The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall (audiobook) – Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

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Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Miss Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.

When Miss Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham finds himself drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark.

But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Miss Haas’ stock-in-trade.

Rating: Narration: A+; Content: B+

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter is one of those books that defies categorisation. Part sci-fi/fantasy, part paranormal, part mystery, it’s what might have resulted had Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got drunk one night in company with Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett – slightly bonkers, devastatingly witty and wholly entertaining – and I was utterly captivated by all ten-and-a-half hours of it. Alexis Hall is a supremely talented wordsmith, and if I were to give examples of all the turns of phrase that had me grinning like an idiot – hand-curated whelks, anyone? – laughing out loud or simply marvelling at the elegance of the prose or the precision of the well-aimed barbs, I’d be here all day. So to spare you that, I’ll do my best to encapsulate this wonderfully weird story in a thousand words or thereabouts.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

How to Bang a Billionaire (Arden St. Ives #1) by Alexis Hall (audiobook) – Narrated by Joel Leslie

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Rules are made to be broken….

If England had yearbooks, I’d probably be “Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire.” So far, I haven’t. I’ve no idea what I’m doing at Oxford, no idea what I’m going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he’s brilliant, beautiful…oh yeah, and a billionaire.

It’s impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he’ll be through with me.

I’m good at doing what I’m told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian’s shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it’s him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn’t have the power to give me.

Rating: Narration – A+ : Content – A

I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone who reads or listens regularly to romances that the Arden St. Ives trilogy (of which How to Bang a Billionaire is book one) is similar in its premise to E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy. A young student/wannabe journalist meets a hotter-than-hell billionaire and, after negotiating a contract, kinky sex ensues. That’s pretty much the extent of my knowledge of Fifty Shades as I’ve neither read nor listened to any of the books, but that at least means I can make an assessment of HTBAB based purely on my reaction to the story and overall enjoyment of both it and the narration. Which, I’ll say now, is outstanding.

Twenty-year-old Arden St. Ives is in his third year reading English at Oxford. He’s taken the place – at the end of a phone line – of a sick friend in a telethon to raise funds for (the fictional) St. Sebastian’s College, but isn’t having a lot of luck with the list of college alumni he’s been given to cold-call. Remembering advice he’d been given about putting a smile in his voice, he dials the next number and this time, manages to get out more than just his name before the person at the other end hangs up. In fact, he ends up having an actual conversation with Caspian Hart, whom Arden is somewhat shocked to realise (from looking at his cheat-sheet) is a billionaire. Several times over. Who also has a sexy voice, a gently flirtatious manner and who – unexpectedly – takes the time to have a proper conversation, at the end of which Arden remembers to invite him to the gala dinner being held in a few weeks’ time. He’s not surprised when Caspian doesn’t commit – billions don’t make themselves after all – which is why he’s knocked sideways when he’s getting ready for the dinner and is told that there’s a Mr. Hart waiting for him downstairs.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.