GideonAs Audiobook Month winds down, Speaking of Audiobooks is featuring its third special event for the month.  We kicked off with our first annual Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll followed by last week’s special edition of an All Reviews column.  Now we’re finishing with a giveaway featuring two sets of the first two audiobooks in Jacquelyn Frank’s soon to be released Nightwalker series.

Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll Ends June 28th

But first things first – only one day remains in our Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll.  All ballots must be submitted by midnight eastern standard time Tuesday, June 28th.   So, if you have yet to submit your ballot (here), it’s time!  Let us know your favorite romances in audio!

Jacquelyn Frank Giveaway

Jacquelyn Frank’s popular Nightwalker series will soon be offered in audio format and we are giving away two sets of Books 1 and 2, Jacob and Gideon respectively in our latest giveaway courtesy of Tantor Audio.  Since the release dates are currently scheduled 3-4 weeks apart, the two winners will receive their copy of Jacob first followed by a separate mailing of Gideon upon its release some weeks later.

A quick look at the rules:

Place your name in the hat by commenting on this column by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Sunday, July 3rd.  Due to the cost of postage, the giveaway is open only to listeners in the U.S. and Canada.  We encourage multiple comments, but you will only be entered in the contest once.  If you review for another Web site or blog, please refrain from entering.  The winners will be notified by email on Monday morning and will have 48 hours to respond (due to the July 4th holiday).  Another winner will be selected on Wednesday morning if a winner has not responded and will have 24 hours to respond.  Audiobooks will be mailed to winners after Jacob’s and Gideon’s release dates.

The Nightwalkers is a paranormal series that brings to life the Nightwalker races – ancient yet proud beings that thrive in the dark and are hunted by menacing humans.  Tantor Audio has scheduled the release of the first five in the series by September 19th as follows:

Jacob 6/27

Gideon 7/18

Elijah 8/15

Damien 8/29

Noah 9/19

Narrator Xe Sands provided us with an inside look at her preparation for Jacob and Gideon:

Welcome Xe to Speaking of Audiobooks.  In Anne Stuart’s Fire and Ice, I was captivated by your ability to bring to life the Japanese culture as well as the myriad of accents.  As listeners we often don’t realize the background work necessary for such an effective performance.  How did you prepare for the Nightwalker series?

You know, this was such a delicious challenge for me, as a narrator.  My standard preparation methods of reading the book, contacting the publisher and/or author with any questions, simply fell short of what was needed to do Nightwalkers justice. After reading Jacob, it became clear that Frank was building not only a lush world for the reader, but also deep cultural connections for her characters, and revealing them over the course of the series. As such, input from the author was critical in helping me to map out the accents and vocal mannerisms for each character/group of characters in a way that was both actionable and true to her intent. After our discussions, I began working with a dialect coach in order to develop the first of several accents required for credible characterizations of the main clan of demons we meet in Jacob, and several additional pivotal characters introduced in Gideon. What began as trepidation quickly became exhilaration as I began truly inhabiting characters with their respective accents, developing a natural speech pattern for each, listening back, revising, until the characters truly came into their own, sounding as if they were “in their own skin,” so to speak. Accent work is worthless if the characterizations are lifeless…after all, the characters are just speaking how they speak – they aren’t trying to affect an accent.

In a series like this, is it necessary to vary your research for each book?

Yes. Unlike other series I’ve done, I’m finding that because each book delves into the backstory of several characters and then carries those bits and pieces both forward into following books and backward into prior books, the actual characterization of some characters is spread over the life of the series – meaning that some small bit of characterization for Jacob might not appear until we get to Damien, or some such. As a reader, this felt perfectly organic – the joy of discovery regarding beloved characters; however, as a narrator, it is akin to reading one, 2,000 page epic to glean all the characteristics for the main character of the first 350 pages . In order to most accurately represent a character, especially the romantic leads in each of the books, I’ve read quite a bit ahead in the series, trying  to ensure that whatever inflection/voice/accent seems appropriate in Jacob or Gideon will still ring true in each of the following books, as peripheral characters take their turn in the lead roles. In addition, because several different accents are used, I will continue to work with a dialect coach to develop the requisite accents as they arise in the series.

Thank you Xe!  Knowing there is such attention to detail, I’m definitely planning on listening to Jacob upon its release.

Audiobook Romances on Sale in July

Includes new formats of existing audiobooks

The Secret MistressUnabridged

Balogh, Mary – More Than a Mistress Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Balogh, Mary – No Man’s Mistress Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Balogh, Mary – The Secret Mistress Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Coulter, Catherine – Hemlock Bay Narrated by Sandra Burr

Day, Alyssa – Atlantis Redeemed Narrated by Joshua Swanson

Day, Alyssa – Atlantis Unmasked Narrated by Joshua Swanson

Delinsky, Barbara – Escape Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Delinsky, Barbara – Secret of the Stone Narrated by Nell Geisslinger

Duvall, Dianne – Darkness Dawns Narrated by Kirsten Potter

Eden, Cynthia – Deadly Lies Narrated by Justine Eyre

Frank, Jacquelyn – Gideon Narrated by Xe Sands

Frank, Jacqueline – Seduce Me in Flames Narrated by Coleen Marlo

Graham, Heather – Sacred Evil Narrated by Luke Daniels

Harrison, Thea – Dragon Bound Narrated by Sophie Eastlake

Henry, Christina – Black Night Narrated by Coleen Marlo

Jackson, Lisa – Devil’s Gambit Narrated by Gayle Hendrix

Johansen, Iris – Blue Velvet Narrated by Renee Raudman

Johansen, Iris – Quinn Narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck

Mallery, Susan – Accidentally Yours Narrated by Therese Plummer

Mallery, Susan – Only Mine Narrated by Tanya Eby

Palmer, Diana – Merciless Narrated by Phil Gigante

Quinn, Paula – Tamed by a Highlander Narrator unknown

Robards, Karen – Justice Narrated by Angela Dawe

Roberts, Nora – Temptation Narrated by Alyson Silverman

Roberts, Nora – This Magic Moment Narrated by Ashley Adlon

Rowen, Michelle – Bloodlust Narrated by Cynthia Holloway

Singh, Nalini – Branded by Fire Narrated by Angela Dawe

Singh, Nalini – Hostage to Pleasure Narrated by Angela Dawe

Singh, Nalini – Mine to Possess Narrated by Angela Dawe

Steele, Danielle – Happy Birthday Narrated by Angela Dawe

Stuart, Anne – Shameless Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Warren, Christine – The Demon You Know Narrated by Kate Reading

Woods, Sherryl – Flirting with Disaster Narrated by Tanya Eby

Abridged

Coulter, Catherine – Bride CD Collection 1: The Sherbrooke Bride, The Hellion Bride, The Heiress Bride Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Coulter, Catherine – Split Second Narrated by Paul Costanzo and Renee Raudman

Lindsey, Johanna – A Loving Scoundrel Narrated by Laural Merlington

Peterson, Tracie – Shadows of the Canyon Narrated by Sandra Burr

Roberts, Nora – Dance Upon the Air – Narrated by Sandra Burr

You Belong to MeRomance Audio Reviews

You Belong to Me – Karen Rose

Review by Diana

Narrated by Marguerite Gavin

Karen Rose’s romantic suspense has been setting the bar high for tightly plotted, realistic police procedurals with an organically woven in romance, and her latest is no exception.  You Belong to Me kicks off a new series set in Baltimore and as anyone who is familiar with her style knows the tension starts with the discovery of a murder victim and the action doesn’t let up until the last page.  Medical examiner Lucy Trask and homicide detective JD Fitzpatrick literally meet over the body and team up to solve what turns into a series of brutal murders.  Soon it’s apparent that the victims all hail from a nearby small town on the Eastern Shore, which just happens to be the home town Lucy left behind as a teenager.  JD knows that getting Lucy to spill the town’s secrets is the key to stopping the murders, but as much as she wants to help, Lucy is as much in the dark about what turned someone into mad killer as the detectives are.  Reluctantly returning to the place that holds dark memories for her, Lucy and JD work together, get their man, and fall in love.  Above average for the mystery and the romance as well.

Narrator Marguerite Gavin is well-suited for fast paced (the story takes place over 3 days), nail-biting suspense.  She reads fast and punches it up as the tension mounts. Her character voices are well-delineated.  I always knew who was speaking despite the large and diverse cast of secondary characters.  Gavin is very good at natural sounding male/female dialogue and I wanted to applaud as I listened to exchanges between Lucy and JD.   How does one have a conversation with oneself in two different voices and genders?

However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention an aspect of the narration that was a frequent and baffling distraction.  There are long passages where Gavin speaks with a pronounced lisp and words are slurred.  I wasted time wondering if she hadn’t done warm-up exercises or if her mouth was dry or she was tired or whatever, because the majority of the narration contains no lisp or slurring. In any case the listener shouldn’t have to worry about it and when a problem such as this occurs, the affected passages should be rerecorded. Gavin is capable of perfect diction as evidenced by her fine reading of most of the book. For the unevenness, the narration is a C+.

Kiss of Snow – Nalini Singh

Review by Brenda

Narrated by Angela Dawe

Having come to the conclusion that Angela Dawe read this series, decided to join Silence, and is now a Psy is the only way to explain the huge difference I’ve found between her vivid multi character performances of past audiobooks and the narration of the Psy/Changeling series. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed them. It’s just not what I expected when I read the narrator announcement for the series.  Once I put the performance I know she’s capable of out of my head to listen to Kiss of Snow I heard the finer nuances she imbues the narration with.  She catches almost everything, in a low key way, with the glaring exception of humor or excitement. This leaves the narration a bit flat unless you listen to the words closely or know the books well.

Kiss of Snow is the tenth book in Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series. The seeds were laid for Hawke and Sienna’s story in the opening book of the series. We’ve seen glimpses of the heat between them grow as the series progressed which built up expectations for this book as did the development of Hawke’s character. The angst over his “mate” having died when they were children (thus he’d be alone forever) that has run through the series makes him an ultimate romance hero for many.

Never having had a problem with the 15 year age difference between Hawke and Sienna, I was still impressed with how Singh closed the gap, making them equals in life experience, if not age. Sienna was still young in some actions while having grit and determination on her side. The “mate having died block” was removed in the way I expected though not soon enough for me. I was at the get over it stage, or at least ready for a shift in focus much sooner, especially with the revealing of Sienna’s unique talents. Learning the details of Sienna’s X Psy abilities and how she dealt with the consequences added something new and interesting to the story line. There were several other angles to follow as well. Walker and Lara’s side story was a nice addition as was the inclusion of the Lucas and Sascha moments including the birth of their baby.

Hawke and Sienna provided excellent entertainment. She kept pushing at him to make a move and when he did; his slow seduction of her was sweet, then hot! However I needed more Alpha couple with Pack interaction to make their HEA truly convincing. The war with Pure Psy is now in the open and we’ve met more distinctive characters to further the series. I’m looking forward to the wrap up of this arc as well as the series’ future direction.

Time for Your Thoughts

Do you have any questions or comments for Xe on her narration prep?

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 Kiss of Snow or You Belong to Me?  What were your thoughts?

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

Ending Notes

We now have a list of all our Mini Reviews from our Speaking of Audiobooks columns over at our Goodreads group.  You don’t have to be a Goodreads member to view this list so check it out.

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 129 members!  It’s easy to join and it’s a great place for discussion in between our columns.

Our next column features the results of our Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll.  Don’t forget to cast your ballot!

Enjoy your listening!

– Lea Hensley