, Nyssa, his best friends Roger and Fran, as well as Dec’s best friends Abe and Lisa, all bring as much soul to the book as the MCs.

This is a great read for those that love a sports romance, I just love the fact that it has the Australian setting.

Here Comes Trouble by A.E. Via ~ Audio Review

A.E. Via - Here Comes Trouble Audio Cover s 3847hnTitle: Here Comes Trouble

Series: Nothing Special 03

Author: A.E. Via

Narrator: Aiden Snow

Genre: Contempoary, Crime, Thriller, Suspense

Length: 8 hrs, 30 mins

Publisher: A.E. Via

Heat Level: Explicit

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Detectives Mark Ruxsberg and Chris Green are very good at their jobs. Being the enforcers for God and Day’s notorious Atlanta PD Narcotics Task Force causes the crazy duo to get into more trouble than they can often get out of. The pair never misses out on an opportunity to drive their lieutenants crazy with their dangerous, reckless, and costly stunts, landing them in the hot seat in front of God…often.

Ruxs and Green love their jobs and they don’t mind the very demanding schedule that leaves them little time for socializing or dating. It’s fine with them, they enjoy hanging out with each other anyway.

However, most of the men in their close circle of friends and colleagues are pairing off and set-tling down. God has Day, Ro has Johnson, and their Sergeant Syn has Furious.

For the past several years, Ruxs has only sought out the advice and company of one person, his partner and best friend Green, and vice versa. Both of these alpha males are presumed straight, but neither can deny the heat that’s building in their once-“just friends” relationship.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Here Comes Trouble is the third instalment of AE Via’s Nothing Special series, which is based around the action and romance of Atlanta PD’s elite narcotic team, lead by partners, both in personally and professionally, God and Day. This series can be read out of order, however, I would say that that there could be some confusion when it comes to the two couples from book 1 and 2, as well as a third couple which had formed in book 1 and featured somewhat heavily though it. Being that these characters are a team and how Via has written it, these guys lives intertwine significantly.

I’ve absolutely loved this series so far and I’ve loved Aiden Snow’s narration throughout of the series so far as well. His voice has the right tone and timbre that just goes so well, pulling off the rush of emotion combined with the danger of the job that these men do.

I looked forward to book 3, which is the story of two of the detectives, who do a lot of the leg work on the streets for the team, Mark Ruxberg and Chris Green. I think it’s because of Green’s name, but I kind had these two guys cast in my head as the two cops from the movie Boondock Saints – Greenly and Duffy. However, if you know what I’m talking about, then you will also find out that I am very wrong. Rux and Green are as strong and tough as their bosses, Lieutenants Days and Knight. These guys work hard and live hard, although lately they spend most of their free time together just hanging out eating pizza and drinking beer. Yet, despite all that even despite having openly gay bosses, Rux and Green don’t know everything about each other. When talk of dating brings tension between the two men, we begin to learn that there is even more to these guys. As it is they have complicated families, like most people, but there is a new level of emotion at play in their friendship. Add the danger from their jobs and these guys have to navigate an emotional minefield. And being tough, manly men, they aren’t super good with being honest with their feelings.

Fans of the series will not be disappointed. There is action, hot sex and so much sexual chemistry I wouldn’t have been surprised if the characters had imploded before their story started (I know, that makes little sense, bear with me). For those that like hot cops, a lot of action and deadly adventure, I think that this is the book and series for you to get into.

Femme Faux Fatale by Susan Laine ~ Audio Review

Susan Laine - Femme Faux Fatale Audio Cover njwe93Title: Femme Faux Fatale

Series: Dreamspun Desires 70

Author: Susan Laine

Narrator: John Solo

Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense

Length: 7 hrs, 39 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (2nd May 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 3.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Mystery. Murder. Men in silk stockings. Hollywood nights are heating up.

Hardboiled Los Angeles PI Cain Noble is hired by wealthy and gorgeous Camille Astor to find her husband and a priceless work of art, both of which have disappeared.

At the nightclub owned by Mr. Astor, Cain encounters the mesmerizing Lily Lavender, who has the body of a goddess and the sultry voice of an angel—but is really a young man named Riley who attracts trouble like a magnet.

What’s a private dick in the vein of LA’s bygone era and a cross-dressing burlesque starlet to do when faced with the hidden decadence and lethal dangers of the Hollywood Hills? They have their work cut out for them because they haven’t even scratched the surface of an elaborate scheme more twisted than anyone could ever have imagined.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Femme Faux Fatale is a standalone book by Susan Laine, published as part of the Dreamspun Desires line. The narration of this story was performed by John Solo.

I’ve read the story before, I already knew what I was in for the most part, and while I did have problems connecting with the MCs when I read the book, I had started the audio with the hope that Solo’s wonderful narration would add a depth to the story that I missed while reading. In fact, I had been somewhat disappointed that I didn’t enjoy reading the book more than I had because I have enjoyed almost all of Susan Laine’s books I’ve read in the past.

In the stereotypical way that seems to be the world of a PI in literature, we start with hardened and eternally tired PI Cain Noble. He’s a PI based in LA and the city serves up a constant stream of work for him. When we meet him he gets hired by Camille Astor to find her husband and a work of art. And let’s face it, when priceless art is involved you know that there is going to be some serious shit go down. Astor’s husband, Sheridan, owns a club and that is Cain’s first port of call and despite being gay, Cain finds performer Lilly Lavender strangely alluring. Only to then find out that Lily is in fact a man named Riley who seems to get in trouble at every turn, but more than anything wants to find Sheridan who he considers a friend.

As we make our way through the LA and the story, it feels like this could almost be the stereotypical 1930s-era PI tale where the hero solves the mystery and gets romanced along the way.

While I will admit that I really do think that Solo’s narration added to the book and I found myself dragged into the plot a lot more than I recall being pulled in by reading the book, I felt that I still lacked some connection to the main characters. I’m now wondering if it is also to do with the writing style, which is a little different to Laine’s usual and again I think that goes back to the whole 1930s private dick vibe. I liked Cain and Riley in terms of their personality, they were both a bit quirky, and they were certainly well developed with a definite spark between them that makes the romance natural.

I recommend this is for people that enjoy reading a dark, gritty, urban mystery where the city seems to become a wild jungle. It seems like a good metaphor for LA at any rate and makes me think of The Doors song LA Woman.

So Into You by S.E. Harmon ~ Audio Review

S.E. Harmon - So Into You Audio Cover 4gb48Title: So Into You

Series: The PI Guys 02

Author: S.E. Harmon

Narrator: Michael Stellman

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 11 hrs, 1 min

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (22nd August 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Screenwriter Noah Ashley has a few four-letter words for his agent when she suggests he im-prove his script by shadowing a PI. Still, because he’s an artist dedicated to his craft and she knows where the bodies are buried, he agrees. Then he spends a little time with the gorgeous PI, and suddenly it seems like a really good plan. The PI doesn’t seem to entirely love the idea, but Noah has never been afraid to go after what he wants.

PI Drew Rodriguez is used to people depending on him. He’s the classic rock for his family. Re-sponsible. Dependable. The classic rock would never succumb to the borderline sleazy tempta-tion of friends with benefits, no matter how sexy that temptation is. Drew is looking for some-thing enduring.

Despite Drew’s misgivings, it’s not long before they’ve got all the requisites for friends with benefits going. Friendly, good conversation? Check. Fun times in and out of bed? Check. Hot, electrolyte-sapping sex? Double check. Falling in love? Yeah. About that…

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: So Into You is the second book in SE Harmons series, The PI Guys. Since I’ve never read or heard the audio of the first book (and I couldn’t tell from my Audible App that this was book 2 of the series), I can say quite honestly that this can be read/listened to as a standalone book, or at least done out of order. Listening to the book and hearing about the couple that are the stars of book 1, I am intrigued and totally keen about getting the first book. I didn’t really know what to expect, as SE Harmon is an author that I’ve heard of but I’m not 100% sure if I’ve read anything by them.

The story starts out with Hollywood script writer, Noah Ashley, just as his personal life goes off the rails, endangering his professional life. Noah is a bisexual man whose ex-wife is still not only his friend but also his manager. He’s just found out his ex-boyfriend Marshall – well, now ex – who he penned a movie script to help further his career as an actor, has slept with another man to further his career. On top of that, the third movie in the popular action franchise may well be re-cast with another actor, Sean Fox who has more talent and unashamed when it comes to his sexual activities. After a proper bender on the booze, a one-night stand and a missed meeting for the new movie, he’s sent out of state, to Florida to get his shit together and get his script resembling a hit movie. While in Florida, his agent has set up a contract for him to shadow a PI, to help him get his script in shape. Noah also has a heap of baggage, after spending his life in the foster system, he found his biological mother a few years before. She is now a schoolteacher with tween twin girls, to almost step kids and a fiancé. She also happens to live in Florida and is the reason why Noah had brought a place in Florida.

That PI is Drew Rodriguez. He’s quite comfortable in his professional life. After being in the military he and his friend started a PI business, and despite being surly and snarky, he does love his job. He just holds people to a certain standard and many so easily disappoint him. On the personal front he’s not as lucky. His father, who has been in and out of jail for most of his life, swans back in and just like every other time his father gets out of jail, Drew tries to hold his family together. Because the painful truth is that every time the man leaves or goes to jail again, it is Drew keeping his mother and little brother going.

#As I said, these guys are complicated. They both have a lot of trust issues and their circumstances have affected them very differently. Drew craves love and romance and finding the one man for him, while Noah wants nothing to hold him down, he just wants friendship and fun sex.
The book was narrated by Michael Stellman. Like with Harmon, the name rings a bell but I can’t, from the top of my head name a book I’ve listened to the audio for narrated by Stellman, so I went into this not know what to expect from either the author or the narrator. The narration was performed well, though. I felt that Stellman had the right tone to convey the complicated feelings and baggage of both MCs. I liked the softer tones which he used for Noah, while a slightly harsher tone was used for Drew. It fit the characters so well and helped me connect to the characters, particularly to Drew.

These characters have great chemistry. They are basically two sides of the same coin, so similar and yet so different. Their romance is a rocky one, even if both guys can be persistent. I very much got emotionally invested in both characters’ journeys. I enjoyed how this played out, this wasn’t an insta-love or a romance where the wary parties change their mind in a minute and go headlong into commitment.

I recommend this one for people that like a little bit of Hollywood, a little bit of celebrity, as well as a some fun and action with a PI/cop-type character. I really liked how both characters were jaded in their own way and added to the relatability of both guys.

Truth Will Out by K.C. Wells ~ Audio Review

K.C. Wells - Truth Will Out Audio Cover ru74cTitle: Truth Will Out

Author: K.C. Wells

Narrator: Seb Yarrick

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 6 hrs 58 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (11th April 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Jonathon de Mountford’s visit to Merrychurch village to stay with his uncle Dominic gets off to a bad start when Dominic fails to appear at the railway station. But when Jonathon finds him dead in his study, apparently as the result of a fall, everything changes. For one thing, Jonathon is the next in line to inherit the manor house. For another, he’s not so sure it was an accident, and with the help of Mike Tattersall, the owner of the village pub, Jonathon sets out to prove his theory – if he can concentrate long enough without getting distracted by the handsome Mike.

They discover an increasingly long list of people who had reason to want Dominic dead. And when events take an unexpected turn, the amateur sleuths are left bewildered. It doesn’t help that the police inspector brought in to solve the case is the last person Mike wants to see, espe-cially when they are told to keep their noses out of police business.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Truth Will Out is a standalone novel written by KC Wells – an author I am not familiar with and happy to read or listen to their work without barely reading the blurb. I connect with the writing style and for me that’s about all I need from an author – I am a tart when it comes to books. The audio of this book was performed by Seb Yarrick, a narrator that took me a bit to warm up to but now look forward to, especially when he gives a performance requiring some sort of British or European accent. In short, I looked forward to this book a lot. The fact that it involved the English country side and a Lord of the Manor type of thing and I was all set to be sucked into the story.

Overall, this was a really cool story and I think was greatly enhanced by listening to the audio. I feel that this is a book that I’ve got more out of it by listening to the audio – and the fabulous performances that brought the characters to life – than I would have reading the book.

There is a definite “British Mystery” feel to it, as in that there’s a murder in the small village but surely “it was nothing but an accident, I’m sure”. I probably have watched too many of said British Mysteries on television, and I’m not ashamed to say that Hot Fuzz is one of my favourite comedy movies. And not to mention that I figured out the plot of the story, mostly because I was thinking, “this reminds of the Doctor Who episode The Unicorn and the Wasp”. Yeah, I’m a nerd and I barely had to think to remember the name of the episode, whatever.

The story starts with Jonathon de Mountford. He goes to visit his uncle, the present Lord de Mountford at the family’s country seat/property. He has a lot of guilt for not seeing his uncle, whom he had been so close to as a kid. But the years and his career as a famous photographer sent him on a whirlwind journey that he has loved. Of course, his father, who heads the family law firm, is disappointed in Jonathon not only because he’s gay but also because he didn’t go into law and sees photography as nothing but a hobby. So clearly the guy has baggage and his life is about to get a whole lot more complicated, first when he meets local bar owner Mike Tattersall, and then goes to find his uncle and ends up finding him dead in his study.

Mike Tattersall moved to the quiet village of Merrychurch in the English countryside after losing his foot ended his career as a police officer in London. Now he owns the village pub (and oh my god! This just makes me think of watching Heartbeat with my mum when I was home sick from school). He moved to be closer to his recently divorced sister and has made something of a life for himself, even if he is lonely. Mike isn’t in the closet, though he doesn’t advertise his sexuality. He was also very much out when he was a policeman, and got his own set of baggage from that as well as dealing with his sister.

Jonathon and Mike have an instant connection. Their chemistry has been written perfectly. The sparks start to fly instantly, but they have a lot of learning to do together before anything can get too serious. On top of that, Jonathon and Mike can’t resist getting involved in the local to mystery, trying to piece together all the clues to solve what happened to Jonathon’s uncle.

I recommend this to anyone that wants a light-hearted romance with a good dose of adventure and mystery.

The Athlete and the Aristocrat by Louisa Masters ~ Audio Review

Louisa Masters - The Athlete and the Aristocrat Audio Cover yh3n38Title: The Athlete and the Aristocrat

Series: Dreamspun Desires 73

Author: Louisa Masters

Narrator: Seb Yarrick

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 5 hrs, 38 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (4th April 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Sometimes love takes balls.

Newly retired championship footballer Simon Wood is taking on his next challenge. His plan for a charity to provide funding for underprivileged children to pursue football as a career has passed its first hurdle: he has backers and an executive consultant. Now it’s time to get the ball rolling.

Lucien Morel, heir to the multibillion-euro Morel Corporation, is shocked—and thrilled—to learn his father has volunteered him as consultant to a fledgling football charity. Better yet, the brains behind it all is heartthrob Simon Wood, his teenage idol and crush.

Although Simon and Lucien get off on the wrong foot, it’s not long before they’re getting along like a house on fire—sparks included. But with the charity under public scrutiny, can their romance thrive?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: The Athlete and the Aristocrat by Louisa Masters is the author’s most recent contribution to the Dreamspun Desires line by Dreamspinner Press. This is a book that I really enjoyed reading and so loved being able to relax, listening to the audio narration of this book.

Master’s writing is really appealing to me because it is the writing style just takes me in and I feel an instant connection to the characters. Although this book is not part of a series by Masters, we are brought back into the world of European elegance and riches which we first encountered in The Bunny and the Billionaire and even get to check in with three of the characters from that book. For me that was a bit of a thrill.

As for the narration, I really enjoyed it. The narration was performed by Seb Yarrick. To be perfectly honest it’s taken me a few books to fully get on board with Yarrick’s performance, although I wonder if it is just a case of perhaps me not being sold on Yarrick’s suitability for the ones that I didn’t really like. Regardless, I have absolutely no complaints about the narration. I enjoyed the voice he gave to both MCs and I really felt the emotion between the two men come through in the voice and tone.

The story itself is quite simple. A hot, rich, powerful, smart aristocrat and an equally hot, rich, powerful and smart athlete are thrown together when the titular athlete wants to set up a new foundation for children in need who do not have the access to equipment or their parents don’t have the time or money to allow kids to follow their dreams. It’s all noble intentions and I’m a complete sucker for it.

The Athlete and the Aristocrat introduces us to retired professional footballer Simon Wood and billionaire of the highly influential Morel family and their corporation, Lucien Morel. The little bit of cuteness in their background is that Lucien secretly had a crush on Simon while Simon was playing soccer and in fact convinced his father that Simon’s proposal for a charity had just as much merit as a charity for education and food for kids from struggling families. However, these guys have a bumpy road to their HEA, which is what kept me intrigued with this story. There is no doubting the attraction between Simon and Lucien, however, they did need to take time to get to know each other before taking the risk of mixing business with pleasure.

I think this story has a series of popular themes which will satisfy anyone who is attracted to these types of romances that include the whole fairy-tale ending for the brooding rich guy and the kind-hearted guy that steps into his life.

The Blueprint by S.E. Harmon ~ Audio Review

S.E. Harmon - The Blueprint Audio Cover 73484hrjTitle: The Blueprint

Series: Rules of Possession 01

Author: S.E. Harmon

Narrator: Sean Crisden, Alexander Cendese

Genre: Contemporary, Sports

Length: 8 hrs, 24 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (30th June 2018)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Kelly Cannon is satisfied with his life. He has friends, a wonderful family, and a great job. But his love life has reached a new level of pitiful. Why? Well, his heart decided to break all the rules. Don’t fall in love with a straight guy. And definitely don’t fall in love with your best friend.

NFL standout Britton “Blue” Montgomery has pressure coming at him from all sides: from his father, who’s only interested in Blue’s football career; from his coaches, who just want him to play without getting injured again; from the fans; from his agent; and from his mother, who has popped up on the radar after leaving his family years before. And now his relationship with Kelly is on shaky ground, and that frightens Blue more than anything.

When Kelly admits he’s in love with Blue, bonds are tested, and Blue has to decide what’s really important. He doesn’t want to lose the number-one person in his life, but the cost to keep Kelly close might be more than he’s willing to pay. It’s a good thing his nickname is the Blueprint – it’s time to draft a new set of plans.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: The Blueprint is the first book in SE Harmon’s series, Rules of Possession. I am sort of familiar with Harmon’s work but right at this moment, other than knowing that Harmon’s work doesn’t stick out in my mind as an author whose work I haven’t enjoyed in the past that was it. For me I was attracted to the fact that this was a professional sport MM romance, which I’m a sucker for.

The story starts with Kelly Cannon. He is happy with his life, except when it comes to his romantic life, because things are just not going right for him there. He can’t keep a relationship going and he knows exactly why, as do his exes. He has a boyfriend and while they are good together, he doesn’t see the man as his happily ever after, he already knows that the man tries to control him and doesn’t listen to him either. Things come to a head when Kelly is proposed to for the whole world to see and Kelly feels that he can only say yes, only to have the difficult conversation on their way home. And so, once again facing life as a single man and after an argument with the man who had so briefly been his finance, Kelly once more has to face the fact that he is in love with his best friend, a very straight NFL player. Kelly knows he needs to change his life because he knew that he would end up lonely and miserable if he keeps pining for a man that could never want him, ever. However, when he tries to make distance between himself and Blue, something in Blue snaps and he too makes some decisions about his life and Kelly’s place in it.

Blue, real name Britton Montgomery, is nicknamed Blue because his college football coach called him “The Blueprint” of the team. He is an amazing football player and even though he is getting older, he still has some years ahead of him. He is, in short, living the dream. But that changes when one night when he sees that Kelly’s boyfriend proposes to him very publicly and instead of congratulating his friend, he is left very worried about the man. Pushing himself back into Kelly’s lift starts a roller coaster that could end up very rewarding for both men, or it could the undoing of the men, professionally and/or personally.

I’ve left the narration to the end of the review on purpose. I really liked the production and the performances of this audiobook. Alexander Cendese, who I am not familiar with, narrated chapters from Kelly’s POV, while Sean Crisden, who I adore, narrated Kelly’s chapters. Both narrators did a fantastic job. Their voice and tones were matched perfectly to their characters and I happily listened to their performance all day at work. Cendese captured Kelly’s warring emotions as he tries to get himself together before things with Kelly start to change. Crisden then did an equally excellent job with the chopping emotions of Blue as he reassess himself as he comes to certain realisation regarding Kelly and how much he knows he did not want to lose Kelly from his life.

Overall, I really loved the book. It was fun, it was sexy and loved the chemistry between Blue and Kelly. I really felt the emotion and particularly felt connected to Kelly as he tries to navigate his way through love and facing the fact that he is in love with his straight best friend, before that changes once more. Yet I also felt Blue’s emotion as he is forced to reassess his personal beliefs about himself as a person. This wasn’t particularly intense or angsty, but I love how the characters have to traverse a somewhat rocky path before their happy for now ending. I look forward to the continuation of these two characters in the second book of the series.

This isn’t a gay for you book, per se, however, if you like a friends to lovers type of story, as well as the professional sports setting, this would be a great series to start.

Fire and Rain by Andrew Grey ~ Audio Review

Andrew Grey - Fire and Rain Audio Cover wmek99Title: Fire and Rain

Series: Carlisle Cops 03

Author: Andrew Grey

Narrator: Randy Fuller

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 6 hrs, 19 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (24th February 2016)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Since the death of their mother, Josten Applewhite has done what he’s had to do to take care of his little brother and keep their small family together. But in an instant, a stroke of bad luck tears down what little home he’s managed to build, and Jos and Isaac end up on the streets.

That’s where Officer Kip Rogers finds them, and even though he knows he should let the prop-er authorities handle things, he cannot find it in his heart to turn them away, going so far as to invite them to stay in his home until they get back on their feet. With the help of Kip and his friends, Jos starts to rebuild his life. But experience has taught him nothing comes for free, and the generosity seems too good to be true – just like everything about Kip.

Kip’s falling hard for Jos, and he likes the way Jos and Isaac make his big house feel like a home. But their arrangement can’t be permanent, not with Jos set on making his own way. Then a distant relative emerges, determined to destroy Jos’s family, and Kip knows Jos needs him – even if he’s not ready to admit it.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Fire and Rain is the third book in Andrew Grey’s Carlisle Cops series. You don’t need to have read the previous book in the series. I’ve read and listened to the two series Carlisle Cops and Carlisle Deputies completely out of order. And while the characters from previous books pop up and you know that they are together, there is nothing vital mentioned that I found difficult to put together on my own. But that being said, it’s such a great series, it probably would be easier to start from the beginning and work your way through. I completely arsed it up, but no reason why anyone has to do that. I honestly think I was just too excited about the book itself I didn’t care and am familiar enough with Grey’s writing to know I can usually read (or in this case listen to) his series out of order.

That leads into the fact that I am a massive fan of Andrew Grey’s writing and I’m not ashamed to admit it. He has a great knack for mixing romance with kids. I connect to his writing style and the great way that he manages to includes kids in many of his books, they are not there for decoration and are a very important character along with the two romantic leads. Much like the previous book in the series, Fire and Rain is a great book for anyone that loves a good romance mixed up with a cop drama and includes a heart wrenching story with kids.

The narration of this book was by Randy Fuller. I am not unfamiliar with Fuller’s work. Fuller has performed the narration for Carlisle Cops and Carlisle Deputies, so I have quickly become accustomed to him being “the voice” of the series. His voice has a gravelly timbre that really suits the dangerous and raw emotion aspects of the plot line. In addition, he has a very reasonable, well-paced tone in his voice when it comes to portraying level-headed characters. (It is actually the latter trait that makes Fuller’s narration of The President’s Husband one of my favourite books to re-listen to, but that is not the point of this review).

Since I listened to this book and then went back to book 2, I did note that there is some similarities in the overall themes of the book. However, Grey uses this to his advantage in how the main cop character interacts with his colleagues and gets advice. But that isn’t me saying that it is identical, because it isn’t.

Officer Kip Rogers is on patrol and takes a call about a homeless person loitering near a shop which is the best place for protection out of the rain. That man is Josten Applewhite and Kip is horrified to see that Josten has his little brother Isaac, who is barely a toddler. With the local shelters already full, in part because of the terrible weather Kip’s protective instincts kick in and he wants to help the handsome young man with his adorable brother. However, Josten, aka Jos, isn’t trusting. After the death of his mother and losing his job and then being evicted out his apartment, Jos is understandably suspicious of anyone who wants to help him and Isaac without getting anything in return.

Now that he has met Kip, though, it seems that the two men are fated to be thrown together. Kip is also mindful that he doesn’t want to take advantage of Jos’s situation and for a start just wants to keep the man and the little boy safe. Kip is kind and gentle, as well as being strong, he is everything that Jos needs before we even get to the romance. As they begin to fall in love and Jos begins to get back on his feet, a threat comes in the form of an estranged aunt with ulterior motive. The whole story with the aunt, admittedly, wasn’t hard to work out before it fully played out but it was still a well-executed aspect of the story.

As I said earlier, I really love this series and hope that there will be more in future. At any rate, I know I will happily re-listen to this audio.

Seeking Solace by Ari McKay ~ Audio Review

Ari McKay - Seeking Solace Audio Cover 234ierjkTitle: Seeking Solace

Series: Dreamspun Desires 69, The Walker Boys 03

Author: Ari McKay

Narrator: John Solo

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 5 hrs, 55 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (6th November 2018)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: All hands on deck for a shipboard romance—with a secret.

Like his cousins, Devin Walker aspires to be a chef, but he wants to indulge his wanderlust while feeding his customers, and working a cruise ship seems like the solution. Since he can’t find an opening in the kitchen, he’s happy to start out in a position behind the bar.

While onboard Poseidon’s Pearl, Devin is assigned to shepherd a visiting executive. Paul Bailey is quiet and unassuming, and a car accident that cost him his leg also shattered his confidence. He doesn’t think he’s attractive to other men anymore, and Devin is eager to show him just how wrong he is. Paul has a surprising secret that might sink their passionate affair before it even leaves port.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Seeking Solace is the third book in Ari McKay’s series The Walker Boys. It isn’t essential that you read the previous books, though it would probably make life easier when one of the MCs, Devin Walker, talks about his family back home in Buffalo Lick, Texas. Much like the previous two books, Seeking Solace is a sweet and simple romance at heart. Of course, there is a good dose of drama, mostly fuelled by miscommunication and running away from one’s problems, but it is a fun and adorable story.

I really enjoyed this story when I read it and looked forward to the audio. When I grabbed the audio from Audible, I was even more excited to see that the narration of this book was done by John Solo. I absolutely love Solo’s narration, he has the magic touch – the magic tonsils? – when it comes to bringing emotional depth into the characters with just the tone of his voice. Some of Solo’s performances are also so good that a book that I didn’t like when I read it, or pick it up to read after listening to audio, are far more enjoyable than just reading the written text. That is the sign of a good narrator, in my opinion. Seeking Solace is no exception in terms of performance, I loved it and connected to Devin and Paul so quickly, especially when the drama of the story comes into play.

The story is about Devin Walker, one of the famous Walker boys from Buffalo Lick, Texas. Unlike his many cousins, he had it a little tougher time growing up when people out of town hurled racial abuse at him. Like many others in Walker clan, he has the cooking bug. He wants to be a chef but before he can get there, Devin is working as a bar tender on a cruise ship, where he meets Paul Bailey.

However, Paul Bailey is Paul Mercer. He is on the cruise ship undercover, as he is in fact the heir of the cruise line company. He just wants to be seen as another exec who has to spend time on ship before settling into a job at head office. Devin becomes Paul’s staff liaison and the two quickly develop a friendship that becomes something a lot more meaningful.

The problem being, is that when Devin discovers Paul’s true surname, he feels betrayed and goes back to the only place he knows to recover. Paul is confused why he didn’t see Devin and again and when he discovers what has happened he is determined and sweet enough to take the biggest risk.

These guys are well suited. Their chemistry is strong but there is something deeper to it than their physical attraction, which does bring in something of an instalove aspect to the book. This is the perfect escape book for a relatable and relatively uncomplicated romance. Fans of the previous books in the series or fans of Ari McKay or people that simply love the romance and sappiness that comes from many Dreamspun Desire books, you won’t be disappointed. For anyone else, if you’re into simple and sweet romances then this is the book for you.

The Strength of His Heart by Victoria Sue ~ Audio Review

Victoria Sue - The Strength of His Heart Audio Cover nasjnh89Title: The Strength of His Heart

Series: Enhanced 04

Author: Victoria Sue

Narrator: Nick J Russo

Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Length: 7 hrs, 22 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (8th April 2019)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: All Vance Connelly ever wanted to do was continue his family’s tradition and join the Tampa Po-lice Department, but his dreams were crushed the day he woke with the enhanced mark on his face. After years of struggling to adjust to life as an enhanced human, by a stroke of luck, he met Talon Valdez and became a proud member of the FBI’s Human Enhanced Rescue Organi-zation.

Samuel “Angel” Piper is eager to leave his DEA undercover work behind as he joins the HERO team as Vance’s regular human partner. But Sam’s painful past is ever present, just below the surface of the life he has built for himself as an ambitious young agent. When the team investi-gates rumors of a new drug using enhanced blood, the case’s mysterious connection to Sam threatens not just his life but Vance’s.

Trust doesn’t come easy for Sam, but Vance is willing to fight to convince his partner that the strength of his heart might be the salvation they both need.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Strength of His Heart is book 4 of Victoria Sue’s series, Enhanced.

Before I started this audio, I hadn’t realised that I hadn’t realised it was a series, but a couple chapters in when it finally clicked to me, I was too invested to stop and get to the other three stories. I was able to follow the plot without any problem, although I am sure that I missed some points when it came to some of the background characters, they were well developed and fleshed out by this point in the series, but again, nothing that I couldn’t piece together in my head.

This book is the first book I’ve read/listened to by the author, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of the writing and the depth of the world that had been created. However, I am very familiar with the work of Nick J Russo, the narrator. Normally, I have heard him perform contemporary books and I have found that he is well suited. But this book is best described as an urban fantasy. I was totally blown away by how well he narrated the story and conveyed the complex emotions of the MCs. Both MCs are tough, alpha type of males, however, one is a gentle giant and the other is a scrappy guy.

The series is called Enhanced after a group of people in the world who have been ridiculed and discriminated against because the men (because it’s only men) that are “Enhanced”, known for the scar on their face after transformation, develop powers which the rest of humanity can’t understand. I suppose it’s a kind of parallel to the LGBTQI community. I’m not explaining the enhanced very well, but basically think of Marvel’s X-Men but it’s only men. Some enhanced can mind speak, some have super strength, some have healing – you get the point.

Vance and Sam are partners in a special FBI taskforce. It aims to team up human and enhanced partners in order to show the world that the enhanced aren’t monsters to be scared of.

Sam is ex-DEA (and has a past which is revealed through the story) but soon after partnering with Vance on the FBI team is back helping the DEA for another mission. Sam was good at his job in the DEA but he wanted so much more. He wanted to be in the FBI and didn’t want to be dragged back into the DEA. He has been used of protecting himself and being pushed around by people bigger than him, so when he is teamed up with Vance, despite sexual attraction, Sam isn’t going to let Vance take control.

Vance has always wanted to be a cop – it’s in his family to serve in the Tampa PD, his father is now the lieutenant, one of his brothers is also a cop, while another is also with the FBI. But Vance always wanted to be a cop, a choice that was taken away from him when he woke up as a teen, enhanced and with the scar to prove. While his parents and siblings have always been supportive of Vance, there are many opportunities and people in the world that do not think of him as human because of his abilities. The man has such a big heart and all he wants to do is help people.

Vance is a very sweet man and extremely vulnerable under his tough exterior, while Sam is tough and knows only how to keep up shields to keep himself safe from any kind of affection. There is an attraction between the two men, but with the danger of their ongoing case which involves drugs and added is the mystery of how enhanced have been dragged into the situation, things are often left on hold. As the danger increases the feelings also increase and Sam can’t help but keep putting his foot in his mouth to protect himself. Which, honestly, had me a tad emotional for poor Vance who wears his heart on his sleeve.

I absolutely adored this book. The chemistry between Sam and Vance is on point, their emotions are complex but relatable. The secondary character, some of whom have already had their own book in the series, are equally as deep and complex as Sam and Vance, even the two guys who have been set up to be the next couple of the series. The world that Sue has created is an adventure from start to finish. Now, I need to go back to the start of this series and find out about the other guys!

Fire and Ice by Andrew Grey ~ Audio Review

Andrew Grey - Fire and Ice Audio Cover sjdi8Title: Fire and Ice

Series: Carlisle Cops 02

Author: Andrew Grey

Narrator: Randy Fuller

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 7 hrs, 14 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (14th July 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Carter Schunk is a dedicated police officer with a difficult past and a big heart. When he’s called to a domestic disturbance, he finds a fatally injured woman and a child, Alex, who is in desperate need of care. Child Services is called, and the last man on earth Carter wants to see walks through the door. Carter had a fling with Donald a year ago and found him as cold as ice since it ended.

Donald (Ice) Ickle has had a hard life he shares with no one, and he’s closed his heart to all. It’s partly to keep himself from getting hurt and partly the way he deals with a job he’s good at be-cause he does what needs to be done without getting emotionally involved. When he meets Carter again, he maintains his usual distance, but Carter gets under his skin, and against his bet-ter judgment,Donald lets Carter guilt him into taking Alex when there isn’t other foster care avail-able. Carter even offers to help care for the boy.

Donald has a past he doesn’t want to discuss with anyone, least of all Carter, who has his own past he’d just as soon keep to himself. But it’s Alex’s secrets that could either pull them together or rip them apart – secrets the boy isn’t able to tell them and yet could be the key to happiness for all of them.

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: Fire and Ice is the second book in Andrew Grey’s Carlisle Cops series. You don’t need to have read the previous book in the series. I’ve read and listened to Carlisle Cops and Carlisle Deputies completely out of order. And while the characters from previous books pop up and you know that they are together, there is nothing vital mentioned that I found difficult to put together on my own. But that being said, it’s such a great series, it probably would be easier to start from the beginning and work your way through.

This is a great book for anyone that loves a good romance mixed up with a cop drama and includes a heart wrenching story with kids. For me Andrew Grey is an instant read. I connect to his writing style and the great way that he manages to includes kids in many of his books, they are not there for decoration and are a very important character along with the two romantic leads. In fact, I’ve read the book before, loved it and so was super keen to get into the audio book.

The narration of this book was by Randy Fuller. I am not unfamiliar with Fuller’s work. Fuller has performed the narration for Carlisle Cops and Carlisle Deputies, so I have quickly become accustomed to him being “the voice” of the series. His voice has a gravelly timbre that really suits the dangerous and raw emotion aspects of the plot line. I particularly enjoyed his portrayal of emotionally closed-off social worker, Donald Ickle. In addition, he has a very reasonable, well-paced tone in his voice when it comes to portraying level-headed characters, in this book that being Carter Schunk. (It is actually the latter trait that makes Fuller’s narration of The President’s Husband one of my favourite books to re-listen to, but that is not the point of this review).

Carter Schunk loves his work and is dedicated to his job helping the people of Carlisle. He got the reputation of being a whiz with computers and so for the longest time spent most of his time behind the desk, being the man behind the screen and a great asset to the cops on the team. But now he has been able to move behind the desk and hit the streets. One of his first calls is to a domestic violence dispute which ended in the death of a woman. Instinct meant that Carter found scared, dirty and abused little boy call Alex. Carter has an instant connection with the kid and when child services struggles to help the boy due to lack of resources, Carter manages to goad Donald Ickle to help Alex himself.

Donald Ickle has earned the name Ice or Ice-Ickle, and for very good reason. Donald became a social worker so that he could help kids that needed it, much like he had needed help when he had been a child. Taken away from his mother and with no known family, he had lived his life in the system. He’s psychologically scarred and his defence is to push away anyone that wants to get close to him. He and Carter have already had a thing and Carter has already had his feelings hurt, but there is so much going on beneath the surface.

Carter doesn’t give up, not on Alex and definitely not on Donald. It is dangerous that the two men grow close to the little boy, and it is the little boy that brings them together. But this is just a deep and heartfelt plot that sees all three characters undergo a lot of changes throughout the book. These are really well developed characters and the feelings I got from them were intense. For this reason I adored Fire and Ice. Although, add in great chemistry and totally relatable characters and a slow burn romance, I was a very happy person by the end of it. That’s not to say I shed quite a few tears throughout the book.

The CEO’s Christmas Manny by Angela McCallister ~ Audio Review

Angela McCallister - The CEO's Christmas Manny Audio Cover gehy65Title: The CEO’s Christmas Manny

Series: Dreamspun Desires 72 / Beyond the Boardroom 01

Author: Angela McCallister

Narrator: John Solo

Genre: Contemporary

Length: 7 hrs, 5 mins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC (2nd May 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: Anything but business as usual.

Billionaire CEO Nic Price lives for his job. With sales down and grumbling from the board of directors—including Nic’s permanently dissatisfied father—the last thing Nic needs is distraction from the new manny, whose freewheeling approach to childcare is outlandish… and who makes Nic feel things he’s never allowed himself to feel.

Ex-teacher Sasha Lindsey is all about fun—that’s the reason people love him, so he has to be. After a bad break-up leaves him jobless and homeless, the live-in manny job with Mr. Price seems like a windfall. But his chemistry with Nic is off the charts, and he can’t afford another workplace romance disaster.

Can Nic leave his dominance in the bedroom and open his heart to the best thing that’s ever happened to him? Or will Sasha’s leap of faith backfire and ruin his chances at the family happily ever after he’s always dreamed of?

Purchase Link: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: The CEO’s Christmas Manny by Angela McAllister is from the Dreamspun Desires line. To be perfectly honest, I’ve read and loved the book before and so had to get to the audio. What had initially attracted me to this story when I read it was good romance with hot boss and his manny, maybe even especially at Christmas (sort of).

Nic Price is the stereotypical CEO/billionaire in so many romance novels. He is a ruthless business man and is great at his job, that’s why he’s a billionaire. However, he has to cope with the stress of the board of his family company, including his father who is never satisfied with anything that Nic does, despite increasing the company profit’s over the last few years. On top of that he also the guardian of his orphaned niece and nephew. Since he’s had them for a few years and has been so distracted by business he has now lost his connection with but doesn’t take the time to care that this has happened because ultimately this all loops around to the fact that his father is forever down his throat and issuing threats about the family company (yes, another stereotype but totally works). The kids have gone through another nanny and so another is hired.

This is where we meet young, idealistic and enthusiastic teacher, Sasha Lindsey (and of course everyone expects him to be a female). Sasha lost his job as a casual teacher at a school in favour of someone who is tenured. His new job, across the country, as a live in manny is a godsend, especially at Christmastime with teaching positions being few and far between. Both when I read and listened to this book, the vibe that Sasha gave me was one like Mr Keating in The Dead Poet’s Society. He wants to engage his students, not just tell them what they need to know, he wants them to enjoy learning and to have fun.

Nic finds it hard to open his heart to the kids and to Sasha, especially now that he has been threatened with losing his position if he can’t increase profits further. But Sasha is sweetness and happiness and love which Nic has never known from his family and eventually, despite a bit of drama, these guys are inevitable.

The narration for this was performed by John Solo. I absolutely adore Solo’s work and he is very well suited to these type of contemporary romances. I’m at a bit of a loss for words about what to say in this review, I’m not for fluffy descriptions, I just like what I like. To me I love the full package of voice, tone, emotion and pace done by Solo in not only this book, but many of the books he narrates.

I really loved this book. It fulfilled every soppy romantic fantasy I have, despite being a tad too predictable and the story kind of reminding me of The Sound of Music (minus running away from the Nazis). The chemistry between Nic and Sasha is off the charts and it was easy to relate to both of them, even if Nic was a grouch that needed Sasha’s love to heal is heart and show him how to really live life and to be happy.