Thief of Dreams (Court of Dreams #1) by Bec McMaster

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Twenty brides. One prince. Who will survive when the competition turns deadly?

When Prince Keir of the Court of Dreams sends out a summons in search of a bride, the Wraith King sees a chance to steal the powerful Dragon’s Heart. He sends his best thief, Zemira Az Ghul, to penetrate the court as one of the potential brides.

All Zemira wants is freedom from the chains that bind her to the king, and if she finds the relic she’ll have it. But the Court of Dreams is more dangerous than she ever expected, and Zemira must soon choose between her freedom—and her heart.

Rating: B-

Thief of Dreams, book one in Bec McMasters Court of Dreams series originally appeared in the Of Thrones and Crowns anthology in 2019 and was republished separately earlier this year.  It’s novella length and sets up the storyline that will (I suspect) run throughout what I believe is going to be a trilogy, so while Thief of Dreams does contain a complete story, it also ends with something of a cliffhanger,  and serves as an introduction to the overarching plot.  The author sets up the main romantic pairing – and if the chemistry hinted at here is continued, then I can’t wait for the rest! – and while I was a bit disappointed things didn’t progress very far on that front, I was also pleased that the author wisely decided there wasn’t time for bedroom scenes or an HEA in the 126 pages that comprise this instalment.

As was the case with the author’s recent Promise of Darkness, I found the first person, present tense narration off-putting.   I understand why first person is necessary in a story like this – it seems to be the preferred style for YA and many contemporary romances – I just don’t care for it, and it took me a while to get used to it.  Actually, it took me longer than it should have done to read 126 pages, and that was partly because of my dislike of this narrative style (and partly because I was listening to an amazing audiobook and didn’t want to stop!)

Once I got back to Thief of Dreams, however, I found it bears all the hallmarks of a Bec McMaster read; a kick-ass heroine, a dangerous, sexy hero and extensive worldbuilding done in a way that flows naturally and never feels like an info-dump; there was (I think) one point at which I felt I was reading a list rather than information that unfolded naturally.  BUT – while the author generally disseminates the information subtly, there’s a LOT of it to absorb here concerning the various fae courts and magic systems, and it all feels a bit rushed and superficial.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

Wayward (Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords #4) by Gregory Ashe

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Emery Hazard is trying to plan his wedding, even though his fiancé, John-Henry Somerset, isn’t exactly making things easy for him. To be fair, Somers has been distracted lately; his father is running for mayor in a hotly contested election, and their hometown is splintering under the weight of divisive politics.

In a matter of hours, those poisonous politics invade Hazard’s life in a way he couldn’t have imagined. Glenn Somerset, Somers’s father, shows up on their doorstep, and he wants two things: first, for Hazard to neutralize a blackmail threat; and second, for Somers temporarily to move out of the house he shares with Hazard, part of public relations stunt to win the election. To Hazard’s shock, Somers agrees.

Determined to lose himself in his work, Hazard takes on a missing person’s case, but his investigation only leads him deeper into the tangled web of small-town politics. To find the truth, he must face off with the viciously rich who rule Wahredua—and with the poor, desperate, and marginalized, who fight just as viciously in their own way.

When Hazard’s investigation uncovers a murder, he is forced to work with Somers to bring the killer to justice, despite their fractured relationship. But the sudden news that Hazard’s father is failing fast threatens to put an untimely end to the case—and, in doing so, jeopardize Somers’s last-ditch effort to repair his relationship with his own father.

Rating: A

Having written over a dozen reviews of Gregory Ashe’s books over the last couple of years, I really am running out of ways to express just how damn good they are!  So forgive me for repeating myself when I say that Wayward, book four in the second Hazard and Somerset series, A Union of Swords is another fantastic combination of tightly-plotted, twisty mystery and complex and compelling romantic relationship which Mr. Ashe continues to examine with laser-sharp insight.  The wry observation, humour, snarky dialogue and fantastic storytelling readers have come to expect from this author are all present and correct in this penultimate instalment of the series, as our two favourite dysfunctional detectives – now an engaged couple – struggle with many of the same day-to-day relationship issues as the rest of us while working hard to clean up the streets of Wahredua. *grin*

The last book, Transactional Dymanics, really put Hazard and Somers’ relationship to the test, with the re-appearance of Hazard’s abusive ex and the resurgence of Somers’ tendency to retreat into a bottle as an avoidance tactic.  It’s always hard to read them when they’re at odds and hurting each other as they work through their issues, but there’s always the sense that they’re bound together by a  bedrock of love and committment that keeps them firmly anchored to each other.  By the end of that book, they’re back on an even keel and as much in love as ever.  But this is Gregory Ashe, and if you’ve got this far, you’ll know all too well that that tends to signal the calm before the storm 😉

Wayward begins a few weeks after Transactional Dynamics and Hazard is grumbling about wedding plans as he and Somers spend a relaxed evening with their neighbours Noah and Rebecca, and their friendship group – Dulac and Darnell, Wesley (the local pastor) and his girlfriend, Mitchell Martin – who narrowly escaped the Keeper of Bees in The Rational Faculty – and even Nico, who I was really pleased to see growing up and acting like a proper friend in this book.  But we’re not allowed to bask in their domesticity for too long; a day later, after an exhausting day during which he and Dulac were asked to handle an upsetting custody exchange, Somers’ father shows up to throw several cats in among the pigeons.

Glennworth Somerset is front-runner in the upcoming mayoral elections (the lesser of two evils – it’s him or Naomi Malsho!) and wants to hire Hazard to find out who is behind the blackmail threats he’s begun to get recently.  Hazard is reluctant, but Somerset Snr. reminds him of a deal they struck a while back – and he’s calling in the debt.  But that’s not the only debt he’s collecting.  With the election just two weeks away, he reminds John of an agreement they reached (most likely over the loan to start Hazard’s business) and asks Somers to  temporarily move out of the house he shares with Hazard in an attempt to sway undecided voters who don’t like the idea of having a mayor with a queer son.  Knowing how many times Somers has raised the figurative finger to his parents, or told his father to plain fuck off, Hazard waits to hear it this time.  And waits.  But what he’s forgotten to take into account is that Somers, while having spent most of his life rebelling against his father, nonetheless craves his approval – and Somers, knowing it’s just a stunt and that nothing about it is real, misreads the situation and doesn’t say no.  Furious, hurt and utterly disgusted, Hazard storms out in an attempt to calm down – and returns home to find Somers already gone.

The day after Somers moves out, a young woman enters Hazard’s office saying she wants to hire him to find her missing sister.  Something about Courtney Vega is familiar, and Hazard realises that the sister she wants to find – Donna May Plenge – is none other than the antifa activist who disrupted the tree-lighting ceremony last Christmas and assaulted and threatened to kill a police officer (Police Brutality).  Donna has a history of sudden disappearances but she has always – so far – returned to Wahredua, and this last time, she made it clear she intended to stay for good, because she was going to stick around for her four-year-old daughter, Dolores, and possibly get back together with Dolores’ father, Josh Dobbs, the son of a local well-to-do family.  Dolores had, until recently been living with Donna’s parents, and is the little girl Somers and Dulac had to escort from her grandparent’s home the day before.  But Donna has disappeared again, and Courtney doesn’t believe she’s simply run off this time.

The mystery is complicated and of course nothing is as it seems.  None of the leads Courtney gives Hazard pan out; Donna isn’t at any of her local haunts, the last people to see her are all telling similar but not-quite-the-same stories, and it quickly becomes apparent that he’s been sent on a wild goose chase.  When a hunch leads him to find Donna’s body hidden in the boathouse on the grounds of the Dobbs’ residence, it’s time to call the cops.

The involvement of Somers (and Dulac) in the murder investigation sees Hazard and Somers having to find a way to work together, which isn’t easy, given that Hazard is still furious at Somers and hardly speaking to him.  At the same time, Hazard is working on the job he agreed to do for Somers’ father, and when his enquiries lead him to a bit of late night B&E, Somers insists on tagging along. This leads to one of the best scenes in the book, when the two of them slip effortlessly into their old patterns of working together.  It’s glorious and silly and funny and perfect; they’re feeling the old, familiar rhythm between them, and it’s the best either of them has felt in days.

The mystery is solved and the blackmailer is found  by the end, but as always in this series, Hazard and Somers and their complicated, angsty relationship are the big draw, and wow, is Gregory Ashe delivering an amazing story there.  I admit that when I read the synopsis for Wayward I worried I was going to end up disliking Somers (much as I love Hazard, Somers is my boy!) but that never happened, because Mr. Ashe does a superb job of not taking sides, showing that they’re both wrong and both right.  Somers doesn’t immediately see why what he’s agreed to is a big deal – he and Hazard are going to spend the rest of their lives together, so in the grand scheme of things, living apart for two weeks isn’t a long time.  It doesn’t take Somers long to realise he’s made a serious error of judgement, but Hazard’s refusal to communicate or engage makes it impossible for any attempt at hashing everything out.  The rumours about their ‘break-up’ being permanent which quickly start to circulate don’t help the situation, and only add to Hazard’s already big pile of insecurities.  Hazard sees Somers’ willingness to do as his father asks as a personal rejection and betrayal of everything they’ve built together, and on top of the hurt and fear and low self-esteem that’s been fostered by scumbags like Billy Rolker, the events of the previous summer and his continued refusal to admit to or get treatment for his PTSD, are making it harder and harder for Hazard to control his temper and his emotions. It’s like trying to keep a faulty lid on a pressure cooker; steam is leaking out around the edges and it’s only a matter of time until it blows.  And right now, that’s Emery Hazard.  His tendency to retreat inside himself and shut everyone out when his emotions start to get the better of him is increasing, in spite of his promise to try to be more open, so here, he just shuts down and shuts John out – and watching him spiralling out of control and getting so dangerously close to the edge in this book was a heart-breaking punch to the gut (please, Mr. Ashe, let him get some therapy soon!).

This is probably the closest the couple has come to a real split, and there are times it’s really difficult to see how they’re ever going to be able to pull back from the brink.  Yet scenes like the one I mentioned earlier really do help both of them to remember why they’re so good together, and a slow but solid rapprochement begins.

The other thread running through the story is one about father/son relationships.  Readers got some insight into Somers’ family dynamic in Paternity Case; he was something of a rebel, marrying Cora against his parents’ wishes, becoming a police officer instead of going to law school; he thumbed his nose at his parents every way he could, and yet it was also clear that he desperately wanted validation from his father.  In Reasonable Doubt, we met Frank Hazard, who is dying from cancer, and while the Hazard men’s relationship is different, the underlying theme of wanting a father’s approval isn’t too dissimilar.

And in the end, it’s family and those fraught relationships that finally seal the cracks in Hazard and Somers’ bruised hearts and battered relationship.  A family emergency forces some soul-searching and re-evaluation of what it means to be a family, and by the end of the novel – and in a lovely and somewhat whimsical final scene – Hazard and Somers recommit to each other all over again.

On top of all this, Darnell and Dulac are still on-off, Somers makes an unsettling discovery and the Keeper of Bees is still out there, just waiting to strike again.  Hazard is no closer to working out their identity (and neither are we) and I’m sure that by now, we’re all scrutinising the actions of every other character in each book and wondering if it could be them! (I have no idea, but I’m notoriously bad at working out whodunit!)

Wayward has plenty of the humour and snarky banter that are the hallmarks of the series – and the author’s work in general – but Emery and John spend a lot of the book on the outs, and it’s hard to read them hurting and wounding each other so badly.  But – and I know I’ve said this before – Gregory Ashe’s ability to focus in on what makes both men and their relationship tick is incredible, and the fact that he can pull off a story like this and make it so relatable and convincing is testament to his skill as an author.  If you’ve come this far with Ree and John, then you won’t want to miss this instalment in the Union of Swords series; just prepare yourself for a bumpy ride.

Redeeming the Reclusive Earl by Virginia Heath

This title may be purchased from Amazon

His heart is a fortress.

And she’s trespassing!

After losing all he holds dear in a horrific fire, Max Aldersley, Earl of Rivenhall, shuns the world – until he catches Effie Nithercott digging holes on his estate! He banishes the intrepid archaeologist and the unsettled feelings she rouses within him. But she returns even more determined and infuriatingly desirable than before! He wonders just how deep she is prepared to dig – so far she’ll reach the man beneath his scars…?

Rating: A-

Another winner from Virginia Heath in the form of this lovely, funny, warm and sexy grumpy-reclusive-hero-meets-breath-of-fresh-air-heroine story that is easily one of the best historical romances I’ve read in a while.

Badly injured in a ship-board fire he barely survived, and then unceremoniously dumped by his beautiful but shallow fiancée, Max Aldersley, Earl of Rivenhall, has holed up on his Cambridgeshire estate, and intends to remain there, licking his wounds (metaphorically) for… well, ever, if he has his own way.  The last thing he wants is to find himself distracted from his wallowing by a breeches-wearing, challenging and rather lovely female who insists on digging up bits of his land in the name of archaeology – and he tells his irritating trespasser so in no uncertain terms.

Miss Effie Nithercott has dedicated her life to the study of antiquities, and is dismayed at the prospect of having to discontinue her work.  She’s nearly thirty and unmarried – the man she had planned to marry was killed in the war – and she has resigned herself to spinsterhood and a life spent in academic pursuits.  Her dream is to have one of her papers published by the Society of Antiquities, but they will not even look at her work because she’s a woman; even so, she continues to write and send them… and to receive them back unopened.

She refuses to give up her dig without a fight, and in the face of yet another refusal, starts digging alone in the dark – and Max eventually gives in, citing the threat to her personal safety as the reason, and allows her to continue with her excavations in the daylight. Not long afterwards, she finds herself entertaining a lordly guest who just happens to come by “accidentally” every day to share her lunch, listen to her talk about her discoveries and whom she manages to persuade to wield a pick-axe on occasion.

Virginia Heath has penned a lovely, slow-burn romance full of chemistry, affection, tenderness and teasing between two people who have found themselves on the outside through no fault of their own. Effie is neuroatypical;  her mind is always on the go, she has a huge thirst and capacity for knowledge and she’s possessed of an eidetic memory.  She’s known she was ‘odd’ all her life; men have been attracted to her, but have been intimidated by the intelligence she’s unable to hide.  She can’t simper and flirt as other women do, she’s too much herself to try to be anything she is not and she speaks her mind, often without thinking first; none of these qualities men look for in a wife.

Max, however, is fascinated by Effie’s mind and the way it works.  He’s physically attracted to her, too, but her inquisitiveness and amazing capacity for joy in her work delight him.  He’s reluctant to let her in, to tell her about and let her see all the ways the fire he survived damaged him inside and out; but as he begins to see and understand the obstacles she has faced – and continues to face – he slowly starts to let her in.  I cheered at the moment when Effie calls Max on his wallowing, and reminds him that he has far more choices in life than she does – and again later, when he finally understands what she’s been telling him:

The world was made for men and brutally unfair to a woman as brilliant as her.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the book is the way the author imbues it with a feminist message without hitting readers over the head with it.  Effie is unusual and rather eccentric, but her quirkiness is a properly established character trait, and not just a way for her to go around telling everyone how unconventional she is.  Another is that Effie absolutely refuses to pity Max for his scars or for what caused them and what happened after.  She understands a terrible thing happened to him, and helps him to see that:

“We all have a choice, Max. We can either fact it fighting or let it beat us and win.”

I was also pleased at the way Max’s sister, Eleanor is portrayed.  Often, a character such as she is interfering and annoying,  but here, it’s very clear that Eleanor (and okay, so she is one for interfering!) loves her brother very much – she leaves her own family for weeks at a time because she’s worried about him – and wants him to be happy.  I liked her kindness and sense of humour, and the friendship that developed between her and Effie.

Redeeming the Reclusive Earl is a gorgeously romantic, sensual love story featuring two lonely souls who are perfect one another.

Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

After a traumatic event, Winter Aeling finds himself destitute and penniless in the backwater town of Mallowick. He needs to travel to the city of Serein and impart grave news that will bring war to the Empire, but without a horse, money, and with not a soul willing to help him, he has no choice but to line up with the common folk seeking paid work on the harvest.

As wagons roll into the market square and farmers choose day laborers, Winter is singled out for abuse by a brute of a farmer. The only man who stands up for him is the farmer’s beguiling son, Adam, and on locking eyes with the swarthy young man Winter feels the immediate spark of attraction.

Winter soon realizes there is a reason he has been drawn to Blackdown Farm. The farmer possesses a precious item that was stolen long ago from Winter’s family, and he determines to retrieve it. He also cannot take his eyes off Adam, and as the young man opens up Winter can’t help wondering if Adam is just kind or his kind!

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – C

Isobel Starling’s Apple Boy is book one in a series of fantasy romantic adventures entitled The Quiet Work, set in the fictitious land of The Empire of Osia. In this story, a lordling and a farm boy set out on a journey, and end up uncovering a political conspiracy and discovering something about themselves that will change them forever. The story is quite interesting, but the pacing is slow until near the end, and I felt the whole thing could have been shortened by a third and none of the important plotlines would have been lost. I’ll also warn prospective listeners that the book ends on a cliffhanger – although it seems that the next one will feature different characters in main roles.

Our PoV character in Apple Boy is Winter Aeling, son of the Duke of Thorn, who, for reasons not yet explained, has arrived in the small town of Mallowick with only the clothes on his back and no way of getting home unless he can earn some money to pay for transportation. He gets work at an orchard run by the despotic farmer Col Sewell, where his eye is immediately caught by Sewell’s handsome son, Adam. Also catching his eye is the ring the farmer wears, which not only bears Winter’s own family crest, but also contains a magical Star-fall stone. Over the next few days, Win manages to spend some time with Adam – enough to recognise that he likely shares Win’s sexual preferences – but can’t allow his attraction to the other man to prevent him from leaving the farm to travel to the capital city of Serein in order to speak to the Great Council there. When he leaves – having managed to swipe the Star-fall – Adam insists on going with him, and Win then explains why it’s so important for him to get to Serein and how he came to be in Mallowick. Win had been aboard ship on his way to visit his uncle Ivon when he discovered that the ship – the Trojan Star – was carrying slaves. Appalled, Win refused to stay silent and foolishly confronted the captain about it with the result that both he and his valet were thrown overboard – and only Win survived. So now, he wants to inform the Great Council about the slaves, in the hope that perhaps its powerful members can find a way to free them and punish whoever is responsible for their transportation.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

The New Normal (Gold Coast Collage #1) by L.J. Hayward

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Brian Stagliano’s life should be pretty sweet right now. Two of his closest friends are getting married, and he’s taking a new, exciting step in his career as a doctor. Most amazing though, his best mate has been given the all clear from cancer. But Brian’s normal has just been tipped A over T and the friendship he’s relied on for years is in danger. All because of five little words.

Andrew Fitzroy should be on top of the world. The cancer that’s haunted him is gone. He can finally get on with his life—except he doesn’t know what that life is anymore. Is he brave enough to come out as bisexual? Should he pursue architecture or stay in construction? Either way, Andrew knows happiness won’t be his until he has what his engaged friends have—love, joy, passion. So, he says those five little words to Brian—I’m in love with you.

Friends since childhood, Brian and Andrew have always been closer than brothers. Best mates. Nothing could ever tear them apart. Except for those five little words. Now, Brian’s not sure about so many things—their friendship, his own desires—and the foundation Andrew’s built his world on feels like its crumbling. But if they manage not to destroy everything they have together, Andrew and Brian might just find a new normal with each other.

Rating: B

L.J. Hayward’s action-packed, sexy romantic suspense Death and the Devil series is one of my absolute favourites, and if you’re a fan of the genre and haven’t read it, then you’re missing out big time.  Having loved those books for many reasons, not least of which were the strong characterisation, dialogue and writing, I eagerly picked up the author’s newest release, The New Normal, which is her first foray into contemporary romance and book one in her Gold Coast Collage series, set in and around the Australian city of the same name. It’s an engaging, well-written story featuring a group of long-standing friends in their mid-twenties that asks the question – what happens to a friendship that’s lasted for two decades when one friend tells another – his best friend and housemate – that he’s in love with him?

Andrew Fitzroy and Brian Stagliano have been best friends for almost all their lives and, now in their mid-twenties, they share a house and a Russian Blue, called either Schrodinger (according to Brian) or Archimedes (according to Andrew).  Brian, a junior doctor, is about to start his Accident and Emergency rotation at the local hospital, and Andrew works for a construction company; they’ve got a great group of friends, two of whom have recently announced their engagement, and best of all, Andrew has just got the all-clear from cancer.  The last couple of years have been tough, but Brian was there for him through all of it, with him at every appointment, driving him to and from surgery and every chemo session, recognising the resulting depression and helping him through it.  Andrew has come out the other side and is doing really well.  Life is good.

But a night out takes a weird and unexpected turn when Andrew gets plastered and, on the way home, tells Brian he’s in love with him.  Brian tries to shrug it off, but Andrew is adamant.  He doesn’t just love Brian as a friend, he’s IN love with him.  Brian is completely blindsided and has no idea what to do with that – and the next few days pass awkwardly as he and Andrew either deliberately avoid seeing each other, or avoid talking when they can’t avoid each other.  But Andrew’s declaration sets Brian thinking.  He’s never questioned his sexuality;  he doesn’t really do casual sex, but he’s had a couple of girlfriends in the past, and while he may not have been in love with them,  they were good friends and he cared about them and enjoyed their company.  Andrew, however, is a different matter entirely.  The more Brian thinks about it, the more he realises that what he feels for Andrew is nothing like the way he felt about his girlfriends… or anyone, really.  Plus, when he looks at him – really looks at him – Brian starts to realise that while Andrew is, objectively, an attractive man, the attraction he’s feeling is far from objective.  He really is attracted to his best friend, and Andrew’s declaration of love is (kind of) the permission he’d needed to let himself go there.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

Syncopation (Twisted Wishes #1) by Anna Zabo (audiobook) – Narrated by Greg Boudreaux

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer – insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems – something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band – or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

Rating: Narration – A+; Content: B+

Anna Zabo’s Twisted Wishes series centres around the four-person rock group of the same name which, in this first book, is poised to make the big-time. Book one, Syncopation, is a really enjoyable, very sexy story; the band members are all interesting and clearly drawn, and the author does a great job of describing the claustrophobic atmosphere of life on the road, the thrills and utter exhilaration of live performance (and the exhaustion that follows) and the dedication and hard work that have got Twisted Wishes to this point in its career.

When the book opens, however, the band has hit a rather large snag. Their drummer has just quit following a public row between him and front man Ray Van Zeller, and a video – together with screaming headlines like DRUNKEN VAN ZELLER ATTACKS SCHMIDT AS TWISTED WISHES IMPLODES – has just hit the media sites. The band’s manager, Carl (who it’s clear from the outset, has it in for Ray for some reason), wants Ray to take the fall and blame the fight on an alcohol problem he doesn’t have, but Kevin’s departure leaves the band with a far more pressing problem. Just weeks away from going on tour as a support act to a major band, they’re without a drummer – and need to find one asap.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Risk Assessment (Cabrini Law #1) by Parker St. John (audiobook) – Narrated by Kirt Graves

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

All they have left is their pride.

Elliot Smith was once a hotshot attorney, but those days are long gone. A midlife crisis of conscience has left him with shattered confidence, abandoned by his former friends and scraping by at a legal aid clinic. When a smoking hot bad boy rescues him from the side of the road, Elliot is sure he doesn’t stand a chance.

After a misspent youth boosting cars, Lucas Kelly runs his own garage and is finally getting his life back on track. He isn’t about to risk everything by daring to hope for something more, especially not with a man so far above his pay grade.

The heat between them is enough to have them questioning everything they thought they knew about themselves. But is explosive chemistry enough to keep them together when Elliot’s career threatens to drive them apart?

Rating: Narration – B; Content – C

Risk Assessment is book one in new-to-me author Parker St. John’s Cabrini Law series, featuring members of the team who work for a legal aid clinic somewhere in Oregon. It’s relatively short, coming in at just over five and a half hours, and the story is nothing I haven’t heard or read before, but it was an undemanding listen and Kirt Graves’ accomplished narration made the time pass pleasantly enough.

Elliot Smith was a highly successful corporate lawyer with a salary and lifestyle to match until, on his fortieth birthday he realised he’d had enough of representing sleazy real-estate defrauders and feeling like he didn’t recognise himself anymore. So he pulled a Jerry Maguire, left his job and old life behind and went to work for a non-profit legal aid firm. He’s been with the Cabrini Law Clinic for around a year, and while he works long hours for a lot less pay, the work itself is generally much more rewarding. On the downside, he’s the wrong side of forty and still single, having split up with his boyfriend of five years (who was cheating on him) and has no social life or friends beyond the office.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.