Just Business (Takeover #2) by Anna Zabo (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma

just business

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Justin White may not look like an up-and-coming corporate superstar, but his new boss knows that he has the smarts, grit, and determination to succeed. Now he just has to convince his company’s CFO, Eli Ovadia. Unfortunately, Justin can’t seem to keep his cool around the domineering Eli, and soon he finds himself taking their heat from the boardroom into the bedroom.

Still haunted by a tragic accident that left him with a wounded leg and broken heart, Eli has a need to be in control. But his desire for Justin makes him want to lose that control and push them both far beyond their limits. Will his need to dominate Justin drive him away, or will Eli find a way to be the man he needs for both of them?

Rating: Narration – A: Content – B

Anna Zabo is a new-to-me author, and I picked up Just Business (book two in the Takeover series) because I’m on a narrator glom (and it was in the Audible Romance Package). It’s a steamy, BDSM-themed romance, and to be honest, isn’t something I’d likely have chosen to read or listen to had it not been for the fact that I’d happily listen to Iggy Toma announcing arrivals and departures at Waterloo station.

Justin White is a clever, ambitious young man studying for his MBA and working as a barista in order to make ends meet. One of his regular customers is Sam Anderson, the CEO of a small but dynamic consulting firm – and Justin has overheard him talking with his friend and colleague, Eli Ovadia, about the fact that he needs to hire a new assistant. Justin is barely keeping his head above water financially, between helping his family, his tuition and living expenses, and he really wants the job; he has the right education and experience and knows he could do a lot worse than learn how to run a business from Sam Anderson – so he gathers his courage and hands Sam the application he’s prepared. He’s invited for an interview and gets the job.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Love will grow through the cracks you leave open.

Ranch hand Roe Davis absolutely never mixes business with pleasure – until he runs into his boss, Travis Loving, at the only gay bar within 200 miles.

Getting involved with the ranch owner is a bad idea, but Roe’s and Travis’s bedroom kinks line up against one another like a pair of custom-cut rails. As long as they’re both clear this is sex on the side, no relationship, no interfering with the job, they could make it work.

Shut out by his family years ago, Roe survived by steadfastly refusing to settle into so much as a post office box. As his affair with Travis grows into more than just sex, Roe’s past catches up with him, threatening the thin ray of happiness he’s found, reminding him it’s well past time he went on his way.

Even a loner gets lonely, and at this point, there’s nowhere left to run. The shame and sorrow of what he’s lost will stay with Roe wherever he goes – until he’s ready to let love lead him home.

Rating: Narration – A : Content – A-

I’ve been on another narrator glom recently, and as Iggy Toma has recorded a number of books by Heidi Cullinan, I’ve been on a bit of an author glom, too! Originally published in 2015, Nowhere Ranch is a standalone romance featuring a strong element of BDSM that, I admit, isn’t normally my cup of tea; but I’ve come to trust this author and this narrator and so I decided to pick it up. While there were a couple of things that pushed me just a bit outside my comfort zone, I’m glad I listened to it, because at heart, this is an intense, deeply romantic and poignant love story about two lonely men who find something fundamental to their happiness in one another.

The opening line just about says it all:

My name is Monroe Davis, and this is the story of how I found home.

Roe grew up on the family farm in Algona, Iowa, but left after his mother found his stash of gay porn and his conservative, religious family wanted him to get counselling from the local pastor, date girls and… basically stop being gay. After that, Roe ran around town for a while getting into trouble and ended up doing a few months behind bars. After he got out of prison, he left Algona and has drifted around, finding work here and there on a few ranches throughout the Midwest, finally making his way to the aptly named Nowhere Ranch in north western Nebraska, a small ‘hobby’ ranch the size of a large farm that’s owned by divorced former mathematics professor Travis Loving.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Trust With a Chaser (Rainbow Cove #1) by Annabeth Albert (audiobook) – Narrated by Marc Bachmann and Iggy Toma

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

One hot cop. One bar owner out for redemption. One smoking-hot summer fling destined to leave scorch marks…

Mason Hanks has returned to Rainbow Cove, Oregon with one goal in mind: turn the struggling coastal community into a thriving LGBTQ tourism destination. Step one is transforming an old bar and grill into a gay-friendly eatery. Step two? Don’t piss off Nash Flint, the very hot, very stern chief of police who’s not so sure he’s on board with Mason’s big plans.

Nash Flint just wants to keep his community safe and enjoy the occasional burger in peace. He’s not big on change nor is he a fan of Mason’s troublemaking family, especially his rowdy older brothers. But Mason slowly wins him over with fantastic cooking and the sort of friendship Nash has been starving for.

When their unlikely friendship takes a turn for the sexy, both men try to steer clear of trouble. Nash believes he’s too set in his ways for Mason, and Mason worries that his family’s reputation will ruin any future with Nash.

Burning up the sheets in secret is a surefire way to crash and burn, and discovery forces a heart-wrenching decision – is love worth the risk of losing everything?

Rating: Narration – B/A : Content – B+

Having really enjoyed Annabeth Albert’s recently concluded Out of Uniform series, I’ve been seeking out her backlist titles in audio (my preferred way of playing catch-up!), and decided to try Trust with a Chaser, the story of a guy who returns to his home town to set up a business, and his under-the-radar romance with the Mr. Grumpy-Pants local police chief. The fact that Iggy Toma – who has quickly become a firm favourite – is one of the narrators certainly factored into my decision, although I haven’t listened to Marc Bachmann before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on that score. I did have a few niggles about his performance in the end, but it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of what proved to be a tender, sexy romance with a May/December (or maybe June/October!) vibe.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Riven (Riven #1) by Roan Parrish (audiobook) – Narrated by Iggy Toma and Chris Chambers

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Theo Decker might be the lead singer of Riven, but he hates being a rock star. The paparazzi, the endless tours, being recognized everywhere he goes – it all makes him squirm. The only thing he doesn’t hate is the music. Feeling an audience’s energy as they lose themselves in Riven’s music is a rush unlike anything else…until he meets Caleb Blake Whitman. Caleb is rough and damaged, yet his fingers on his guitar are pure poetry. And his hands on Theo? They’re all he can think about. But Caleb’s no groupie – and one night with him won’t be enough.

Just when Caleb is accepting his new life as a loner, Theo Decker slinks into it and turns his world upside down. Theo’s sexy and brilliant and addictively vulnerable, and all Caleb wants is another hit. And another. That’s how he knows Theo’s trouble. Caleb can’t even handle performing these days. How the hell is he going to survive an affair with a tabloid superstar? But after Caleb sees the man behind the rock star, he begins to wonder if Theo might be his chance at a future he thought he’d lost forever.

Rating: Narration – B+/B- : Content – B

I picked up Riven mostly because I’d recently read and loved its follow up, Rend, but also because I’d so enjoyed Iggy Toma’s performance in Heart of the Steal, which Ms. Parrish co-authored with Avon Gale, and was keen to listen to more of his work. Riven is a poignant, beautifully written story about two men drawn together by their love of music; and the way the author writes about music and how it works and what it means to both characters is vividly descriptive. The prose is often lyrical – very appropriately so given the subject matter – and while on the surface this might seem like a fairly simple love story, the themes running through it are anything but, as one character battles addiction and the other must leave behind a past filled with indifference and rejection and learn to live for himself if he’s to find true happiness.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Heart of the Steal by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish (audiobook) – Narrated by Kirt Graves and Iggy Toma

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Responsible, disciplined William Fox channeled his love for art and his faith in the rules into being an FBI Art Crimes agent. Right and wrong, justice and injustice – the differences are clear, and Will has spent his career drawing a line between them. Maybe his convictions have cost him relationships, but he’s not willing to compromise what he knows is right. Until the night he meets Amory Vaughn.

As the head of his family’s philanthropic foundation, Vaughn knows very well that being rich and powerful can get him almost anything he wants. And when he meets endearingly grumpy and slightly awkward William Fox, he wants him more than he’s wanted anything. Vaughn is used to being desired for his name and his money, but Will doesn’t care about either.

When Vaughn falls back on old habits and attempts to impress Will by stealing a painting Will admires, their nascent bond blows up in his face. But Vaughn isn’t willing to give up on the glimpse of passion he saw the night he took Will apart. Before Will knows it, he’s falling for the man he should have arrested, and Vaughn has to realize that some things can’t be bought or stolen. Love has to be given freely. But can a man who lives by the rules, and a man who thinks the rules don’t apply to him, ever see eye to eye?

Rating: Narration – A : Content – B

Heart of the Steal is the first (and so far, only) collaboration between popular m/m romance authors Avon Gale and Roan Parrish. I confess that I haven’t yet read or listened to anything by either author, but this sounded interesting, and when it popped up at Audible with the names of two experienced narrators attached, I decided to give it a whirl. The synopsis led me to think the story would be some sort of light-hearted cat-and-mouse caper featuring a billionaire philanthropist who succumbs to the occasional instance of light fingers, and a starchy FBI art crimes specialist. But while that dichotomy is the catalyst for the romance, the bulk of the novel consists basically of a well-put together love story between opposites, two men from very different worlds and social backgrounds who struggle to work out how – and even if – they can fit into each other’s lives. Maybe if I’d read the book I might have been a little disappointed, but Kirt Graves and Iggy Toma deliver such fabulously engaging performances that I was happy to just go with the flow and let them take me wherever they – and the story – wanted me to go!

Will Fox isn’t exactly overjoyed at being dragged to a party by his twin sister, Charlotte. It’s the end of a long week, he’s tired, and making small talk with the super-rich isn’t his idea of a fun evening, but Charlotte’s event planning company has catered the party so he goes along to support her. Part way through the evening, she points out new arrival Amory Vaughn, one of the wealthiest men in the country and head of the Vaughn Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that administers and contributes to a number of charities. Vaughn is gorgeous – striking, well-dressed, urbanely charming, with a southern drawl that was pure old money – and Will can’t take his eyes off him, embarrassed when he’s caught staring and completely unable to return the flirtatious wink Vaughn sends his way. When Vaughn starts making his way towards him, Will bolts; he’s terrible at flirting and has no wish to make an idiot of himself, so he heads downstairs to take in the host’s art collection – but isn’t alone for long. Vaughn makes clear his interest very quickly, and Will is helpless to resist the pull of the attraction that’s been zinging between them ever since they made eye-contact. It’s the hottest sexual encounter of his life – and likely to be the only one they’ll ever share.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.