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Audiobook Review – Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover – Sarah MacLean

never judge a lady by her coverNever Judge a Lady By Her Cover
Author: Sarah MacLean
Series: #4 in the Rules of Scoundrels series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Justine Eyre
Run Time: 11hrs 55min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Audiobook Publisher

Description:
By day, she is Lady Georgiana, sister to a Duke, ruined before her first season in the worst kind of scandal. But the truth is far more shocking—in London’s darkest corners, she is Chase, the mysterious, unknown founder of the city’s most legendary gaming hell. For years, her double identity has gone undiscovered . . . until now.

Brilliant, driven, handsome-as-sin Duncan West is intrigued by the beautiful, ruined woman who is somehow connected to a world of darkness and sin. He knows she is more than she seems and he vows to uncover all of Georgiana’s secrets, laying bare her past, threatening her present, and risking all she holds dear… including her heart.

Review:
Sometimes I just have to laugh at how I end up listening to different audiobooks – specifically, I’ve had the ebook of Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover on my kindle since it was released in 2014 and yet, I hadn’t read it…so it was kind of like fate when it showed up as a nominee for the romance category on the Audies (yeah, I know this review is a little bit late, overcome by events has been a standard term of phrase in my life recently). It seemed like perfect timing because I was in the mood for some historical romance and I’ve been a fan of Justine Eyre’s narration in the past.

If you had been reading (or listening) to the Rules of Scoundrels series then we knew who Chase was (as it been revealed in a previous book) – but even before that, I had wondered who Chase and looking back there were hints that were there but that I had kind of glazed over. And Duncan West…what can I say about him – its hard because I hated him at first, then grew to like him, then hated him again and then liked him again – it was a very love-hate relationship. But that just made the ride to their HEA all the more enjoyable. There were a few times where I just wanted to scream (and it is probably good that no one rides in my car with me while i’m listening to audiobooks)…and other times, where I just wanted to sit and wait to see what happened (causing me to be slightly late to work).

Justine Eyre’s narration fit the story perfectly as it had will the previous books I’d listened to by her – her narration style just fit perfectly with Sarah MacLean’s writing – there is a witty banter style to her narration that just is perfect. As I hadn’t listened to the previous books in the series – I had my own idea of how I thought Chase/Georgina would sound and amazing enough, Justine’s narration was actually pretty close to how I envisioned Chase would sound. Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover was a solid way to close out the series and overall, I gave it 3.5 stars and Justine Eyre’s narration 4 stars.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Duke’s Holiday – Maggie Fenton

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the duke's holidayThe Duke’s Holiday
Author: Maggie Fenton
Series: #1 in the Regency Romp series
Rating:

Narrator: Sue Pitkin
Run Time: 15hrs 11 minutes
Audiobook Producer: Brilliance Audio
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
The cold, precise Duke of Montford demands things his way: neatly ordered, in place, and adhering closely to the rules. So he is furious when he learns that the tenant of his ducal estate has been dead for a year, and a stranger has been running the Honeywell business–which, by contract, is now Montford’s. When he arrives in Yorkshire to investigate, he discovers that the estate is being run by an unruly, tomboyish woman–and a bluestocking at that!
Fiery redhead Astrid Honeywell is independent and educated. She’s been handling the Honeywell family business for years. And she’s not about to relinquish it to anyone–not even Montford–because of some archaic contract.
Montford and Astrid have an instant hatred for one another…and an undeniable, unspeakable attraction. They must resist this improper desire–after all, Montford has a fiancée in London. But when Astrid’s life is placed in terrible danger, Montford finds he may be willing to risk everything to save her.

Review:
It’s hard to describe my overall reaction to The Duke’s Holiday, with the exception of, it was totally not what I expected. I mean, I went into the audio of this book, expecting a very traditional historical romance, staid characters with a fairly predictable storyline (because unfortunately after reading/listening to so much historical romance over the years, it all starts to blend together). What I got was a historical romantic comedy that had me laughing out loud for a good portion of the book and by laughing out loud, I mean like serious, belly clutching laughter.

Not only was The Duke’s Holiday full of antics that reminded me of something you would see on a comedy show, but it departed from the norms of the time period with Astrid, the heroine, running her families brewery, under the guise of her father, who was unable. Enter, the Duke of Montford (because he was NEVER called by his real name of Cyril…not that I blame him), who owned the estate (although that was up for debate if you asked any of the Honeywell’s) and who liked things very proper – in fact, at times, I wondered if he maybe had a touch of obsessive-compulsive behavior with his need to control things. It was fun listening to the Duke shed his properness (is that a real world) as he became more relaxed and free at the Honeywell’s. I’ll admit the scene where the author went into great detail about the foot race that is held every year and involves drinking a pint of Honeywell Brew approximately ever 1/4 mile, made me nearly run the car of the road, i was laughing so hard. That is totally something I would sign up to do in my insanity and the following scenes where the Duke is singing druken limericks was just as entertaining. The author had the raunchy nature of drunken shenanigans pegged perfectly. As another reviewer on Goodreads stated, both Astrid and the Duke were perfectly unperfect (or was is unperfectly perfect)…either way, that statement sums up my thoughts almost perfectly on the book.

Once again in my Audie’s listening I came across a new to me narrator (which seems to have been the theme for this year). As with others, I can safely say that I will be adding more narration by Sue Pitkin to my listening future. Its honestly hard to pinpoint exactly what i liked about her narration though – it wasn’t one specific thing (you know, somehow its how the narrator differentiates characters or how they handle pacing of the story etc)…for me, it was just a solid combination of everything that made The Duke’s Holiday an all-around solid romance audiobook. As mentioned above, one of my favorite scenes, due in part to the narration, was the druken duke – in fact, i remember tweeting the narrator after I had gotten done listening to that chapter because I had to let her know how much I had enjoyed it. While I know that voices of the opposite gender are at times a struggle for narrators, I thought Sue Pitkin handled not only Monford’s narration perfectly, but also that of his companions (one a well described fop and the other a walking train-wreck). I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to them because I have a feeling the other two books in the series will be about them.

A solid 4 stars for both the book itself and the narration – this is a book that probably never would have caught my eye if not nominated, but will be an author that I watch out for in the future. Warning to all listeners, driving while listening to this book may result in distracted driving from laughing so hard you card (just so you have been warned…)

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Audiobook Review – The Highwayman – Kerrigan Byrne

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the highwaymanThe Highwayman
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Series: #1 in the Victorian Rebels series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Narrator: Derek Perkins
Run Time: 10hrs 54min
Audiobook Producer: Tantor Audio
Audiobook Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Audiobook Review Copy Provided by Tantor Audio

Description:
STEALING BEAUTY
Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him…and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception—and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands…
COURTING DESIRE
But Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret—one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead?

Review:
It’s kind of weird, I would say that when you look at my romance reading (or listening) that I’m fairly solid in the historical romance realm – so it was kind of surprising to me that I’d never heard of (or if I had, I don’t remember), Kerrigan Byrne before. That being said, as soon as the nominations for the Audies were released, I observed several people mentioning her books on different forums (so maybe it was just a case of me not paying any attention…not that that should surprise people). Anyways, I was excited to check out both a new to me author and a new to me narrator to kick off my armchair audies listening and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’ll admit that I’m a junkie for heroes that seem to be undeemable, especially one who goes by the name of “the Blackheart of Ben More” as well as heroines who break the traditional mold that they are expected to fill, in particular, that of the proper lady, not one who works as a clerk in a prison. there was a bit of a mystery element to the story that I found to be well-developed, even if I did figure out whole the bad guy was on fairly early on. I will admit that the use of the name Farah for a female in a historical romance kind of struck me as a name that may have been too modern for the era, but my google-fu has been unsuccessful in finding an origin for it, aside from the fact that its a Muslim name. So I guess the potential for it to be period appropriate it plausible, but I’ll admit that it was a tad distracting for me.

Not only was Kerrigan Byrne a new to be author, but Derek Perkins was a new to me narrator – although he has a significant backlist. Overall, he had a nice melodic narration style that suited the story well, especially the portions where Dorian and the other male characters were speaking. But I will admit that I struggled a bit with his narration of Farah – while it wasn’t a horrible female voice, there were a few times where it just grated on me. It got a bit pitchy in places which was a bit irksome. But overall, a solid narration that I gave 3.5 stars for. The audio production of The Highwayman was well done, which is something I have come to expect from Tantor Audio over the years.

I’ll admit that i was intrigued enough by both the book and the narration to want to continue the series in the future. Overall, I gave both the story and the narration 3.5 stars.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Audiobook Review, Review

 

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Armchair Audies Overview – Romance

Armchair Audies

On Friday I gave you a brief overview of all the different categories of the Audies and the books that had been nominated as finalists in each of them. Now its time to dig down into my specific categories that I will be reviewing for the Armchair Audies. This is my 4th year reviewing books that have been nominated and I’ve gone back to my roots with the romance category (in addition to the erotica and paranormal catagories that I added in last year). For me, the decision was simple – when I saw that the 5 nominees for romance were traditional romance (with the required happily ever after – as defined by the RWA), compared to the literature with romantic themes that has made an appearance the last couple of years (with books by Nicholas Sparks, James Patterson and others), I knew that it was time to go back to where my reading and listening interests predominant lie.

And the ROMANCE Nominees are…

the duke's holidayThe Duke’s Holiday – Maggie Fenton
Narrated – Sue Pitkin
Audio Publisher – Brilliance Audio

Description:
The Duke of Montford, cold, precise, and more powerful than the Prince Regent himself, wants things the way he wants them: cross-referenced, indexed, and at his beck and call. And he always gets what he wants.

Until he meets Astrid Honeywell. And a giant pig. And a crooked castle in the middle of Yorkshire.

Astrid Honeywell, staunch bluestocking, has struggled for years to keep her family together by running the estate and family brewery after her father’s death. She is not about to let the tyrannical Duke of Montford steal away all she has worked for because of some antiquated contract between their families. So when the priggish Duke comes to call, she does everything in her power—including setting the family pig on him—to drive him away.

She didn’t expect him to be so… well, infuriatingly attractive. Every time he scowls at her, she has the most improper desire to kiss him—and a whole lot more.

Montford can’t decide whether to strangle Astrid or seduce her. The one thing he knows for a fact is that he must resist his powerful attraction for her at all costs. He has a very proper, very demure fiancée waiting for him back in London, after all. But when Astrid is kidnapped by a disgruntled suitor and whisked off to Gretna Green, Montford will do anything to get her back.

Will these two drive each other to Bedlam… or can they make it to the altar without killing each other?

Initial Thoughts:
Both the author and the narrator for this nomination are new to me, so i’m kind of going in blind here on my thoughts. The description sounds interesting, Astrid is likely one of those quirky historical heroines, who doesn’t really fit in the time and place that you would expect – sometimes that works in a romance, other times, not so much. Also sounds like it has the potential to be an enemies to lovers type theme, which is one of my favorite tropes in the romance realm – I just hope that the author does it justice.

the highwaymanThe Highwayman – Kerrigan Byrne
Narrator: Derek Perkins
Audio Publisher: Tantor Media

Description:
STEALING BEAUTY
Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him…and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception—and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands…
COURTING DESIRE
But Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret—one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead? 

Initial Thoughts:
While both this author and narrator is also new to me, they aren’t unknown, I’ve heard the series mentioned in the Goodreads Romance Audiobooks group that I moderator several times and people seem to really enjoy the narrator. They’ve indicated some potential issues with some writing in the books, but nothing that totally killed their enjoyment. I like the whole redeemable hero theme in historicals (Sebastian St Vincent from Lisa Kleypas Wallflowers series is one of my all time favorites), and from the description, Dorian fits right into that mould. I found the name Farah to be intriguing and not sure if its entirely historically accruate name(yeah, I like checking those things out), but for now, i’m taking it at face value.

never judge a lady by her coverNever Judge a Lady by Her Cover – Sarah MacLean
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Audio Publisher: HarperAudio

Description:
By day, she is Lady Georgiana, sister to a Duke, ruined before her first season in the worst kind of scandal. But the truth is far more shocking—in London’s darkest corners, she is Chase, the mysterious, unknown founder of the city’s most legendary gaming hell. For years, her double identity has gone undiscovered . . . until now.

Brilliant, driven, handsome-as-sin Duncan West is intrigued by the beautiful, ruined woman who is somehow connected to a world of darkness and sin. He knows she is more than she seems and he vows to uncover all of Georgiana’s secrets, laying bare her past, threatening her present, and risking all she holds dear . . . including her heart.

Initial Thoughts:
Both Sarah MacLean and Justine Eyre are known qualities to me – Sarah is one of my current go-to authors for historical romance, because for the most part her heroines are kick-ass and push the bounds of society – I’ve actually had this book sitting on the to-be-read pile for a little while, so maybe its a sign that I was supposed to listen rather than read. Justine Eyre is one of the narrators that I’ve been coming across more frequently – while i’ve never listened to any of her historical romance narrations, I do like her performance in Nalini Singh’s Archangel series.

sir richard kenworthyThe Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy – Julia Quinn
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Audio Publisher: HarperAudio

Description:
Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second—or third—look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s the one.

Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can’t quite believe it’s all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can’t help thinking that he’s hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

Initial Thoughts:
Julia Quinn is also a known quantity for me – i’ve probably read her entire backlist of the years and while she’s had a few misses here and there, most of her books are solid reads. that being said, i’ll readily admit that I haven’t been totally enarmoured with Rosalyn Landor’s narration in the past (I think i’m probably one of the few in the romance community). I think in part that is because the books i’ve attempted to listen to that she has narrated, have been multiple read favorites and her voices just didn’t match up with my characters. But since I haven’t read this one, here’s hoping, I enjoy more.

A Sorceress of His Own – Dianne Duvall
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Audio Publisher: Tantor Media

Description:
Since the day Lord Dillon earned his spurs, rumors of his savagery on the battlefield have preceded him into every room, stilling tongues and sparking fear. Weary of battle, he wishes only to find a woman he can wed who will approach him not with fear, but with the tenderness that has been absent from his life for so long. Yet only the wisewoman seems invariably at ease in his presence. Perhaps because she garners the same fear in others that he does himself.

For seven years, Alyssa has been by Lord Dillon’s side, counseling him from the shadows, healing him with her hands, and staving off the worst of his loneliness while his fearsome reputation keeps others at bay. Blessed–or cursed–with gifts that label her a sorceress, she is forced to conceal her youth and the love she harbors for him beneath umbral robes that lead Dillon and his people to believe she is the same aged wisewoman who served his father.

All is revealed, however, and passions flare when an enemy threatens Dillon’s life and Alyssa sacrifices everything to save him. When Dillon discovers that the wisewoman is far from elderly, he is instantly entranced. And, as he and Alyssa work together to defeat an enemy bent on destroying them both, Dillon will risk anything–even the wrath of his king–to be with her.

Initial Thoughts:
Dianne Duvall is also a new to me author, although I’ve seen her mentioned many times in different discussion forums. I’ll admit to being intrigued by the idea of a novel that mixes historical with paranormal romance, since those seem to be on the rarer side. I’ve listened to Kristen Potter previously (ironically a couple of years ago when she was nominated for another Audie in the romance category) and I remember enjoying her narration, but for some reason, hadn’t sought out any more books by her.

Initial Prediction of Final Rankings
1. The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy – Julia Quinn, narrated by Rosalyn Landor
2. The Highwayman – Kerrigan Byrne, narrated by Derek Perkins
3. Never Judge a Lady by her Cover – Sarah MacLean, narrated by Justine Eyre
4. A Sorceress of His Own – Dianne Duvall, narrated by Kristin Potter
5. The Duke’s Holiday – Maggie Fenton, narrated by Sue Pitkin

*initial rankings are based on my thoughts on the book description/author; knowledge/experience with narrators

Stay Tuned for posts on Erotica and Paranormal

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2016 in Armchair Audies, Listening Events

 

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Wishlist Wednesday – 12 August 2015

Wishlist WednesdayWishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

Ok, I’ll admit that I did a happy dance when I saw this week’s Wishlist Wednesday book pop up in my coming soon recommendations from Amazon…Lisa Kleypas has been a historical romance favorite of mine for years (I think I’ve read every single one of her historicals, multiple times over the years), however, over the last few years, she has gone the contemporary romance/magical realism/paranormal-ish romance route and personally, I haven’t been a fan of those. So the fact that she has a new historical coming out in October is enough to make me jump with joy.

cold hearted rake

Description:
A twist of fate…
Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.
A clash of wills…
Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

Cold-Hearted Rake will be released by Avon Romance in October 2015

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2015 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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TBR Tuesday – 21 July 15

TBR Tuesday
Silver Lining
Author: Maggie Osborne

Purchased: 20 September 2009
Date Finished: 13 July 2015
Time on TBR: 2123 days

Review After some disappointing TBR books, I was so happy to find one that made me realize why I came to love the historical romance genre. Silver Lining by Maggie Osborne reminded me of so many of the books I cut my romance teeth on back when I was a teenager (and was actually written not long after that time period). The characters in Silver Lining make frequent appearances in the fora of Amazon, especially when it come to talking about names, because the main female goes by Low Down for a portion of the book (rather than her real name of Louise). Personally, for me, I loved see the rough and ready Low Down finding her place in a relationship where she didn’t need to be strong/masculine (as she did in the mining camps) as well as finding the family that she never had growing up. The rest of the book and story was well developed and plausible – it didn’t take too much thought to see what was going to happen next and everything seemed evenly paced (it wasn’t a wham bam thank you ma’am kind of book, but rather took place over a 7-8mth period). The evil other woman (which I really like when done well) was present and for an “innocent young woman” she was definitely not so. I can’t wait to hoping dig into some more books by Ms Osborne in the future.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2015 in TBR Tuesday

 

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TBR Tuesday – 26 May 2015

TBR TuesdayRuthless Heart
Author: Emma Lang

Purchased: July 6, 2010

Review: I’ve been a fan of Emma Lang for years – mostly with the writing under her other name (Beth Williamson) – so I was surprised to find this book loitering on the pile unread – I guess I bought it in a one-click haze and then forgot about it (yeah, I have a tendancy to do this). I will admit that I do prefer her Malloy family series to this book, but that I did enjoy this one more than several of her most recent books – so it was a fairly solid read by her. And I will admit that I am a sucker for a well-written historical western – they are for me, one of my favorite genres – unfortunately, it also seems to be a genre that has fallen out of favor over the last few years. Specifically, in this one, I liked how the prim and proper Eliza and the rough and tumble Grady came together – it was a great meshing of characters with enough suspense to make it enjoyable, without overwhelming the romance side of the house. I’m intrigued enough that I want to check out the other books in this series.

How did you guys do this week – did you find any gems on your TBR?

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2015 in TBR Tuesday

 

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