It’s time for another All Reviews column here at Speaking of Audiobooks. Eight audiobooks are up for review including Laura Kinsale’s The Prince of Midnight (no link yet for the audio), Rachel Gibson’s Simply Irresistible, Julie James’ Love Irresistibly, Julie Garwood’s Prince Charming, Cynthia Eden’s Die for Me, J.D. Robb’s Calculated in Death, Jeaniene Frost’s Twice Tempted, and Sophie Kinsella’s Wedding Night.
The Prince of Midnight – Laura Kinsale
Narrated by Nicholas Boulton
Review written by Lea Hensley
It’s finally here. Romance listeners have eagerly awaited The Prince of Midnight, the first audio release from Laura Kinsale’s fascinating backlist. Earlier this year, Ms. Kinsale announced that her entire backlist (twelve titles) would be released in audio during 2013 and into 2014 and now we have a taste of Kinsale’s skillful writing combined with Nicholas Boulton’s talented performance. It’s sheer audio perfection.
Once a famous highwayman, S.T. Maitland is now a recluse hiding in the ruins of a castle, a painter with stacks of half-finished canvases. He’s lost his hearing in one ear and can no longer swing a sword or ride a horse without losing his balance. He’s not an unhappy man – just one dealing with life the best way he can with a wolf as his only companion.
Lady Leigh Strachan has traveled to France looking for the highwayman she is sure can help her learn to fight and take vengeance on those who have wronged her family. Finding S.T., she is both appalled and greatly disappointed when she realizes the ruined man before her is incapable of teaching her anything – or so she believes. All S.T. sees in her is another damsel in distress seeking help like a thousand others.
A longtime audiobook enthusiast, Ms. Kinsale spent a great deal of time choosing Nicholas Boulton as narrator of all her titles, and what a fine choice she made! With his consistent delivery of her characters, he keeps the listener totally engaged. His understanding of those characters’ motivations and the storyline provides listeners with the full depth of Kinsale’s writing that has her books still making readers’ favorites lists decades after their original release.
In print, S.T. seemed foolish at times, and it was difficult to sympathize with Leigh and her hateful treatment of him. In audio format, those challenges disappeared when Boulton fleshed out their characters and made me care more about them. I realized I had missed significant cues in print that affected my reading enjoyment, cues that his narration made clear. It’s what we audio enthusiasts love to see – an average print read turned into an outstanding audio experience.
Flowers from the Storm and Midsummer Moon are slated for audio release in late June/early July. A whole new generation is about to discover the wonder that is Laura Kinsale’s writing. Romance listeners, old and new, are in for such a treat.
Editor’s note: As of the writing of this column, The Prince of Midnight had yet to be released at Audible.com. It is expected any day.
Simply Irresistible – Rachel Gibson
Narrated by Kathleen Early
Review written by LinnieGayl
Simply Irresistible is far and away one of my favorite contemporary romances and will appear near the top of my AAR Top 100 Romance ballot this coming October. Ellen gave this 1998 release a B at AAR when it first came out, but it’s a DIK for me. It’s been on my list of “wished for” audiobooks for years so I was ecstatic when it was released in audio and begged Lea to let me review it. Unfortunately, my feelings about the audio version are mixed, perhaps flavored by my love of this book in print and some unrealistic expectations for the audio.
I was okay with the narration for the introductory chapters in which Georgeanne ditches her wealthy fiancé at the altar and meets up with star hockey player John “The Wall” Kowalsky. While Ms. Early doesn’t differentiate too much between characters, I was never confused as to which character was speaking. Her voices aren’t in any way over-the-top which could have been a problem as well. Native southerner Georgie has just a touch of a southern accent. And most of the men sound just slightly different than the women, enough to distinguish between characters, but not remotely masculine.
But once I reached my favorite part, in which Georgie’s marvelously funny six-year-old daughter Lexie first appears, I was crushed. This was what I had been waiting for. I wanted to laugh out loud at the scene in which John plays Barbies with Lexie. I wanted to giggle hysterically when John caves in and buys Lexi the puppy she names Little Pongo. Neither of
these happened. Instead of sounding like the adorable six-year-old of my imagination, Lexie frequently sounds more like a pouty teenager. No! This is my favorite part of the book and it simply did not live up to my wishes.
Perhaps my expectations were too high. I’ve waited so very long to hear this book in audio and the narration simply isn’t what I expected or wanted. Ms. Early isn’t awful. Her voice is pleasant enough and her pacing is good. I just wanted so much more from this.
Narrated by Karen White
Review written by Kaetrin
As the Assistant US Attorney in charge of prosecuting Twitter terrorist Kyle Rhodes, (hero of About That Night), Cade Morgan could have been a somewhat unsympathetic hero. But, Ms. James cleverly redeemed Cade by the end of the previous book, paving the way for readers to get all swoony over Mr. Morgan’s 6’4” of muscular yum without any conflict of interest (a little legal pun for you