Risk Taker (Mixed Messages #3) by Lily Morton (audiobook) – Narrated by Joel Leslie

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Being in love with your best friend is hard.

Henry’s the odd man out. All his friends are settling down, and his reputation as the hook-up king of London seems more like a curse than a blessing, these days. Especially when it keeps photojournalist Ivo, his best friend and the brilliant man he’s loved since they were 15, at arm’s length. But that’s where Ivo wants him, right? Putting aside his feelings, Henry decides to give up casual sex and look for the real deal.

After all, he has no chance with Ivo. Or, does he?

Henry is everything to Ivo. Best friend, soul mate, the one person who has never let him down. The one person he is loyal to above everything and everyone. But Henry’s in a box marked best friend, and that’s where Ivo’s kept him for nearly 20 years, despite steadily falling in love with the gentle man. And besides, why would Henry want to date Ivo? Burned out and injured, he’s the walking embodiment of damaged.

Distance has helped Henry and Ivo keep a lid on their attraction, but when they find themselves in the same city for a change -Ivo hurt and needing assistance and Henry more than willing to provide it – the two best friends grow closer than ever, forcing a realization and a decision.

Risk their friendship for their hearts? Or can they have both?

Rating: Narration – A; Content – B+

Risk Taker is book three in Lily Morton’s Mixed Messages series, and in it, the author turns her focus to Henry Ashworth, who is Gabe’s (Rule Breaker) former college roommate and closest friend. Handsome, witty, clever Henry has appeared in both the previous books, coming across as someone who’s got his shit together – although his ability to offer wryly insightful relationship advice when his friends need a little nudge in the right direction is rather at odds with his penchant for casual sex in nightclub toilets. For years, he’s been content with a series of NSA hook-ups, but has lately started to realise that lifestyle isn’t working for him anymore and, having watched his close friends fall in love and settle down, decides it’s time he started looking for something a bit more long-term.

I’m going to find someone who wants me: Henry, the family lawyer who loves his dog, works hard and sometimes comes home late and knackered. Someone who will embrace the life I yearn for. Monogamy and a true partnership that works because the couple love each other.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

In the Requiem (Metahuman Files #5) by Hailey Turner (audiobook) – Narrated by Greg Boudreaux

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Never let go.

Weighed down by scandal, Captain Jamie Callahan must choose between saving his family’s reputation and his father’s political aspirations, or taking down the enemy once and for all. Choosing one over the other will have lasting repercussions he can’t escape. Whatever path Jamie ultimately picks, Staff Sergeant Kyle Brannigan will be right by his side to face the consequences. Kyle knows in a situation like this the only way out is through. Together they can make it to the other side, but surviving that journey will take everything they have.

One last chance.

Agent Sean Delaney is learning what it means to be part of Alpha Team through trial by fire. He wouldn’t change it for the world, nor would he give up the life he’s building with Staff Sergeant Alexei Dvorkin. But their time together is threatened by outside forces they can’t outrun. Having put the nightmare of Boston behind him, Alexei is focused on keeping his family safe, but he can’t have eyes on everyone. Alexei knows he can’t ignore the danger on the horizon, and when it strikes, he is unprepared for the tragedy it leaves in its wake.

Risking it all.

The odds are stacked ever higher against Alpha Team, and outmaneuvering a precog is a daunting, almost impossible task. Jamie knows something has to give, and when it does, it just might break him the way nothing else in his life ever could.

Rating: Narration – A+; Content A-

Oh. My. God. Hailey Turner pulls out all the stops in this, the final** instalment of her military/futuristic Metahumans Files series, bringing the overarching storyline to a thrilling, high-stakes close… but not without leaving a couple of unanswered questions that leave the door ajar for future stories. And it will come as no surprise when I say that Greg Boudreaux – who has done some truly incredible work throughout the series – makes it five for five with a barnstorming performance that had me smiling, sighing, blushing, fuming and sobbing into my dinner.

Besides being the culmination of a plot arc, In the Requiem also features a large number of recurring secondary characters, and while the author does include some backstory and background information about both plot and characters, I don’t think this story will make a great deal of sense if you haven’t read or listened to the books that precede it. I’m assuming that anyone who has made it to this point knows the story so far…

**At time of writing this was the final book, but book six has just been announced.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Hard Pursuit (Delta Force Brotherhood #3) by Sheryl Nantus (audiobook) – Narrated by Rock Engle

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Trey Pierce has spent years helping the Brotherhood, using his computer skills to dig out secrets and help deliver justice. But there’s one mission he’s yet to finish – finding out who killed his best friend. A chance meeting with Ally Sheldon gives him a new lead, one that comes with some baggage.

Executive Ally Sheldon has to find her wayward brother if she wants to save her company. Pretending like nothing is wrong is getting to her. But when the sexy Trey is assigned to her to help her case, focusing on what’s most important is difficult.

Never in his life has Trey been more attracted to a woman, but she’s hiding something. And that something may just destroy them.

Rating: Narration: B-; Content: C+

Hard Pursuit is book three in the Delta Force Brotherhood series of romantic suspense novels by new-to-me author Sheryl Nantus, and although I haven’t read or listened to the other books, I was perfectly able to follow the story here, so it worked fine as a standalone. However, the series title, the cover, the book blurb, the ex-special forces hero – all of that led me to expect a romantic suspense novel complete with heart-pounding, fast moving action scenes and an intense romance developing under pressure… but that isn’t what I got. Rather, Hard Pursuit is the story of a young woman finally learning to step out of the shadows and start to live for herself, and a man driven by revenge learning to let it go and move on with his life. Neither of those are bad things – it’s just not what I was expecting – and the romantic chemistry between them is lukewarm at best.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn (audiobook) – Narrated by Nicol Zanzarella

This title may be downloaded from Audible.

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for her New York City clientele. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancee was doomed to fail is one thing, but weaving a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid….

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions – unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore a deepening connection between them. But the signs are there – irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late….

Rating: Narration – A-; Content: B+

Kate Clayborn arrived on the contemporary romance scene a couple of years ago and made a big splash with her Chance of a Lifetime trilogy which featured three friends who won the lottery. She’s followed up that success with Love Lettering, a gorgeous slow-burn romance featuring a pair of truly likeable characters who, while complete opposites nonetheless complement each other perfectly.

Meg Mackworth has made a name for herself as a calligrapher and hand-letterer, producing beautiful custom-made journals, planners and stationery for the small, boutique paperie owned and run by a friend. But recently, her work has gained a wider audience and she has become something of an internet celebrity; her Instagram “how to” videos get hundreds of thousands of hits, she’s more in demand than ever, and she’s about to move her business to the next level by pitching a new range of designs to a company that will produce and distribute her work far more widely. So things are going well and life is good. Except… it isn’t.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Parental Guidance (Ice Knights #1) by Avery Flynn (audiobook) – Narrated by Tim Paige

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

It wasn’t me.
It was my team.
But as almost co-captain I raised my hand to fix it.
Never imagined they’d arrange a PR stunt to make me look like Mr. Right to someone my mom picks out on some new dating app.
Then my salvation walks into the restaurant.

Zara Ambrose.

The five-foot-nothing redhead with more freckles than inches that I convinced to go on five dates with me for all the world to see.
She’s got her own reasons for our set up–and her own rules.
But somewhere between the couples’ obstacle course, wrestling matches with her Great Dane, and fights over mashed potatoes, Zara went from means-to-an-end to something so much more.
What happens when you start to fall for the one girl you can’t have…on live TV?

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B-

Having enjoyed Avery Flynn’s Tomboy last year, I wanted to try something else of hers so I picked up Parental Guidance, the first book in her Ice Knights series. We were introduced to the hockey team in Tomboy – that book’s hero, Zach Blackwood, was an Ice Knights’ defenceman – and here, we meet Caleb Stuckey, another Ice Knights player who needs to rehabilitate his public image. A video in which he’s seen NOT shutting down his team-mates when they start talking like a bunch of misogynistic arseholes goes viral, resulting in a chewing out from his coach, the team’s PR manager AND his mother (a famous junior hockey coach) – which is how he ends up agreeing to do something “…to change the narrative and give everyone something else to talk about besides what dickheads you all are. “

That something is a publicity stunt involving the Bramble dating app. The deal? He has to go on five dates with a woman his mum picks out for him; afterwards, he and his mum film a little post-date chat, his date and her mum do the same, and Bramble can use the videos in their publicity. After all, if, after the disastrous video, they can make Caleb dateable, they’ll be able to do the same for anyone. Right?

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Trusting Miss Trentham (Baleful Godmother #2) by Emily Larkin (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon</a.

Letitia Trentham is noteworthy for three reasons. One, she’s extremely wealthy. Two, she can distinguish truth from lies. Three, she’s refused every man who’s ever proposed to her.

Until Letty receives a proposal she can’t turn down.

Icarus Reid barely survived the Battle of Vimeiro. He lives for one thing – to find the man who betrayed him to the French. He doesn’t want to marry Miss Trentham; he wants to use her talent for uncovering lies.

Suddenly, Letty finds herself breaking the rules, pretending to be someone she’s not, and doing things a lady would never do. But her hunt for the truth may uncover more than one secret – including the secret that haunts Icarus day and night. The secret he intends to take to his grave….

Rating: Narration – A; Content B+

Trusting Miss Trentham is the second full-length novel in Emily Larkin’s historical-with-a-touch-of-the-paranormal Baleful Godmother series, which features a group of young women who have been granted magical ‘gifts’ by their faerie godmother. (There is a novella – Resisting Miss Merryweather – between book one, Unmasking Miss Appleby, and this one, but it’s not necessary to have read or listened to either of them to enjoy this instalment). Each of the ladies is allowed to choose their gift – although they must choose carefully, as the aforementioned faerie godmother is not the benevolent sort so often found in fairy tales and will trick them if she can – and in this story, our heroine, Leticia Trentham, has chosen to be able to hear when someone is lying to her.

There’s a good reason for this choice. Letty is heiress to a massive fortune and knew that she would need to be able to tell the difference between a man who wanted her for herself and one who wanted her for her money. Now aged twenty-eight, the more than two hundred marriage proposals she has received in the years since her come out at twenty-one have all been made by fortune hunters, and now, she rather despairs of ever finding a man who can tell her honestly that he isn’t just after her money. She knows she doesn’t have much else to recommend her; she’s not pretty or possessed of the other sorts of qualities likely to attract a husband. She doesn’t simper or defer and she’s intelligent and not afraid to show it – which isn’t exactly a sought-after quality on the marriage mart. She has just turned down yet another would-be suitor when she is approached by a tall, gaunt man with a military bearing and an undeniable air of exhaustion who has heard of her uncanny ability to be able to tell truth from lies – and who asks for her help.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Crashing Upwards by S.C. Wynne (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

This title is available to download from Audible via Amazon

Harper Jones is a professional bike courier, and in his business if you don’t ride fast, you don’t make money. His apartment has mice, he’s barely able to scrape up the rent, but at least he’s living life on his terms and doesn’t depend on anyone.

Sam Foster is the gay son of a wealthy conservative senator. He’s noticed Harper before when he’s dropped off packages at his dad’s company, but he’s never had the nerve to speak to his secret crush.

When Sam accidentally hits Harper with his car, Harper’s bike is destroyed and he’s injured seriously enough that he won’t be delivering packages for a while. Sam decides Harper needs rescuing, and he moves in with Harper to take care of him.

Unfortunately, Sam’s politician dad is convinced Harper’s a con-artist and he’ll do whatever it takes to get him away from his son.

Rating: Narration – B; Content – C-

Crashing Upwards is a fairly low-drama romance by a new-to-me author, and I picked up the audio to review partly because some of my online friends enjoyed the book, partly because it’s a LAMBDA award winner, and partly because Kale Williams is narrating. I suspect that the award-winner status raised my expectations somewhat, because while the story is engaging enough, it doesn’t really have anything new to offer, and the characters, while likeable, are nothing I haven’t read or listened to before.

That said, the way the two protagonists meet IS unusual. I can’t call it a meet-cute, not when Sam Foster hits Harper Jones with his car, knocks him off his bike and lands him in hospital. Harper regains consciousness to find an unfamiliar man sitting by his hospital bed, apologising and telling him that he’ll take care of him and that his father will pay for a new bike and whatever else he needs. As Harper gradually starts to get a clearer picture of what’s happened, he understands that the man – who introduces himself as Sam Foster – is apologising for hitting him with his car and telling him not to worry about the medical bills or, indeed, about anything because he’ll deal with it all. Harper, who has supported himself since he was sixteen and now earns his living as a bike messenger, can’t NOT worry – about the bills, about his job, about making the rent – so being told he shouldn’t isn’t exactly helping.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.