Narrated by Tanya Eby
Brilliance had a bit of a blip with Dream Lake, the third book in the Friday Harbor series, replacing Tanya Eby (who narrated the first two books) with Jeff Cummings. I haven’t listened to Dream Lake but I hear it was a fairly tragic experience for romance audiobook lovers. Happily, the blip is over and Tanya Eby is back for Crystal Cove – Justine’s book. I haven’t read Dream Lake either but my memory of Justine from the first two books was that of a fairly tough, earthy woman, very practical and not really looking for a traditional relationship. I think she had a bit of a personality transplant between Rainshadow Road and Crystal Cove. Otherwise my memory is terribly impaired. I liked Justine in both books but she seemed very different to me.
Unlike Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, which was a contemporary romance, or Rainshadow Road, which was contemporary with a touch of magical realism, to me Crystal Cove is best categorized as a paranormal romance (although it is officially a contemporary romance as well). If you think of it any other way, you might be disappointed as the paranormal features strongly in this novel.
Justine is a hereditary witch but hasn’t had much by way of training. She had a falling out with her mother four years earlier over Justine joining the coven. Jason Black is a man without a soul – when he dies, there will be nothing left of him to transcend.
When Jason and Justine meet, there is instant attraction. Even though Jason has a hidden agenda, he quickly falls hard for Justine. Justine takes a little longer to admit her feelings – particularly when she finds out about the “witch’s bane.” There isn’t a lot of courtship; the couple does fall in love very quickly, but what there was, I enjoyed. I could see the how and why, even if I would have liked more of it. I put it down to the truncated time frame of a romance novel.
Since Jason’s mother was half Japanese, he spent time in Japan. There he learned some interesting lovemaking techniques, which he puts to good use. I have only read/listened to Kleypas’ contemporaries for the most part so I don’t know if this is extraordinary, but it seemed to me that Crystal Cove was spicier than her usual – not that I’m complaining in any way.
Tanya Eby is a favorite narrator. I find her voice very pleasing to the ear. Her male characterizations are very good – Jason is described in the text as having a “deep baritone” with “shadows” in his voice and he is voiced exactly that way. Priscilla, Jason’s PA, is from Arkansas and her accent is also as expected from the narrative. Zoe and Justine are clearly distinguished one from another and the older ladies, Sage and Rosemary, are performed distinctly while sounding older as well. I noticed that Ms. Eby adjusts her narration at times in ways that truly enhances my listening experience. For example, there is a point where the text refers to the “dart of a hummingbird” and she speeds up just enough when she reads “dart” and adds some hum to “hummingbird” without going over the top in any way. It is those little things that add so much to the listening experience and make her narrations so enjoyable.
Crystal Cove ends abruptly. I wanted to see a little more of Jason and Justine together (that is a common complaint of mine when I am enjoying a book however!) but otherwise, I can recommend this book as a very sexy romantic paranormal romance, brilliantly narrated. And for some reason, now I want to listen to Nora Roberts’ The Search again.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration B+ and Book Content B