Speaking of Audiobooks: Romance Audio Bests by Author

Out-of-Control 2As I read praise of Nora Roberts latest audiobook release, The Search, from our readers here at Speaking of Audiobooks, I once again contemplated trying out a few of her audiobooks.  I listened to one Roberts unabridged audio years ago and now each time I attempt to go down that road again, I feel overwhelmed by all the choices.  Of course, Roberts is just one of many romance authors with large audio backlists (although hers has to be the largest).  And since audiobook reviews are hard to come by, where oh where does one start?

A popular feature at All About Romance is Favorite Books by Favorite Authors where readers periodically share their favorite titles of a particular author.  As audiobook enthusiasts, we know that a successful audiobook involves more than an intriguing plot that moves at a good pace – it also relies heavily on the narrator’s performance.  Therefore such lists are only partially successful in helping us choose our next listen.  So, let’s work together (very informally) to create our own list of favorites of those authors with larger audio backlists (I’m defining a larger backlist as a half dozen or more).  Will you share your audiobook successes by author with us?  Whether you provide one title or several and just one author or twenty, we’d love to hear your audio bests.

To start the ball rolling, I chose eleven romance authors and listed a few of my audio favorites.  Please tell us if you too favor an audiobook that has already made the list either in my listing or another post.  It makes a recommendation just that much stronger.

Mary Balogh

First Comes Marriage easily rates as my number one Balogh audio despite narrator Anne Flosnik (her voice simply doesn’t fit with the voices in my head).  This book worked so well for me in print that I was determined to love it in audio as well.  Another I found quite enjoyable was A Matter of Class.

Suzanne Brockmann

Out of Control is my favorite of the Troubleshooter series in print and remains so in audio with Over the Edge as a close second.  Although the writing for this series is solid and consistently dynamic, the quality of narration varies greatly.  Last I counted, there were 28 Brockmann audio titles available and I have not listened to any outside of the Troubleshooter series.

Sandra Brown

Envy is now playing on my iPod for the second time – as soon as I finished it, I started listening again.  Needless to say, I loved it and am now adding other Brown romantic suspense audiobooks to my wish list.  Another winner for me was Slow Heat in Heaven.

Jennifer Crusie

Anyone But You holds this top spot with Susan Ericksen delivering one laugh-out-loud moment after another.  Although Welcome to Temptation rates as one of my favorite contemporaries in print, it falls behind a number of Crusie’s other light hearted romances in audio including Strange Bedpersons, Manhunting and Bet Me.

Jo Goodman

Tempting Torment narrated by the outstanding Jill Tanner is a sweeping romance from 1989 that receives a solid recommendation.  Let Me Be the One, the first in the Compass Club series, is another well narrated audiobook (Virginia Leishman) but I can’t say the same for the remaining three in the series.

Linda Howard

Death Angel sits at the top of this list although, as a major Howard fan, there are many others clamoring for that spot.  Dream Man and Cry No More are close seconds.  I have a feeling that After the Night will be among these favorites once I listen to it on vacation (which is finally planned for September).  One thing about Linda Howard’s writing – her style can vary greatly from one book to the next and that’s off-putting to some.  However, I follow eagerly no matter the path she chooses to follow.

Judith Ivory

The Indiscretion takes first place as an audiobook since it’s narrated by the wonderful Barbara Rosenblat.  Sleeping Beauty follows closely since it is one of my top ten historical romances in print although the narration is a challenge for me.  Still, I greatly enjoyed Sleeping Beauty in audio.

Lisa Kleypas

Suddenly You easily is my favorite Kleypas in print or audio.  Superbly narrated by Jill Tanner, it’s one of those hard to find audios but well worth the hunt.  Audio runner ups are Blue Eyed Devil and Sugar Daddy.  Kleypas’ backlist is slowly being released in audio and many of her most beloved romances including Dreaming of You, Devil in Winter, and Then Came You are scheduled for release by February 2011.

spell of the highlanderKaren Marie Moning

Kiss of the Highlander, the 5th in the Highlander Series, effortlessly takes first place and also performs well as a stand-alone.  However, I don’t think you’ll be listening to just Kiss of the Highlander once you hear Phil Gigante’s Scottish brogue.  Other of my top listens in this series: The Immortal Highlander and Spell of the Highlander.  I’ve yet to delve into Moning’s Fever Series but plan to do so this year (Darkfever is part of my 2010 Listening Challenge).

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Match Me If You Can is my favorite followed closely by It Had to Be You, Nobody’s Baby But Mine, and Natural Born Charmer.  Phillips tops my list of favorite authors and narrator Anna Fields (who performs the majority of Phillips’ books) takes the first place narrator spot as well.  Eight Phillips/Fields audiobooks are worthy or my relistening time – again and again.

Anne Stuart

Black Ice (the first in the Ice series) narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck takes the first spot with Ice Storm next in line.  However, other than the Ice series, Stuart’s audio offerings are limited to abridged format.  I’m always hoping for release of her older titles as well as now crossing my fingers that her new House of Rohan trilogy will be offered soon in audio.

Series

A number of audio favorites are best referred to as a part of a series rather than individual books.  We all may have our favorites within a series but these books are meant to be experienced in order as the plots integrally build one upon the other.  These series are all, in my opinion, excellent and made all the more so by the fact that each book is not only well narrated but that the series retains the same narrator throughout.

Diana Gabaldon

The Outlander series – first in the series, Outlander.  I dedicated an entire Speaking of Audiobooks column to this exceptional audiobook series last November.

Charlaine Harris

The Sookie Stackhouse series – first in the series, Dead Until Dark.  Another series I’ve been raving about lately.  Expect more raving.  I’m through book five (Dead as a Doornail) and still gathering steam.

J.R. Ward

The Black Dagger Brotherhood series – first in the series, Dark Lover.  I was a big fan of the print version through book five (Lover Unbound) and am enjoying each in audio all over again.

Lois McMaster Bujold

The Sharing Knife series – first in the series, Beguilement.  I’ve stated my admiration for this fantasy series a number of times over the past few months.  There’s a sort of laid back tone to the series but it still manages to keep your attention with plain old good story telling.

J.D. Robb

The In Death series – first in the series, Naked in Death.  I’ve only listened to the first two in the series and know many of our listeners are big fans.  I also think that once you understand the world building and know the basic characters, you may not need to read every book to advance to the next.  As always, please point out my error if I have the facts wrong on that particular point.

Naked in DeathOther Romance Authors

Below is a list of other romance authors with sizable audiobook backlists.  I may have listened to one or two of a particular author’s books but I don’t feel as though I have enough of a grasp on a larger number of their books to say what I consider to be the best.  Please use this list freely to provide us with your thoughts on their best.  And let me know if I’ve failed to list other romance authors with large backlists.

Robyn Carr

Catherine Coulter

Christina Dodd

Janet Evanovich

Christine Feehan

Julie Garwood

Kristin Hannah

Georgette Heyer

Sabrina Jeffries

Stephanie Laurens

Johanna Lindsey

Elizabeth Lowell

Susan Mallery

Fern Michaels

Amanda Quick

Julia Quinn

Nora Roberts

Lauren Willlig

I’ve listened to a ton of romance audiobooks but I find myself amazed when I look at this list at the number of romance authors I have yet to give a try.

In the future, I plan to feature longer write-ups on specific romance authors with these large audiobook backlists.  Ideally for discussion purposes, these authors have gathered a number of narrators through the years.  Two examples that come immediately to mind are Linda Howard and Georgette Heyer (although I need a lot of help with Heyer).  What authors would you like to see featured?

Now, please share your best romances by author with us!

Time for Your Thoughts

What are your favorite audiobooks for the authors mentioned?

What are other favorites of romance authors with larger backlists not mentioned previously?

What romance authors with larger backlists would you like to see featured in Speaking of Audiobooks?

And as always, do you have any recent audiobook success of failure to share with us?

Ending Notes

I’m announcing new audiobook releases as they occur each weekday on Twitter.  I don’t cover every new release but attempt to include the more significant titles.  To follow me on Twitter, look for LeaAAR.

For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, please check out our audio archives.

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

- Lea Hensley

57 thoughts on “Speaking of Audiobooks: Romance Audio Bests by Author

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