s HotMy Unofficial Personal Listening Challenge for 2010 is proceeding quite well much to my delight.  For my first challenge category, Fantasy Romance, I chose Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Sharing Knife, Volume 1: Beguilement.  It was truly enchanting and I’m now sure I’ll listen to all four in the series.

Next up was the Abridged Romance category and I must admit that I did expect to be disappointed in some manner since I have experienced some spectacular abridged failures in the past.  However, I chose very well.  The abridged version of Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester was highly entertaining but I attribute a great part of its success to narrator Richard Armitage.  In a word, his narration was awesome!  Yeah, he pitches his voice just a little too high for a female’s voice here or there but I took note of that only because I knew I would be writing this review.  I’m sure a portion of the success was also due to the fact that I hadn’t read Sylvester first in print.  The four hours and fifty-one minutes of narration seemed complete.  And being one who must envision the lead characters in my head, it was easy to see Richard Armitage as Sylvester – quite a treat, I assure you.

My next listening challenge category is Series and my choice for the first of such is Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris.  With so much praise for this series, I’m expecting great things.

Leftovers from May

(All are unabridged unless stated otherwise.)

Here are just a few of those surprise audiobooks that failed to make last month’s New Releases column.

Anderson, Catherine – Morning Light Narrated by Julia Gibson

Featherstone, Charlotte – Sinful Narrated by Victor Villar-Hausar

Heyer, Georgette – Venetia Narrated by Richard Armitage  (Abridged)

Hoyt, Elizabeth – To Desire a Devil Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Kurland, Lynn – One Enchanted Evening Narrated by Ilyana Kadushin

Morsi, Pamela – Red’s Hot Honky Tonk Bar Narrated by Savannah Richards

Quinn, Julia – Ten Things I Love About You Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Wingate, Lisa – Never Say Never Narrated by Peggity Price

It looks like I’ll be adding a good number of audiobooks to my library from both May and June’s new release lists.  This partial list of May leftovers contains three now on my Wish List – Venetia, To Desire a Devil, and Ten Things I Love About You.

Audiobook Romances on Sale in June


Garwood, Julie – Honor’s Splendour Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Graham, Heather – The Death Dealer Narrated by Natalie Ross

Graham, Heather – Ghost Shadow Narrated by Angela Dawe

Hamilton, Laurell K. – Bullet Narrated by Kimberly Alexis

Howard, Linda – Dying to Please Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Lindsey, Johanna – Johanna Lindsey CD Collection 5: All I Need Is You, Joining Various Narrators

Lindsey, Johanna – That Perfect Someone Narrated by Laural Merlington

Michaels, Fern – Game Over Narrated by Laural Merlington

Roberts, Nora – Three Fates – Narrated by Bernadette Quigley

Steele, Danielle – Family Ties Narrated by Susan Ericksen

One SeasonUnabridged

Coulter, Catherine – Eleventh Hour Narrated by Sandra Burr

Garwood, Julie – Honor’s Splendour Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Graham, Heather – Ghost Shadow Narrated by Angela Dawe

Hamilton, Laurell K. – Bullet Narrated by Kimberly Alexis

Kleypas, Lisa – Love in the Afternoon Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Lindsey, Johanna – That Perfect Someone Narrated by Laural Merlington

London, Julia – One Season of Sunshine Narrated by Natalie Ross

London, Julia – Summer of Two Wishes Narrated by Natalie Ross

Lowell, Elizabeth – Death Echo Narrated by Beth McDonald

Macomber, Debbie – Cindy and the Prince: A Selection from Fairy Tale Weddings Narrated by Teri Clark Linden

Macomber, Debbie – Some Kind of Wonderful Narrated by Teri Clark Linden

Macomber, Debbie – Thursdays at Eight Narrated by Laural Merlington

Mallery, Susan – Almost Perfect Narrated by Tanya Eby

Michaels, Fern – Game Over Narrated by Laural Merlington

Quick, Amanda – Deception Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Steele, Danielle – Family Ties Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Stewart, Mariah – Acts of Mercy Narrated by Joyce Bean

Woods, Sherryl – Stealing Home Narrated by Janet Metzger

Recent Additions to my Audio Library

After the Night – Linda Howard

Narrated by Natalie Ross

I’ve been talking about the release of this one for months now.  It’s one of my Howard favorites and I can’t decide if I’m going to immediately dive into it or save it for vacation.

Dark Lover – J.R. Ward

Narrated by Jim Frangione

Now that I understand Jim Frangione’s style of reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood series of audiobooks, I’m eagerly purchasing each one.  I loved this series in print and am greatly enjoying in audio.

The Sharing Knife Vol. 3: Passage – Lois McMaster Bujold

Narrated by Bernadette Dunne

Continuing the story of Dag and Fawn, I’m hooked and while eager to proceed, I’m also spacing out to make the series last longer (something I tend to do).

Slow Heat in Heaven – Sandra Brown

Narrated by Dick Hill

Purchased for no other reason than curiosity, this 1991 romance features one very alpha hero (also rude and possibly cruel if my memory serves me correctly).  I read it years ago and can’t remember much more than the old southern style of romance and leads that tend to bicker and then bicker again.  Now I’m having second thoughts about my purchase…

Manhunting – Jennifer Crusie

Narrated by Renee Raudman

Continuing to collect these Crusie series books that usually deliver some good laughs, I’m planning on six hours of classy yet light entertainment.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation – Lauren Willig

Narrated by Kate Reading

Chosen for my Mystery with Romantic Elements challenge category, I soon discovered from others that it wasn’t a good fit for that particular category.  It’s been moved to general romance listening for some day in the future.

Lover EternalRecent Reads

Lover Eternal – J.R. Ward

Narrated by Jim Frangione

I am a huge fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood – or at least I was for the first five books.  Lover Eternal is the second in the series and focuses on Rhage, the extremely handsome brother who, of course, has many troubles lying behind his gorgeous, sexy façade.  The story of his romance with Mary is touching as well as the ever growing bond between the brothers.  As I’ve written previously, I didn’t care for Jim Frangione’s narration initially but recent recommendations from other listeners tempted me to try again and I’m thoroughly enjoying these books once more.  Frangione’s narration is closer to reading than acting but once my ear became accustomed to listening more for the words than the voice, I followed along with little difficulty.  Although I’ve read this series several times in order, I’m now jumping here and there with the audiobooks. I listened to Lover Awakened first, Lover Eternal followed, and I have now purchased Dark Lover and Lover Avenged.  However, I don’t recommend the audiobook version for first timers.  The print version’s glossary of terms is key to understanding much of the Brotherhood’s lingo.

Out of Control – Suzanne Brockmann

Narrated by Norma Lana

Although this is fourth in the Troubleshooters series, Out of Control was my first Brockmann read.  I had no difficulty understanding the action or the relationship of the characters and thought it worked well as a stand-alone.  This was a Desert Isle Keeper (DIK) for me when I read it 7 years ago and it was thoroughly enjoyable all over again when I listened to the audio version recently.  Narrator Norma Lana is pleasant to the ear but I often had difficulty differentiating the hero and heroine’s voices.  Therefore, close attention must be paid to the dialogue.  However, this did not keep me from enjoying the three love stories intertwined within the book.  Ken and Savannah are appealing as the primary leads but it is the secondary romance between earthy Molly and hardened smuggler Jones that spoke more to my romantic side.  And, oddly enough, I had less difficulty distinguishing between their voices.  With good to average narration and exceptional writing, I give a solid recommendation for Out of Control.

The Sharing Knife, Vol. 2: Legacy – Lois McMaster Bujold

Narrated by Bernadette Dunne

The Sharing Knife, Volume 1: Beguilement, the first in a series, was a personal favorite (see comments) and Volume Two centers on Dag and Fawn’s continued travels as they visit his family.  I remained engrossed with their tale all the while remaining convinced that this is a series that works best for me in audio.  With the same narrator, it truly does seem like Chapter Two of a delightful fantasy romance, one that I’m sure I’ll be listening to Chapters Three and Four as well (Volumes 3-4).  In fact, Volume 3 is already on my iPod ready to go.

Time for Your Thoughts

What new releases are you looking forward to?

Do you know of any June releases that failed to make this list?

What are the latest additions to your audio library?

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

Ending Notes

I’ve written a full length review of the audiobook version of Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips now posted at AAR.  Other full length audiobook reviews are in the works.

During the next two months, there will be no monthly lists of upcoming audiobook releases on AAR’s main site.  We’ll continue to publish those lists here at Speaking of Audiobooks and will notify you once the main site is carrying the lists again.

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

See you again later this month.

– Lea Hensley