Desert Isle Keeper
Narrated by Kaleo Griffith
Hearing that Tantor Audio had picked up Pamela Clare’s I-Team series caused a good deal of excitement in the romance audio community. After all, she was chosen in both the 2011 and 2012 Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll as one of the top three Romance Author’s Backlist You Most Want to See in Audio. Add to that the fact that Tantor is releasing all five books in the series by the end of 2012 (the first release was 10/29/12) and the anticipation keeps building. Top that with the choice of male narrator Kaleo Griffith, an unknown in romance audio, but an experienced actor nonetheless, and enthusiasm is running high.
The first in the I-Team series, Extreme Exposure, features Kara McMillan, an investigative reporter who juggles her career with single motherhood. She’s aggressive with the first and dedicated to the second, possibly even more since there is no father in the picture. Kara specializes in reporting on environmental issues and when she receives information from a whistleblower concerning a cement plant that is ravaging the environment, she’s determined to pursue the story despite warnings. Her life is turned upside down as others attempt to shut down her investigation and put an end to her if necessary.
As a Colorado state senator, Reece Sheridan isn’t your typical politician. A high school teacher who pursued the seat after his students challenged him to do so, Reece is passionate about the environment and has done his fair share to protect it while in office. He has “ideal hero” stamped all over him both in character and looks. Seeing Kara at a bar one night, Reece knows her identity and decides he wants to see more of Kara while she is determined to keep him at arm’s length fearing a conflict of interest.
Enter Kaleo Griffith. With a scrumptious voice and a respect for Pamela Clare’s writing, it’s obvious he understands the nature of the suspense, but more importantly, the romance. He decides to not take the road of a higher range for his female characters so no one can complain about any falsetto voices. He clearly depicts Kara’s initial embarrassment at the bar (aka meat market) followed by her drunkenness and resultant come-on to Reece. Her vulnerable caution, her respectful yet determined interaction with her boss, her love of her son Connor, and her extreme determination to get the job done were convincingly delivered with seeming ease and true to the written word.
I prefer male narrators and there’s no better argument for my partiality than Griffith’s performance of Reece. It is perfect – deep as you would expect, sensible as his character is written, and balanced yet aggressive as needed in his office. It’s as though Griffith becomes Reece. As a former high school teacher, Reece’s understanding of Connor (who sounds like the child he is) rings true.
It took me around half an hour to catch on to Griffith’s narration as the general narrative is read in more of an informative manner reminding me of the voice I heard as he hosted HGTV’s Look What I Did. Once I accustomed my ear to this aspect of his narration, I realized it worked well in differentiating actions from speech and shifting from a character’s speech to thoughts.
Extreme Exposure delivers a thoroughly satisfying tale that is entirely romantic but not prematurely – the progression of Reece and Kara’s relationship is believable. Griffith keeps pace in its suspenseful, sometimes edge-of-your-seat, scenes. And yeah, it’s hot. For a first time romance narration, Kaleo Griffith gets an A. You better believe I’ll be listening to each of the I-Team audios as they are released.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration A, Book Content A-