Desert Isle Keeper
Narrated by Joyce Bean
Back in 2008, I hesitantly picked up the print version of Death Angel wondering if I could enjoy a romance featuring a cold-blooded assassin and a mistress to a drug lord. My curiosity combined with faith in Linda Howard and an appreciation for edgy heroes rewarded me after just a few pages as I found myself completely riveted and on my way to a DIK (my AAR review). Only days later, wanting something really special for our long vacation drive to Colorado, I grabbed the audio version and once again found myself totally immersed in this impressive romantic suspense. Joyce Bean’s delivery not only satiated those almost impossible-to-satisfy voices in my head that often arise when listening so soon after reading, but she took Death Angel to a whole new level.
Simon “the assassin” is offered a bonus for a job well done by the drug lord Salinas. Simon only wants one thing and that is an afternoon with Drea, Salinas’ mistress. Drea’s not one to be shared or traded and she’s a lot sharper than her dumb blond façade. Terrified at the thought, Drea is rather surprised when she reluctantly succumbs to Simon’s forceful manner. This all occurs within the first hour (and it is hot) and puts into motion a series of suspenseful events that drive the story to its conclusion. Joyce Bean is not only talented at performing the individual characters, but she also excels with the general narrative – a challenging prospect since there is more narrative than actual conversation. I listened carefully to her successful delivery of one page after another telling us events and relaying action – all the while building the suspense in long passages with only the leads’ thoughts, fears, and confidence to add personal interest. Bean’s portrayal of Drea’s fear combined with Simon’s ruthlessness kept me on the edge of my seat although I had read the print version only days before.
Ms. Bean has the ability to perform both female characters that sound completely feminine and convincing male voices – with Simon, it’s a sexy gravelly voice that emphasizes his no-nonsense outlook without sounding like an automaton. Not once did I notice an upturn in his verbal expressions that would take away from his ultra male, tough persona, even when it is time to get emotional.
Death Angel is the unusual excellent book it is because of Linda Howard’s talent. It’s the audio success that it is because of Joyce Bean’s talented narration of a book that isn’t the best material for audio format. It’s an extreme personal favorite due to its strong emotional impact that the combination of the two creates. It hit me hard and continues to do so with relistens. And I still long for that original experience each year when we return to Colorado.
My advice – forget the ideal heroine hype from romanceland and just go with it allowing your mind to stretch beyond the usual formulas. It’s a different sort of ride all the way, through made even better in audio.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration A and Book Content A