The Other Man by Farhad J. Dadyburjor (audiobook) – Narrated by Ariyam Kassam

the other man

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Heir to his father’s Mumbai business empire, Ved Mehra has money, looks, and status. He is also living as a closeted gay man. Thirty-eight, lonely, still reeling from a breakup, and under pressure from his exasperated mother, Ved agrees to an arranged marriage. He regrettably now faces a doomed future with the perfectly lovely Disha Kapoor.

Then Ved’s world is turned upside down when he meets Carlos Silva, an American on a business trip in India.

As preparations for his wedding get into full swing, Ved finds himself drawn into a relationship he could never have imagined – and ready to take a bold step. Ved is ready to embrace who he is and declare his true feelings regardless of family expectations and staunch traditions. But with his engagement party just days away, and with so much at risk, Ved will have to fight for what he wants – if it’s not too late to get it.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – B+

Farhad J. Dadyburjor’s The Other Man is one of those audiobooks I picked up on a whim – I hadn’t heard of the author (I’ve since learned he’s been an entertainment and lifestyle journalist for over twenty years) and was similarly in the dark about the narrator, but the premise of the story appealed – and I’m pleased to report that this is one of those times when a gamble paid off, because I enjoyed the story very much and Ariyan Kassam’s narration is excellent.

Ved (pronounced to my Western ears as “Wade”) Mehra seems to have it all. At thirty-eight, he’s handsome, well-off and high-status; he runs his father’s multi-million electronics corporation and as the Mehra’s only child, will one day inherit it. On the surface, he has everything a man would want – but that’s only an illusion. Life as a gay man in a very conservative society where homosexuality is still illegal (the book is set around the time when the law against homosexuality was eventually repealed – which wasn’t until 2018) is difficult and often disheartening; Ved can’t live openly and honestly, yet he can’t face the idea of coming out to his parents, knowing what a dreadful disappointment it would be to them to discover he isn’t the perfect Indian son. He had thought, a few years back, that he’d found someone to share his life with (albeit in secret), until Akshay announced he was bowing to the inevitable and going ahead with the marriage that had been arranged for him. The break-up was four years ago, and Ved has never found anyone else he wanted to spend time with, instead filling the void with endless work and having meaningless hook-ups when he wants sex.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Limelight (Vino and Veritas #15) by E. Davies (audiobook) – Narrated by Greg Boudreaux

limelight

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Save the bees, ride a rock star.

Formerly famous…and planning to keep it that way.

After my band kicked me out, I ran away to Vermont, changed my name, and kept my head down. So far, it’s working and nobody knows who I am. Or who I was. Until I see geeky poet Caleb stumbling through his first open mic night and I can’t help rescuing him. He’s as sweet as the honey my bees make and sexy enough to make me rethink so many things. But I can’t tell him my secret, or I’ll lose the anonymous life I worked so hard to build.

Everyone warns me he’s too good to be true.

I can’t believe a gorgeous, successful winemaker like Tag is into shy, geeky little accountant me. But he helps me blossom and believe in my talent, and works his way into my heart and my bed…not necessarily in that order. I’m falling for a man for the first time, and now I know what the missing number in my equation has always been.

When lies are revealed, though, someone’s going to get stung….

Rating: Narration – A; Content – D+

It’s no secret around here that I’ll listen to Greg Boudreaux read just about anything. He’s the main reason I picked up Limelight (the fifteenth book in the multi-authored Vino and Veritas series) – and having listened to and read several of the other books in the set, I believed the story in this one should at least be fairly decent. Oh, how wrong I was. Limelight is six-and-a-half hours of no story, ridiculously contrived (minimal) conflict, overblown and sentimental dialogue and instalove – and if I hadn’t been listening to it for review, I’d have DNF’d well before the halfway mark.

The story – such as it is – is this. Some years before it begins, Tag Campbell – aka the artist formerly known as Titus Taylor – was a member of a world famous, hugely successful rock band. But when creative differences led to his bandmates forcing him out (in a very public, unprofessional and hurtful way), he ran away to Vermont, changed his name, kept his head down, and for the past few years, has run a small farm near Burlington where he keeps bees and makes mead which he sells to, among other places, the Vino and Veritas wine bar. He’s just made a delivery there one evening and is about to head out when his eye is caught by a head of bright blond curls and the young man they belong to as he steps up to the microphone on stage.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

White Trash Warlock (Adam Binder #1) by David R. Slayton (audiobook) – Narrated by Michael David Axtell

white trash warlock

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Not all magicians go to schools of magic.

Adam Binder has the Sight. It’s a power that runs in his bloodline: the ability to see beyond this world and into another, a realm of magic populated by elves, gnomes, and spirits of every kind. But for much of Adam’s life, that power has been a curse, hindering friendships, worrying his backwoods family, and fueling his abusive father’s rage.

Years after his brother, Bobby, had him committed to a psych ward, Adam is ready to come to grips with who he is, to live his life on his terms, to find love, and maybe even use his magic to do some good. Hoping to track down his missing father, Adam follows a trail of cursed artifacts to Denver, only to discover that an ancient and horrifying spirit has taken possession of Bobby’s wife.

It isn’t long before Adam becomes the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, save his sister-in-law, and learn the truth about his father, Adam will have to risk bargaining with very dangerous beings…including his first love.

Rating: Narration: B+; Content ; A-

David R. Slayton’s White Trash Warlock was recommended to me a while back (by Gregory Ashe, no less) so when I saw it in the Audible Plus catalogue, I pounced on it  – and I’m so glad I did, because I was completely glued to it for the entire nine-and-a-bit hours of its run-time.  The story is inventive, the central character is flawed, complex and captivating (just how I like ‘em!) and the narration is really good, so it was a win all round.

Adam Binder has low-level psychic and magical abilities that are often more of a burden than a gift.  Aged just twenty, he lives with his Great-Aunt Sue in Guthrie, Oklahoma and is estranged from the rest of his family; his father left when he was young, his mother doesn’t seem to care and he hasn’t seen his brother Robert (now a doctor in Denver) since Robert had him committed to an institution at thirteen because Adam was hearing voices.  Adam got out as soon as he turned eighteen and now spends much of his time tracking down and destroying dangerous magical artefacts and trying to find their creator, a warlock he suspects may be his father.

Given their estrangement, Robert is the last person Adam expects to hear from – even less does he expect a request for help.  Robert’s wife Annie has begun behaving extremely erratically and Robert has seen things in her behaviour that suggest to him that whatever is wrong with her may be something supernatural.  He asks Adam to come to Denver to do what he can to help; Adam is reluctant but he goes.  Whatever is wrong, Annie doesn’t deserve it – and also, he has a lead that points to the artefacts he’s been searching for originating from somewhere in Denver.

The reunion between the brothers – and Adam and their mother – is uneasy at best, but when Adam sees Annie, he realises she’s possessed by some sort of spirit entity.  A visit to the hospital where Robert works reveals a connection between it and the spirit – while he’s looking around, the spirit tries to kill Adam, and when a couple of cops inadvertently get in the way and one of them is killed,  Adam manages to save the life of the other by giving him a strand of his own life-force, making it impossible for the Reaper to claim him and unwittingly creating a bond between himself and the young police officer.

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

A Touch of Fever (Arcane Hearts #1) by Nazri Noor (audiobook) – Narrated by Zachary Johnson

a touch of fever

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Jackson Pryde was never great at wielding magic. Instead, he works as an artificer, crafting enchanted devices in the Black Market, a shadowy bazaar of wonders. But Xander Wright, the mouthy, pretentious mage next door, hates all the hammering in Jackson’s workshop.

When a chance assignment forces them to team up, they discover a terrifying predicament. Something is driving members of the magical community into murderous rages. Jackson and Xander must combine might and magic to find the source of the Fever and stop it. Can they put aside their differences long enough to end the Fever, or will they succumb to its bloodthirsty curse?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

Nazri Noor has penned a number of urban fantasy series, but this is the first book of his to appear on my radar. I confess though, that the main draw was Zachary Johnson’s name listed as the narrator; I’ve only listened to him once before (in Emma Scott’s Someday, Someday, which he co-narrated with Greg Tremblay) but liked his work enough to want to listen to him again, and when this title was offered for review, I grabbed the opportunity.

A Touch of Fever is a fun romp through an interesting fantastical world inhabited by (among others) imps, merfolk, enchanters, dragons, sylphs, fae and a scene-stealing gryphon, combined with a murder mystery and a childhood friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romance between (says the blurb) a fast-talking artificer and a snarky sorcerer. Arcane Hearts is an ongoing series (book four is due for release at the end of January) and this story ends on a firm HFN; this is so far the only one of the set available in audio, but I hope the others will follow.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

When First I Met My King/The Dragon’s Tale (The Arthur Quartet 1&2) by Harper Fox (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong

These titles may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon:

Book 1Book 2

When First I Met My King:

Once upon a time, there was a winter that wouldn’t end. And all that stands between the people of White Meadows and starvation is a young man called Lance.

Lance is 16 years old, and for all his courage and hunting skills, he’s running out of fight. His family has been wiped out in a border raid, and he’s drowning in loneliness. When strangers arrive at White Meadows, all Lance can think of is using his last strength to drive them away. But these men have come in peace, not to burn and destroy. Among them is a hot-headed, utterly charming prince-in-training named Arthur.

For Lance, Arthur’s arrival is like the return of the sun. The prince has everything – learning, battle skills, a splendid destiny. But as the days unfold in the remote northern settlement in the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall, it soon becomes clear that Arthur needs Lance, too.

The Dragon’s Tale:

Lance has finally gained his freedom to join his beloved king. It is the depth of a northern winter, but his heart and his blood are warm with joy as he sets off to the fort of Din Guardi on the coast, where Arthur is locked in negotiation with the ancient powers of the realm – warlords who could help him defend the whole country against the Saxon invaders, if only he can unite them. But Lance knows such unity may not be possible – or even for the ultimate good of the kingdom. And although his delight at being with Art is boundless, there are other, darker forces at work in the wild dune lands.

A deep and delicate balance has been disturbed, and the fort is under siege by a creature out of legend, a monster that ravages villages and leaves a trail of bodies and burned fields in its wake. The darkest nights of winter are approaching. Arthur, with unendurable weights to bear on shoulders too young for them, only has Lance to befriend him and shield him from the bitterness of battlefield experience and loss. As their bond grows, Lance must find a way to heal the breach between the old world and the new before it devours the man he loves.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – B+

Harper Fox sets her re-imagining of the Arthurian legends – The Arthur Quartet – firmly in Dark Ages Britain, in a divided land slowly emerging from centuries of Roman occupation, one in which the ‘new religion’ of Christianity is challenging the old ways and polytheistic traditions of the Druids and the Celts. She places Lancelot – Lance – at the centre of the tale, relating most events from his perspective and skilfully weaving together his backstory with the familiar elements of the legend – Excalibur, Camelot, Merlin, the Round Table, knights, dragons, magic – and laying the foundations of (what I hope will be) an epic romance between him and Arthur.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Stuck With You by Jay Northcote (audiobook) – Narrated by Hamish Long

stuck with you

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Two clashing colleagues stuck together for Christmas — will opposites eventually attract?

Patrick has been single since he broke up with his cheating ex almost a year ago. With Christmas looming, he’s resigned to spending it alone with only memories of happier times for company. When a business trip with a coworker leaves them stranded in the Lake District due to heavy snow, it seems Patrick will have company for Christmas after all. It’s a shame his companion is Kyle, who’s undeniably attractive, but annoying as hell.

Aware of Patrick’s reluctant admiration, Kyle basks in the attention, even though Patrick isn’t the type of man he normally goes for. Averse to relationships after being hurt in the past, Kyle enjoys the occasional hookup, but has given up on seeking anything more meaningful.

Stuck together, their antagonism escalates along with a heavy dose of sexual tension until it finally ignites. What starts as a Christmas fling soon feels like something special, but will their tentative connection melt away as the snow thaws? If they’re going to take a chance on finding happiness together, they’ll have to put their differences aside and learn to trust one another.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – B

A snowed-in, forced proximity, enemies-to-lovers romance with snarky flirting, a small dollop of angst and Only One Bed? *rubs hands with glee* Count me in! Jay Northcote’s Stuck With You is a sexy, heart-warming tale about finding love and connection when – and with whom – you least expect it.

Patrick and Kyle work at the same medical supplies firm in the north of England, and Patrick, as a senior member of staff, has been Kyle’s mentor while he learns the ropes. The two men are polar opposites; Patrick is quiet and serious (Kyle thinks he’s boring) while Kyle is more outgoing and flamboyant (Patrick thinks he’s an immature party boy) , and they’ve rubbed each other the wrong way since day one. Both of them are thankful that Kyle’s time as Patrick’s mentee is coming to an end; in January, he’ll be flying solo.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Geek Who Saved Christmas by Annabeth Albert (audiobook) – Narrated by Tim Paige

the geek who saved christmas

His grumpy neighbor needs some holiday sunshine….

Gideon Holiday is the perfect neighbor. Need a cup of sugar? Spare folding chair? Extra batteries? He’s always ready to help. And he’s waited years for his hot, grumpy, silver-fox neighbor, Paul, to need him. For anything. But right now, Gideon would be happy if he could just get the Scrooge-like Paul on board with the neighborhood holiday lights fundraiser.

Paul Frost has no intention of decking his halls or blazing any Yule logs. Even if his spunky bowtie-clad neighbor does look perfect for unwrapping, Paul would prefer to hide away until December is done. But when his beloved younger brother announces an unexpected visit, Paul needs all the trimmings for a festive homecoming – and fast.

Luckily, Gideon is there with a color-coded plan to save Christmas. Soon Paul’s hanging lights, trimming trees, and rolling out cookies. And steaming up his new flannel sheets with Gideon. How did that happen?

It’ll take some winter magic to preserve their happiness and keep these rival neighbors together longer than one holiday season.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

Annabeth Albert’s The Geek Who Saved Christmas is just the ticket if you’re looking for a sexy grumpy/sunshine romance with lots of festive spirit and Christmas cheer. I read it when it came out in November and enjoyed it – and when I saw Tim Paige was narrating the audiobook version, I decided to revisit the story and enjoy it all over again!

Gideon Holiday and Paul Frost have been next-door neighbours for a few years but have never really progressed beyond the ‘nodding acquaintances’ stage. Gideon certainly wouldn’t say no to getting to know the hot silver fox better, but Paul keeps himself to himself and Gideon is resigned to the fact that getting better acquainted isn’t likely to happen. Knowing Paul hasn’t put up so much as a single Christmas decoration in all the time he’s lived there means Gideon is surprised to see him in attendance at the neighbourhood community meeting about this year’s holiday decoration theme – Gideon loves co-ordinating their lights fundraiser every year, selecting the theme, organising the donations and planning various holiday-themed activities – and his presence means that Gideon will at last have the chance to suggest the plan that’s been forming in his mind for a while now, that Paul can contribute to the fundraising efforts by ‘loaning’ Gideon his house. He’ll set up lights on Paul’s house and put them all on timers, so Paul won’t have to do a thing.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

The Same Place (The Lamb and the Lion #2) by Gregory Ashe (audiobook) – Narrated by J.F. Harding

the same place

This title maybe downloaded from Audible via Amazon

For what seems like the first time in Teancum Leon’s life, things are looking good: he’s put an end to the toxic relationship with his former sex buddy, work is going well, and Jem Berger has officially decided they are best friends—in spite of Tean’s objections. Things are looking good for Jem too, although he’s not thrilled that somehow Tean has talked him into getting a real job. Everything changes, though, when Tean’s friend Hannah asks for help: she’s being followed, she tells them, and she thinks she’s might be in danger.

After Jem and Tean spend a weekend tailing Hannah, trying to catch her stalker, they make two unpleasant discoveries. First, Hannah is right that she is being followed. Second, she isn’t being stalked. She’s being watched by the police, who are interested in Hannah’s connection to a missing person investigation. And the detective in charge is none other than Ammon Young, Tean’s former friend and ex-sex buddy.

Tean and Jem’s search for the missing woman leads them to a body. The cause of death is a mystery, but one thing is clear: someone wanted the remains destroyed. Tean believes it was homicide, and so do the police.

When Hannah is arrested for the murder, Tean and Jem must race to prove her innocence. But everyone seems to be lying, including Hannah, and she’s willing to take her secrets with her to prison—or to the grave. The answer may lie with the animal teeth marks on the victim’s remains. Good thing Jem knows a wildlife vet.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – A

Gregory Ashe’s Utah-set The Lamb and the Lion series continues with The Same Place, which takes place a few months after the events of The Same Breath. Wildlife vet Teancum Leon and con man Jem Berger have decided they’re better as friends than lovers (well, Tean’s decided, and Jem is mostly going along with it), and over the past few months have settled into a routine of sorts; Jem breaks into Tean’s apartment and makes himself at home whenever he feels like it and talks him into spending money he doesn’t have on clothes he doesn’t want, and Tean is teaching Jem to read and trying to help him settle into a ‘normal’ life, with a job, an apartment, and all the things Tean thinks Jem needs. Unfortunately however, Tean’s idea of normal isn’t really Jem’s – but, well, Jem loves Tean and likes to do things that make him happy. Although it would be easier to do that if Jem didn’t keep getting fired. On top of being fired from his latest job, Jem learns that his abusive former foster mother LouElla has committed identity theft, taken out a number of credit cards in his name and defaulted on the payments. He had hoped never to have anything more to do with the woman, but he isn’t about to stand by and let her ruin his life – again. However, confronting her doesn’t quite work out the way he’d hoped, and seeing her again stirs up memories and feelings he thought he’d buried for good.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Broken Falcon (Evidence #12) by Rachel Grant (audiobook) – Narrated by Greg Tremblay & Nicol Zanzarella

broken falcon

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Chase Johnston is leading a double life. After two years of psychological torment, the quiet, highly skilled Raptor operative now has a darker side, and he’s hellbent on bringing human-traffickers to justice – using any means necessary. The only relief he finds for his troubled mind is a woman he’ll never meet in person.

Eden O’Keeffe is also leading a double life. By day she’s a grad student and barista, but at night she sits in front of a camera and provides companionship for those seeking entertainment, titillation, or simple conversation. She enjoys the freedom of being a siren online, but her secret career comes with risks that force her to hide her true identity at all costs.

When Chase walks into a coffee shop and comes face to face with the one person who makes him feel again, it seems his long nightmare may be coming to an end. But in entering Eden’s world, he’s bringing that nightmare – and the danger that comes with it – to her doorstep.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – B

I’ve been eagerly looking forward to Broken Falcon – book twelve in Rachel Grant’s terrific Evidence series – for months. Ms. Grant is my favourite author of romantic suspense, and I’m always impressed by her ability to craft tense and exciting stories with clever plots and interesting, engaging characters. Also, this book’s hero, Chase Johnston, was an important secondary character in Incriminating Evidence, one of my series favourites – if you haven’t read or listened to it, I’d recommend doing so before this, as Chase’s backstory is incredibly important to this story (note – there are spoilers in this review) and given his role in that book, I was especially keen to find out what happened to him ‘after’ and for him to find love and get his own HEA.

When we catch up with Chase at the beginning of the book, we find out that he’s devoting much of his free time to preventing runaway teens from being sucked into a sex-trafficking ring. Together with Isabel Dawson, the wife of Senator – and Raptor boss – Alec Ravissant, Chase helps the teens to get to a shelter set up specially to help prevent them being sent back to abusive family situations. He’s fairly sure the trafficking ring is linked to a legitimate business, a cam-girl site called Cam Dames – although he hasn’t yet been able to find any evidence to tie the two together. On this particular evening, Chase has cut things a bit fine; it takes longer than he’d expected to persuade the girl he’s ‘intercepting’ to go into the next-door coffee shop to meet with Isabel, and she has only just gone inside when a couple of goons show up looking for their quarry. Chase is Raptor’s expert in unarmed combat (having learned martial arts from a very young age, he’s got Mad Ninja Skillz!) and it doesn’t take him long to run them off.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Stray Fears (DuPage Parrish Mysteries #1) by Gregory Ashe (audiobook) – Narrated by Declan Winters

stray fears

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Elien Martel is a survivor, but surviving, he’s beginning to discover, isn’t the same thing as living. In the house he shares with his much older boyfriend, Elien spends his days trying to stay as far away from living as possible. Living, he has learned, means that sooner or later you’ll get hurt.

When a member of Elien’s support group dies under strange circumstances, though, Elien finds himself in a web of bizarre coincidences. The responding officer turns out to be another member of Elien’s support group—a man named Mason, who has made no effort to hide his dislike of Elien. Then, just a few days later, Mason tries to kill Elien in front of dozens of witnesses.

As violence ripples through Elien’s world, he begins to suspect that the coincidences are not coincidences at all. Something is at work behind the cascade of tragedies, something vicious and intelligent. Something that has wanted Elien for a long time.

To defeat it, Elien will have to do what he fears most and face the darkness in his own past. Worse, he’ll have to take the risk of trying to live again.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – A-

Gregory Ashe’s paranormal/horror novel Stray Fears is a spooky tale featuring two engaging, flawed characters and a clever mystery plotline which draws on Louisiana folklore for inspiration. I read and enjoyed it when it was published last year, and was pleased to see it coming to audio with Declan Winters narrating; I’ve enjoyed his work in C.S. Poe’s Magic & Steam series and was looking forward to a similarly strong performance here.

The story centres around a support group for people with PTSD, and when it begins, a meeting is in progress. Elien Martel is one of the attendees, a young man of twenty-two whose life was ripped apart a year earlier when his elder brother shot their parents and then himself. Mired in grief and guilt, Elien is a mess; volatile, sarcastic and filled with self-loathing, he lives with his much older boyfriend Richard – a psychiatrist and therapist – whose equanimity and refusal to rise to Elien’s frequent baiting and have a damn good row irritate Elien no end.

Quite honestly, Elien seems like a total dick much of the time, but his sharp tongue belies a genuine kindness and wit, and he’s surprisingly good with the other members of the group, showing them the sort of patience and compassion he doesn’t extend to himself. When the group leader – who is a colleague of Richard’s – asks Elien if he’ll check up on fellow group member Ray, who hasn’t been doing so well lately, Elien agrees without question.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.