Speaking of Audiobooks – Favorites

Private ArrgParticipating in AAR’s recent Annual Reader’s Poll and reading that Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie was chosen Best Romance of 2009, my audio-thinking mind immediately started wondering about my favorite romance audiobooks of 2009.  And then I realized that I didn’t want to stop with favorites from just one year.  What about our all time favorite romance audiobooks – say, the Top Ten?

As many of us have discovered, sharing our favorites with others is one of the best means of increasing our own listening enjoyment.  Not only do we have the opportunity to express our thoughts regarding a particular audiobook, but we also provide solid recommendations for our fellow audio lovers who, in turn, are inspired to share as well.  Another aspect of sharing our favorites is that of identity.  In finding another listener with similar tastes to your own, you discover a trusted source for future recommendations.

This dynamic is already occurring here at Speaking of Audiobooks.  Through past sharing, I now know several regular posters whose listening tastes are similar to my own and, therefore, I pay closer attention to their recommendations.  The more we share our likes (and dislikes), the better chance to identify with other listeners.

Choosing a favorite audiobook is a multi-level task for most since audiobook enthusiasts must take into consideration story content, narrator performance, and production quality as well as the mere fact that not all writing styles transition effectively into good listening.  And then, of course, there is that magic mix that sometimes works for you despite a narrator’s average (at best) performance or a production quality that provides an occasional echo or crackle in the background.

My Vote for Best Romance Audiobook of 2009

Let’s start with 2009, a year rich in new romance audiobook releases, especially considering the fact that many older romances are now being released in audio format for the first time.  It was difficult to choose just one favorite so I’ve included a few other titles that were so, so very close.

My favorite romance audiobook produced in 2009:

Private Arrangements – Sherry Thomas

Narrated by Virginia Leishman

Although the narrator rates in the excellent category, the sequence of events may be a bit confusing for those who have not yet read the book in print.  However, this magic mix worked extremely well for me and left me tempted to experience it all over again – immediately.

Others in the running:  Son of the Morning – Linda Howard

Narrated by Natalie Ross

One of the best combo Medieval/time-travel romances out there, Natalie Ross does a first rate job depicting both Niles and Grace – just as my mind perceived them when reading the print version.

First Comes Marriage – Mary Balogh

Narrated by Anne Flosnik

It is definitely my love of this story that places this one high on my favorites list as Flosnik performance rates no better than average.  This is not only my kind of romance but the leads fall into preferred categories as well.

Black Ice – Anne Stuart

Narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck

Man oh man – bad boy Bastien.  Stuart’s writing combines extremely well with Van Dyck’s performance to provide an edge of the seat experience.

Of course, my pick for favorite audiobook is only one voice.  Please, let us hear your choice as well!

Top Ten Favorite Romance Audiobooks

Looking at my audio library, I was thrilled to realize I had dozens of favorites but, of course, that made the task of choosing only ten more difficult.  And although I knew the first and second choices without thinking twice, determining the remainder of the final list took a good bit of consideration.  So, here it is – my Top Ten Favorite Romance Audiobooks:

1.  Outlander series – Diana Gabaldon

Narrated by Davina Porter

Although more than single book, the Outlander series’ episodic nature qualifies it as my number one choice and is, specifically, the first four in the series: Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, and Drums of Autumn.  Rarely have I been entertained to this degree for such a sustained period of time and that’s quite a statement given that these four books represent 159 hours of listening enjoyment with barely a boring moment.  If you want to read more, our November, 2009 Speaking of Audiobooks column is devoted entirely to this beloved series.

2.   It Had to Be You – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Narrated by Anna Fields

Both the author and narrator are extreme favorites of mine and It Had to Be You is at the top of that already highly favored list.  Dan Calebow officially rates as one of my top heroes and pretend bad girl, Phoebe Summerville, isn’t far behind.  Full of sophisticated humor, this one has the added allure of being one sexy book.

Suddenly You3.  Suddenly You – Lisa Kleypas

Narrated by Jill Tanner

I have been hesitant to praise this, my favorite of all Kleypas historicals, overly much in the past since it is only available in audio cassette format.  However, I discovered that Recorded Books is releasing it in CD format May 13!  Jill Tanner is an outstanding narrator and Amanda Briars is on my official list of favorite heroines.  Add Jack Devlin to that mix and you have quite the winning combination.

4.   Dream of Me – Josie Litton

Narrated by Josephine Bailey

Dream of Me was the first true romance I read and therefore holds a special place in my list of romance favorites.  I was enthused to discover it in audio format but after listening to Josephine Bailey’s excellent performance, I was absolutely enthralled.  Now a comfort listen for me, this Viking tale is a typical romance in many ways but will always be a winner of my heart.

5.   Kiss of the Highlander – Karen Marie Moning

Narrated by Phil Gigante

Narrator Phil Gigante is largely responsible for the outstanding success of this particular time-travel romance.  Although fifth is the series, this one stands on its own with a certain bawdiness that speaks to me as well as many laugh-out-loud moments and one very sexy hero.

6.    Match Me if You Can – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Narrated by Anna Fields

Another hit from that winning combination of author and narrator, Anna Fields portrayal of the self-deprecating Annabelle plays perfectly against the entirely convincing depiction of Heath – complete with attitude.  Both fit perfectly with the image in my head while reading the book in print and rates as an unqualified success.

7.    Leaving Normal – Stef Ann Holm

Narrated by Andrea Gallo

This one reached DIK status when I reviewed for AAR and the audiobook is DIK worthy as well.  Andrea Gallo delivers a superb performance of this rather serious book.  It’s one romance that feels like the real thing.  And, oh yeah, there is that firefighter beta hero Tony to take into consideration – wow!

8.   Nobody’s Baby But Mine – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Narrated by Anna Fields

Yet another Phillips/Fields combo that rates “comfort listen” status for me.  I chose to ignore the whole “nerdy genius using football player for baby” setup and just let the resulting story line flow.  A tremendously entertaining romance full of laughs, this is one wherein the entire cast is integral to its success.

9.   Private Arrangements – Sherry Thomas

Narrated by Virginia Leishman

My favorite audiobook of 2009, (detailed above) narrator Virginia Leishman gets an A.  This is one audiobook that may work best for those who have read the print version first.

Death Angel10.   Death Angel – Linda Howard

Narrated by Joyce Bean

Many Linda Howard audiobooks provide a great deal of entertainment for me but Death Angel touched me as no other.  It’s an unusual setup with a hit-man hero and a drug lord’s mistress as the heroine but it worked for me on many levels and brought more than a few tears to my eyes.  Added to that was Joyce Bean’s exacting delivery of each character.  Bravo!

Now let’s hear from you!

Time for Your Thoughts

What was your favorite romance audiobook produced in 2009?

What are your all time favorite romance audiobooks?  Please share your top ten or your top three or your single favorite.  The more we share with one another, the better!

And, as always, what is your latest audiobook success or failure?

Ending Notes

For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, please check out our audio archives as well as AAR’s main site for monthly lists of upcoming audiobook releases.

Feel free to contact me through my Meet Reviewer Lea Hensley page should you have questions about audiobooks.  I may not know the answer but we’ll try to at least point you in the right direction.

I’ll be back later this month when we discuss March audiobook new releases.

– Lea Hensley

23 thoughts on “Speaking of Audiobooks – Favorites

  1. I’ve not bought many audio books but now that I’m working outside the home again and have a commute, I’ve been thinking about gettting some to make the rolling back-ups more tolerable ;-)

    The only one I’ve ever had is Linda Howard’s MR PERFECT which I found in the bargain bin at B&N. It’s on cassette as well (that’s likely why it was reduced) but that wasn’t too much of a hassle for me. I think the narrator was Jessica Stern (?) and I thought she did a nice job.

    But you’ve given me several good ones to investigate. THANKS

  2. Wow! What a great idea. I can’t wait to see everyone’s recommendations.
    Since I love book series, that is mainly what I listen to. I get very attached to the characters I love and enjoy reading about them after their main story has ended. I also love seeing secondary characters get their own story. In some cases, like in the Lily Bard series, we get to see how one character grows and changes. So instead of picking one book out of the series I love, I’m just going to list the series themselves.

    1) Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon – the story and narrator, Davina Porter have no comparison, IMO.

    2) Virgin River series by Robyn Carr – I love all the characters and especially all those manly military men.

    3) Chicago Stars by Susan E Phillips – Some of the funniest books ever and to me narrator Anna Fields is second only to Davina Porter.

    4) Huxtable series by Mary Balogh – She’s one of my all time favorite authors and this a great historical romance family.

    5) Hathawy series by Lisa Kleypas – Another great family series in historical romance. The narrator took a little time for me to get used to but I love the stories.

    6) Aurora Teagarden by Charlaine Harris – Good mystery series set in Georgia. I love Charlaine Harris’ authentic potrayal of southern women.

    7) Hamish McBeth series by MC Beaton – Mystery series set in the Scottish Highlands. I’ve only listened to the ones narrated by Davina Porter. A great cast of secondary characters.

    8) Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich – Especially the first books. I love seeing what Stephanie and Lula are up to.

    9) Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris – The only paranormal books I’ve ever enjoyed. (Maybe I’m not reading the right ones.) I love Johanna Parker’s narration.

    10) Lily Bard by Charlaine Harris – Really good mysteries but the main reason I like these books is Lily herself. What a great character.

  3. Generally, I only listen to audio books that I’ve already read, reread and liked again. Even with audible, audio is still more expensive than print and has to be chosen carefully. Also, the regional restriction, well, restrict what books you can get from audible which only leaves the more expensive CDs or mp3s. Then, there is the issue of DRM (unfortunately can’t help it with audible) and abridged versions. I don’t do abridged (with a few notable exceptions in the Doctor Who books below)!

    Still, I’ve found some great listens last year when my love for audio books really started to take off. Most of them aren’t romances exactly but then many readers on AAR are open to a lot of other genres. Here are in no particular order some of my favourite books and series without regard to their publication dates:

    Lois McMaster Bujold – The Curse of Chalion (Lloyd James) I had to get used to the reader’s voice but this tale of adventure, philosophy, religion, fantasy and a smattering of romance just pulled me along.

    Lois McMaster Bujold – The Sharing Knife (Bernadette Dunne) Ah, what a great romance – in the romantic and the adventurous sense. Bernadette Dunne is one of my favourite readers who delivers perfectly the male and female voices, and there a quite a few characters in the four books. A comfort read and now listen for me.

    Doctor Who – The day of the troll, The forever trap, The rising night, The last voyage, The resurrection casket, The feast of the drowned, The stone Rose, The pirate loop (mainly David Tennant, but also other actors from the series) Alright, I’m a fangirl of the new series of Who and David Tennant though I’m prepared the like the newest Doctor, too. Probably only for people who know the series but if you do you can find some great performances here.

    Terry Pratchett – Discworld, particularly Watchmen books (Stephen Briggs, for earlier books Nigel Planer) While I read all the Discworld books, the Watch books are those I reread frequently. Nigel Planer started the series very well but Stephen Briggs is the current excellent reader who really gets the characters for me. I even like his Sam Vimes which can be very difficult on account of him being one of my favourite fictional characters. I’m just now relistening to Thud! and loving it.

    Jayne Castle – Harmony books (Joyce Bean except for one) Surprisingly, all the books in the series are available from audible in Germany. Joyce Bean, next to Bernadette Dunne, is one of my favourite performers. Though beware, just like the Quick/Krentz/Castle books are all a bit similar, the voices in each book of the series are also similar. Still, I listened to one after the other an enjoyed myself immensely.

    Anything by Bill Bryson (William Roberts) Bill Bryson is one great comic author who makes me smile and giggle if not laugh even after repeated readings. William Roberts delivers perfectly on the dry wit, sly references and self-depreciating humour.

    Amanda Quick – Ravished (Anne Flosnik) My favourite Quick-book that even got me used to Anne Flosnik who I appreciate now much more than before this listen.

    Naomi Novik – Temeraire books (Simon Vance) What would I do without audible that offers me the chance to listen to Simon Vance performing the Temeraire books? That man has a serious talent for voice-acting. I can hardly wait for the next book which I will actually buy first in audio and then in print.

    Susan Cooper – The Dark Is Rising sequence (Alex Jennings apart from one) Loved the books as a kid, found them by accident in audio and got caught.

    Tamora Pierce – Tortall books (various readers like Bernadette Dunne, Susan Denaker -really had to get used to her voice-, Trini Alvarado, Full Cast Audio) The YA books author for me. Her books are frequent comfort reads so I was happy to find her books as audio versions. Due to various readers over the course of five series sequences you might have to pick and choose those you like but as the writing is so superior I fell for all of them eventually.

  4. I love this months topic! I know I’ll pick up several new books to try. Outlander is still on my “to listen to” pile, I know I’ll love it but the time commitment scares me.

    With romance, it’s the hero’s “voice” and attitude that makes or breaks a book for me.

    Case in point … My favorite 2009 release is:

    Dream Man by Linda Howard, narrated by Phil Gigante.
    His interpretation of Marley was off for me but whoa, did he get Dane right! Pure audio pleasure.

    2009 release runners up:
    Heart of Fire – Linda Howard, narrated by Tanya Eby Siros
    The Golden Chance – Jayne Ann Krentz, narrated by Patrick G Lawlor and Franette Liebow
    Ravished – Amanda Quick, narrated by Anne Flosnick

    All Time Single Title Audio Favorites, all in unabridged versions:

    #1) Head Over Heels by Susan Andersen narrated by Anna Fields

    #2) Dream Man by Linda Howard, narrated by Phil Gigante

    #3) Match Me if You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips narrated by Anna Fields

    #4) The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning, narrated by Phil Gigante

    #5) Mr Perfect by Linda Howard narrated by Laura Hicks

    #6) Wildest Hearts by Jayne Ann Krentz narrated by Mary Pififer

    #7) Heart of Fire – Linda Howard, narrated by Tanya Eby Siros

    #8) Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts narrated by Tom Stechschulte

    #9) Mystique by Amanda Quick narrated by Barbara Rosenblatt

    #10) Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips narrated by Ann Fields

    I’m with katyco on the allure of a series of books, as that is what I have really come to enjoy, for the same reasons katyco stated.

    Top 10 Favorite series, and yes I’m on a PNR kick the past few months:

    Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalker series narrated by Tom Stechschulte
    (most especially Night Game and Conspiracy Game)

    Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse narrated by Johanna Parker

    Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series narrated by Lorelie King
    (if you like Sookie then this series would be perfect to try)

    Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series narrated by Phil Gigante

    JD Robb’s In Death series narrated by Susan Erickson

    MaryJanice Davidson’s Queen Betsy series narrated by Nancy Wu

    Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s Chicago Stars series narrated by Anna Fields

    Jayne Castle’s Ghost Hunter series narrated by Joyce Bean (and her Arcane Society series under JAK and Amanda Quick)

    Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series narrated by CJ Critt and then Lorelie King.

    Elizabeth Phillips Amelia Peabody series narrated by Barbara Rosenblatt

  5. Oh my, Lea. What a challenge this is. I am so glad I keep a list of the books I read and listen to or I would never be able to do this.

    I didn’t keep the year in my spreadsheet so I can’t list my choice for just 2009. I can, however, list my favorites of all time in the romance genre.

    #1 The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, narrated by Davina Porter. I include only the first 3 books: Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager.

    #2 Books by Georgette Heyer, namely:
    read by Eve Matheson:
    Arabella
    Faro’s Daughter
    Friday’s Child
    The Nonesuch
    read by Sian Phillips:
    Bath Tangle
    Cousin Kate
    Sprig Muslin
    Venetia
    read by Cornelius Garrett:
    These Old Shades
    Beauvallet
    The Quiet Gentleman
    read by Phyllida Nash:
    A Civil Contract
    Cotillon
    False Colours
    read by Clifford Norgate:
    Frederica
    The Unfinished Clue
    Devil’s Cub, read by Michael Drew
    Regency Buck, read by June Barrie
    Black Sheep, read by Barbara Leigh-Hunt
    Powder and Patch, read by Jamie Glover
    Simon the Coldheart, read by Ben Elliot
    Sylvester, read by Richard Armitage
    The Grand Sophy, read by John Westbrook
    The Unknown Ajax, read by Daniel Philpott
    Heyer is masterful, and all of the narrators just outstanding.

    #3 Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens, narrated by Simon Prebble.
    A good book made excellent by Prebble’s performance.

    #4 The Proposition by Judith Ivory, narrated by Steven Crossley. A great voice for all the characters, especially the hero.

    #5 Death Angel by Linda Howard, narrated by Joyce Bean. I couldn’t stop listening until the end. Well done.

    #6 Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Kate Reading. Funny, lovable characters expertly performed.

    #7 Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, narrated by Johanna Parker. I don’t read these books. Parker’s Southern accent is a must listen.

    #8 Chicago Stars series by SEP, narrated by Anna Fields. Always a great combination of story and performance.

    #9 The Sherbrooke Bride by Catherine Coulter, narrated by Anne Flosnik. This is one of my favorite books, although Flosnik’s performance is not outstanding.

    #10 When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn, narrated by Simon Prebble. Prebble makes this book just shine.

    Outside the romance genre:

    The Curse of Chalion by Lois MacMaster Bujold, read by Lloyd James. This book and its sequel, Paladin of Souls, read by Kate Reading, rank up there right beside Outlander. Hugo and Nebula Award winners, the stories will entice and capture your imagination. The denouements will leave you speechless with admiration for the storytelling prowess of Bujold. Absolutely mind-blowing. Really. Really. REALLY.

    The Saga of the Seven Suns , a series by Kevin J Anderson and read by George Guidall (1st 3 books) and David Colacci (last 4 books). Anderson’s universe will stun you with its complexity. The best parts were the characters. Anderson developed them so well, that I just couldn’t wait to get to the next book to find out what happened to them.

    Then there’s the other series that are sure to please: Amelia Peabody by Elizabeth Peters read by Barbara Rosenblat, The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell read by Christian Rummel, Hamish Macbeth by M C Beaton ready by Davina Porter and Graeme Malcolm.

  6. I’ve only listen to 1 audio series and that is The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon…I’ve got them on CD and on Itunes and have been listenting to them for years!!!

    But I writing down all the recommends and am ready to find some new audio material!!! So keep them coming…I’m all ears!!!

  7. For 2009 releases –

    1) Delicous
    2) Private Arrangements
    I listened to and loved both the of the Sherry Thomas books, but I enjoyed Delicous just a bit more. Virginia Leishman is delightful in both books.
    3) The Huxtable series by Lisa Kleypas. The narration of the books was a bit weak, but the stories more than compensated for the narrator.

    Sadly, of the books released in 2009 that I listened to, these are the only ones I enjoyed enough to call ‘favorites’. The other 2009 releases I listened to either had me rolling my eyes as the story unfolded like Die for Me by Karen Rose or bored like Lisa Kleypas’s Smooth Talking Stranger.

    Top 10 All Time Romance Favorites –

    It pains me to not have Harry Potter with Jim Dale as number 1, but I’ll follow the rules and make this a romance top 10 list.

    1) Beast by Judith Ivory narrated by Barbara Rosenblatt. It’s all about the narration for me on this one. I’ve never started an audio book and been so completely grabbed from the first line like I was with Beast. Rosenblatt uses several different accents, languages and voices and she’s flawless. The Indiscretion is also amazing from the same team.

    2) The Compass Club series by Jo Goodman and narrated by Jenny Sterlin with All I Ever Needed being my favorite by a slim margin. The series is so cleverly written with overlapping scenes and stories. Jenny Sterlin reads slowly which usually annoys me, but with this just left me clinging to my headphones waiting for what comes next. It’s fantastic listening.

    3) The Dead Until Dark series by Charlaine Harris narrated by Johanna Parker. I’ve tried reading these books and have ended up bored and skimming. Johanna Parker’s narration and accents are just so good that I keep coming back for more.

    4) No Body’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and narrated by Anna Fields. The team of SEP and Fields is just perfect, but NBBBM had so many laugh out loud moments for me that it’s my favorite of the bunch.

    5) Dream a Little Dream by SEP and narrated by Anna Fields. I had to throw this one in. This is probably one of SEP’s most heartbreaking books. I love it and I love the narration and I would consider dumping my husband (whom I adore) for Gabe.

    6) The Rock Orchard by Paula Wall narrated by Susan Ericksen. I don’t think this is categorized as a romance, but it’s certainly a love story. I don’t often listen to an audio book more than once, but this is one of the few that I finished listening to it and immediately started listening to it again from the beginning. Susan Ericksen gives it her all and is fabulous.

    7) Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas narrated by Jeannie Stith. The narration was actually a bit weak for me, but the story was wonderful.

    8) Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie narrated by Renee Raudman. This was the first romance audio books I listened to and the first Jennifer Crusie book I ever read or listened to. After listening to this, I went a Jennifer Crusie binge and am a devoted fan of hers.

    9) Brides of Prairie Gold by Maggie Osborne narrated by Ruth Ann Phimister. Again, this was one of my first romance audio books. There were numerous characters with distinctly different voices. I noticed that my library no longer carries the copy narrated by Phimister and they have a copy with someone named Kris Faulkner narrating. I just can’t imagine it being nearly as good as Phimister’s work. (I want to squeeze in an extra book by throwing in Catherine Anderson’s Cherish also narrated by Phimister.)

    10) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin narrated by Kate Reading. In my opinion P&P is the grandmother of all romance novels and it’s practically perfect.

  8. What a fabulous topic! I’m going to check back on answers regularly and start a list.
    I’m not that aware of which year things came out, and I’m just learning about new stuff all the time.

    I gotta say my favorite series is the ICE series, because I think the readers are so good and I’m entranced with that world. I’m not trying to push it – I just really love it.
    Also, the Georgette Heyers. My favorites aren’t available in this country yet (favorite audios), but really, all of them are wonderful.
    I love every Judith Ivory book to pieces, in particular BEAST.
    Lisa Kleypas, both modern and historical. In particular MINE TILL MIDNIGHT. Definitely a comfort read. Love the modern ones, in particular SMOOTH TALKING STRANGER (even though some people don’t care for it).
    BITTEN by Kelley Armstrong, most Linda Howards, some Sandra Browns.
    And my most favorite of all time is SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley. Love that book to pieces.
    I’ve got OUTLANDER on by TBH (as in To Be Heard) list, as well as tons of other, and I’ve heard fabulous things about the Harry Dresden books read by James Marsters (well, how can you lose with James Marsters?)..

    • Anne Stuart: I’ve heard fabulous things about the Harry Dresden books read by James Marsters (well, how can you lose with James Marsters?).

      I generally avoid Romance titles in audio because I don’t like listening to the mushy bits – love reading them just not listening. I might try some from this list, though.

      I do have a general recommendation. I just started listening to the first Dresden book and am really enjoying it so far. I really like Dresden’s “voice” and Marsters nails it, IMO. Also, I’m usually one of those odd people who can only listen to books I’ve already read, but I’m not having that problem with this one. I have read the book before but it’s been ages and I don’t remember much of the plot at all. It’s a combination of reader talent and story pacing or something; they suck me in and I don’t have trouble keeping track of the plot like I usually do. Listening to The Curse of Chalion (awesome!) is the only other time it’s happened.

  9. Thank you all for sharing your favorites! I believe more lists of favorites are on the way. Listing your favorites takes some time and I think I’ll continue asking readers to post their favorites throughout the month. But, wow! What a list of great suggestions already.

  10. Trish – I have yet to enjoy Mr. Perfect since it is so difficult to find in unabridged format. Many of Howard’s older titles were released in audio format last year and I’m hoping to see Mr. Perfect rereleased sometime in 2010. I think you’ll find many audiobook suggestions here to help make your commute more enjoyable. You may want to check out our Speaking of Audiobook archives as well.

    GamaTST – I encourage you to let yourself just “fall” into the Outlander series without thought of the time commitment. You may want to listen to another book at the same time if completion is important to you (I know it is to me). And you will easily recall the events in Outlander if you don’t listen for a while and the sheer beauty of both the story and the narrator’s performance will draw you back in without you thinking twice about the time commitment.

    MarissaB – yeah!! Another Death Angel lover!

    katyco – this whole series thing has me seriously thinking about my own favorite series. I also think that has great future column potential.

    Iris – thanks for expanding my world! I write about romance audiobooks because that’s what I know (and, of course, this is a romance site) but these are wonderful suggestions.

    Mitzi H – I agree that you will find many audiobooks to expand your listening choices. May I also encourage you to check out our Speaking of Audiobook archives for even more recommendations. If you are looking for humor – we have a column on funny audiobooks. If you prefer male narrators, you’ll find a column on that. etc., etc.

    AC – I’m listening to Beast for the first time right not and WOW! When I attempted to read Beast, I didn’t even make it halfway through (and I’m a huge Ivory fan) but listening makes all the differences (plus I’m now ready to accept the heroine with all her magnificent beauty). Glad to see another Private Arrangements lover. I have Delicious downloaded but have yet to listen. Really enjoyed the book in print though. It looks as though we enjoy many of the same books.

    And Anne – we always love to hear from you! I’m still working on listening to the entire ICE series but I have read all in the series and therefore don’t find it necessary to listen in order. Ivory’s audiobooks are among my favorites as well and I thoroughly enjoyed Smooth Talking Stranger.

  11. I can’t believe one of my favorite authors wrote on this blog!! Anne Stuart I LOVE you!!! One of my favorite books of all time is “To Love A Dark Lord” I hope some day it will be in audio format. Lee I love this column. I get excited every time I see “Talking of Audio Books”. I don’t have any I can recommend that haven’t all ready been mentioned but one that really stays with me isn’t a romance. “The Gargoyle” read by Lincoln Hoppe. I can’t remember the author. Sorry.

  12. Oh geez, what a thrill – a new audiobook column, thanks Lea!

    Well, there’s plenty of good rec’s already and I concur with most of the biggies, SEP, Gabaldon, Stuart, Quick & JD Robb.

    Sadly, I’ve been in a listening slump lately – started many books but have not finished them, is it me or them?

    I have been re-listening to some old favs though and recommend any of Katherine Sutcliffe’s books -starting with Darkling, I Listen, Notorious and Whitehorse. All different but good basic love stories. I recently enjoyed Sandra Brown’s latest, Witness. It starts out slow and confusing but picks up lots of steam, another good love story.

    Also have re-listened to the Julia Grey series but Deanna Raybourn – such a great relationship that fully develops over three books, how different for a change.

    I’ve just downloaded Fantasy In Death and will listen on my way to work tomorrow – Eve (and Susan Ericksen) never fail me.

    Outside of romance I recommend an old favorite, the Dead trilogy by Adrian McKinty. These are read well by Gerard Doyle and are crime/mystery novels … and a whole lot more. Start with Dead I Well May Be and see if you’re not hooked.

  13. My favorites have been mentioned here but I’m really grateful for the suggestions! I belong to Audible but I also get a lot of audiobooks out of the library. That’s definitely cheaper! My daughter’s library has a lot more than mine so she gets them for me as well.

  14. I just finished Cry No More by Linda Howard read by Joyce Bean. I was so afraid to listen to this book because I don’t like to be so emotionally involved that I cry buckets. Well….wishful thinking. I did cry buckets. And all day at work today, whenever I thought about the last few chapters, I got tearful. A good book. An excellent listen. What a great character Milla is! You said I wouldn’t be disappointed in it, Lea, and you were right. I think I will listen to the last chapter again, just to feel warm and fuzzy while I sniffle away.

  15. Picking favorites of anything is always a toughie for me (hello, procrastinator). One excellent result of poring over my audio library is that I dumped quite a few digital books that I either didn’t like or will never listen to again. A whole lot easier than lugging bags of books out.

    Best of 2009:

    1. Son of the Morning by Linda Howard narrated by Natalie Ross. Because everything was perfect. This has long been one of my favorite books and Ross gave it the perfect reading.
    2. Smoothing Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas read by Emily Durante. This would have been number one if SotM hadn’t made an appearance in late November. The narration was a tiny bit off, but just a tiny bit.
    3. Cold as Ice by Anne Stuart narrated by Natalie Gold. One of the rare instances when the audio enhanced my original feelings about the book. It wasn’t my favorite in the series before, now it’s moved up to second place.
    4. Dream Man by Linda Howard read by Phil Gigante. I won’t mention again why I couldn’t give this one first place.

    Honorable Mention 2009: (It was a good year for audiobooks)

    Kill for Me by Karen Rose read by Tavia Gilbert
    Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris read by Johanna Parker
    Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann read by Laura Hicks
    Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell read by Robin Rowan
    Burn, Ice, and Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard
    Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourne

    My Super Dooper Favorites of all Time: (I couldn’t possibly put these in order because I love them all. My final selection method was to include the ones I’ve listened to multiple times, my comfort listens.)

    Darkling I Listen by Katherine Sutcliffe read by Alyssa Bresnahan. Profoundly moving story of a flamed out, alcoholic former child star hiding out on his grandparents’ Texas farm. When a tabloid reporter hoping for a career boost comes looking for him, old wounds are opened. Both of them end up redeemed, but it’s a painful journey.

    Heaven, Texas by SEP read by Anna. LOL funny, poignant and Bobby Tom Denton is to die for.

    Ice Blue by Anne Stuart read by Gabra Zackman. Love Stuart and Zackman and this is a perfect match. I have no idea why I love Takashi so much.

    Envy by Sandra Brown read by Victor Slezak. Slezak is soooo good at interpreting Brown’s jerk heroes. I love the southern gothic feel of this one and hero Parker Evans is an SOB who almost goes too far to be forgiven.

    Dream a Little Dream by SEP read by Anna. I generally don’t like children in romance, but the little heartbreaker Edward may be my favorite character in this novel.

    Death Angel and Cry No More by Linda Howard read by Joyce Bean. What can I say? I’m a fan.

    Scream for Me by Karen Rose read by Tavia Gilbert. Daniel is one of the finest contemporary romance heroes ever written.

    Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie read by Aasne Vigesaa. Great book and the narrator’s dry interpretation of Sophie is pitch perfect.

    Mackenzie’s Pleasure by Linda Howard read by Dennis Boutsikaris. Oh please, Zane Mackenzie. What a man. Boutsikaris has a sexy voice, easy listening.

    That’s my 10. But wait, there’s more! Favorite Series:

    Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris. Johanna Parker is fabulous.

    Ice series by Anne Stuart. (Anne, I accept paypal)

    Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward. Narrator Jim Frangione is a little clunky and not quite as hip as he should be, but I guess I’ve gotten used to him.

    Donovans by Elizabeth Lowell. Newest versions read by Robin Rowan. In order Amber Beach, Jade Island, Midnight in Ruby Bayou, Pearl Cove.

    Outlander Series. Of course.

  16. I have to add Blue-Eyed Devil by Kleypas and read by Renee Raudman.

    Honest, it was on my original list. Don’t know how I missed it.

  17. The top of my all time favorites list is a tie between Phil Gigante’s eargasmic performances of THE HIGHLANDERS series by Karen Marie Moning and Johanna Parker’s Southern Fried narration of Charlaine Harris’ SOUTHERN VAMPIRE (Sookie) series. Both of these series of audio books make the print versions seem far less enjoyable.

    Other notable audio books:

    THE INDESCRETION by Judith Ivory- Barbara Rosenblatt’s performance elevated this story. What a JOY it was to listen to.

    DEVIL’S BRIDE by Stephanie Laurens has always been my most beloved Regency and I re-read it every year. But this past year I finally was able to listen to the audio book. Thanks to Simon Prebble’s brilliant narration, I may never pick up the print book again and will listen to him every year instead.

    The last few books in Christine Feehan’s CARPATHIAN series have been narrated by Phil Gigante and Jane Brown. They use a dual reader format where he does all the male voices and she does all the female voices with narration switching off between them. Not only has this brought new enjoyment of the series, but the dual reader format quickly became my favorite way to listen to an audio book.

    While I was never much of a fan of the print books, Nancy Wu’s snarktastic narration of Mary Janice Davidson’s QUEEN BETSY series has made it an auto buy for me.

    I’ve recently started Jim Butcher’s DRESDEN FILES series and thoroughly enjoy James Marsters pitch perfect characterizations.

    Also, I have found that I PREFER historical romances in audio format. I’m a Midwesterner and I don’t read in accents. So I find Regencies in particular much richer and more enjoyable in audio format.

    BTW, thanks for the recs for Phil Gigante’s narration of DREAM MAN by Linda Howard. I somehow missed the release of that one. I remember enjoying the print book, but I have a feeling Phil G.’s performance is nothing less than amazing.

    Poor Phil G. I don’t think he realized what he was getting into when he first started narrating Romance. Now he belongs to us and we’re not letting him go!

  18. I love a lot of the audio books and series that have been mentioned already: Eve & Roarke by J.D. Robb; Outlander series by Gabaldon; Troubleshooters/Seal Team 16 by Brockmann; Black Dagger Brotherhood by Ward; The Game series & her Carpathian series by Feehan; Anita Blake series by Hamilton; Dark Hunter series by Kenyon (although they don’t have all of her books in this series available); almost all Linda Howard, Chicago Stars series by Phillips; Cheapeake Bay series by Roberts (especially Sea Swept); Bridgerton Series by Quinn (although they don’t have the early ones available on CD or audible); Lords of the Underworld by Showalter; Fever Series & Highlander series by Moning.

    Now favorite books – VERY hard to narrow down.
    1. Outlander – Gabaldon
    2. Sea Swept – Roberts
    3. Mackenzies Pleasure & Mission – Howard
    4. To Die For & Drop Dead Gorgeous – Linda Howard (excpet It’s painful to listen to Franette Liebow’voice in TDF)
    5. Dream Man – Howard
    6. Devil’s Bride – Laurens
    7. Over the Edge – Brockman
    8. When He Was Wicked – Quinn
    9. Lover Revealed – Ward
    10. It Had to Be You & Heaven, Texas

    I get most of my books from audible and watch for sales all the time. But the library is also a great source. Love this site for audio book ideas. I also go to Brilliance and check out their “Coming Soon” section and write on my calendar when my favorite authors have books coming out. I wish more books had male & female narrators. Although I don’t understand when they have a man & woman narrating (Brockmann’s Troubleshooter/Seal Team 16)why they have them alternate reading BOTH male & female characters – I think it’s very distracting.

  19. I have been without a well functioning computer for over a week now. Although I’ve been online, it’s been difficult to respond. Now my dear laptop is back and I’m in business!

    Peggy P – I’ve never read or listened to a Deanna Raybourn book but I’m seriously considering The Dead Travel Fast. I want more of a romance than a mystery. Does anyone know if this latest from her falls more into the romance category that her Julia Grey series?

    MarissaB – so glad you liked Cry No More! It’s time for a relisten and is on my iPod ready to go.

    Diana – what a list! I’m going to try a number of your romantic suspense recommendations. I have avoided most RS in the past but you and I do seem to have similar tastes with contemporaries.

    BevQB – I’m a Midwestern as well and don’t read in accents. It was challenging at first for me to hear accents but I have learned they add another dimension entirely for me in audio. I doubt I will ever read an Outlander book if audio is available. Jamie’s accent plays significantly into his character.

    Nina – you and I have VERY similar tastes from the looks of your favorites list. I have Brockmann’s Gone Too Far loaded onto my iPod. Is that one of the dual narrations you’re referring to?

    MaryK – I have heard so many good things about the Dresden/Master combo that I think I must try this series. Also, I do think listening to the mushy parts of romance is often something one must become accustomed to. I know when I first starting listening to romance, I wanted to hide my head during the sensual scenes. Now it doesn’t usually bother me as long as I’m absolutely SURE no one else can hear.

    Lea

    • Lea AAR: I’ve never read or listened to a Deanna Raybourn book but I’m seriously considering The Dead Travel Fast. I want more of a romance than a mystery. Does anyone know if this latest from her falls more into the romance category that her Julia Grey series?

      There are some helpful reviews on Amazon. And some unhelpful ones from people who thought it was a Julia Grey book. :roll:

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