Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7) by Annabeth Albert (audiobook) – Narrated by Greg Boudreaux

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

The camping trip from hell may be the first stop on the road to happily-ever-after.

Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi has a soft spot for Canaan Finley, and not only because the man makes a mean smoothie. He’s the first guy to get Renzo’s motor revving in a long time. But when he agrees to Canaan’s insane charade—one all-access fake boyfriend, coming right up—he never expects more than a fling.

Creating a hot Italian SEAL boyfriend to save face seemed like a good idea…until his friends called Canaan’s bluff. Now he’s setting off into the woods with the very man who inspired his deception, and Canaan is not the outdoorsy type. The sparks are already flying when a flash flood separates them from their group, leaving Renzo and Canaan very much trapped…very much alone in the wilderness.

Working together to come up with a plan for survival is sexier than either of them expects. But back in the real world, being a couple is bringing its own set of hazards…

Rating: Narration – A+ : Content – B+

Rough Terrain is the seventh and final book in Annabeth Albert’s consistently entertaining Out of Uniform series. It’s always hard to say goodbye to favourite characters and the worlds they inhabit, but it’s a series I revisit regularly in audio as all the books are excellently performed, making it well worth investing the extra time needed to listen as opposed to read them.

We met Renzo “Rooster” (he hates the stupid nickname!) Bianchi in earlier books in the series, and if you’ve read or listened to any of them, you’ll remember he makes fitness videos which have gained him a large online following. He’s good-looking, super fit (well, he’s a SEAL, so I suppose he’d have to be!) and comes from a large, close-knit Italian-American family he loves very much and misses a lot; to that end, he’s recently applied for a posting nearer home, but doesn’t really expect it to happen. His family members all accept his bisexuality, although he knows his mother secretly hopes that when he does eventually settle down it’ll be with a woman so he can get started on giving her (yet more) grandchildren.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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Riven (Riven #1) by Roan Parrish (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma and Chris Chambers

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Theo Decker might be the lead singer of Riven, but he hates being a rock star. The paparazzi, the endless tours, being recognized everywhere he goes – it all makes him squirm. The only thing he doesn’t hate is the music. Feeling an audience’s energy as they lose themselves in Riven’s music is a rush unlike anything else…until he meets Caleb Blake Whitman. Caleb is rough and damaged, yet his fingers on his guitar are pure poetry. And his hands on Theo? They’re all he can think about. But Caleb’s no groupie – and one night with him won’t be enough.

Just when Caleb is accepting his new life as a loner, Theo Decker slinks into it and turns his world upside down. Theo’s sexy and brilliant and addictively vulnerable, and all Caleb wants is another hit. And another. That’s how he knows Theo’s trouble. Caleb can’t even handle performing these days. How the hell is he going to survive an affair with a tabloid superstar? But after Caleb sees the man behind the rock star, he begins to wonder if Theo might be his chance at a future he thought he’d lost forever.

Rating: Narration – B+/B- : Content – B

I picked up Riven mostly because I’d recently read and loved its follow up, Rend, but also because I’d so enjoyed Iggy Toma’s performance in Heart of the Steal, which Ms. Parrish co-authored with Avon Gale, and was keen to listen to more of his work. Riven is a poignant, beautifully written story about two men drawn together by their love of music; and the way the author writes about music and how it works and what it means to both characters is vividly descriptive. The prose is often lyrical – very appropriately so given the subject matter – and while on the surface this might seem like a fairly simple love story, the themes running through it are anything but, as one character battles addiction and the other must leave behind a past filled with indifference and rejection and learn to live for himself if he’s to find true happiness.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Driven to Distraction (Road to Love #1) by Lori Foster (audiobook) – Narrated by John Lane

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

When desire gets this hot, you’d better buckle up…

Mary Daniels doesn’t let anything get in the way of her job acquiring rare artifacts for her wealthy boss. But this particular obstacle – huge, hard-muscled, unashamedly masculine – is impossible to ignore. Stuck in a cramped car with Brodie Crews for hours en route to their new assignment, Mary feels her carefully crafted persona – and her trademark self-control – is slipping, and she won’t allow it.

Brodie can’t imagine what secret in Mary’s past has left her so buttoned-up, though he’d dearly love to find out. Maybe then she’d trust him enough to explore their explosive chemistry. But he needs this job, so he’ll play by her rules and bide his time…until an enemy determined to outwit them strikes and he needs to get close – in every way – to protect her. Otherwise they could lose much more than a precious collectible. They could lose it all.

Rating: Narration – B+ : Content – C+

Lori Foster’s Driven to Distraction is the first book in her Road to Love series which features the two Crews brothers – Brodie and Jack – who run a high-end transport and courier service. It’s a fairly run-of-the-mill affair overall; we’ve got a buttoned-up heroine meeting a laid-back, super-hot hero who is determined to unbutton her, but the plot is sparse, the pacing drags in the middle and there are just too many tired clichés in evidence for this to be a truly riveting listen.

Mary Daniels has an unusual job working for Therman Ritter, a wealthy collector who sends her all over the country to pick up the various unique, valuable – and sometimes not completely legal – items he buys at auction. These trips are frequently last minute and can sometimes take Mary into some dodgy locations, so she is usually accompanied by a driver. As the story begins, she’s making her way to the office of the Mustang Courier Transport Service, which is the new firm her boss has decided to use to ferry Mary to wherever she needs to go.

When she arrives, the first thing she sees is a gorgeous, half-naked man working under the hood of a car while he’s ogled and (to Mary’s disgust) fondled by the young woman who’s practically draped herself over him. (Was she was looking for his torque-wrench?!) Mary isn’t impressed; the man is too casual and arrogant and flirtatious – and nowhere near as charming as he thinks he is… but of course, he turns out to be the guy her boss wants to be her driver.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Duke that I Marry (Spinster Heiresses #3) by Cathy Maxwell (audiobook) – Narrated by Mary Jane Wells

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Once upon a time there were three young ladies who, despite their fortunes, had been on the marriage mart a bit too long. They were known as “the Spinster Heiresses”….

Is it wrong for a woman to want more?

Not if she is a Spinster Heiress. They do not settle. Any young miss would be very lucky to find herself promised to a man like the duke of Camberly. However, Miss Willa Reverly has watched her friends marry for love. Camberly may be the prize of the season, but she will not be “sold” to any man. She wants his devotion or she wants nothing at all.

When is a marriage of convenience inconvenient?

Newly named to the ducal title, Matthew Addison is determined to discover the secrets behind Mayfield, the bankrupt estate he has inherited. He doesn’t have time to coddle a headstrong heiress who is determined to ditch him over something as silly as “love”. Little does he know that his questions will place her in jeopardy. Now, he must do what he must to save them both.

Could it be that in running from danger, they might be racing headlong into a truly unexpected fate: falling in love?

Rating: Narration – B+ : Content – C

The Duke That I Marry is the final book in Cathy Maxwell’s trilogy of Spinster Heiresses novels, which features a group of three friends, all of them with massive dowries. In the first book, we were introduced to Leonie, Cassandra and Willa as they passed the time at all the various events to which they were endlessly invited by playing a game in which they scored points for attracting the notice of the Ton’s most eligible bachelor, the young, incredibly handsome (and incredibly broke) Matthew Addison, Duke of Camberly.

Having failed to marry either Leonie or Cassandra, Camberly at last offered for Willa and then retreated to his country estate, partly to avoid the gossip surrounding the termination of his rather scandalous affair with a married woman and partly so he could get a firm grip on the management of his estate and finances.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Deep Deception (Deep #2) by Z.A. Maxfield (audiobook) – Narrated by Caleb Dickinson

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

He’ll give up everything for his immortal lover…except his humanity.

Leave a note and slip away to Paris alone, Adin thought. It’ll prove to his vampire lover he doesn’t need 24/7 supervision, Adin thought. Instead Adin lands in a surreal situation that isn’t going to endear him to Donte – at all.

As he awaits an old foe, Ned Harwiche III, for a prearranged meeting, Adin is head butted, tossed into the back of a car…then gets the chance to acquire an artifact Harwiche had been bidding on.

Adin jumps at it, if only as payback for all the dirty tricks Harwiche has pulled over the years. To his horror the “artifact” turns out to be an adolescent boy named Bran.

Sickened, Adin vows to help the boy out, but like Donte – like a lot of the world Adin never knew existed – Bran isn’t at all what he seems to be.

While Donte and Adin negotiate the meaning of the word forever, Bran is running out of time. Especially when tragedy and betrayal pit Adin’s long-cherished beliefs against Donte’s love.

Rating: Narration – C+ : Content – C

There are spoilers for the first book in the Deep series, Deep Desire, in this review.

When five-hundred-year-old vampire Donte Fedeltà and his human lover Adin Tredeger embarked upon a relationship at the end of Deep Desire, it was clear that the road to Happily Ever After wasn’t going to be an easy one, not least because of Adin’s emphatic refusal to allow Donte to turn him (into a vampire) so that they can be together for all time. For Adin,

“It’s [life is] my journey. And without its beginning, its middle and its end, I’m not ever going to be the man I was born to be.”

– and he is content to be with Donte for the time allotted to him. However, this isn’t the only issue causing friction between them in Deep Deception. Adin is fed up with Donte continually treating him as though he needs constant supervision. He accepts that the supernatural world he is discovering contains previously un-thought-of dangers, and he’d hoped, after months of self-defence classes and constant lecturing, that Donte would realise he doesn’t need to be so protective… but after yet another spat, Adin decides he needs some breathing space, and slips away to Paris to attend an auction, leaving his lover a note –

“I’ll be back but you’re going to have to get used to letting me come and go.”

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig & Karen White (audiobook) – Narrated by Brittany Pressley, Vanessa Johansson & Saskia Maarleveld

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

May 2013

Her finances are in dire straits, and best-selling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history.

Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced member of parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe….

April 1915

Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, preoccupied with business…and something else on which she can’t quite put a finger. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect – but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander and take charge of her own life….

Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the US, and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems….

As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives…and history itself.

Rating: Narration – B+ : Content – B

Three authors, three main characters, three narrators; The Glass Ocean is a dual timeline story from the pens of the 3Ws – Williams, Willig and White – that weaves together interconnecting stories featuring three very different woman in two different time-periods almost a century apart. I have no idea which author penned which character – and apparently it’s a very closely guarded secret – but the narration is clearly assigned, with Vanessa Johansson reading the chapters told by Sarah Blake, and Brittany Pressley and Saska Maarleveld reading those from the points of view of Caroline Hochstetter and Tess Schaff respectively.

Five years earlier, Sarah Blake wrote a very successful book about the mid-nineteenth century Irish Potato Famine. For a year she was feted, interviewed, sought after for book signings and events… but when inspiration for a follow-up book failed to arrive, she more or less fell off the radar, and now, even her agent hardly ever calls her. She’s struggling – both creatively and financially – and in desperation, turns to an old family heirloom, breaking her promise to her Alzheimer-stricken mother and opening the chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she finds there leads her to travel to England to request access to the archives of the Langford family in the hope that the documents contained within it will help her to find answers to the questions raised by her great-grandfather’s papers. The problem is that getting permission to view the Langford family’s documents is going to be difficult. John Langford MP has recently become unwillingly entangled in a scandal involving his ex-wife and is lying low in an attempt to dodge the paparazzi stalking him, so Sarah is going to have to approach him carefully – and probably using subterfuge – if she’s to stand any chance of getting him to agree to her request.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Deep Desire (Deep #1) by Z.A. Maxfield (audiobook) – Narrated by Caleb Dickinson

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

There’s no leverage like seduction…until love takes a bite of his plans.

As the Indiana Jones of historical erotica, there is no document existing – or just rumored to exist – Adin Tredeger can’t unearth. Why he would risk the biggest coup of his career to join the mile-high club is beyond him. But the disarming, dark-eyed man who somehow enters Adin’s locked airplane washroom has him completely nude and coming apart. All without a whimper of protest.

From that moment Adin and Donte Fedelta engage in an international battle of wit and cunning. The prize – a priceless, 500-year-old journal with illustrations so erotic it could make the Marquis de Sade blush. Yet Donte’s desire for the journal goes far beyond simple possession. The undead nobleman wrote it. And he’s not above using every trick in his otherworldly arsenal – including seduction – to get it back.

Chemistry draws them together even as fortune tugs them apart. But when a third party joins the chase, they must unite to fight an enemy with a deadly goal – to erase Donte from history.

Rating: Narration – B+ : Content – B

Romances featuring vampires aren’t ones I gravitate towards, but the audio of the Deep series was recommended to me by a friend on Goodreads, and as I’ve enjoyed books by Z.A. Maxfield in the past, (and I’d seen the series crop up in the Audible Romance Package), I picked it up. On the whole, that was a good decision, and I was engaged and entertained throughout all three books in spite of some inconsistencies in the plots and issues with the narration in book two in particular.

Deep Desire opens as Dr. Adin Tredeger, an authority on antique erotica, is flying home to San Francisco following the purchase of a very rare manuscript on behalf of his university. Notturno, a five-hundred-year-old journal that details the forbidden love affair between an Italian nobleman and his male lover, is the find of Adin’s career, and he is determined to keep it safe, some instinct telling him to pack it in his luggage rather than in his carry-on for the journey home.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.