BreathlessTwo categories are now marked completed in my 2011 Listening Challenge.  I’m going for Level Three which means completing 12 of the 14 categories.  First up was Listen to an Abridged Audiobook.  Last year this category was an easy win for me since I wisely chose Richard Armitage’s narration of Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester.  This year I didn’t fare so well with Penelope Williamson’s Heart of the West narrated by Amy Brenneman.  Coming in at around five hours, I hoped the story could sustain some cutting but, alas, that was certainly not the case.  Williamson’s writing is rich and all that richness was missing in the abridged version.  In addition, actress Amy Brenneman’s performance rated only average and lacked the required liveliness to keep the listener’s attention.

For my second category, Pick an audiobook that received a DIK grade at AAR in print format, I chose Ravishedby Amanda Quick.  It’s my first Quick book in both print and audio and I thought it quite charming although it contained many of the typical romance scenarios.  Those scenarios actually worked together quite well until the last fourth of the book when everyone seemed to turn a blind eye on the obvious.  However, this belongs in my “enjoyed it despite Anne Flosnik’s narration” folder.  Flosnik’s narration was adequate and even reached into the beautiful category at times but failed to deliver the male characters as I wanted to hear them.  Her male characters lack vocal expressiveness and tend to speak in a monotone.  Still, I enjoyed Ravished and gave it a B overall.

Leftovers from February

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

Andersen, Susan – Bending the Rules Narrated by Carol Monda

Anderson, Catherine – Early Dawn Narrated by Julia Gibson

Beverley, Jo – A Lady’s Secret Narrated by Jill Tanner

Carr, Robyn – A Virgin River Christmas Narrated by Therese Plummer

Carriger, Gail – Blameless Narrated by Emily Gray

Gist, Deeanne – Maid to Match Narrated by Suzy Jackson

Henley, Virginia – The Irish Duke Narrated by Jenny Sterlin

Holt, Elizabeth – Notorious Pleasures Narrated by Ashford MacNab

Medeiros, Teresa – Some Like It Wild Narrated by Charlotte Parry

Neggers, Carla – Tempting Fate Narrated by Carol Monda

Peterson, Tracie – Twilight’s Serenade Narrated by Linda Stephens

Small, Bertrice – The Border Vixen Narrator unknown

Stuart, Anne – Ruthless Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Warren, Tracy Anne – The Wife Trap Narrated by Bianca Amato

Audiobook Romances on Sale in March

Includes new formats of existing audiobooks


Brown, Sandra – Exclusive Narrated by Tanya Eby

Brown, Sandra – Tempest in Eden Narrated by Renee Raudman

Crusie, Jennifer – Faking It Narrated by Aasne Vigesaa

Crusie, Jennifer – Fast Women Narrated by Sandra Burr

Evanovich, Janet – Janet Evanovich CD Collection: Full Bloom, Full Scoop Narrated by Charlotte Hughes and Lorelei King

Graham, Heather – Phantom Evil Narrated by Jeff Cummings

Jackson, Lisa – Devious Narrated by Joyce Bean

Michaels, Fern – Home Free Narrated by Laural Merlington

Robb, J.D. – Strangers in Death Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Woods, Sherryl – Driftwood Cottage Narrated by Christina Traister

Driftwood CottageUnabridged

Enoch, Suzanne – The Care and Taming of a Rogue Narrator & ISBN unknown (Harper Collins)

Graham, Heather – Phantom Evil Narrated by Jeff Cummings

Jackson, Brenda – Seduction, Westmoreland Style Narrated by Jack Garrett

Jackson, Lisa – Devious Narrated by Joyce Bean

Jackson, Lisa – Innocent by Association Narrated by Kate Rudd

Stephanie Laurens, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Candice Hern, Mary Balogh – It Happened One Season Narrated by Simon Prebble & Anne Flosnik

Mallery, Susan – Already Home Narrated by Teri Clark Linden

Mallery, Susan – Irresistible Narrated be Cecelia Frontero

Mallery, Susan – Sizzling Narrated by Alyson Silverman

Michaels, Fern – Home Free Narrated by Laural Merlington

Miller, Linda Lael – Just Kate Narrated by Coleen Marlo

Roberts, Nora – The Bride Quartet MP3-CD Box Set: Vision in White, Bed of Roses, Savor the Moment, Happy Ever After Various Narrators


Roberts, Nora – Search for Love Narrated by Gayle Hendrix

Roberts, Nora – Second Nature Narrated by Allison Fraser

Stuart, Anne – Breathless Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Stuart, Anne – Reckless Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Wiggs, Susan – The Goodbye Quilt Narrated by Tanya Eby

Woods, Sherryl – Driftwood Cottage Narrated by Christina Traister

Recent Listens

Ruthless – Anne Stuart

Review by Lea AAR

Narrated by Susan Ericksen

When I read Ruthless last year, I liked it.  When I recently listened to Ruthless, I really liked it.  Susan Ericksen provided me with a new image of the very dark, duplicitous, bored Rohan who decides he will have something to do with the much younger, innocent, no-nonsense Elinor.  It’s Paris in the 18th century and Rohan is known as the King of Hell while Elinor is the eldest sister trying desperately to keep her family out of the poor house while making a decent match for her younger sister.  Elinor is a sharp-tongued character for sure, but when I considered Rohan’s many attempts to control her (unsuccessfully), all I could think was “Bravo!”  I found Rohan quite delicious once I got over my initial shock at his level of depravity (this is Anne Stuart – I should have known) but it was the audio that gave me a better understanding of his character.  I heard his cynical outlook on life and his air of derision and further, Ms. Ericksen’s performance of Rohan allowed me to hear the changes he undergoes that lead to his redemption.  Her delivery of the leads’ lines when interacting with one another was well timed and spot on.  Oh, I do wish Rohan’s voice had been deeper to more easily distinguish from Elinor’s but overall, I found the narration quite pleasing.  And I do so love it when I enjoy an audiobook version more than the print!

Ruthless is the first of the Rohan trilogy with the second, Reckless, and the third, Breathless, scheduled for audio release in March.  I’m already saving my Audible credits.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs – Molly Harper

Review by Brenda

Narrated by Amanda Ronconi

Amanda Ronconi is a new narrator for me, just as Molly Harper is a new author.  I was very happy with both and found myself laughing out loud throughout this book.  Nice Girl’s Don’t Have Fangs is a light, humorous, “Sookie Stackhouse meets Queen Betsy” listen.  Small town librarian Jane Jameson developed her sense of snarky, sarcastic humor in defense of always being the smart/geeky girl who never quite fit in. Now, to top it off, she has to choose between death or vampirism.  On the plus side, her handsome new sire Gabriel, appreciates both her sharp brain and tongue.

Amanda Ronconi’s narration brought each of many characters, from Jane’s best friend Zeb to her black widow of a grandmother to easily discernable life.  The romance aspect is enjoyable, though not front and center. The “who’s got it in for Jane” portion of the book is fairly transparent. Still, the combination of the various characters’ personalities and the laughs along the way make this a fast, funny listen.

t Have FangsNice Girls Don’t Have Fangs is the first in a three book series followed by Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men and Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever. The characters and relationships continue to grow, keeping it interesting.  I was still laughing, while at the same time realizing these could be irritating if listened to one right after the other. Each book has its own resolution, so it would be easy to space them.  If this series ends up being your kind of humor, you’re in for a real treat.


The Real Thing – Barbara Delinsky

Review by Melinda

Narrated by Lauren Fortgang

Complete strangers stranded together on a remote island – both searching for solitude and solutions to overwhelming problems. Deirdre is running away from the pressures of her family; Neil is running away from a seemingly impossible position with his law practice.  They’re not really stranded – the island is privately owned by a mutual friend who agreed to let each of them stay there, without the other knowing, hoping to make a match between the two.  At that friend’s request, the boat captain won’t be available to pick Deirdre and Neil up for two weeks. In the meantime, they bicker, they rage at each other, and after a while they act on their mutual attraction. It sounds like an intriguing storyline for a romance, right?

This is another new-to-me narrator, and I think she has potential when her voice matures. While her narrator voice wasn’t really unpleasant, her voice was too young-sounding most of the time, and her men’s voices sounded more like a child play-acting with dolls. Luckily, much of the dialog between Deirdre and Neil is passable. I did see that Ms Fortgang has 235 listings at Audible (of which almost 200 are short horoscope readings) so she does have experience, if not a mature voice.

What distressed me more than the narrator’s too-young voice were the dated references in The Real Thing. Yes, the original book publication date was 25 years ago – practically historical! Suddenly it made more sense that Deidre wore leg warmers and talked about Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, and safe sex and contraceptives were never mentioned. Toward the end, I slightly warmed to the story, even if the conclusion came together a tad too conveniently.  All in all, this goes in my “not particularly recommended but tolerable” list of romance audiobooks. I think I prefer Delinsky’s women’s fiction.  Narration C.

Coming Next

Our next Speaking of Audiobooks column on March 7th features an interview with a beloved author who also is a big audio fan.  The author shares her personal love of audio listening and gives us insight into the world of audiobooks from an author’s point of view.  We’ll also have an audiobook giveaway.  You’ll definitely want to check this one out.

Group Listen – We’re also still looking for our next group listen which I hope to schedule late March through April.  Please give us your ideas.


Time for Your Thoughts

What new releases are you looking forward to?

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

Do you have a Listening Challenge update to share with us?

Do you have a recommendation for a group listen?

What are the latest additions to your audio library?

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

Ending Notes

Mini Reviews – 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.

If you’re considering joining our 2011 Listening Challenge, we have a quick start up guide for you.  It’s not too late.

Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing and we now have 65 members!  Come sign up and share your audiobook shelf with us.

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.

I’ll be back on March 7th.

Enjoy your listening!

– Lea Hensley