All eyes are looking towards 2011 and here at Speaking of Audiobooks, we are no exception. We are beginning the New Year with a bang as we launch our 2011 Listening Challenge in early January. Whether you are new to romance audio or a long time romance audio enthusiast, we’ll have something fun for you as well as a place to discuss your experience of expanding your audiobook preferences.
Another January happening is our Watch Party for the release of Karen Marie Moning’s final book of the Fever Series, Shadowfever, on January 18th. The action starts this week with an informal group listen (or relisten) of the first four books in the series: Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever, and Dreamfever. We hope you will join us. Our goal is to complete our listen of these books by Shadowfever’s release date. AAR is providing a place for our Fever discussions 24/7 (more details later). Also, last but certainly not least – look for an interview with narrator Phil Gigante and a great Fever giveaway!
Later in the year, we’ll have a few group listens as well as a Top Romance Audiobooks poll. I’m sure we’ll find more to do along the way. It’s going to be a great year!
Leftovers from December
Here are just a few of those surprise audiobooks that failed to make last month’s new releases column.
Adrian, Lara – Ashes of Midnight Narrated by Hillary Huber
Anderson, Catherine – Indigo Blue Narrated by Ruth Ann Phimister
Ashley, Jennifer – Immortals: The Calling Narrated by Rebecca Cook
Beverley, Jo – The Secret Wedding Narrated by Jill Tanner
Dodd, Christina – Touch of Darkness Narrated by Richard Ferrone
Frost, Jeaniene – Destined for an Early Grave Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
Gibson, Rachel – True Love and Other Disasters Narrated by Susan Bennett
Medeiros, Teresa – Some Like it Wicked Narrated by Charlotte Parry
Rose, Karen – Silent Scream Narrated by Marguerite Gavin
Warren, Tracy Anne – The Husband Trap Narrated by Bianca Amato
Wilson, C.L. – Lord of the Fading Lands Narrated by Stephanie Riggio
Audiobook Romances on Sale in January
Includes new formats of existing audiobooks
Castle, Jayne – Jayne Castle CD Collection: Dark Light, Obsidian Prey Narrated by Joyce Bean
Coulter, Catherine – TailSpin Narrated by Joyce Bean & Paul Castanzo
Lindsey, Johanna – Johanna Lindsey CD Collection3: A Loving Scoundrel, Captive of My Desires, No Choice But Seduction Narrated by Laural Merlington
Michaels, Fern – Déjà Vu Laural Merlington
Michaels, Fern – Fern Michaels Collection 3: Vegas Rich, Vegas Heat, Vegas Sunrise Narrated by Laural Merlington
Michaels, Fern – Wish List Narrated by Renee Raudman
Robb, J.D. – J.D. Robb Collection 1: Naked in Death, Glory in Death, Immortal in Death Narrated by Susan Ericksen
Alexander, Victoria – The Perfect Mistress Narrated by Jennifer Dixon
Crusie, Jennifer – Charlie All Night Narrated by Aimee Jolson
Delinsky, Barbara – The Real Thing Narrated by Lauren Fortgang
Jeffries, Sabrina – How to Woo a Reluctant Lady Narrated by Sarah Coomes
Kleypas, Lisa – Dreaming of You Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Kleypas, Lisa – Then Came You Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
London, Julia – The Book of Scandal Narrated by Anne Flosnik
Mallery, Susan – Delicious Narrated by Therese Plummer
Moning, Karen Marie – Shadowfever Narrated by Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth – Call Me Irresistible Narrated by Shannon Cochran (link for audio unavailable)
Roberts, Nora – Dance of Dreams Narrated by Angela Dawe
Roberts, Nora – The Right Path Narrated by Gayle Hendrix
Wiggs, Susan – Marrying Daisy Bellamy Narrated by Joyce Bean
Recent Additions to my Audio Library
Sea Swept – Nora Roberts
Narrated by David Stuart
Last month a number of our listeners encouraged me to give Sea Swept (included in AAR’s Top 100 Romances Poll) a try. I’ve read or listened to only five Nora Roberts books and I think it’s time to finally put some feet to my earlier declaration to explore her massive backlist.
True Love and Other Disasters – Rachel Gibson
Narrated by Susan Bennett
Although not a Gibson favorite for me in print, I couldn’t resist purchasing it in audio. As a contemporary author I hold in high regard, a less than favorite Gibson usually performs better for me than most contemporaries. Even if this proves to be an average narration (I’m unfamiliar with Bennett), I still expect to have a good time while listening.
Heart of the West – Penelope Williamson
Narrated by Amy Brenneman
Penelope Williamson’s romances are superbly written containing much more than just your usual romance (the four Williamson books I’ve read are all personal DIKs). Narrator Amy Brenneman is an actress I admired in the TV series Judging Amy (more may know her as a cast member of Private Practice and NYPD Blue). Combine Williamson with Brenneman and I expect a hit even in abridged format. That abridgement is a full five hours which greatly enhances its probability of success. Add to that the fact that an audio friend just made an MP3 copy for me from my cassette tape version (it’s a hard to find from 1995) and you can call me enthused!
Thigh High – Christina Dodd
Narrated by Natalie Ross
My experience with Dodd’s books is rather limited – I read two of her historicals ten years ago. The synopsis of Thigh High (the third in her Fortune Hunter series) grabbed me so I’m hoping for a successful start in the middle of the series.
A Secret Affair – Mary Balogh
Narrated by Anne Flosnik
The final entry in the Huxtable series, I anxiously awaited A Secret Affair in audio only to waver over its purchase when confronted with the personal challenge of a Flosnik narration. There was never any doubt I’d read or listen to Constantine’s story. His character has fascinated me from the opening pages of the first in the series, First Comes Marriage. I’m now crossing my fingers on the narration.
Tough Customer – Sandra Brown
Narrated by Victor Slezak
A sequel to Smash Cut (a hit for me), this is tough investigator Dodge’s story. I must admit that the older hero (around 50) drew my attention but those reviews criticizing Tough Customer for being a romance finalized my decision to buy. The combination of Sandra Brown, Victor Slezak, romance, and a recent release date usually means certain audio success.
This Heart of Mine – Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Narrated by Anna Fields
Another recent relisten of this beloved SEP audio provided me with hours of laughter and general good cheer. With a sexy quarterback daring fate a little too often and a quiet children’s author busting at the seams to create some excitement in her life, SEP has created two vibrant characters who are perfect opposites. When I call to mind This Heart of Mine, I can’t think of just one or two delicious scenes but rather a dozen or more. Outstanding narration by Anna Fields along with excerpts from Molly’s children’s stories, an intriguing secondary romance, and numerous appearances by Dan and Phoebe from It Had to Be You make this one almost pure gold.
Devil in Winter – Lisa Kleypas
Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Part of me hesitated to write this review since readers of this column already know I’m not favorably disposed towards Landor’s male characterizations. On the other hand, those with listening tastes similar to my own are probably curious to know if, by chance, Landor pulled off a successful male performance in this treasured Kleypas romance (#3 in AAR’s Top 100 Romances Poll). The third in the Wallflower series, Devil in Winter features the very shy heiress Evie who suffers from stuttering and the entirely rakish Sebastian. I relish seeing an irredeemable hero gradually transform, in a believable manner, into a worthy hero (one must first read or listen to It Happened One Autumn to fully appreciate Sebastian’s character). Landor is once again at her best providing a lovely general narrative and performing the various female characters. I also applaud the excellent production quality and the rhythm of the storytelling but, unfortunately, my praise ends there. Honestly? Sebastian sounds like an insufferable bore thirty years older than his character. I kept telling myself that I would get used to his voice if I concentrated on the gratifying story line rather than the all-important hero. No such luck. This personal DIK (A) in print rates no higher than a C in audio.
Play Dirty – Sandra Brown
Narrated by Victor Slezak
The operative word here is narration. In print, I doubt I would have even read the last half of Play Dirty. Featuring a former NFL star quarterback who served time in prison for throwing a game, a wealthy, slightly mad CEO confined to a wheelchair who wants said former NFL star to impregnate his wife the old fashioned way, a dirty cop determined to hurt that former NFL star in whatever way he can, and the CEO’s mostly likeable wife who is the calm in this whirling storm, this story falls firmly in the unrealistic category. What surprised me in all of this is the fact that I didn’t get bored a minute or throw up my hands in romantic despair since Play Dirty’s romance is not really all that romantic. Victor Slezak just flat out excels at his performance. Although not up to the standards of my favorite Brown/Slezak collaboration, Envy, it still provided some good entertainment.
Speaking of Audiobooks at Goodreads
Time for Your Thoughts
What new releases are you looking forward to?
Do you know of any January 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?
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.
I’ll be back again in early January.
– Lea Hensley