Today we’re talking about a few promising coming soon or new release titles, taking a look at the audio side of AAR’s recent Annual Poll, sharing the Audie Award Finalists in Romance (complete with an opinion), and providing you with a list of all audiobook reviews at AAR since we started publishing audio reviews separately from Speaking of Audiobooks. There’s a lot going on!
New and Coming Soon Titles
The Luckiest Lady in London, the winner of AAR’s Best Romance of 2013 in their recent Annual Poll, releases in audio format on March 5th. It’s Tantor’s first publication of a Sherry Thomas title and I’m excited about their choice of narrator Corrie James. When you check her audio backlist, James looks to be new to the business but she is thoroughly the professional you hear when listening to her narrations. Recording for over 15 years, she’s only been narrating commercially since late 2012. Prior to that she recorded for the Library of Congress Program for the Blind. This should be a solid romance audio hit.
In our 2012 Speaking of Audiobooks Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll, our listeners voted Joanna Bourne as one of the Romance Author’s Backlist You Most Want to See in Audio. Penguin released The Spymaster’s Lady in 2010 and, with Kirsten Potter’s narration, it has proven to be a listener favorite. We haven’t seen another Bourne in audio format since but that will soon change. Tantor has picked up The Forbidden Rose, My Lord and Spymaster, and The Black Hawk. Publication of the three is scheduled April 30th – June 10th. We’re especially thrilled as Kirsten Potter will be narrating these titles as well!
Karen Robards/Anna Fields
In case you haven’t heard, Blackstone Audio rereleased the original audio version of Karen Robards’ One Summer narrated by Kate Fleming (Anna Fields). Originally recorded in 2000, this beloved audiobook has been a hard-to-find title for years now, unavailable for purchase in digital format or hard copy unless you were lucky enough to find a used copy. Even then, it’s likely you paid big bucks. Our listeners overwhelmingly chose Anna Fields as their Favorite Romance Narrator in the 2011 Speaking of Audiobooks Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll. Since we won’t be seeing any new Anna Fields narrations, it’s such a treat to see one brought to life for us once again.
The first in Jo Beverley’s Malloren Series, My Lady Notorious, was released in audio format on February 19th. Although I don’t have confirmation, I believe the other entries in the series will follow.
For all you Cat and Bones fans out there, you probably know that Jeaniene Frost’s fascinating Night Huntress series narrated by Tavia Gilbert has come to an end. The final entry in the series, Up from the Grave, was released in late January and we wonder if we will be seeing Cat and Bones again. Possibly in the final entry into the Night Prince trilogy? But there’s news of Frost’s new Broken Destiny series. The first in the series, The Beautiful Ashes, releases on August 26th simultaneously in print and audio formats. We can only hope that Tavia Gilbert is chosen to narrate yet again. These two make such a terrific author/narrator team.
It’s time to take a look at the winners of AAR’s recent Annual Poll from an audio perspective. As audio enthusiasts, we recognize that the quality of an audiobook is heavily impacted by the narrator’s performance. And not all narrators are created equally. Therefore winning books in print do not guarantee winning books in audio format. However, a large percentage of this year’s poll winning titles feature talented narrators.
Out of the winners, only four are unavailable in audio format – Laura Florand’s Snow Kissed, Sarah Mayberry’s The Other Side of Us, Anne Calhoun’s Uncommon Passion, and Pamela Clare’s short story First Strike (Clare’s other I-Team entries are available as audiobooks). That means fourteen of the winning print titles are available in audio format. I’m unfamiliar with only three narrators/narrator teams – Nancy Wu from Jeannie Lin’s The Lotus Palace (Audible sample sounds good however), Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra from Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park (only one of two narrators on sound sample), and Kim McKean from Sophie Jordan’s Foreplay (I’m not sold on sound sample – average grade for performance at Audible 3.8 out of 5.0).
Here’s the audio rundown:
The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas Narrated by Corrie James
Best Romance, Best Historical Romance Set in the U.K., Tied for Best Romance Couple, and Best Love Scenes (in Mainstream Romance)
Love Irresistibly by Julie James Narrated by Karen White
Best Contemporary Romance, Tied for Best Romance Couple, and Honorable Mention for Best Romance Heroine
Striking Distance by Pamela Clare Narrated by Kaleo Griffith
Best Romantic Suspense and Honorable Mention for Best Romance Couple
Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh Narrated by Angela Dawe
Best Paranormal Romance and Most Tortured Hero
The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin Narrated by Nancy Wu
Best Historical Romance Not Set in U.K.
Tangled by Emma Chase Narrated by Sebastian York
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell Narrated by Rebecca Lowman & Sunil Malhotra
Best Young Adult
Foreplay by Sophie Jordan Narrated by Kim McKean
Best New Adult
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion Narrated by Dan O’Grady
Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Best Romance Hero, Best Romance Heroine, Honorable Mention – Best Historical Romance Set in the U.K., Honorable Mention – Biggest Tearjerker
Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews Narrated by Renee Raudman
Most Kickass Heroine
Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb Narrated by Susan Ericksen
Honorable Mention – Most Kickass Heroine
One Good Earl Deserves A Lover by Sarah MacLean Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Honorable Mention – Best Love Scenes (in a Mainstream Romance) and Honorable Mention – Best Romance Couple
Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh Narrated by Justine Eyre
Honorable Mention – Best Romance Couple
Snow-Kissed by Laura Florand No audio version
The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry No Audio Version
Best Category Romance
Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun No Audio Version
First Strike by Pamela Clare No Audio Version
Best Romance Short Story
The Audies Awards Romance Finalists – Another Rant
The 2014 Audies Award Finalists were announced on February 18th. In June of 2012, I penned a column, The Audies and Romance, featuring an image of a broken heart. It was a complaint of sorts expressing my disappointment with the romance finalists over the years. In 2013, I wrote another column, The Audie Finalists in Romance, and it contained a good amount of enthusiasm as all five finalists were actually categorized as romance. Although I didn’t think they represented the absolute cream of the crop, I understood enough of the awards’ structure to note improvement over previous years – from a listener’s perspective.
I’m not dedicating an entire column to the romance Audie finalists this year. It seems my assumption (hope) that in the future five romances would be chosen as the romance finalists was flawed.
The Romance Finalists:
The Darkest Craving – Gena Showalter
Narrated by Max Bellmore
For My Lady’s Heart – Laura Kinsale
Narrated by Nicholas Boulton
Kissing Under the Mistletoe – Bella Andre
Narrated by Eve Kaminsky
The Longest Ride – Nicholas Sparks
Narrated by January LaVoy and Ron McLarty
The Wanderer – Robyn Carr
Narrated by Therese Plummer
I’ll start by saying the Audies did get one thing entirely right this year. I’m thrilled to see Laura Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart narrated by Nicholas Boulton on this list. If ever there was an Audie-worthy book – this is it.
The other romance finalists? I imagine they are all good audiobooks but the best in the industry for 2013? I doubt that. And what about that reappearance of Nicholas Sparks in the romance category? Sparks’ titles are general fiction and have always been categorized as such. Romance is usually designated only five finalist slots out of 160 (varies from year to year) and although a romance title may pop up in the Paranormal or Solo Narration, that’s not the case in 2014. Why give away a romance finalist slot to a general fiction title?
The Audies are an industry driven award. I’m thrilled when I see one of our favorite narrators as a finalist. It is quite an accomplishment and adds significantly to their credentials. But as a listeners’ guide to the best romances of the year? It’s not that and, if we want to celebrate such, we need to find another way to give recognition to the best romance audios of the year.
Audio Reviews at AAR
Last fall, we started publishing our audiobook reviews along with AAR’s print reviews. At that time, I promised to include a list of the audiobook reviews each month and I failed to do so! My apologies. Here’s a complete list of audiobook reviews since our change:
My Sweet Folly – Laura Kinsale Narrated by Nicholas Boulton
The Duchess War – Courtney Milan Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Sylvester – Georgette Heyer Narrated by Nicholas Rowe
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria – Lauren Willig Narrated by Kate Reading
About Last Night – Ruthie Knox Narrated by Coleen Marlo
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion Narrated by Dan O’Grady
Always on My Mind – Jill Shalvis Narrated by Annie Greene
When the Marquess Met His Match – Laura Lee Guhrke Narrated by Susan Ericksen
A Man Above Reproach – Evelyn Price Narrated by James Clamp
Saving Grace – Julie Garwood Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
A Kiss for Midwinter – Courtney Milan Narrated by Rosalyn Landor
Charming the Shrew – Laurin Wittig Narrated by Ralph Lister
The Perfect Match – Kristan Higgins Narrated by Amy Rubinate
The Ashford Affair – Lauren Willig Narrated by Nicola Barber
Shadowheart – Laura Kinsale Narrated by Nicholas Boulton
In Love with a Wicked Man – Liz Carlyle Narrated by Carolyn Morris
Guardian Angel – Julie Garwood Narrated by Susan Duerden
Almost Home – Mariah Stewart Narrated by Xe Sands
Check out our Speaking of Audiobooks Facebook page to see romance audio updates, industry news, and links to articles of interest.
For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, be sure to check out our audio archives for further recommendations and discussions.
Our affiliated Goodreads group – Romance Audiobooks keeps growing and now has 709 members. Come join us for discussions in between columns.
Enjoy your listening.
– Lea Hensley