ShadowfeverThe last category in My Unofficial Personal Listening Challenge for 2010 was Fantasy – another genre I tended to avoid.  I chose Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever knowing that it would also challenge me as a series of unending stories with no HEAs nicely tying up each book’s conclusion.  Later I discovered yet another challenge (the biggest of all) and it has to do with that classic Happily Ever After I long for.  There is no absolute guarantee I’ll have one in the end nor do I know which hero would be featured in such (although I definitely have an opinion).

I’d been advised to read Darkfever, the first in the Fever series, toward the end of 2010 since the fifth and final in the series was scheduled for release around the first of 2011.  I followed that line of advice although I didn’t really see myself listening beyond Darkfever.  I planned to dip my toe in this fantasy series with no promised HEA and say I’d done so and move on.  Ha!

I started listening to Darkfever on November 1st.  Sixteen days later, I had not only listened to Darkfever, but also Bloodfever, Faefever, and Dreamfever!  I definitely had the fever which was, without doubt, due to Moning’s talent in writing cliffhanger endings.  As I finished each book, the same recurring thought resounded in my mind, “I’m so glad I didn’t have to wait a year!”

Fortunately one of our SOA regulars, Tstbren, was around for some much needed discussion time and understood my need to speculate about that which I had just read.  I can see why there are so many Fever discussion groups out there and why this series supports such a large merchandising offshoot over at Moning’s Web site. (I am now the proud owner of a Barron’s Books and Baubles mug).

At the center of the series is Mac (short for Mackayla), a modern Southern belle, who doesn’t take life too seriously until she discovers a vast world she had no idea existed and learns that she plays an important role in that world as a sidhe-seer.  More than one man (or creature) plays a significant (albeit mysterious) role in her life.  Over the course of the series, Mac toughens up and becomes quite the kick-ass heroine.

All four books are equally enthralling.  Although I am a diehard romance fan, I found that instead of longing for that HEA as I approached the ending of Darkfever, I realized I really didn’t want one…yet.  There were too many unanswered questions and too much yet to be learned about potential heroes to settle for an HEA so quickly.  Slight spoiler here: After reading book four, I’m enjoying the fact that I still don’t know the hero’s identity in that HEA – only adamant that there better be one.

The final book in the series, Shadowfever, is scheduled for release on January 18th.  Excitement is strong at a number of series discussion groups and even Moning is making a big deal of it all by hosting a Shadowfever Launch Party in New Orleans the week of its release. With all this anticipation, I started wondering about providing a discussion place for audio enthusiasts who follow the series.  Why not a watch party of sorts all our own?

It’s only in the initial stages of planning but Speaking of Audiobooks will host a Fever watch party in January.  We’ll start with a general discussion of the series early in the month and gather steam from there.  However, being the romance fans we are, ours will not just be to celebrate whatever ending Moning may choose to give the series but rather to watch and see if Moning provides us with an HEA. Those who have read the series have definite ideas of who they want to see as Mac’s hero.  And Moning has promised an HEA…of sorts.  Imagine the number of romance fans who will flock to this series after the fact if they can just be promised a satisfying HEA.

If you act quickly and are a member at Audible, Darkfever is on sale for just $4.95.  But the sale does end the morning of November 30th.

Leftovers from November

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

Brockmann, Suzanne – Harvard’s Education Narrated by Maia Guest

Dee, Bonnie – Jungle Heat Narrated by Phillip Rose

Foster, Lori – In Too Deep Narrated by Amanda Ronconi

Heyer, Georgette – The Convenient Marriage Narrated by Richard Armitage

Hoyt, Elizabeth – To Beguile a Beast Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Monroe, Mary Alice – The Long Road Home Narrated by Sandra Burr

Thomas, Jodi – Tall, Dark and Texan Narrated by Linda Stephens

Audiobook Romances on Sale in December

Includes new formats of existing audiobooks

Texas SageAbridged

Brown, Sandra – Love Beyond Reason Narrated by Renee Raudman

Coulter, Catherine – The Sherbrooke Bride Narrated by Anne Flosnik

Krentz, Jayne Ann – In Too Deep Narrated by Joyce Bean

Lowell, Elizabeth – This Time Love Narrated by Laural Merlington

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

Roberts, Nora – Key of Valor Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Woods, Sherryl – The Backup Plan Narrated by Tanya Eby

Unabridged

Brown, Sandra – Love Beyond Reason Narrated by Renee Raudman

Brown, Sandra – Shadows of Yesterday Narrated by Joyce Bean

Brown, Sandra – Texas! Sage Narrated by Coleen Marlow

Crusie, Jennifer – Strange Bedpersons Narrated by Madison Vaughn

Jeffries, Sabrina – Let Sleeping Rogues Lie Narrated by Justine Eyre

Krentz, Jayne Ann – Gambler’s Woman Narrated by Alyson Silverman

Krentz, Jayne Ann – In Too Deep Narrated by Joyce Bean

Lowell, Elizabeth – This Time Love Narrated by Laurel Merlington

Michaels, Fern – Finders Keepers Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Miller, Linda Lael – The McKettrick Legend: Sierra’s Homecoming Narrated by Nellie Chalfant

Roberts, Nora – Ever After Narrated by Justine Eyre

Woods, Sherryl – The Back Up Plan Narrated by Tanya Eby

Recent Additions to my Audio Library

Where’s There Smoke – Sandra Brown

Narrated by Natalie Ross

I continue gaining respect for this narrator’s abilities and I’m finding I  enjoy many of Brown’s older rather melodramatic works.

Dying to Please – Linda Howard

Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Although not one of my Howard favorites in print, I still purchased it in audio because I find that a little Howard is often greater than many of today’s better romantic suspense releases.

Magic Bites – Ilona Andrews

Narrated by Renee Raudman

The first in the Kate Daniels series, it’s an urban fantasy that comes with some high recommendations.  I found it recently on Amazon’s $4.95 sale and couldn’t pass it up.

Dead in the FamilyDead in the Family – Charlaine Harris

Narrated by Johanna Parker

The tenth in the series and I’ve waited as long as I can.  I’m finishing up the Sookie Stackhouse series soon although the eleventh is not due until May, 2011.

Recent Listens

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor – Lisa Kleypas

Narrated by Tanya Eby

A non-typical Kleypas for sure, there was a definite sweetness to this short yet moving first in a series.  I’ll certainly be following the Friday Harbor series but not with the same anticipation I had for the more earthy Travis Series.  It was my first time to hear Tanya Eby and I was impressed with her performance.  She clearly distinguishes the characters without needing to lower her voice unrealistically for the male roles.  Instead she effortlessly uses cadence and modulation to provide the listener with the knowledge of who is speaking.  However,  I can’t say that its 4 hours and 11 minutes of listening is worth the price so you may want to find it at your library.

Just the Sexiest Man Alive – Julie James

Narrated by Karen White

A complete winner for me in print in 2008, JTSMA proved to be as great a success in audio.  Upon its release earlier this month in audio, I immediately downloaded it to my iPod and started listening.  Newcomer Karen White excels in her narration.  Jason’s character sounds a little too bigheaded in the beginning but it works well as you hear the bighead evolve into someone far more sensitive as the story moves along.  In the same manner, White perfectly portrays Taylor’s attitude towards Jason.  This is a “laugh out loud” audio and it provided me with some rich entertainment.  Here’s hoping we see Practice Makes Perfect in audio sometime soon – another James book I adored!  A solid audio grade A.

The Spymaster’s Lady – Joanna Bourne

Narrated by Kristen Potter

Wow, another new-to-me narrator and another fantastic one as well.  Kristen Potter nails the characters of The Spymaster’s Lady and one can easily differentiate the numerous male characters, even spymaster Grey with his numerous disguises.  Ms. Potter performs the part of the young French spy, Annique, with a beautiful French accent.  This is a not a lighthearted tale as the opening scene indicates with the heroine enduring torture (not to worry – that’s it).  Annique is a little too capable of everything at the age of 19 but that is truly my only criticism.  When released in print in 2008, readers’ hearts were captivated by Grey and Annique’s romance and I believe the audio version will equally thrill romance audio fans.  For me, I actually preferred the audio to the print.  I love when that happens!

Speaking of Audiobooks at Goodreads

Our Speaking of Audiobooks group keeps growing and we’re finding a lot to talk about.  Come join us as and share your audiobook shelf with us.  Remember, it takes only one book to make a shelf.

Time for Your Thoughts

Have you listened to or read any of Moning’s Fever series?

What new releases are you looking forward to?

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

What are the latest additions to your audio library?

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

Ending Notes

You may want to check out my review of the audiobook version of Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester over at AAR’s main site.

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.

See you again mid-December.

– Lea Hensley