Fatal Mistake (White Knights #1) by Susan Sleeman (audiobook) – Narrated by Rachel Dulude

This title may be downloaded from Audible.

An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in best-selling author Susan Sleeman’s riveting romantic suspense novel.

Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it.

Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Scared and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan – to stay alive for another day. She knows he’s coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.

Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months – to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf’s bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person who can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. He must protect Tara at all costs, and they’ll both need to resist the mutual attraction growing between them to focus on hunting down the bomber, because one wrong move could be fatal.

Rating: Narration – C : Content – D-

I wasn’t even fifteen minutes into Susan Sleeman’s romantic suspense novel, Fatal Mistake, when I realised I’d made a catastrophic mistake in deciding to listen to it. I’m a fan of the sub-genre and am always on the look-out for authors to add to my “must read/listen” list, but instead, I’ve found one to add to my “must avoid” list. The storyline is trite, predictable and filled with stereotypical characters, info dumps, hackneyed dialogue and more introspection and internal monologuing than one can shake a stick at. The principals seem to have aced “Jumping to Unfounded Conclusions 101”; there’s way too much telling and not enough showing, which means that characters make huge leaps of logic and arrive at conclusions for no reason that is made clear to the listener, and the author completely fails to create even the vaguest sense of sexual attraction between the principals. Reviews the novel are overwhelmingly positive, and the blurb promised a “riveting” read… but all I was riveted to was my watch as I kept checking to see how far I was from the end.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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No Earls Allowed (Survivors #2) by Shana Galen (audiobook) – Narrated by Victoria Aston

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Lady Juliana, daughter of the Earl of St. Maur, needs all the help she can get. She’s running a ramshackle orphanage, London’s worst slumlord has illicit designs on her, and her father has suddenly become determined to marry her off.

Enter Major Neil Wraxall, bastard son of the Marquess of Kensington, sent to assist Lady Juliana in any way he can. Lucky for her, he’s handy with repairs, knows how to keep her and the orphans safe, and is a natural leader of men.

Unfortunately for both of them, the scandal that ensues from their mutual attraction is going to lead them a merry dance…

Rating: Narration – B- : Content – B-

No Earls Allowed is the second book in Shana Galen’s Survivors series about a group of former soldiers who were members of a specially formed suicide squad during the Napoleonic Wars. Of the thirty members, only twelve returned, something that continues to haunt the unit’s commander Major Neil Wraxall, illegitimate son of the Marquess of Kensington, who also lost his younger half-brother during the conflict. Now the war is over, he spends most of his time at his club with his closest friends, Ewan Mostyn (Third Son’s a Charm) and Rafe Beaumont, or alone, wallowing in guilt and consuming large quantities of alcohol in order to keep the nightmares at bay.

Lady Juliana (Julia), daughter of the Earl of St. Maur, has been struggling to make sense of her life since the death of her beloved sister, Harriett. One of the charities the sisters supported was a home for orphaned boys which Julia optimistically renamed “The Sunnybrook Home for Boys”; and since Harriett’s death in childbirth, her work there has become something of an emotional crutch for Julia, who sees devoting herself to the care of the twelve boys in residence as a way of keeping Harriet’s memory alive. Her father is worried about her and wants her to return home, but Julia is adamant – the boys need her, and having seen the way Harriett’s husband treated her, Julia has no interest in men or marriage, so returning to the usual round of balls and parties of the marriage mart is pointless.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Ring of Lies by Victoria Howard (audiobook) – Narrated by Michelle Ford

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

When English accountant Daniel Elliott dies in a car accident one rainy night, his widow, Grace, is overcome with grief… and panic. Daniel was controlling and their marriage loveless, but he always took care of the sheltered Grace. Or so she thought. She soon discovers Daniel kept secrets: an alias, mob ties, a list of numbers, a mysterious beach house in Florida… and a girlfriend who looks like Grace.

Swallowing her fear, she flies to Miami to claim the house Daniel left her. But the price of her curiosity is peril. Underworld figures stalk her. The other woman has left a damning trail of evidence pointing her way. And handsome, troubled FBI agent Jack West has crossed precarious paths with Grace before. He could be her savior or her damnation. All she knows for certain is that she longs to be in his arms.

With little to go on and danger at every turn, Grace must depend on Jack to help her navigate the criminal world of south Florida, and find the truth behind the Ring of Lies.

Rating: Narration – C+ : Content – C

I’ll admit that I picked up Ring of Lies mainly because it’s narrated by Michelle Ford, someone whose work I’ve listened to and enjoyed on several occasions. The story synopsis tells of a woman who, after the death of her husband, gradually discovers that he wasn’t the man she’d believed him to be – not an uncommon plotline, but one with potential for plenty of drama and twists if handled well. Unfortunately, however, that isn’t the case here; the plot is thoroughly predictable, the pacing is pedestrian and I’d figured out probably the most important piece of information within the first hour, while it took the hero and his FBI buddies almost the entirety of the book’s eight-and-a-half-hour running time to do the same.

Grace and Daniel Elliott had their ups and downs throughout their ten-year-marriage, just like other couples, and when Daniel is killed in a car crash, Grace is devastated. In the days leading up to his funeral, Grace has tried desperately to get in touch with her sister Catherine, her only living relative, to let her know what’s happened, but Catherine is not answering her phone and doesn’t return Grace’s calls. Worried about her sister as well as grieving for her husband, Grace is exhausted by the day of the funeral, noticing little other than the fairly small gathering and a man she doesn’t recognise standing on the peripheries. When the ceremony comes to an end, the last thing she expects is for the man to grab her and demand she turns over the computer files Daniel kept for him and to imply that Daniel was involved in something sinister. Confused and somewhat afraid, Grace tells him she has no idea what he’s talking about and, after a cryptic comment about Catherine, he leaves.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

No Other Duke Will Do (Windham Brides #3) by Grace Burrowes (audiobook) – Narrated by James Langton


This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Julian St. David, Duke of Haverford, is barely keeping his head above water in a sea of inherited debts. Though he has a long-term plan to restore the family finances, his sister has a much faster solution: host a house party for London’s single young ladies and find Julian a wealthy bride.

Elizabeth Windham has no interest in marriage, but a recent scandal has forced her hand. As much as she’d rather be reading Shakespeare than husband hunting, she has to admit she’s impressed by Julian’s protective instincts, his broad shoulders, and, of course, his vast library.

As the two spend more time together, their attraction is overwhelming, unexpected…and absolutely impossible. With meddling siblings, the threat of financial ruin, and gossips lurking behind every potted palm, will they find true love or true disaster?

Rating: Narration – C+: Content – B

For this third book in her Windham Brides series, Grace Burrowes moves to Wales and the home of Julian St. David, Duke of Haverford, whose estate is so encumbered by the debts accrued by his father and grandfather – their passion for collecting books creating a massive library at equally massive expense – means he is one step away from bankruptcy.

As No Other Duke Will Do opens, Julian’s sister, Glenys, has organised a large – and expensive – house-party to which she has invited a number of eligible young ladies in the hopes of finding her brother an heiress to marry. Julian is a loving man with a lot to offer, but she knows he is unlikely to marry while the state of their finances remains so dire – ergo, she will find him a wife who has money. Julian, who has not been involved in the planning or even consulted about the party, is naturally horrified at the cost, but as he is presented with a fait accompli sees no alternative but to allow things to proceed as planned… and perhaps there will be a gentleman among the invited bachelors who will catch his sister’s eye. Just because – according to his calculations – he can’t afford to marry for another eight years or more doesn’t mean Glenys should be mouldering away at Haverford Castle with him, after all.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Lady Be Bad (The Duke’s Daughters #1) by Megan Frampton (audiobook) – Narrated by Jilly Bond

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

In the first book of The Duke’s Daughters series, the Duke of Marymount’s eldest daughter, Lady Eleanor, knows the burden of restoring her family’s good name is hers to bear. So a good but loveless match is made, and her fate is set. But then Eleanor meets her intended’s rakish younger brother. With his tawny hair, green eyes, and scandalous behavior, Lord Alexander Raybourn makes her want to be very bad indeed. And since his very honorable sibling is too busy saving the world to woo Eleanor, Alexander is tasked with finding out her likes and dislikes on his behalf. But the more time Alexander spends with the secretly naughty Eleanor, the more he knows that what they both want and need is each other.

Rating: Narration – B-: Content – C-

I’ve enjoyed some of Megan Frampton’s historical romances in print, so when I saw her latest book, Lady Be Bad, pop up in audio format, I decided to give it a listen. Ms. Frampton’s work is in similar vein to that of authors such as Tessa Dare and Maya Rodale; generally light-hearted and peppered with witty dialogue and with a slightly more serious undercurrent that lends a bit of depth and colour to the story overall. In the case of Lady Be Bad, that undercurrent is to do with the lack of options available to well-born young women in the early nineteenth century and how stifling it was to know that one was being brought up to have no individuality, no opinions and no choice in the direction of one’s own life. That’s a theme often explored in historical romance, but it’s been done much better than it is here, and this first instalment in Ms. Frampton’s The Duke’s Daughters series falls very flat. The storyline is clichéd and predictable, the characters are two-dimensional stereotypes, the writing is stodgy and repetitive; and while Jilly Bond is a very experienced narrator, her somewhat quirky delivery generally proved to be more hindrance than help.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred #1) by Joanna Shupe (audiobook) – Narrated by Roxy Isles

Lady Honora Parker must get engaged as soon as possible, and only a particular type of man will do. Nora seeks a mate so abhorrent, so completely unacceptable, that her father will reject the match – leaving her free to marry the artist she desires. Who then is the most appalling man in Manhattan? The wealthy, devilishly handsome financier Julius Hatcher, of course!

Julius is intrigued by Nora’s ruse and decides to play along. But, to Nora’s horror, Julius transforms himself into the perfect fiancé, charming the very people she hoped he would offend. It seems Julius has a secret plan of his own – one that will solve a dark mystery from his past and perhaps turn him into the kind of man Nora could truly love.

Rating: Narration – B : Content – B+

I enjoyed reading Joanna Shupe’s recent Knickerbocker Club series, named for the group of wealthy, powerful men determined to make their mark on late nineteenth century New York. The author did a terrific job in those books with her descriptions of the city’s Gilded Age – which hasn’t been used very often as a setting for historical romance – so I was pleased to discover that her new series – The Four Hundred – is set in the same place and time period. A Daring Arrangement, the first book, sees the daughter of an English earl, who has been sent to America in disgrace, entering into a false betrothal with a self-made New York businessman whose name is a byword for scandal.

Lady Honora – Nora – Parker was caught by her father, the Earl of Stratton, in the arms of the young man she hopes to marry, a penniless artist. Believing the man to be a fortune hunter, the earl immediately sent Nora to stay with her aunt and uncle in New York in the hope that she will forget her swain and find a suitable husband there. But Nora has other ideas. If word gets back to her father that she has made a most inappropriate alliance, he is sure to summon her home immediately – and Nora thinks she has found just the man in Julius Hatcher, a man as famous for his business acumen as he is infamous for the reputation for fast living which regularly earns him column inches in the gossip sheets.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Nightfall by Anne Stuart (audiobook) – Narrated by Evan Harris


This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

This is my fate…to die for unspeakable crimes. All I ask is that a stranger give herself to me and to my secrets.

Richard Tiernan has been sentenced to death. With an ulterior motive and a heart full of dark truths, he agrees to tell all to an ailing writer whose greed and ambition are so strong that he will even give his own daughter to Richard in return for one last Pulitzer-winning story.

I want Cassidy Roarke. I need her. But she has to prove she’s worthy. That she can be trusted.

Cassidy’s spent her life struggling to earn her father’s respect and love. Now his health is failing, and her feelings for him are even more complex. Loyalty is a sacrifice. Daughters can be broken by their fathers. She has to help when he calls. He’s bailed Richard Tiernan out of prison just long enough to coax the shocking facts out of him. What happened that night? What did Tiernan really do to his family?

Her father will sell his soul to the Devil before he dies. So be it.

Richard Tiernan may take them both to Hell.

Rating: Narration – B- : Content – B

Nightfall is one of those books I’ve meant to get around to reading for ages. As is often the case, I haven’t been able to manage it, so when the audiobook appeared, I jumped on it straight away. Originally published in 1995, it’s a standalone romantic thriller that goes to some pretty dark and disturbing places; Ms. Stuart is known for writing bad-boy heroes who generally occupy shaky moral ground and walk a thin line between being an alpha hero and an alpha-hole, and in this book especially, that line is very, very blurred. I happen to be a fan of Ms. Stuart’s particular brand of tough, ruthless gamma heroes, because she usually manages to keep them on just the right side of that line, but I can accept they’re not for everyone.

Richard Tiernan has been convicted of murdering his wife and is suspected of killing another women and also his two young children, who have vanished. He is awaiting sentencing and has been bailed temporarily by Sean O’ Rourke, a famous author who is, it is assumed, is going to write Richard’s story, detailing his crimes and offering insight into the mind of a man guilty of such heinous acts. If the book nets Sean a Pulitzer, too, he’s not going to complain.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.