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.

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.

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.

What Lies Beneath (Lancaster Falls #1) by R.J. Scott (audiobook) – Narrated by Sean Crisden


This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

In the hottest summer on record, Iron Lake reservoir is emptying, revealing secrets that were intended to stay hidden beneath the water.

Best-selling horror writer Chris Lassiter struggles for inspiration and he’s close to never writing again. His life has become an endless loop of nothing but empty pages, personal appearances, and a marketing machine that is systematically destroying his muse. In a desperate attempt to force Chris to complete unfinished manuscripts his agent buys a remote cabin. All Chris has to do is hide away and write, but he’s lost his muse, and not even he can make stories appear from thin air.

Sawyer Wiseman left town for Chicago, chasing the excitement and potential of being a big city cop, rising the ranks, and making his mark. A case gone horribly wrong draws him back to Lancaster Falls. Working for the tiny police department in the town he’d been running from, digging into cold cases and police corruption, he spends his day’s healing, and his nights hoping the nightmares of his last case leave him alone.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

RJ Scott is a new-to-me author, but the synopsis for this first book in the Lancaster Falls trilogy intrigued me, and Sean Crisden is a narrator I enjoy listening to, so I decided to give What Lies Beneath a try. Set in a small Pennsylvania town during a heatwave, it’s a well-written tale of romantic suspense that kicks off when a newcomer to the area stumbles – almost literally – across a skull half-buried in the cracked mud of a dried-up lakebed.

Sawyer Wiseman left Lancaster Falls for Chicago more than a decade earlier and made a successful career as a big city cop, only to return to his hometown when a case gone horribly wrong almost cost him his life and sanity. Now a lieutenant with the local PD, he sometimes finds working in a small town rife with secrets and run by the old boys’ network just as difficult and frustrating as anything he came up against in Chicago. Sawyer’s boss, Captain Sandoval, doesn’t like him – Sawyer isn’t one to simply do as he’s told without question – and gives him the crappy jobs to do, which is how Sawyer ends up trekking out to the old Dwyer cabin in the mountains to check on the “out-of-towner” who moved in recently.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Treble Maker (Perfect Harmony #1) by Annabeth Albert (audiobook) – Narrated by Brad King


This title may be purchased from Audible via Amazon

Cody Rivers is determined to be a rock star, but couch-surfing between bar shows gets old fast. Joining an a cappella group for a new singing competition show could be his last chance at real fame – unless the college boy from the heart of the country messes it up for him. Lucas Norwood is everything gothy, glittery Cody is not-conservative, clean-cut, and virginal. But when a twist in the show forces them together, even the sweetest songs get steamy as the attraction between them lights up the stage. Lucas wants to take it slow, but Cody’s singing a different tune – and this time it may be a love song….

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

Annabeth Albert is one of my favourite authors, so when I saw one of her backlist series, Perfect Harmonywas coming to audio, I was quick to request a copy of book one, Treble Maker, for review. Narrator Brad King is new-to-me – and I’m always a little nervous about listening to new narrators – but although he took a little while to really settle in, he delivers a strong performance overall, and I definitely intend to check out the rest of the series as the books are released.

Perfect Harmony is the title of a reality TV singing competition for a cappella (unaccompanied) singing groups (think Pentatonix), and when the book opens, there are thirteen hopeful groups competing for ten places in the next round. Embellish, consisting of two women and three men, is one of the smaller groups, and its members haven’t been performing together all that long; in fact, their lead singer, Cody Rivers, isn’t much used to ensemble or a cappella singing having spent his career so far as a lead or solo singer. Talented and ambitious, Cody is set on making it as a rock star, but living out of his clapped-out van or couch-surfing with friends is getting old, so he’s entered the show in what could very well be his last chance at a big break. He’s been on his own since he was sixteen, when his grandmother rejected him after he came out; he knows who he is and isn’t shy about doing whatever he needs to in order to gain advantages and make opportunities for himself.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

A Convenient Fiction (Parish Orphans of Devon #3) by Mimi Matthews (audiobook) – Narrated by Alex Wyndham

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

She Needed a Husband…. It’s been three years since Laura Hayes’ father died, leaving her and her invalid brother to subsist on the income from the family’s failing perfume business. But time is swiftly running out. What she needs is a husband, and fast. A noble gentleman who can rescue them all from penury. When a mysterious stranger arrives in the village, he seems a perfect candidate. But Alex Archer is no hero. In fact, he just might be the opposite. He Wanted a Fortune…. Alex has no tolerance for sentiment. He’s returned to England for one reason only: to find a wealthy wife. A country-bred heiress in Surrey seems the perfect target. But somewhere between the village railway station and the manor house his mercenary plan begins to unravel. And it’s all the fault of Laura Hayes – a lady as unsuitable as she is enchanting. From the beaches of Margate to the lavender fields of Provence, a grudging friendship slowly blossoms into something more. But when scandal threatens, can a man who has spent his entire life playing the villain finally become a hero? Or will the lure of easy riches once again outweigh the demands of his heart?

Rating: Narration – B; Content – C+

A Convenient Fiction is book three in Mimi Matthews’ Parish Orphans of Devon series, and the first of the set I’ve listened to (I read the first book, A Matrimonial Advertisement), and I confess I picked it up for review principally because Alex Wyndham is the narrator (the earlier books in the series were narrated by someone I don’t care to listen to). The author has a reputation as someone who pays attention to historical detail and accuracy in her novels, and her characters speak and behave in a way that is very period-appropriate – which isn’t something I can say about a lot of the historical romances published recently. Her writing is smooth and engaging and she has the knack for creating nicely simmering romantic chemistry between her protagonists – but if you’re someone who likes a bit of on-page action between the sheets in your romances, then you won’t find that here, as Ms. Matthews closes the bedroom door very firmly once the characters make it that far!

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Blindsided (Fake Boyfriend #4) by Eden Finley (audiobook) – Narrated by Alexander Cendese and Iggy Toma

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Miller:

When Talon left to play pro ball six years ago, the hole in my chest confused me. I focused my heartache into making my own NFL dreams come true, and by the time I was drafted, the longing I had for my best friend was buried deep. Now, he wants everything to be like it was in college, but we can’t have threesomes and be reckless like we once were. The media storm would be enough to break both our careers. That’s not my biggest concern, though. The torch I had for him burns brighter after so long apart, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Marcus Talon is straight. I need to stay away from him.

Talon:

Years ago, Miller and I made a pact that we’d win a Super Bowl together. When I’m offered a position on his team in Chicago, I don’t hesitate. I move across the country to chase a dream that’s a decade old. Only, now that I’m here, he’s avoiding me every chance he gets. If he was anyone else, I’d cut my losses. But this is Shane Miller – the guy who makes everything better just by existing in my universe. The guy I’d do anything for. The guy who’s more to me than a brother, a friend, or even a teammate. I’m not going to let him get away.

Rating: Narration – B+ ; Content – B-

I’ve been having fun listening to Eden Finley’s Fake Boyfriend series. The books are funny, sexy and light-hearted although not without their deeper, more serious moments, and as per the series title, each book features a fake relationship. Blindsided is book four and the only one in the set NOT to feature the fake boyfriend trope (the author is upfront about this and it’s in the blurb); the two leads were secondary characters in earlier books who were crying out for a story, and this is it.

Marcus Talon and Shane Miller have known each other since college, where they became great friends on and off the football field, and also in and out of the bedroom, where they frequently indulged in threesomes with a woman in the middle, never touching each other and keeping their focus firmly on their female partner. When their college days come to an end, they both make the draft for the NFL and are signed to different teams, so they go their separate ways and interact only over social media until around six years later when Talon – by now one of the sport’s biggest names – signs up with Miller’s team, the Chicago Warriors. It’s not long before Miller and Talon end up in bed again – with two women between them – but this time Miller realises he’s made a huge mistake and makes it clear he doesn’t want to go there again.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.