Prince of DreamsNot only are we featuring a list of upcoming romance audio releases today but also five audiobook reviews and a new section we’ll run at least once a month for the remainder of 2011, Beyond the Winners.  Up for review are Kristina Douglas’ Raziel, Cynthia Eden’s Deadly Fear, Alyssa Day’s Atlantis Rising, Lauren Willig’s The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, and Christine Warren’s She’s No Faerie Princess.

Beyond the Winners

Our recent Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll featured some big name winners such as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and J.D. Robb’s In Death series.  Both series swept a number of categories and made more than a few of our listeners wonder what other favorites are lurking out there beyond the big poll winners.  Over the remainder of 2011, we’re taking a number of the poll categories one by one and asking you what are your other favorites?

We’re starting today with the Contemporary sub genre – those romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship, released as individual titles, not as part of a series and set after 1945.  Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips took first place with Match Me if You Can, another Phillips book, taking second.  Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me came in at third.

So, what are your other contemporary favorites?  Let us know in our comment area below.  If another listener states one of your favorites, write it down again because we’re taking an unofficial count.

As a tribute to these favorites that don’t hold an official place on the winning poll ballot, we are utilizing our Goodreads audio bookshelf to summarize those most often mentioned.  Our Goodreads audio bookshelf is actually a number of bookshelves.  Currently we have a Mini-Review shelf (reviews from our columns), a Romance Audiobook Poll Winners shelf, and an Upcoming Reviews shelf.  We’re adding another shelf, Beyond the Winners, and will add to it each time we discuss a poll category.

Let us know your other contemporary favorites!

Audiobook Romances on Sale in July

Includes new formats of existing audiobooks.

Unabridged

Aiken, Frank, Ione, & Alexandra – Supernatural Narrator unknown

Banks, Maya – Sweet Possession Narrated by Caroline Wintour

Banks, Maya – Sweet Temptation Narrated by Caroline Wintour

Cole, Kresley – The Warlord Wants Forever Narrated by Hagan Verret & Simone Formhar

Day, Alyssa – Atlantis Betrayed Narrated by Joshua Swanson

Deveraux, Jude – Heartwishes Narrated by Gabra Zackman

Feehan, Christine – Murder Game Narrator by Tom Stechschulte

Frank, Jacquelyn – Damien Narrated by Xe Sands

Frank, Jacquelyn – Elijah Narrated by Xe Sands

Garwood, Julie – The Ideal Man Narrated by Christina Traister

Gerritsen, Tess – Thief of Hearts Narrated by Nicola Barber

Graham, Heather – The Evil Inside Narrated by Luke Daniels

Gray, Shelley Shepard – The Survivor Narrated by Heather Henderson

Harrison, Thea – Storm’s Heart Narrated by Sophie Eastlake

Herron, Rachel – How to Knit a Love Song Narrator unknown

Kenyon, Sherrilyn – Retribution Narrator unknown

Kleypas, Lisa – Midnight Angel Narrated by Susan Duerden

Kleypas, Lisa – Prince of Dreams Narrated by Susan Duerdan

Krentz, Jayne Anne – Wizard Narrated by Renee Raudman

Laurens, Stephanie – The Reasons for Marriage Narrated by Helen Stern

Lauren, Stephanie – Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue Narrated by Simon Prebble

Leigh, Lora – following titles will be released in digital format and are narrated by Brianna Bronte.  No links available at this time:

Dawn’s Awakening, Styx’s Storm, Tanner’s Scheme, Mercury’s War, Coyote’s Mate, Bengal’s Heart, Lion’s Heat

Lindsey, Johanna – The Pursuit Narrated by Michael Page

Macomber, Debbie – 1105 Yakima Street Narrated by Sandra Burr

Mallery, Susan – Only Yours Narrated by Tanya Eby

Michaels, Fern – Late Edition Narrated by Natalie Ross

Palmer, Diana – Trilby Narrated by Natalie Ross

Roberts, Nora – The Witching Hour Narrated by Joyce Bean

Singh, Nalini – Blaze of Memory Narrated by Angela Dawe

Warren, Christine – Howl at the Moon Narrated by Kate Reading

Romance Audio Reviews

Raziel – Kristina Douglas (Anne Stuart)

Review written by Diana

Narrated by Karen White and Paul Constanza

If you’ve ever read a paranormal romance starring fated mates…oh wait, Anne Stuart doesn’t do checklists. In Raziel the author plays with biblical myths, turning more than a few on their heads. The plot is complex and I’ll do my best to cram it into a nutshell.

Raziel is a fallen angel (yes, there’s a compound filled with  future heroes) who works as a reaper for the extremely anti-social head fallen angel Uriel. While on a routine reaper pickup, Raziel impulsively saves Allie from the fires of hell for reasons he doesn’t understand. He decides to keep her in his suite at Fallen Angel Central where she’s an object of intense scrutiny among the other fallen and their mates. Why is she here?

Raziel and Allie spend most of the book bickering and denying that their spectacular sex is anything more than just sex. This distracted me since I’ve read far better I love you/hate you scenarios from this author.  Raziel has all those Stuart very-bad-man tendencies and it’s a long haul before he finally gets over himself. And there’s no grovel. I really wanted a grovel scene. On another note, I was left with questions about the series mythology as to immortality which I hope will be addressed more fully in subsequent books.

Karen White’s reading of Allie was appropriately attitude-y for a young woman who finds herself dead…or not.  Paul Costanza, I have to call a miscast. He sounds bored, robotic, and remote – hardly the voice for a virile, powerful, angry man. Dual narration was a good idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.  A solo narration from Karen White would have made Raziel a more enjoyable listen. Still, it’s better than most and raises thought provoking questions about the afterlife.

Deadly FearDeadly Fear – Cynthia Eden

Review written by Melinda

Narrated by Justine Eyre

This romantic suspense is truly heavy on both the romance and the suspense. FBI Agent Monica Davenport is a profiler who is good at getting into the minds of serial killers.  Her colleague Luke Dante is the only one who ever managed to get through her personal defenses. Together they go on a hunt for twisted serial killer who uses the victims’ fears to scare them to death.

Justine Eyre gives the book an eerie feel with her narration – she speaks with a quiet, rushing quality that keeps you on the edge throughout the story. Not only does the author keep you in suspense with her creepy killer, she keeps the sexual tension high and fueled by adrenaline, neither tension ever seeming to break. Eyre pushes through it all with a sort of urgency. Her characters are all distinct and consistent. There is an odd shakiness in her voice – I wasn’t sure if it was a recording issue or not, but it seemed to actually add to the tension.

As we get closer and closer to locating the killer, clues that lead you and mislead you became thicker and thicker.  I was surprised by the perp’s identity and, after finishing Deadly Fear; I’m still a little on edge.

Atlantis Rising – Alyssa Day

Review written by Brenda

Narrated by Joshua Swanson

Atlantis Rising is the first in Alyssa Day’s Warriors of Poseidon series.  For a quick take on the series, think J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood (BBD under the sea) – a group of large warriors who keep humans safe from unknown threats.  After that, the world building is new and unique within itself.

This action packed story features Prince Conlan, recently escaped from seven years of imprisonment and torture, and stressed social worker Riley Dawson.  He senses her feelings and emotions before his feet even hit the earth. Mind to mind contact with a human is unheard of and the possibility of it being a threat to the Prince, among other things, means that Riley will be joining the nine warriors as they search for the powerful Trident that has been stolen from their kingdom.

Narrator Joshua Swanson’s general narration of the story is pleasing.  His performance of the female characters is excellent as well as Conlan’s brother Ven (he’s a riot).  He captures the distinct attitudes of the various characters and you can easily hear the humorous sarcasm in the banter between the guys.  But when it comes to Conlan and his chief advisor Aleric, Swanson’s effort to add royal formality to their voices makes them brain numbingly slooow speakers. When Conlan talks to himself in his head, he sounds perfect.  However, Conlan and Aleric’s speaking voices made me want to stop cold regardless of all the other positives.  How did I get through it?  I sped the tempo up and with that tweak I settled in for the entire story without my eyes crossing each time either of these two spoke.

 

 

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine – Lauren Willig

Review written by Melinda

Narrated by Justine Eyre

It is human nature for one to become accustomed to a narrator who has already narrated several books in a series – in this case, the A+ List Narrator Kate Reading. Justine Eyre is what I would consider an A List Narrator, a slight notch below. She is very experienced and according to her bio on Audiofile, has a wide range of accents in her narration bag. Why, then, do her Welsh accents sound Irish to me?

Kate Reading brings out the humor of Willig’s prose – I laugh throughout her narrations of The Pink Carnation Series at her clever use of alliteration, the contemporary in-jokes she sprinkles throughout (her historical hero wonders if he can say that while in the opium den, he never inhaled), and the farcical slapstick situations her characters get in. Justine Eyre lacks the nuanced reading of Reading.  And a number of Eyre’s pronunciations grated on my nerves.

The story itself satisfactorily advances the contemporary plot. Eloise and Colin are now officially an item, although she still doesn’t know what he does for a living. Could he be carrying on the family tradition? The historical pair-up is the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale’s granddaughter, Charlotte, and the incredibly-distantly-related cousin who is now the Duke of Dovedale, Robert. Even though I didn’t laugh as much, I enjoyed the book immensely. Eyre is good; she’s just no Reading.

 

 

She’s No Faerie Princess – Christine Warren

Review written by LinnieGayl

Narrated by Kate Reading

I read She’s No Faerie Princess years ago based on the original review here at AAR and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was eager to revisit it when offered the chance to review in audio format.

Princess Fiona, the niece of Queen Mab, is supposed to be tucked away safe in the Seelie Court. Fiona has other ideas and thinks that a vacation in New York City would be just the thing. However, the minute she pops into the mortal world (in Central Park), she encounters a demon determined to kill her. Fiona is saved by Tobias Walker, a high level werewolf who is patrolling the park. I enjoyed this grown-up fairy tale, and found the world created by the author to be fascinating.

I did no research on the audio version and was delighted when I listened to the first passages and discovered that it was narrated by Kate Reading, one of my favorite narrators. She didn’t disappoint.

Ms. Reading gave each character in the book a unique voice, so I never had any problems distinguishing between them. Some, such as the imp and pixie Squick and Babbage, were absolutely hilarious. She always got the emotion of a scene – be it passion, fear, or anger – correct.

Christine Warren’s The Other series has been hit or miss for me but She’s No Faerie Prince was a big hit for me, and I heartily recommend it.

Time for Your Thoughts

What contemporary romance audiobooks are your favorites?

What new releases are you looking forward to?

Do you know of a new romance release that didn’t make the list?

Have you listened to one of today’s review books?  What were your thoughts?

And, as always, what are your latest audio successes or failures?

Ending Notes

I’m announcing new romance audiobook releases and other audio tidbits on Twitter – look for LeaAAR.

For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, be sure to check out our audio archives for further recommendations and discussions.

Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing and we now have 133 members.  It’s easy to join and it’s a great place for discussion in between our columns.

We’re talking with Penguin Audio in August and taking a peak into the romance audio industry.

Enjoy your listening!

– Lea Hensley