Speaking of Audiobooks: March 2011 Releases

BreathlessTwo categories are now marked completed in my 2011 Listening Challenge.  I’m going for Level Three which means completing 12 of the 14 categories.  First up was Listen to an Abridged Audiobook.  Last year this category was an easy win for me since I wisely chose Richard Armitage’s narration of Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester.  This year I didn’t fare so well with Penelope Williamson’s Heart of the West narrated by Amy Brenneman.  Coming in at around five hours, I hoped the story could sustain some cutting but, alas, that was certainly not the case.  Williamson’s writing is rich and all that richness was missing in the abridged version.  In addition, actress Amy Brenneman’s performance rated only average and lacked the required liveliness to keep the listener’s attention.

For my second category, Pick an audiobook that received a DIK grade at AAR in print format, I chose Ravishedby Amanda Quick.  It’s my first Quick book in both print and audio and I thought it quite charming although it contained many of the typical romance scenarios.  Those scenarios actually worked together quite well until the last fourth of the book when everyone seemed to turn a blind eye on the obvious.  However, this belongs in my “enjoyed it despite Anne Flosnik’s narration” folder.  Flosnik’s narration was adequate and even reached into the beautiful category at times but failed to deliver the male characters as I wanted to hear them.  Her male characters lack vocal expressiveness and tend to speak in a monotone.  Still, I enjoyed Ravished and gave it a B overall.

Leftovers from February

Here are just a few of those surprise audiobooks that failed to make last month’s new releases column.

Andersen, Susan – Bending the Rules Narrated by Carol Monda

Anderson, Catherine – Early Dawn Narrated by Julia Gibson

Beverley, Jo – A Lady’s Secret Narrated by Jill Tanner

Carr, Robyn – A Virgin River Christmas Narrated by Therese Plummer

Carriger, Gail – Blameless Narrated by Emily Gray

Gist, Deeanne – Maid to Match Narrated by Suzy Jackson

Henley, Virginia – The Irish Duke Narrated by Jenny Sterlin

Holt, Elizabeth – Notorious Pleasures Narrated by Ashford MacNab

Medeiros, Teresa – Some Like It Wild Narrated by Charlotte Parry

Neggers, Carla – Tempting Fate Narrated by Carol Monda

Peterson, Tracie – Twilight’s Serenade Narrated by Linda Stephens

Small, Bertrice – The Border Vixen Narrator unknown

Stuart, Anne – Ruthless Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Warren, Tracy Anne – The Wife Trap Narrated by Bianca Amato

Audiobook Romances on Sale in March

Includes new formats of existing audiobooks


Brown, Sandra – Exclusive Narrated by Tanya Eby

Brown, Sandra – Tempest in Eden Narrated by Renee Raudman

Crusie, Jennifer – Faking It Narrated by Aasne Vigesaa

Crusie, Jennifer – Fast Women Narrated by Sandra Burr

Evanovich, Janet – Janet Evanovich CD Collection: Full Bloom, Full Scoop Narrated by Charlotte Hughes and Lorelei King

Graham, Heather – Phantom Evil Narrated by Jeff Cummings

Jackson, Lisa – Devious Narrated by Joyce Bean

Michaels, Fern – Home Free Narrated by Laural Merlington

Robb, J.D. – Strangers in Death Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Woods, Sherryl – Driftwood Cottage Narrated by Christina Traister

Driftwood CottageUnabridged

Enoch, Suzanne – The Care and Taming of a Rogue Narrator & ISBN unknown (Harper Collins)

Graham, Heather – Phantom Evil Narrated by Jeff Cummings

Jackson, Brenda – Seduction, Westmoreland Style Narrated by Jack Garrett

Jackson, Lisa – Devious Narrated by Joyce Bean

Jackson, Lisa – Innocent by Association Narrated by Kate Rudd

Stephanie Laurens, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Candice Hern, Mary Balogh – It Happened One Season Narrated by Simon Prebble & Anne Flosnik

Mallery, Susan – Already Home Narrated by Teri Clark Linden

Mallery, Susan – Irresistible Narrated be Cecelia Frontero

Mallery, Susan – Sizzling Narrated by Alyson Silverman

Michaels, Fern – Home Free Narrated by Laural Merlington

Miller, Linda Lael – Just Kate Narrated by Coleen Marlo

Roberts, Nora – The Bride Quartet MP3-CD Box Set: Vision in White, Bed of Roses, Savor the Moment, Happy Ever After Various Narrators


Roberts, Nora – Search for Love Narrated by Gayle Hendrix

Roberts, Nora – Second Nature Narrated by Allison Fraser

Stuart, Anne – Breathless Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Stuart, Anne – Reckless Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Wiggs, Susan – The Goodbye Quilt Narrated by Tanya Eby

Woods, Sherryl – Driftwood Cottage Narrated by Christina Traister

Recent Listens

Ruthless – Anne Stuart

Review by Lea AAR

Narrated by Susan Ericksen

When I read Ruthless last year, I liked it.  When I recently listened to Ruthless, I really liked it.  Susan Ericksen provided me with a new image of the very dark, duplicitous, bored Rohan who decides he will have something to do with the much younger, innocent, no-nonsense Elinor.  It’s Paris in the 18th century and Rohan is known as the King of Hell while Elinor is the eldest sister trying desperately to keep her family out of the poor house while making a decent match for her younger sister.  Elinor is a sharp-tongued character for sure, but when I considered Rohan’s many attempts to control her (unsuccessfully), all I could think was “Bravo!”  I found Rohan quite delicious once I got over my initial shock at his level of depravity (this is Anne Stuart – I should have known) but it was the audio that gave me a better understanding of his character.  I heard his cynical outlook on life and his air of derision and further, Ms. Ericksen’s performance of Rohan allowed me to hear the changes he undergoes that lead to his redemption.  Her delivery of the leads’ lines when interacting with one another was well timed and spot on.  Oh, I do wish Rohan’s voice had been deeper to more easily distinguish from Elinor’s but overall, I found the narration quite pleasing.  And I do so love it when I enjoy an audiobook version more than the print!

Ruthless is the first of the Rohan trilogy with the second, Reckless, and the third, Breathless, scheduled for audio release in March.  I’m already saving my Audible credits.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs – Molly Harper

Review by Brenda

Narrated by Amanda Ronconi

Amanda Ronconi is a new narrator for me, just as Molly Harper is a new author.  I was very happy with both and found myself laughing out loud throughout this book.  Nice Girl’s Don’t Have Fangs is a light, humorous, “Sookie Stackhouse meets Queen Betsy” listen.  Small town librarian Jane Jameson developed her sense of snarky, sarcastic humor in defense of always being the smart/geeky girl who never quite fit in. Now, to top it off, she has to choose between death or vampirism.  On the plus side, her handsome new sire Gabriel, appreciates both her sharp brain and tongue.

Amanda Ronconi’s narration brought each of many characters, from Jane’s best friend Zeb to her black widow of a grandmother to easily discernable life.  The romance aspect is enjoyable, though not front and center. The “who’s got it in for Jane” portion of the book is fairly transparent. Still, the combination of the various characters’ personalities and the laughs along the way make this a fast, funny listen.

t Have FangsNice Girls Don’t Have Fangs is the first in a three book series followed by Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men and Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever. The characters and relationships continue to grow, keeping it interesting.  I was still laughing, while at the same time realizing these could be irritating if listened to one right after the other. Each book has its own resolution, so it would be easy to space them.  If this series ends up being your kind of humor, you’re in for a real treat.


The Real Thing – Barbara Delinsky

Review by Melinda

Narrated by Lauren Fortgang

Complete strangers stranded together on a remote island – both searching for solitude and solutions to overwhelming problems. Deirdre is running away from the pressures of her family; Neil is running away from a seemingly impossible position with his law practice.  They’re not really stranded – the island is privately owned by a mutual friend who agreed to let each of them stay there, without the other knowing, hoping to make a match between the two.  At that friend’s request, the boat captain won’t be available to pick Deirdre and Neil up for two weeks. In the meantime, they bicker, they rage at each other, and after a while they act on their mutual attraction. It sounds like an intriguing storyline for a romance, right?

This is another new-to-me narrator, and I think she has potential when her voice matures. While her narrator voice wasn’t really unpleasant, her voice was too young-sounding most of the time, and her men’s voices sounded more like a child play-acting with dolls. Luckily, much of the dialog between Deirdre and Neil is passable. I did see that Ms Fortgang has 235 listings at Audible (of which almost 200 are short horoscope readings) so she does have experience, if not a mature voice.

What distressed me more than the narrator’s too-young voice were the dated references in The Real Thing. Yes, the original book publication date was 25 years ago – practically historical! Suddenly it made more sense that Deidre wore leg warmers and talked about Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, and safe sex and contraceptives were never mentioned. Toward the end, I slightly warmed to the story, even if the conclusion came together a tad too conveniently.  All in all, this goes in my “not particularly recommended but tolerable” list of romance audiobooks. I think I prefer Delinsky’s women’s fiction.  Narration C.

Coming Next

Our next Speaking of Audiobooks column on March 7th features an interview with a beloved author who also is a big audio fan.  The author shares her personal love of audio listening and gives us insight into the world of audiobooks from an author’s point of view.  We’ll also have an audiobook giveaway.  You’ll definitely want to check this one out.

Group Listen – We’re also still looking for our next group listen which I hope to schedule late March through April.  Please give us your ideas.


Time for Your Thoughts

What new releases are you looking forward to?

Do you know of any March releases that failed to make this list?

Do you have a Listening Challenge update to share with us?

Do you have a recommendation for a group listen?

What are the latest additions to your audio library?

And, as always, what are your latest audio successes or failures?

Ending Notes

Mini Reviews – We now have a list of all our Mini Reviews from our Speaking of Audiobooks columns over at our Goodreads group.  You don’t have to be a Goodreads member to view this list so check it out.

If you’re considering joining our 2011 Listening Challenge, we have a quick start up guide for you.  It’s not too late.

Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing and we now have 65 members!  Come sign up and share your audiobook shelf with us.

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 on March 7th.

Enjoy your listening!

- Lea Hensley

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13 Responses to Speaking of Audiobooks: March 2011 Releases

  1. Lea AAR says:

    I noticed that you can now sort our Speaking of Audiobooks Mini Reviews over at Goodreads by author or title. This option was unavailable for a while but fortunately for us, it’s back. We now have 112 Mini Reviews for your perusal.


  2. Nina says:

    Two March releases that I’m looking forward to are Breaking the Rules by Suzanne Brockmann (3/22) and Lover Unleashed by JR Ward (3/29). I plan to buy Treachery In Death and This Side of the Grave and on Tuesday if Audible has both of them available.

    Latest addition to Audio Challenge: Listen to a new-to-you author. Patricia Briggs – Moon Called (book #1 in the Mercedes Thompson series). I’m on the list at the library for the rest of the series as well as the Alpha & Omega series. I have now completed 5 of the 12 categories and I’m really enjoying the challenge!

    I’ve decided based on your review above and several other listeners in a previous column to try Ruthless by Anne Stuart as my Listen to a book recommended in a previous Speaking of Audiobooks column (and following discussion). Would this count if you reviewed in today but others mentioned it in a previous discussion? If not, I’ll choose something else.

    I am interested in the group listen, too!

  3. Lea AAR says:

    Nina wrote “I’ve decided based on your review above and several other listeners in a previous column to try Ruthless by Anne Stuart as my Listen to a book recommended in a previous Speaking of Audiobooks column (and following discussion). Would this count if you reviewed in today but others mentioned it in a previous discussion? If not, I’ll choose something else.”

    Most definitely! For my purposes, I consider any column a previous column – after all, it will soon be.

    So glad you are enjoying the Challenge Nina! I purchased Moon Called recently and just may have to find a place for it to fit in my Challenge – maybe first in a new series.

  4. Carrie says:

    Welcome to Temptation was an audio fail for me, but not because of the narrator. I thought she was great. I finished the book in print and enjoy it. I think I’ll enjoy the audio version more now that I’ve read the book. WtT was suppose to fulfill one of my categories: something from my TBR pile, so I haven’t actually finished any categories yet.

    I listened to audio versions of two SEP books I’d already read: Heaven, Texas and Dream a Little Dream. I enjoyed Heaven as much in audio as in print, and I enjoy Dream even more in audio than print.

    Right now I’m listening to a hard-to-find copy of Georgette Heyer’s Arabella narrated by Eve Matheson (who is wonderful!). This will fulfill a SOA challenge category: something from my TBR pile. This is one Heyer I hadn’t read in print yet.

  5. Evie says:

    I had misgivings about Susan Ericksen as the narrator of Anne Stuart’s ‘Ruthless’ but as I adored the trilogy I bought it anyway! It was quite good. I’m accustomed to listening to Susan Ericksen as Eve Dallas, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that I was only reminded of Eve occasionally. I didn’t mind the lack of differentiation between the hero and heroine’s voices at all. What really bugged me at times though, and brought me out of the story was the accent the narrator employed. It was the attempt to over pronounce some words in an English accent that stood out for me. Despite this, I think I’ll be able to overcome the irritation and purchase both Reckless (my favourite) and Breathless when they’re released. :)

    Last month I purchased Lisa Kleypas’s ‘Then Came You’ and ‘Dreaming of You’ – I wish I’d heeded the comments some people had made here before I bought it! ‘Then Came You’ was actually quite enjoyable and I thought Landor’s narration was rather inoffensive. I did feel a few uncomfortable twinges when I heard Derek’s character in that book but I glossed it, thinking ‘there’s no way she can use THAT voice for Derek in his own book’…however, I was sadly, sadly mistaken. It was indeed that same awful accent and voice, so I have to cast my vote into the ‘Do Not Listen’ camp – that is, unless you don’t mind imagining Derek as a rough character straight out of Eastenders! I do understand that he is supposed to have a slight cockney accent but I thought it totally charmless. I didn’t care much for Sara’s accent either.

    Carrie: I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the Georgette Heyer audiobooks; they are all practically perfect – particularly the Eve Matheson narrated ones. Hard to find, yes, but entirely worth it! The only one so far that I can’t listen to is Regency Buck – can’t remember who the narrator is though. Frederica, read by Cornelius Garrett is another gem in my opinion.

  6. Kaetrin says:

    SOA Listening Challenge update

    I have now checked off 4 categories – the latest being – listen to a new-to-you author, with Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, narrated by Renee Raudman.

    It’s been a definite winner for me – thx so much for the rec Brenda!! I’m listening to Magic Burns at the moment. In every book I’ve listened to that Raudman has narrated I’ve really enjoyed her narration. She really gets the snark of Kate and Curran and the humour of the story – it’s had me laughing out loud quite a bit. I’m looking forward to the romance aspect of the story heating up a little more. I’m a newly converted fan of this series.

    I plan on listening to Then Came You soon too – I’m not sure whether I will use this for the category – give a less than favourite narrator another try, listen to an audiobook which was given a DIK grade at AAR in print or listen to audiobook suggested by someone else – it would fit either one – choices choices!!

    So, that’s 4 down, 5 to go. I suspect I will end up doing 12 of the 14 categories at the rate I’m going.

  7. Jo-Ann W. says:

    Listening Challenge update:

    I actually stated this in a previous post, but not as an “official” update.

    Tempt yourself to find a series that grabs hold and won’t let go by listening to the first in a series – Darkfever by Moning. I still haven’t decided how much I really like this series. There are so many things that annoy me. However, the reader is very good (for the first three), held my attention for the most part and has been sufficiently entertaining. I’m about to start Dreamfever and I’m interested to see how the change in readers works for this next book in the series. I’m going to finish the series before I move on to the next challenge.

    I’m not sure if this book has been talked about here, but I thoroughly enjoyed Jennifer Crusie’s Maybe This Time. It’s the first of hers that I’ve listened to in audio before I read it in print and due to the subject matter, I’m not sure I would have liked it in print, but the reader made it so enjoyable I ended up loving it and would definitely listen to again. It was read by a new-to-me reader, Angela Dawe, who was just terrific. I will be looking for more of her readings to listen to in the future. If you’re a Crusie fan, I highly recommend this. (I always hesitate to recommend though – what works for me, will not always work for others…)

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