Undone (Vino and Veritas #18) by Leslie McAdam (audiobook) – Narrated by Tim Paige & Iggy Toma

undione

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

My new roommate has the worst taste in men. I mean, Murph’s special. He’s funny and flamboyant and full of life.

While I’m straight, even I can tell these guys aren’t good enough for him. I had to yell at one date, toss another one out the door, and throw a beer in another’s face.

Kind of embarrassing, really. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.

I ask my sister what’s wrong with me and she says I’m jealous. Jealous? Please. Me? Come on.

Only thing is, I hate the thought of Murph kissing any guy. Ever.

Except, maybe . . . me?

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – C

Leslie McAdam is a new-to-me author, so as has been the case with many of the audiobooks in the Vino and Veritas series, it was the names of the narrators that caught my eye. Tim Paige and Iggy Toma are both accomplished performers with a strong track-record in m/m romance, so I decided to take a chance on Undone, a bi-awakening roomies-to-lovers romance between a self-declared fabulous, sparkly princess and the sweet, nerdy insurance salesman he moves in with. It’s based on a story originally posted on Reddit in which a guy was worried he was being homophobic towards his gay roommate only to realise he’d fallen in love with him!

Jason Falkner is a nice guy. He’s kind and sweet, but he’s tended to just coast through his life, going along with what other people want and letting others make decisions for him. He works for his dad’s insurance firm but doesn’t enjoy it – and doesn’t have an alternative he feels passionately enough about to be prepared to rock the boat with his dad. When we meet him, Jason is about to meet the new roommate his sister has found for him who turns out to be… not exactly what he’d expected. Not that he’d had any expectations really, but if he had, they didn’t include a cheeky, flamboyant and vivacious gay guy with fantastic hair, glossed-lips and a propensity to talk at a mile a minute. David Murphy – known to all simply as Murph – is a funny, flirty force of nature, his outgoing personality a complete contrast to Jason’s quieter, more thoughtful one, but they hit it off straight away, and start to bond over a love of cooking and old movies.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Showstopper (Vino and Veritas #17) by Regina Kyle (audiobook) – Narrated by Cooper North & Iggy Toma

showstopper

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

I swore I wouldn’t do this again. Mix sports, school, and sex. But right now the only thing standing between me and the NHL is six feet of frenemy packed into a pair of form-fitting jeans that have me thinking all kinds of things I shouldn’t. Mostly how to get him out of them.

I don’t just want Kolby. I need him. Because I’ve got to pass this theater class—yeah, I said theater—if I’m going to keep my spot on the team. When tutoring sessions turn into dates-not-dates over Shipley Cider at Vino and Veritas, I realize it’s going to be harder than I thought to keep my hands on my stick and off of Kolby. Worse, I think I might be falling for him. But I’m not ready for that. I want to keep this thing between us on the down-low for now.

But Kolby hates secrets. Especially his own . . .

Rating:  Narration – A-; Content – C

Regina Kyle’s Showstopper is the – I’ve honestly lost count – book in the Vino and Veritas** series, but fortunately, all the books are standalones with the odd cameo appearance by characters from some of the other books, so you can absolutely listen to them in any order. This one is a fairly run-of-the-mill New Adult/Contemporary Romance between two students at Moo U in Burlington, one of them a recent arrival and star hockey player, the other a hard-working, happy-go-lucky drama student. The narration by Cooper North and Iggy Toma was the big draw for me (surprise!) and they do a great job, but even they can’t disguise the fact that the story is a bit over-long or make up for a crass plot-point in the second half.

Adam has recently transferred to Moo U (for reasons he wants to keep under wraps) but because his transfer happened so late, most of the classes he wanted to take are full and he’s ended up having to take Improvisation. Desperate to swap it for something else, he goes to the registrar’s office to arrange it, but is annoyed when the cute guy he speaks to – whom Adam mentally labels “Hot Work-Study Guy” – refuses to make the change. HWSG explains that it’s not that he doesn’t want to help, there just isn’t any other option, but Adam doesn’t believe him, thinking it’s some kind of passive-aggressive way of making life difficult because HWSG doesn’t like jocks.

**Goodreads lists it as #17

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Encore (Famous #4) by Eden Finley (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma

encoreThis title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Blake

Never make a bet with Jordan Brooks. That’s how I’ve ended up here, doing a movie that risks my entire acting career. Taking on a gay role when I’m straight is problematic in its own right, but when production gets put on hold, and a fabricated story breaks out in the media, Jordan and I have to go into hiding.

Our livelihoods are put on the line all because of an ill-timed photo and Jordan’s bitter ex-boyfriend. Scandals, lies, and PR nightmares. Welcome to Hollywood.

Jordan

Why am I always drawn to the straight ones? You’d think I’d learn my lesson, but when our movie is delayed, I repeat old patterns. My plan to bury my hurt and anger toward my ex by “method acting” with Blake Monroe is foolish. But Blake is as irresistible as he is good-looking, and he settles into his role easier than I thought he would. In fact, he likes it a little too much.

There are too many PR problems hooking up with Blake for real would bring, especially when the media thinks he’s the reason my relationship fell apart. Yet, I can’t walk away from him, and it seems he can’t walk away from me either.

Rating:  Narration – B+; Content – B-

Encore, the fourth and final book in Eden Finley’s Famous series about the members of the world’s biggest boy band, is Blake’s story. The record label gave him the “quiet one” persona, and he got used to being “the other guy”, the one people always forgot was even IN the band! But that’s sort of worked to his advantage now, as he’s become more well-known for the movies he’s made since the band split than for being in Eleven.

We met Blake briefly at the end of Fandom, when Denver and Mason went to see him in LA on the set of his latest movie, and we also met his future (unbeknownst to him) love interest, out and proud actor Jordan Brooks, who made a bet with Blake to get Blake to take a leading role in the queer rom-com** he’s about to star in. Blake lost the bet (Jordan insisted Mason and Denver were together; Blake knew they were but couldn’t say anything and had to deny it) and agreed to take the part. After all, maybe this is the role that will enable him to break out of his action-hero stereotype and allow him to grow and develop as an actor.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Fandom (Famous #3) by Eden Finley (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma

fandom

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Denver: Everyone remembers the night the boy band Eleven broke up. Hearts shattered around the world, including my own.

I made a mistake, and I’ve been avoiding bandmate Mason Nash ever since.

At first it was hard, but 18 months ago, he made it easier by leaving Hollywood and disappearing.

When Eleven reunion talks start, I’m against it completely. I could really do with the publicity, but I don’t want to face Mason again. I’m sure he won’t want to see me either.

Mason: I don’t miss LA or anyone in it. Not even the guys from Eleven. So, when they turn up on my doorstep talking about reunions, the last thing I want to do is hear them out.

I hold strong, too. Until my eyes land on Denver Smith. My ex-best friend.

Two and a half years ago, he ghosted me, and I still don’t know why. I want answers – I miss him – but I don’t want to let him back into my life if there’s a chance he’ll walk away again.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – B-

Eden Finley’s Famous series about what happens to the members of the biggest boy band on the planet after they split up continues with book three, Fandom. It’s a friends-to-lovers/’gay awakening’ story that, while containing some of the author’s trademark humour and banter also touches on some serious issues – alcoholism, body image, depression, anxiety, loss – that make it feel more solemn in tone than the previous books in the series.

Since Eleven broke up, Harley, Ryder and Blake have been doing pretty well, but the same isn’t true of Denver Smith and Mason Nash. Mason released a solo album which tanked and then just fell off the grid, and Denver’s solo career is hanging in the balance so he’s taken a gig as a judge on an X-Factor/Pop Idol type show, hoping that the bump in recognition he’ll get from being on TV will get him a second album deal.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Unguarded (Vino & Veritas #10) by Jay Hogan (audiobook) – Narrated by Gary Furlong & Iggy Toma

unguarded

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

I fled Boston and my cheating jerk of an ex with $300 and a lip gloss in my pocket. Waking up the next day in Burlington, Vermont, with a crick in my back and a frozen ass wasn’t exactly in the plan. If there was one. Which there wasn’t. Story of my life.

Three hours later and I’ve been hired as temporary help in the local veterinary and grooming clinic, which is kind of impressive since I know zip about animals and even less about grooming. But one thing I do know – I’m crushing hard on the sexy, absentminded vet for whom I work.

My life is a hot mess. The last thing I need is another relationship. Emmett pushes all my buttons, but he isn’t out. He’s overwhelmed with a business to run and a son to look after and the kind of domestic life I never thought I wanted.

I should walk away.

But Emmett believes in me, and I might just be starting to believe in myself. As different as we are, is it possible we’re exactly what the other needs?

Rating: Narration – A/B; Content – A-

Unguarded is my favourite (and the best so far) of the Vino and Veritas series – a warm, sexy and emotionally satisfying romance between a small-town veterinary surgeon and a snarky ex-pat Kiwi in which Jay Hogan once again demonstrates her talent for creating complex, relatable characters and finding the right balance between light and dark elements in her stories. It’s only been a couple of months since I read the book, but having two of my all-time favourite narrators on board for the audio meant I wasn’t going to waste any time before experiencing it again.

The book opens with Tai Samuels freezing his butt off as he’s trying to sleep in his crappy car, when he’s seen by the local police and told to move on. After catching his long-term boyfriend cheating on him with a pair of twinks earlier that evening, Tai stormed out with nothing but the clothes on his back and a few hundred dollars in his wallet, and drove. It’s not the first time his ex has cheated on him – and Tai curses himself for his stupidity in having forgiven him – but enough is enough and he got in his car and left Boston behind as fast as he could. Which is how he’s ended up in Vermont in clothes more suitable for clubbing than a New England winter.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Spotlight (Famous #2) by Eden Finley (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma

spotlight

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Ryder

When I quit the biggest boy band on the planet, I was supposed to get my life back.

It’s not that I wanted to leave the spotlight. I felt like I had to for my daughter. Her picture shouldn’t be splashed all over the tabloids. I thought I could do this parenting thing on my own, but it’s obvious I need help. I just didn’t expect to find it in the form of a gorgeous guy I meet by chance. I can put my attraction aside for my daughter’s sake. I’ve put my whole life on hold for her.

If only he wasn’t so tempting.

Lyric

Working as a nanny is my backup to my backup plan. My first plan is fame, but something always holds me back. When I randomly run into Ryder Kennedy and end up becoming his daughter’s nanny, I figure it’ll be a short-term thing. But then Ryder finds out I can sing. He wasn’t ready to give up music, and now he’s found a new way to have it: through me. He wants to produce my demo and make me a star. He says I was born to be in the spotlight, but I think I was born to run from it.

It doesn’t help that each day I’m with him and his daughter, the deeper I fall into fantasies of being part of their family. And not just as the nanny.

Rating: Narration – A: Content – B+

Spotlight is the second book in Eden Finley’s Famous series, which tells the stories of the members of the world’s biggest Boy Band after it breaks up. The story has a number of things in common with book one, Pop Star – a closeted lead character, a realistic portrayal of the workings of the music business and the way so much of the media treats celebrities – but those similarities didn’t outweigh the rest of the story or make me feel as though I was listening to the same book all over again.

When Ryder Kennedy left Eleven, it wasn’t because of personality clashes or creative differences – it was because he wanted to be a proper father to his young daughter, Kaylee. Two years later, and with Kaylee now four-going-on-five, Ryder has his hands full working as a producer as well as being a single parent of the rather precocious child he’s trying desperately to keep well away from the public eye.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

Guarding His Melody (Enhanced World #4) by Victoria Sue (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Deaf since childhood, Sebastian Armitage had a promising musical future until his dreams were shattered when he transformed at 12 years old.

In a world where enhanced humans are terrorized and imprisoned, his life shrinks around him even more as he suffers the torment of his father’s experimental research to enable him to hear.

Gray Darling – struggling with the scars left by his experience in Afghanistan – agrees to provide short-term personal protection when anonymous threats escalate into assault on those closest to Seb.

As the lines between protection and attraction blur, Gray and Seb can’t ignore the intense feelings drawing them together. But secrets and betrayals might prove deadly, unless Gray is willing to risk it all. And Seb must find the strength to make his own future and sing his own song…

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B-

Victoria Sue’s Enhanced World series features a group of characters with special abilities known as (surprise, surprise!) the Enhanced. Most of the books in the series centre around a specially created Florida-based FBI unit that partners an Enhanced with a regular human, but Guarding His Melody (book four) is an offshoot of the main series which means it’s perfectly possible to listen to it as a standalone. The author does a good job of making it possible for new listeners to jump in here, giving all the necessary backstory without info-dumping, but for the purposes of this review, here’s a quick rundown. The Enhanced are humans who, in childhood or adolescence, suddenly develop special abilities, which range from super strength to the ability to become invisible, walk through walls, destroy metal, x-ray vision … it’s a long list and there’s no way of knowing beforehand who will transform, let alone what their powers might be. The only things all Enhanced have in common are 1) an identifying facial mark or scar which appears literally overnight when they undergo their transformation; 2) when they transform, their parents are given the choice to keep them in their households or send them away – a disturbing number take the latter option; 3) they are feared and viewed with suspicion, distrust and even hatred by the ‘normal’ public, and 4) they don’t have the same rights as everyone else.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Burn Zone (Hotshots #1) by Annabeth Albert (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma


This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Smokejumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smokejumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them – chemistry Linc insists on ignoring – is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, nevermind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – B+

Book one in Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series about the members of the elite wildland firefighter crew based in central Oregon, Burn Zone is a sexy age-gap romance between two smoke jumpers (and I had to look up exactly what that job is!) – Lincoln Reid, who’s been on the job for a number of years, and rookie Jacob Hartman – who happens to be the younger brother of Linc’s best friend Wyatt.

When the book opens, we meet Linc and Wyatt as they’re finishing up with an end-of-season situation check. Wyatt is pissed because nineteen-year-old Jacob came out to the family at the Sunday dinner table, and although he doesn’t say it in so many words, he obviously thinks that Linc had something to do with it. Wyatt is one of the very few people in their small hometown – or at work – who knows Linc is gay, but even though his subtle and not-so-subtle homophobia has dented their lifelong friendship, the pair have remained friends, because Wyatt and the entire Hartman clan have been more Linc’s family than Linc’s own ever was. But Jacob hasn’t made much of a secret of his huge crush on Linc, and Wyatt angrily tells to Linc to keep his hands off – no matter that Linc has never planned to go there with Jacob, even though he’s cute and his youthful confidence and warm smile are very attractive.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Pop Star (Famous #1) by Eden Finley (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Harley

What happens when the most successful boy band on the planet breaks up? How about 20,000 fans screaming my name. But the price of fame comes with an increased risk to my safety. I’ve been avoiding the dreaded B word for as long as I can, but after a close call with a rambunctious fan, I can’t do it anymore. It’s time to give in. I need to hire a full-time bodyguard. And when he shows up, he not only screams badass, he’s another B word I try to stay away from: boyfriend material.

Brix

Protecting people is not what my company usually does, but the boss knows I need money, and the pop star is offering an insane amount to live with him and make sure no more crazy fans break into his house. I’m doing it for the money and nothing else. He may be the prettiest man I’ve ever seen, and I may feel sorry for the celebrity life he’s been forced into since he was a teenager, but that doesn’t mean anything. Just because he fascinates me, that doesn’t mean I like him. It doesn’t.

Professionalism. I’m gonna live it. Breathe it. Enforce it… Mostly.

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – B-

If you’ve read or listened to Hat Trick, the final book in Eden Finley’s Fake Boyfriend series, you’ve already met Harley Valentine, one of the two protagonists in Pop Star, book one in her new Famous series. Harley was a member of Eleven, the most successful, most famous boy-band on the planet, and he came across as a selfish, spoiled brat, especially when he (in effect) blackmailed his former lover Jet Jackson – one of the leads in Hat Trick – to re-join the worldwide tour Jet had quit through burnout and a need to separate himself from Harley because their relationship was so unhealthy. Harley is gay, but isn’t out and can’t come out – his contract has him nicely hamstrung on that score – and even though Jet had broken up with him several times, their proximity on tour meant that they often fell into bed again – and Jet had had enough of being Harley’s dirty little secret.

By the time Pop Star opens, Eleven has split and its five members have gone their separate ways. Harley has embarked on a – so far – successful solo career, and is as famous and widely-recognised as ever. It’s clear, however, that he’s not exactly happy; if he’s not touring or recording or doing PR for concerts and albums, he’s holed up writing in his LA home, where he lives with his fiancée Evah – although as was made clear in Hat Trick, their relationship was manufactured by the record label in order to squash any rumours that Harley might be gay. To anyone on the outside looking in, Harley has it all – a beautiful fiancée, a great career, public acclaim and more money than he knows what to do with… but from the inside, it’s a lonely life. Harley doesn’t have any real friends, he’s feeling stifled creatively and he can’t set a foot outside his home without being hounded by paparazzi. And then things take a turn for the worse when he returns home exhausted after a concert and meet-n-greet to discover a young man waiting in his kitchen – a young man he doesn’t know who is clearly fixated on him and who creeps him out. Things are – thankfully – safely resolved, but having turned down the idea of hiring a round-the-clock bodyguard on several occasions because he dislikes the idea of having a permanent shadow even in his personal space, Harley is now forced to concede that it’s probably a good idea after all.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

Hat Trick (Fake Boyfriend #5) by Eden Finley (audiobook) – Narrated by Alexander Cendese and Iggy Toma

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Soren

You know what’s not fun? Going on a Fiji vacation with four other couples. Especially when recently single. What’s even worse is when a past hook-up arrives unannounced. Not only do we have a history, but he’s 10 years younger and a famous rock star. Most importantly, he’s my friend’s little brother. Being trapped on an island with Jet Jackson is going to be sweet torture because all I want is another chance. I just don’t think he’s going to give it to me.

Jet

You know what’s not fun? Escaping one guy who broke my heart only to run into another. Being on the road for three years has left me exhausted. The last thing I want is for Caleb “Soren” Sorensen to try for round two. I can’t fight my draw to him. I’ve never been able to. I’m suddenly back to being the naïve kid who stupidly lusted after a hockey player. All I can think is if I let Soren get close, I’ll walk away from this vacation with a double broken heart.

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B-

Hat Trick is the fifth (and final) novel in Eden Finley’s Fake Boyfriend series, and it’s one I’ve been looking forward to ever since I found out who the central couple would be. As has been the case with the other books in the set, Hat Trick is a light-hearted, low-angst, sexy story with plenty of humour and sharp banter, a couple of likeable principals and engaging secondary cast (in this case, formed mostly of the couples from the previous books). Alexander Cendese and Iggy Toma return to narrate, and deliver their customary strong performances; they’re what drew me to this series in the first place, and although I might have had the odd niggle here and there, they haven’t disappointed.

Hockey player Caleb Sorenson – Soren to his friends – can’t think of anything worse than being stuck on a luxury vacation with your closest friends when those friends are ALL (sickeningly), happily coupled up, especially after breaking up with the long-term boyfriend he risked coming out for. But oh, wait – things could be worse, and rapidly become so when another guest arrives, Jet Jackson, younger brother of Matt (book two, Trick Play) who is now, at twenty-three, famous as the lead singer of up-and-coming band Radioactive… and the guy Soren hooked up with three years earlier without knowing he was his best friends’ little brother. So, um, yeah. Awkward.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.