I can’t think of a better companion for walking on a treadmill than a good romance audiobook to help fight off the sheer boredom of it all. Before discovering audiobooks, I’d tried music, TV, movies, and even reading a book (I don’t advise it), but all failed to provide the level of distraction I craved to complete my day’s walk. But one thing I quickly realized as I listened to my first audiobook was that my ears demanded a higher volume level to catch each detail as the story unfolded. That didn’t prove to be much of a problem since I lived on two acres and needn’t worry about bothering my neighbors and I let my little boom box blast away. With an extra pep in my step, knowing I had found the answer to my treadmill boredom, I walked on, thoroughly enjoying Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ It Had to Be You…that is, until I started hearing the love scenes. Suddenly words such as moaning, plunging, hard, and nipples were echoing around the room and I thought of my friends who tended to stop by without notice. What if one chose this very moment and heard as she walked up the step “He wanted her on her knees, on her back, straddled, spread, any way he could get at her, right here where the heat from their bodies would burn up the floorboards and send them plunging straight down to the fiery center of the earth”! And I knew that was just the warm-up love scene!
Those scenes I thought such great fun in print now had me looking around every few minutes to assure myself I really was the only one at home. Recalling that there were usually only two to four love scenes in a book, I tried to plan my strategy for surprise visitors to no avail since I soon noticed those pages featuring nothing more than an ardent kiss seemed downright racy as well when it was the spoken word rather than the quiet reading. Listening to The Indiscretion by Judith Ivory, a simple get-to-know-you kiss sounds like so much more – especially if heard out of context.
“He could feel their hearts knocking against each other where their chests met, the softness where his weight flattened the roundness of her breast. At her thin wrists, he could feel how much stronger he was than she. He found himself wanting to assert his strength, show her. He wanted her to feel his potency. God help him, in every sense.”
Call me chicken, but the thought of someone overhearing this simple kiss (that doesn’t sound so simple by non-romance standards) was undeniably mortifying!
Tooling down the road with my dear hubby on a long trip to Colorado, I had big plans to introduce him to romance by listening to Nora Roberts’ Rising Tides and prove to him that romance could be as good as or better than the occasional Nicholas Sparks book he read. After all, the book is told more from a male perspective and is part of a series about four brothers (and is labeled fiction as well). I knew the lovemaking scenes might prove challenging to my flustered senses, but I had always considered Roberts to be a little tame on the sensual side. However, the first indication of a physical relationship between Ethan and Grace had me cringing as I envisioned my four year campaign to convince my husband that romance was not all about sex crashing down all around me. As I smiled and attempted to fast forward through the scene while explaining that sex scenes embarrassed me “out loud”, DH told me he wanted to listen to the entire book. In the end, he enjoyed Rising Tides although – I didn’t. I continued to cower anytime anything was close to a passionate kiss. All I could think about was how these love scenes must sound to the non-romance reader.
As I listened to Suzanne Brockmann’s Over the Edge and Catherine Anderson’s Phantom Waltz recently, I was surprised at my differing reactions to their sensual scenes. Both are personal DIKs and both received a Hot rating when reviewed by AAR. Brockmann’s writing combined with narrator Laura Hicks smooth lilt was a real winner. Part of that was due to the fact that Stan and Teri’s lovemaking scenes flowed effortlessly and seemed, if not totally realistic, at least realistic by romance standards. Conversely, Anderson’s gentle romance proved to be the more cringe worthy of the two with wording that literally yanked me out of the story. “…his hot breath whispering across the throbbing peak to intensify her yearning” or “he was taking her on a tour of paradise” – well, it all sounded so silly out loud and it wasn’t narrator Julia Gibson’s fault. Had I simply overlooked this love talk while reading this beloved book? It made me want to look around yet again and make sure there was no one measuring my IQ.
A few years ago, my children gave me an iPod primarily for listening to audio books after witnessing my attempts to exercise with my 1990 sports cassette player or the portable CD player that performed badly anytime my walk turned into a jog. As I listened to Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Match Me If You Can on my new iPod and I heard Heath making his first move on Annabelle, I finally understood that this was the secret to my enjoyment of those lovemaking scenes – total privacy. If no one else can hear, I don’t care. With my iPod I now fearlessly listen to those love scenes even while waiting in a line at the bank. But if that same iPod is playing those same scenes through my car’s speaker system? I look around and lower the volume anytime I pull up to a stoplight. I know, in many ways I am still a real coward.
Tangled Up in You – Rachel Gibson
One of my favorite Gibson books, I had read this one twice by the time I listened to the audio version. Nicole Poole’s voice is pleasant but fails to effectively differentiation between the voices of the hero, heroine, and narrator. Although I enjoyed this tale once again, it may be confusing for someone unfamiliar with the storyline.
Over the Edge – Suzanne Brockmann
Only recently released in MP3 format, this 2001 romantic suspense is one of my most loved Brockmann books. My first impression was the need of a male narrator since there are so many male characters. Many of narrator Laura Hicks’ male voices sounded girlish but I was soon so engrossed by the four story plot that I accepted the voices as portrayed. One complaint – Gina sounded way too New York-ish and knowing she is a reoccurring character in the series with an eventual starring role, it didn’t sit well.
Seducing an Angel – Mary Balogh
Having read two of the three previous Huxtable books, I was looking forward to Stephen’s book, wondering how such a very nice, perfect man could be made into an effective hero. Balogh was successful in that aspect but this was definitely an “otherwise occupied” audiobook experience for me. There were too many times that I just wasn’t all that interested and was thankful I had more than one thing to keep me occupied.
Recent Additions to my Audio Library
Burn: A Novel – Linda Howard
It’s playing on my iPod now. Joyce Bean’s narration combined with Howard’s writing seldom fails me.
When He Was Wicked – Julia Quinn.
Narrated by one of my favorites, Simon Prebble.
When He Was Wicked: The Epilogue II – Julia Quinn
This 53 minute audio add–on is available for $2.00 and I see this more as a last chapter – can’t read the book without the epilogue.
Reckless Love – Elizabeth Lowell
Continuing to feed my love for western romance, this one’s been around for a while.
Mary Jo Putney’s newest book, Loving a Lost Lord was high on my list of purchases but I’m exercising a bit of caution here – it’s the only book I can find for narrator Kate Rawson and I can’t determine much of her style from the audio sample. That combined with Sandy’s recent B- review has caused me to place this one on hold.
And Now for Your Thoughts
Does it bother you to listen to lovemaking scenes?
Do you use ear phones or turn the sound down low? Do you plan around the possibility of someone else hearing?
What are your most memorable audio lovemaking scenes? Do you think a narrator makes a difference?
What are your latest audiobook hits or failures?
If this is your first time reading our Speaking of Audiobooks column, you may want to check our audio archives for previous entries.
See you in a couple of weeks when it’s time for our discussion of August’s Audiobook Romance releases.