The Billionaire’s Wake-up-call Girl by Annika Martin (audiobook) – Narrated by Neva Nevarre and Jason Clarke

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

When my manager assigns me the task of finding a new wake-up call service for our CEO, I think, how hard can this be? Answer: practically impossible.

It turns out that no wake-up call company in the world will take him on as a client. They’ve all had enough of his surly personality. So, in an effort not to lose my job, I secretly start making the calls myself, every day at 4:30 am sharp. OMG yes, you read that right – four freaking thirty in the morning.

Here’s a confession: I’m not the nicest wake-up-call girl at that hour. Hello! Who wakes up before the roosters are even crowing? Luckily, he doesn’t seem to mind my get-your-ass-out-of-bed attitude.

Day by day, we’re becoming closer, and the calls start turning hot…like pay-by-the-minute hot and oh-so-wild. Snuggled under the covers with the moonlight streaming through the windows, we divulge our secrets to each other, but the one thing that he can never find out is that the sexy vixen who wakes him up every morning is just the lowly assistant who wears frumpy dresses. I can only imagine his disappointment.

Now, he wants to take me out on a date and he’s scouring Manhattan to find me. He’s an overachieving billionaire bent on a mission. How much longer can I keep up this charade?

Rating: Narration – B/A ; Content – B- 

Annika Martin’s books have been recommended to me a few times as feel-good, sexy romantic comedies, and when I saw that Jason Clarke was one of the narrators on The Billionaire’s Wake-up-call Girl, it sealed the deal and I picked it up for review. #ImshallowandIdontcare. And the story is exactly what I was led to expect; fun and steamy with a gorgeous geeky hero (complete with lab coat and glasses!) and a snarky, cookie-loving heroine. It proved to be an easy, light-hearted listen, and the two narrators made the most of it; and although I did have a few quibbles about the story (and there wasn’t enough Jason narration!) I enjoyed it overall.

Lizzie Cooper was living her dream until her scumbag ex-boyfriend took her to the cleaners, stealing everything she had and forcing her to close the flourishing bakery business she’d worked hard for and loved. He also left her in a massive amount of debt courtesy of money he’d borrowed in her name from a loan shark who has given her a month to pay what’s owed or else. (Quibble #1 – I couldn’t help asking myself why she didn’t go to the police.) She decides to move – temporarily – to New York in order to take a short term job to work on the social media and online presence of Vossameer Inc., a pharmaceutical company whose main claim to fame is the invention of a life-saving medical gel and whose website “looks like it was made by depressed robots in 1998.”

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

A Wicked Kind of Husband (Longhope Abbey #1) by Mia Vincy (audiobook) – Narrated by Kate Reading

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

It was the ideal marriage of convenience… until they met.

Cassandra DeWitt has seen her husband only once – on their wedding day two years earlier – and this arrangement suits her perfectly. She has no interest in the rude, badly behaved man she married only to secure her inheritance. She certainly has no interest in his ban on her going to London. Why, he’ll never even know she is there.

Until he shows up in London too, and Cassandra finds herself sharing a house with the most infuriating man in England.

Joshua DeWitt has his life exactly how he wants it. He has no need of a wife disrupting everything, especially a wife intent on reforming his behavior. He certainly has no need of a wife who is intolerably amiable, insufferably reasonable…and irresistibly kissable.

As the unlikely couple team up to battle a malicious lawsuit and launch Cassandra’s wayward sister, passion flares between them. Soon the day must come for them to part…but what if one of them wants their marriage to become real?

Rating: Narration – A; Content – A-

Mia Vincy’s début historical romance, A Wicked Kind of Husband, came out in the middle of 2018, but I didn’t get around to reading it until December – and was so impressed by it that it was a last-minute entry into my Best Books of 2018 list. Historical romance has been in a bit of a slump for the past couple of years, so it was a huge relief to find this gem, a very well-written, funny, tender and poignant marriage of convenience story featuring complex, well-drawn characters and peppered with superb-one liners and humour that never feels forced. In fact, even as I was reading it, I just knew that if the book ever came out in audio format, Kate Reading would be the ideal narrator; that dry wit and banter was just crying out for her wonderful deadpan delivery – and what do you know? Sometimes wishes really do come true!

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Mainly by Moonlight (Bedknobs & Broomsticks #1) by Josh Lanyon (audiobook) – Narrated by Kale Williams

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

A gay high-society wedding. A stolen book of spells. A love-threatening lie.

Can a witch avoid a murder rap without revealing the supernatural truth? Cosmo Saville guiltily hides a paranormal secret from his soon-to-be husband. And if he can’t undo a powerful love spell, uncertainty threatens his nuptial magic. But when he’s arrested for allegedly killing a longtime rival, he could spend his honeymoon behind bars.

Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith never believed in love until Cosmo came along. Falling head over heels for the elegant antiques dealer is an enchantment he never wants to break. So, when all fingers point to Cosmo’s guilt, John races to prove his fiancée’s innocence before they take their vows.

As Cosmo searches for the real killer among the arcane aristocracy, John warns him to leave it to the police. But with an unseen enemy threatening to expose Cosmo’s true nature, the couple’s blissful future could shatter like a broken charm. Can Cosmo find the lost grimoire, clear his name, and keep John’s love alive, or will black magic “rune” their wedding bells?

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B

Josh Lanyon’s paranormal mystery/romance Bedknobs and Broomsticks series is a little bit different to her normal fare. Mainly by Moonlight, the first book (of three), is a fun and mostly light-hearted tale in which San Francisco antiques dealer Cosmo Saville – who also happens to be a witch – finds himself suspected of murder just a few days before his wedding to the city’s Police Commissioner, John Galbraith. In the course of the story, listeners are introduced to the magical society of the Craft and its hierarchy, and to an interesting principal and secondary cast; but please note that the book sets in motion a number of plot points that will run across all three instalments, so listeners will need to listen to all three books in order to experience the whole of the story.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Orientation (Borealis Investigations #1) by Gregory Ashe (audiobook) – Narrated by Charlie David

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Shaw and North are best friends, private detectives, and in danger of losing their agency. A single bad case, followed by crippling lawsuits, has put them on the brink of closing shop. Until, that is, a client walks into their Benton Park office.

Matty Fennmore is young, blond, and beautiful, and he’s in danger. When he asks for Shaw and North’s help foiling a blackmail scheme, the detectives are quick to accept.

The conspiracy surrounding Matty runs deeper than Shaw and North expect. As they dig into the identity of Matty’s blackmailer, they are caught in a web that touches politicians, the local LGBT community, and the city’s police.

An attack on Matty drives home the rising stakes of the case, and Shaw and North must race to find the blackmailer before he can silence Matty. But a budding romance lays bare long-buried feelings between Shaw and North, and as their relationship splinters, solving the case may come at the cost of their friendship.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – A-

Orientation is the first book in Gregory Ashe’s latest series of romantic suspense novels, and it features two long-standing friends who run a detective agency in St. Louis. Mr. Ashe has rapidly become one of my favourite authors; he writes incredibly well-constructed, twisty mysteries and combines them with brilliantly written, superbly developed and complex relationships between his principal characters that just ooze sexual tension and make you want to bang their heads together at the same time as you’re rooting for them to see what’s in front of their noses and just kiss already!

North McKinney and Kingsley Shaw Wilder Aldrich met in their freshman year of college and have been pretty much inseparable ever since. They’re like chalk and cheese – North comes from a blue-collar family of construction workers, while Shaw was born into wealth; North comes across as a hardened cynic whereas Shaw is all wide-eyed innocence… yet something about them just clicked eight years earlier and they’ve been best friends ever since. North was also there for Shaw during the worst time of Shaw’s life; at the end of freshman year, Shaw and his boyfriend Carl were attacked by the West End Slasher, a crazed serial killer who was murdering young gay men across the city. Carl was killed and Shaw was critically injured, but although Shaw recovered physically, the mental scars took much longer to heal, and if it hadn’t been for North’s refusal to let his friend sink into depression and despair, he might not have made it.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Fallen (Deep Ops #2) by Rebecca Zanetti (audiobook) – Narrated by Roger Wayne

This title may be downloaded from Audible

Too quiet. A talented hacker who got caught; Brigid Banaghan is now forced to work with a secret deep ops unit. But she won’t reveal any more to these renegade feds than she has to. Especially not to Raider Tanaka, her control freak of a bodyguard and handler. It’s enough that his body is tensed for action and his heated gaze is always on her….

Too sharp. Raider knows there’s more to his new assignment than he’s been told. Why send a deadly agent of his experience to guard a computer genius – even a gorgeous, unpredictable, undisciplined one? But when Brigid’s estranged father is named in an investigation into Boston’s organized crime, Raider’s mind switches onto high alert, just like his senses…

Too close. To clear her father’s name, Brigid needs Raider’s help. The unit’s idea that she bring a straight-laced fed in as her “fiance” won’t fly, though-not unless Raider can release his inner bad boy and become the rebel Brigid can’t resist…

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B-

I had a few reservations about the love story in Hidden, the first book in Rebecca Zanetti’s Deep Ops romantic suspense series, but I enjoyed Roger Wayne’s narration sufficiently enough to want to give the series another try. There’s a novella –Taken – that comes between Hidden and Fallen (the second book), but I didn’t feel as though I’d missed anything by not reading or listening to it; in fact, Fallen works pretty well as a standalone.
In Hidden, the author introduced listeners to a small and out-on-a-limb branch of the Homeland Defense Department headed up by FBI agent Angus Force, a charismatic but obviously damaged individual whose personal mission – to find the serial killer he supposedly shot and killed five years earlier – turned into an obsession that pretty much derailed his career. He’s been sidelined and tasked with setting up this small unit which is going to end up doing the jobs the bureau doesn’t want to dirty its hands over. The rag-taggle group of agents he’s assembled includes former cop and undercover specialist Malcolm West, hacker Brigid Banaghan, FBI agent Raider Tanaka, former Navy SEAL Clarence Wolfe and department shrink Nari Zhang. Oh, and let’s not forget Force’s booze-loving German Shepherd, Roscoe. They’re a quirky, engaging bunch, and the author has developed strong relationships between them that clearly go beyond the professional; they like and respect each other even if they don’t always show it, and their banter and snark is well done.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

One Perfect Rose (Fallen Angels #7) by Mary Jo Putney (audiobook) – Narrated by Siobhan Waring

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Can a woman with a past and a man with no future find lasting love?

Stephen Kenyon, Duke of Ashburton, has always taken the duties of his rank seriously – until a doctor’s grim diagnosis sends him running from his world of privilege. Traveling incognito, he yearns to experience life to the fullest in what time he has left.

When Stephen rescues a drowning child, he is drawn into the warm embrace of the Fitzgeralds, a family theatrical troupe brimming with laughter and affection. And their enchanting, compassionate daughter, Rosalind Jordan, stirs emotions he’s never known before.

Widowed young, Rosalind is happy organizing her exuberant, close-knit family. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with a quiet stranger, whose wit and kindness speak to her heart. When Stephen tells Rosalind the truth of his condition and proposes marriage, she accepts despite the shadow of inevitable loss.

Together, they find profound passion and companionship. Yet neither dares speak of love, for only a miracle will give them the future they desperately desire…

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B+

One Perfect Rose is the seventh and final book in Mary Jo Putney’s Fallen Angels series, and was originally published in 1997. Audiobook versions of the first two books appeared a few years ago (Thunder and Roses in 2013, and Dancing on the Wind in 2014), but the narration was fairly poor in both (I reviewed Dancing on the Wind, and it was horrible!), and production halted until earlier this year, when four of the remaining books were released (I can’t see that book four has been recorded), thankfully with a much better narrator at the helm. As a result, listening to One Perfect Rose was a pleasure rather than a chore!

Stephen Kenyon, Duke of Ashburton, is a quiet, reserved man who has always done what was expected of him. He’s taken his duties and his responsibilities towards family, dependents and title seriously, and he married – and was faithful to – the woman chosen for him, even though he didn’t love her nor she him. Now aged thirty-six, and with his stentorian, exacting father dead, his dukedom prospering and the mourning period for his late wife ended, Stephen is finally able to think about living for himself for a change. He plans to travel, to do things that make him happy – until his physician informs him that he has a tumefaction of the stomach and liver and has, at best, only three to six months to live.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Well Met (Well Met #1) by Jen DeLuca (audiobook) – Narrated by Brittany Pressley

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – C+

There was quite a bit of pre-publication buzz about Jen Deluca’s Well Met, and positive reviews together with the fact that I’ve enjoyed Brittany Pressley’s work in the past suggested it would be an audiobook I’d enjoy, so I requested a copy for review. The final verdict? Mixed feelings. The narration is excellent, but the story and characters felt somewhat underdeveloped. I also missed the dual PoV that’s common in so many contemporary romances. There’s a reason we don’t get the hero’s perspective, but the lack of it does make him seem rather two-dimensional, which, for a hero-centric reader/listener like me, wasn’t ideal.

After losing her job and breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Emily has temporarily relocated to the small Maryland town of Willow Creek to be with her older sister, who is recuperating from a car accident. She figures it’s as good a place as any to lick her wounds and figure out where she goes from here. Emily has also assumed the role of ‘Adult in Charge’ when it comes to her niece, Caitlin, and when the story opens has driven her to the local high school on a Saturday morning so that Caitlin can sign up to take part in the town’s annual Renaissance Faire. Cait is very excited about joining the faire for the first time – but Emily isn’t so enthusiastic when she’s informed that because her niece is only fourteen, she won’t be able to ‘do Faire’ unless she’s accompanied by an adult. Gah! But what can Emily do? Cait is so excited and would be SO disappointed not to be able to take part so Emily agrees… although her first glimpse of the gorgeous Mitch – “Tall, blond, muscled, with a great head of hair and a tight T-shirt. Gaston crossed with Captain America with a generic yet mesmerising handsomeness” is what really tips the balance.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.