I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs and Broomsticks #2) by Josh Lanyon (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

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Something old, something new, something borrowed…something blacker than the darkest night.

Cosmo Saville adores his new husband, but his little white lies and some very black magic are about to bring their fairy tale romance to an end. Someone is killing San Francisco’s spell casters, and the only person Cosmo can turn to – the man who so recently swore to love and cherish him – isn’t taking his phone calls.

The only magic police commissioner John Joseph Galbraith believes in is true love. Discovering he’s married to a witch – one with something alarmingly like magical powers – is nearly as bad as discovering the man he loved tricked and deceived him.

John shoulders the pain of betrayal and packs his bags. But when he learns Cosmo is in the crosshairs of a mysterious and murderous plot, he knows he must do everything in in his mortal power to protect him.

Till death do them part. With their relationship on the rocks, Cosmo and Galbraith join forces to uncover the shadowy figure behind the deadly conspiracy.

Can the star-crossed couple bring down a killer before the dark threat extinguishes love’s flame?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

I Buried a Witch is book two in Josh Lanyon’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks series, and it picks up just a couple of weeks after the events of book one, Mainly by Moonlight. Because all three books are linked by an overarching plot, it’s fairly safe to say that this one doesn’t really work as a standalone. The author does include a bit of backstory and information about book one, but I think listeners will be best served by listening to the books in order so as to get the full picture.

Mainly by Moonlight introduced us to Cosmo Saville, antiques dealer and witch, and his fiancé John Galbraith, the newly appointed Police Commissioner for San Francisco. The story kicks off when Cosmo finds a business rival dead at his shop and after that it’s an almost non-stop few days of mayhem when one of Cosmo’s friends is left in a coma following a hit-and-run, one of his oldest friends disappears, he learns of the existence of a secret society that threatens the existence of the Craft (as witches are known) – and to top it all, someone tries to kill him on his wedding day. Oh, and there’s just one other problem that could put paid to the life he’s looking forward to building with the man he loves. Cosmo hasn’t told John he’s a witch. Oops.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

And Then He Kissed Her (Girl Bachelors #1) by Laura Lee Guhrke (audiobook) – Narrated by Zara Hampton-Brown

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Supremely sensible Emmaline Dove wishes to share her etiquette expertise with London’s readers, and as secretary to Viscount Marlowe, Emma knows she’s in the perfect position to make her dream come true. Marlowe might be a rake with a preference for can-can dancers and an aversion to matrimony, but he is also the city’s leading publisher, and Emma is convinced he’s her best chance to see her work in print…until she discovers the lying scoundrel has been rejecting her manuscripts without ever reading a single page!

As a publisher, Harry finds reading etiquette books akin to slow, painful torture. Besides, he can’t believe his proper secretary has the passion to write anything worth reading. Then she has the nerve to call him a liar, and even resigns without notice, leaving his business in an uproar and his honor in question. Harry decides it’s time to teach Miss Dove a few things that aren’t proper. But when he kisses her, he discovers that his former secretary has more passion and fire than he’d ever imagined, for one luscious taste of her lips only leaves him hungry for more.

Rating: Narration- B; Content – B

And Then He Kissed Her, book one in Laura Lee Guhrke’s Girl Bachelors series, is one of those books that’s often cited as a favourite by historical romance fans. Originally published in 2007, this is the first time it’s been available in audio, and it’s good to see some old favourites finally making it into the format.

Set in the late Victorian era, And Then he Kissed Her tells the story of the romance between Harry, Viscount Marlowe – who, although an aristocrat, works for a living and owns a successful publishing house – and Miss Emmaline Dove (Emma), who has been his secretary for five years but is certainly not desperately in love with him and, knowing him to be a rake of the first order, is glad not to be so. When the book opens, Emma is being forced to listen to a ‘woe is me’ speech from Marlowe’s latest mistress – to whom he has just given her congé – and has no patience with any of it, relieved (sort of) that she’s not at all the sort of woman who would attract the attention of a such a man. Aged thirty, Emma has kind of accepted she’s likely to remain a confirmed spinster, and in any case, her ambitions lie in a different direction. She hopes one day to become a published author, and has in fact written a number of books on etiquette for young women; she has not so far been able to persuade Marlowe to publish any of them, but continues to write, undaunted.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Object of Desire (Bitter Legacy #2) by Dal Maclean (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong

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Tom Gray is one of the world’s top models – an effortless object of desire. Self-contained, elusive, and always in control, he’s accustomed to living life entirely on his own terms. But when Tom comes under suspicion in the gory death of his employer, his world spirals into chaos.

Someone’s framing him. Someone’s stalking him. And as old secrets come to light, Tom finds his adversary always one step ahead. Will Foster is the only man Tom trusts to help. But Tom brutally burned all bridges between them two years before, and Will paid a bitter price.

If he wants to survive, Tom must prove his innocence to Will – and to the world.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – A

Object of Desire is Dal Maclean’s second book and the second part of the mystery/suspense trilogy that also comprises Bitter Legacy and the forthcoming Blue on Blue (out in audio in May). It’s not absolutely necessary to have read or listened to Bitter Legacy in order to fully appreciate Object of Desire; the stories are self-contained, although some of the characters from that book appear in secondary roles here – and Bitter Legacy is fantastic, so you’re missing out if you don’t read or listen to it!

Tom Grey had finished his chemistry degree and was planning on doing a Master’s in forensic science when he was ‘spotted’ by Pez, a booker at Echo, a London modelling agency. Now a successful, highly sought-after model, Tom’s job is, literally, to be an object of desire, and he’s very good at it, gorgeous, aloof and unattainable both on and off camera. His life is exactly how he wants it – he has a boyfriend, Nick, he maintains a friends-with-benefits relationship with Pez, and has casual hook-ups whenever he feels like it; he’s in control, always keeping the upper hand in relationships and never allowing anyone too close.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Spice King (Hope & Glory #1) by Elizabeth Camden (audiobook) – Narrated by Pilar Witherspoon

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Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building his very successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Resolved to salvage his family before it spirals out of control, he returns to his ancestral home to save his brother and sister before it’s too late.

As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection. If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under. She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience. Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?

Rating: Narration – C+; Content: B

I haven’t read or listened to anything by Elizabeth Camden before, but one of my fellow reviewers at All About Romance is a big fan of her work, and after reading the synopsis of the author’s latest release, The Spice King, I decided to give it a try. It proved to be an entertaining listen; the writing is smooth and flows beautifully, the story has obviously been very well-researched, and the characters are engaging and three-dimensional.

Gray Delacroix has spent much of his life abroad in service to his family’s business, Delacroix Global Spice, finding new and unique flavours to excite the palate and building on the work done by his late father in restoring the family fortunes after the Civil War. But his success hasn’t come without a price. He’s tired, he suffers regular bouts of ill-health due to malaria, and he feels he has neglected his younger half-siblings, who, he feels, have been overindulged during his absences and have become rather spoiled and aimless as a result. He has also decided that, at forty, it’s time for him to settle down and have a family – and life – of his own.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Ricochet (Out for Justice #1) by Reese Knightley (audiobook) – Narrated by Tristan James

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

WITSEC victim Noah Bradford knows secrets that could get him killed, and staying hidden seems like a good plan. What he didn’t plan on is losing his heart to a man who is sworn to protect him.

Battle scarred US Marshal Robert “Mac” Mackenzie has a job to do, and guaranteeing the safety of Noah Bradford is at the top of that list. Mac will do whatever it takes to keep Noah safe, even if it means walking away.

Mac and Noah, brought together during extreme circumstances, have been separated by evil. It’s been six years, give or take, and Noah is coming for vengeance against the men who killed his mother. He’s on a collision course with Mac, who has no idea of the man Noah has become. Sparks fly and the heat sizzles when these two powerful men are reunited, but will they survive the passion the past created?

Rating: Narration – B-; Content – D+

I liked the sound of Ricochet, the first in new-to-me author Reese Knightley’s Out for Justice series of romantic suspense novels featuring a team of elite operatives known as Phoenix. I hadn’t, when I requested the title, realised it was the author’s début book – not that I have anything against first-time authors, in fact, I’ve found some terrific stories and authors to look out for by reading or listening to débuts – but sadly, this author and this book don’t fall into that category. The story itself feels like a bare-bones outline that needs a lot of fleshing out; there are elements of the storytelling that just don’t work, the characterisation is thin, there’s way too much telling and not enough showing, and the writing itself is distinctly average and could have used a good editor to weed out the annoying repetitions and overblown, clichéd phrases.

Seventeen-year-old Noah Bradford is inducted into the Witness Protection Program after he and his best friend Jenny are rescued from the compound belonging to Terrance Manning, the vicious criminal who murdered Noah’s mother. For reasons we don’t learn until much later, Manning was intent on grooming Noah to be his second-in-command and eventual successor, but rather than treating him as some sort of favourite, he instead tried to crush Noah – in both body and spirit – at every opportunity. During the raid on the compound by the FBI, police and US Marshals, Noah is found by Marshal Rob Mackenzie (Mac) and helped to safety. Neither Manning nor his chief henchman – Noah’s stepfather – are to be found; they’ve managed to get away.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Broken One (Corisi Billionaires #1) by Ruth Cardello (audiobook) – Narrated by Summer Morton and Brian Pallino

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Single mom Heather Ellis would do anything for her adopted daughter, Ava. Even post an online reward for anyone who found the girl’s lost stuffed animal. Who’d have guessed it’d be returned by a drop-dead-sexy man with such sadness in his eyes that she had to reach out to him? To Ava, he’s a hero. To Heather, he’s a fantasy that puts at risk the happy life she’s made for herself.

It’s been five years since billionaire developer Sebastian Romano lost his wife and unborn child in a tragic accident. Now he’s all business. No room for emotion. Until he stumbles across that damn stuffed wolf and the beautiful single mother looking for it. Is he ready to give love a second chance?

But there’s more to Sebastian, his family, and his past than Heather knows. More than even Sebastian knows. Will the life they’re building together be challenged when the truth is finally revealed?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – C-

The Broken One is the first in Ruth Cardello’s Corisi Billionaires series, and I chose to listen to it mostly because I’d enjoyed listening to Brian Pallino in Avery Flynn’s Tomboy and wanted to listen to him again. Reviews of the book were mixed, but I’m pretty much all about the narrator, so I decided to give it a go; in the end, while the narration is excellent, the story was distinctly ‘meh’.

Having read the synopsis, I was surprised to see that none of the characters featured in the story were named “Corisi”. Which seemed odd, as that’s the series title. I was even more confused when I started listening, because the entire first chapter is about a little girl called Judy who has been told she has to re-do her school project – a family tree. According to the blurb, the main characters in this novel are called Sebastian, Heather and Ava; Judy talks to her Aunt Alethea and mentions Uncle Alessandro… but there’s no mention of anyone called Sebastian, Heather or Ava. I thought I’d requested the wrong book, or been sent a copy that had been marked with the wrong title! (It’s happened before). As the chapters progressed (Judy turns up again in the middle and then right at the end) it became clear that there’s an overarching plot that seems to do with Judy’s desire to find out her family’s secrets, but the framing device just didn’t work. Maybe it worked better in print, where it’s easier to flip pages or jump to the next chapter, but in audio it’s not so easy to do that; I didn’t know if, by skipping to the next chapter, I’d miss anything important (I wouldn’t have, as it turned out), so I had to stick with it until the story “proper” began in the next chapter.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Risk Taker (Mixed Messages #3) by Lily Morton (audiobook) – Narrated by Joel Leslie

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Being in love with your best friend is hard.

Henry’s the odd man out. All his friends are settling down, and his reputation as the hook-up king of London seems more like a curse than a blessing, these days. Especially when it keeps photojournalist Ivo, his best friend and the brilliant man he’s loved since they were 15, at arm’s length. But that’s where Ivo wants him, right? Putting aside his feelings, Henry decides to give up casual sex and look for the real deal.

After all, he has no chance with Ivo. Or, does he?

Henry is everything to Ivo. Best friend, soul mate, the one person who has never let him down. The one person he is loyal to above everything and everyone. But Henry’s in a box marked best friend, and that’s where Ivo’s kept him for nearly 20 years, despite steadily falling in love with the gentle man. And besides, why would Henry want to date Ivo? Burned out and injured, he’s the walking embodiment of damaged.

Distance has helped Henry and Ivo keep a lid on their attraction, but when they find themselves in the same city for a change -Ivo hurt and needing assistance and Henry more than willing to provide it – the two best friends grow closer than ever, forcing a realization and a decision.

Risk their friendship for their hearts? Or can they have both?

Rating: Narration – A; Content – B+

Risk Taker is book three in Lily Morton’s Mixed Messages series, and in it, the author turns her focus to Henry Ashworth, who is Gabe’s (Rule Breaker) former college roommate and closest friend. Handsome, witty, clever Henry has appeared in both the previous books, coming across as someone who’s got his shit together – although his ability to offer wryly insightful relationship advice when his friends need a little nudge in the right direction is rather at odds with his penchant for casual sex in nightclub toilets. For years, he’s been content with a series of NSA hook-ups, but has lately started to realise that lifestyle isn’t working for him anymore and, having watched his close friends fall in love and settle down, decides it’s time he started looking for something a bit more long-term.

I’m going to find someone who wants me: Henry, the family lawyer who loves his dog, works hard and sometimes comes home late and knackered. Someone who will embrace the life I yearn for. Monogamy and a true partnership that works because the couple love each other.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.