It’s been a few years since I’ve curled up with a book by Sandra Brown. A recent sinus infection had me in need of something fast-paced and thrilling, and Mean Streak, her latest romantic suspense novel, seemed like just the thing to listen to. It definitely kept me from thinking about how bad I was feeling.
Emory Charbonneau is a pediatrician and marathon runner. Everyone she knows seems to love her. She’s happy, goal-oriented, and married to a man she thinks is perfect for her. Basically, she leads a charmed life.
Early one Saturday morning, Emory sets out in the winter weather for a twenty mile run in North Carolina. She and her husband had argued about this run the night before, but Emory is determined to do it. She figures it’s just what she needs to get her ready for her next marathon, something she’s been working toward for quite some time.
The next thing Emory knows, she’s waking up in an unknown place with a strange man standing over her. Unsurprisingly, Emory is frightened, and isn’t sure she can believe her rescuer means her no harm. He tells her she was lying unconscious on the trail, bleeding from a head wound. Since the trail is so remote, and the weather is turning bad, he is taking care of her in his cabin rather than driving her to the nearest emergency room.
Slowly, Emory’s fear lessens, but not so her curiosity. Who is this man, and what is he hiding? He won’t tell her his name, or much about his life. He stubbornly refuses to give her any information.
When trouble comes calling in the form of a family filled with mostly unsavory people, Emory teams up with the mystery man in order to stand up for what she believes in. Suddenly, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. This man, once her captor, is now starting to feel like a partner of some kind.
Back in Atlanta, Emory’s husband grows alarmed by his wife’s failure to get in touch. He packs a bag and heads to North Carolina, determined to make up with her. After all, nothing truly awful could have happened to someone like Emory. She’s just angry, playing the injured wife, waiting for him to coax her back home. Of course, he learns that Emory is indeed missing and becomes the prime suspect.
Are you wondering why I haven’t mentioned the name of Emory’s mystery man? I didn’t know it until the book was more than halfway over. Ms. Brown was quite intent on keeping her readers in the dark, and who am I to spoil an author’s fun?
Jonathan Davis is a narrator I’d never listened to before. Mean Streak is not his debut narration, but it’s one of very few romances he’s recorded. Personally, I hope that changes, as he has one of those voices that’s perfect for something rich with both action and romance.
He softened his voice slightly when speaking for Emory, suggesting femininity without it coming off as forced. Mr. Davis was also very good at giving me a glimpse into Emory’s heart and mind. I knew when her fear turned to trust and trust turned to passion. Emory is a strong woman, but she has a softer side that Mr. Davis had no trouble portraying.
There are quite a few male characters in this book and I’m pleased to report that Mr. Davis performed each distinctly. He called on a wide range of accents, pitches, and pacing to make dialogue tags almost completely unnecessary.
One thing that might be disturbing to some listeners is the way Mr. Davis reads sex scenes. The intensity between Emory and the stranger can definitely be heard, but there were times he sounded almost angry. I wanted something frantic – something that caused Emory to cast all her inhibitions to the wind. Sadly, Mr. Davis fell slightly short of the mark.
I was also a bit irked that music played through the entire prologue. I’m fine with a bit of music at the beginning and end of audiobooks, but I don’t want the narrator to have to compete with it. Luckily, after the prologue, the music faded, and I was able to fully enjoy the story and the narration.
If you’re looking for a book about perfect people, Mean Streak isn’t for you. Instead, this is a book for someone who wants to explore the areas of gray that live within each of us. What is justice, and how is it served? And, most importantly, what happens when the question of justice isn’t left to the authorities? If these questions intrigue you, and you want a steamy, suspenseful listen, you won’t go wrong with Mean Streak.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: B and Book Content: A-
Unabridged. Length – 11 hours 51 minutes