Off Limits (Secrets Kept #1) by Riley Hart (audiobook) – Narrated by Tim Paige

off limitsThis title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

It started out as a little fun. When there was a man in my building on a hookup app, why not message him?

Only we didn’t meet. We just texted – one night after the other, after the other.

GoodWithHisHands was the perfect escape from my life, where pressure was always on my shoulders: my father’s expectations, the worry about my sister, Maddy, getting sick again, and her ex-husband, Ryder Lynwood, suddenly back and volunteering at the same hospital as me.

It would have been smart to keep my distance from the man who came out as gay, tearing our close families apart and breaking Maddy’s heart. Except Ryder intrigues me. I like talking to him, the same way I enjoy chatting with GoodWithHisHands.

They weren’t supposed to be the same person.

I wasn’t supposed to fall for him. To want him. To need him. Maddy didn’t deserve to get hurt again, and I didn’t need another reason to feel like an outsider in my own family. Ryder was off-limits. I knew that. Still, I couldn’t make myself stay away.

Rating: Narration- B+; Content – C

Off Limits is the first in a new series by Riley Hart – Secrets Kept. Given the premise of this, and of the next book in the series (Pushing the Limits, I infer it will feature romances that are ‘forbidden’ for one reason or another. I admit that my track record with this author is somewhat patchy; I’ve loved some books and have been ambivalent about others, but I liked the sound of this one (guy falls for his ex wife’s brother) and Tim Paige is a reliably good narrator, so I decided to give Off Limits a try.

We meet all the major players in this story in the prologue, which takes place around five years before the story proper. At a family gathering, Ryder Lynwood and his wife Madison announce their intention to seek a divorce, something which will have lasting effects for their two families as well as for themselves. The Lynwood and Hutchinson families have always been close; they do business together, the families have taken holidays together, their children pretty much grew up together, and Ryder and Madison have been best friends forever. But Ryder has, over the last few years, begun to realise that while he loves Mads dearly, he’s never been IN love with her, that he mistook his feelings of deep friendship for something it wasn’t – and also that he’s not sexually attracted to women. A decent man, he tells Mads the truth (and he doesn’t cheat, in case anyone is wondering) and even though she is understandably shocked and heartbroken, they agree to divorce.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Geek Who Saved Christmas by Annabeth Albert (audiobook) – Narrated by Tim Paige

the geek who saved christmas

His grumpy neighbor needs some holiday sunshine….

Gideon Holiday is the perfect neighbor. Need a cup of sugar? Spare folding chair? Extra batteries? He’s always ready to help. And he’s waited years for his hot, grumpy, silver-fox neighbor, Paul, to need him. For anything. But right now, Gideon would be happy if he could just get the Scrooge-like Paul on board with the neighborhood holiday lights fundraiser.

Paul Frost has no intention of decking his halls or blazing any Yule logs. Even if his spunky bowtie-clad neighbor does look perfect for unwrapping, Paul would prefer to hide away until December is done. But when his beloved younger brother announces an unexpected visit, Paul needs all the trimmings for a festive homecoming – and fast.

Luckily, Gideon is there with a color-coded plan to save Christmas. Soon Paul’s hanging lights, trimming trees, and rolling out cookies. And steaming up his new flannel sheets with Gideon. How did that happen?

It’ll take some winter magic to preserve their happiness and keep these rival neighbors together longer than one holiday season.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B

Annabeth Albert’s The Geek Who Saved Christmas is just the ticket if you’re looking for a sexy grumpy/sunshine romance with lots of festive spirit and Christmas cheer. I read it when it came out in November and enjoyed it – and when I saw Tim Paige was narrating the audiobook version, I decided to revisit the story and enjoy it all over again!

Gideon Holiday and Paul Frost have been next-door neighbours for a few years but have never really progressed beyond the ‘nodding acquaintances’ stage. Gideon certainly wouldn’t say no to getting to know the hot silver fox better, but Paul keeps himself to himself and Gideon is resigned to the fact that getting better acquainted isn’t likely to happen. Knowing Paul hasn’t put up so much as a single Christmas decoration in all the time he’s lived there means Gideon is surprised to see him in attendance at the neighbourhood community meeting about this year’s holiday decoration theme – Gideon loves co-ordinating their lights fundraiser every year, selecting the theme, organising the donations and planning various holiday-themed activities – and his presence means that Gideon will at last have the chance to suggest the plan that’s been forming in his mind for a while now, that Paul can contribute to the fundraising efforts by ‘loaning’ Gideon his house. He’ll set up lights on Paul’s house and put them all on timers, so Paul won’t have to do a thing.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

Booklover (Vino and Veritas #6) by J.E. Birk (audiobook) – Narrated by Cooper North & Tim Paige

booklover

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Two guys meet over a stack of romance novels. Soon they’re turning pages late into the night….

Jamie Morin’s college GPA drops every time a cow breaks through a fence, but he’s determined to get his degree and keep his parents’ Vermont dairy farm afloat. He’d rather be reading than milking, but he can’t let his family down…not the way his brother did. So the last thing he needs is distraction in the form of an irresistible bookseller with a mysterious backstory.

Briar Nord has a lifetime of experience proving that happily-ever-afters only happen in his favorite books. But his luck might be changing. He’s got a great job at a bookstore, and he lives in a city that puts maple syrup on everything. But Briar knows not to trust anything or anyone. And that includes a gorgeous farm boy with soulful eyes and too many obligations.

When Jamie joins Briar’s romance novel book club, they both feel an instant connection. Soon they’re turning pages long into the night. But Briar’s past was bound to catch up with him. Sometimes, though, it takes two heroes to write a new ending…

Rating: Narration – A-; Content – B

One of the things I’m enjoying about the Vino and Veritas series is that it’s bringing a number of new-to-me authors to my attention, some of whom I’m planning on reading/listening to again. J.E. Birk is one of my ‘unknowns’, and with two such excellent narrators at the helm, I was happy to jump right in to Booklover, book six in the series. As I’ve mentioned before, all the books work as standalones, so they can be read in any order.

Jamie Moran’s life is… busy. A student at Burlington University (aka Moo U), he’s juggling his studies, his part-time job at the library and the demands of his family’s dairy farm, and barely has enough time to sleep and eat, let alone time for a boyfriend. His one indulgence is his love of romance novels, so he looks forward to attending the new book club that’s been set up at the Vino and Veritas bookstore, and the chance to discuss some of his favourite books with a few like-minded people.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Without You by Marley Valentine (audiobook) – Narrated by Teddy Hamilton and Tim Paige

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Tragedy brought us together, but something stronger made me want to stay.

Julian was the boy next door. My brother’s best friend, he fit with my family in ways I never could. While he and Rhett went on to play house, I left the only life I knew, desperate for a fresh start. Until everything changed.

Heartache came along, and the aftermath of my brother’s death was here to stay. I was now face to face with Julian more than I ever wanted to be.

Being around him brought up all my insecurities, forced me to deal with hard truths, and conjured up feelings I had no business entertaining. He wasn’t the man I thought I knew. He was complex and layered, and inherently beautiful in all the ways I’d never noticed. Not on another person. Not on another man. Not until him.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – B

Marley Valentine is a new-to-me author, and to be honest, this book wasn’t even on my radar until I saw it mentioned on an FB group (I can’t remember which one!) in which someone had asked for recommendations for romances that featured a widow falling for her late husband’s brother. It’s not a storyline I normally seek out, but I was intrigued enough to look up Without You on Amazon and thought I’d give it a try. About a week later, I saw the audio version on a Coming Soon list and decided that was the way to go. With two such terrific narrators as Teddy Hamilton and Tim Paige, it was a no-brainer.

For most of his childhood and adolescence Deacon Sutton felt like the wrong puzzle piece in his family, the child who never met expectations, never quite fit in and was never enough, no matter how hard he tried. This feeling was only exacerbated when his younger brother Rhett was diagnosed with leukaemia at seventeen, and Deacon became either invisible or was the target of his mother’s continual comparisons, disappointment or reminders that his brother could die, and it was up to him (Deacon) to live for him. Things at home got worse the sicker Rhett got, and Deacon couldn’t get away fast enough after high school; he moved to Seattle for college, and still lives there, running a successful automotive business with his best friend.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Parental Guidance (Ice Knights #1) by Avery Flynn (audiobook) – Narrated by Tim Paige

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

It wasn’t me.
It was my team.
But as almost co-captain I raised my hand to fix it.
Never imagined they’d arrange a PR stunt to make me look like Mr. Right to someone my mom picks out on some new dating app.
Then my salvation walks into the restaurant.

Zara Ambrose.

The five-foot-nothing redhead with more freckles than inches that I convinced to go on five dates with me for all the world to see.
She’s got her own reasons for our set up–and her own rules.
But somewhere between the couples’ obstacle course, wrestling matches with her Great Dane, and fights over mashed potatoes, Zara went from means-to-an-end to something so much more.
What happens when you start to fall for the one girl you can’t have…on live TV?

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B-

Having enjoyed Avery Flynn’s Tomboy last year, I wanted to try something else of hers so I picked up Parental Guidance, the first book in her Ice Knights series. We were introduced to the hockey team in Tomboy – that book’s hero, Zach Blackwood, was an Ice Knights’ defenceman – and here, we meet Caleb Stuckey, another Ice Knights player who needs to rehabilitate his public image. A video in which he’s seen NOT shutting down his team-mates when they start talking like a bunch of misogynistic arseholes goes viral, resulting in a chewing out from his coach, the team’s PR manager AND his mother (a famous junior hockey coach) – which is how he ends up agreeing to do something “…to change the narrative and give everyone something else to talk about besides what dickheads you all are. “

That something is a publicity stunt involving the Bramble dating app. The deal? He has to go on five dates with a woman his mum picks out for him; afterwards, he and his mum film a little post-date chat, his date and her mum do the same, and Bramble can use the videos in their publicity. After all, if, after the disastrous video, they can make Caleb dateable, they’ll be able to do the same for anyone. Right?

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.