Speaking of Audiobooks: Celebrating Audiobook Month with Reviews

Shards of HonorJune is Audiobook Month and in celebration of that event, we have a special edition of Speaking of Audiobooks for you today and we’re featuring all reviews – seven of them including our first “dueling” review.  Most are longer in length than our usual mini-reviews and include Only Love by Elizabeth Lowell, Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh, Delicious by Susan Mallery, Fire and Ice by Anne Stuart,  Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, Bending the Rules by Susan Andersen, and To Die For by Linda Howard.

Top on my list today, however, is a reminder for you to vote in our Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll if you haven’t done so already.  For those who have yet to cast their ballot, there are 25 categories and many of us rub our hands in glee at the thought of voting 25 times for favorites.  But we know there are probably even more who will want to complete only a portion of the ballot so all we ask is that you complete a minimum of 6 categories.  You can find the ballot here.  And if you have already submitted your ballot, please share word of the poll with others!  It will prove to be an immensely useful tool for romance audiobook fans.  The poll ends on Tuesday, June 28th at midnight eastern standard time.

We’re starting our reviews today with a dueling review of Elizabeth Lowell’s Only Love.  When Melinda approached me on reviewing this one, my words were something like, “Sure, go for it but you probably need to know that I really blasted it in the second Speaking of Audiobooks column.”  Only Love was one of those hard-to-find audiobooks (only available in tape and CD formats) until Audible released it in May 2011.  I heard no more from Melinda and, as I was finishing up this column last night, Melinda surprised me with her invitation to a duel no less!  Now I think we may use this idea of duel reviews in future Speaking of Audiobooks column!

Only Love – Elizabeth Lowell

Narrated by Richard Ferrone

Let’s start with Melinda’s take:

Only Love is the fourth in the Only series which features the Moran family going west following the Civil War.  The first, Only His, is the story of Willow Moran returning to Colorado looking for her brother, aided by Western guide Caleb Black.  It’s one of my all-time favorites, even after a few re-reads and listening to Richard Ferrone’s narration.  The next two in the series weren’t that memorable for me but I got that old magic feeling again when I first read Only Love.  Whip Moran was born a ramblin’ man, always looking for the sunrise he’s never seen; Shannon Smith is an orphan, left to fend for herself in a rustic cabin high in the mountains, with few skills and slightly less brains, but a boatload of pride.  Whip sorta takes Shannon under his wing, as it were, to help her get ready for the long, cruel winter before he takes off for parts unknown.

I mentioned to Lea that Only Love was on my TBL list and she challenged me to a duel!  Ok, I think she meant dual, as in two different reviews of the same audiobook.  Her reading and audio taste are so similar to mine, it’s amazing, and she found the audio a fail – so I put on my six-gun and chaps, and offered to meet her at high noon, after I finished the audio.  Lea: git ready, buckaroo!

She’s not far off the mark – I really do like Ferrone’s voice, but his Shannon voice isn’t good.  He pitches it high (the old drag queen sound) and adds some childishness to it that makes Shannon very unappealing.  It’s bad enough that Lowell gave her so much pride she was on the verge of the proverbial fall and slightly less common sense than a bedbug.

Romances by Elizabeth Lowell are something of an acquired taste.  I sometimes allow myself to be swept away in the overabundance of everything – every alpha hero is manly and stubborn beyond measure; every heroine more womanly, more of everything; every bad guy b-b-b-bad to the bone.  And in case you don’t get it the first time she writes it, she has a tendency to repeat it, over and over, throughout the story.  In this one she gifted Shannon with the nickname “Honeygirl” and I swan, if I hear that one more time, I’m gonna scream!

But it wasn’t a pure fail for me, in spite of Ferrone’s inability to read women’s voices well.  He’s no Phil Gigante, ladies, but I like the rough, basso sound of his voice. He doesn’t go all mushy and breathy in the sex scenes, and somehow he manages to tuck all those “he said”s and “she said”s out of the way, so they don’t poke you in the dang ear every time they appear.  He captures the feeling of the Old West for me, and his pacing and cadence are superb.  So, ok, Lea – start countin’, honeygirl!

Now for Lea’s take…

Okay Melinda, my partner in loving romance cowboys including the gigantically alpha (ass) heroes of Elizabeth Lowell’s Only series.  Only His is my favorite of the series in print as well (I can’t say I have an audio favorite with Ferrone narrating all) and earned a DIK grade from me despite the fact that Caleb spends almost the entire book believing Willow is a whore (and treating her the same).  Ferrone’s narration of Only His was slightly acceptable to me even though I shuddered at his performance of the female characters.  But strangely enough, it was his performance of the hero Whip that put me over the edge in Only Love.

Giving examples of males narrators who did and did not work for me in the June 8, 2009 Speaking of Audiobooks: Male Narrators, I used Ferrone as an example.  Few things can get my audio dander up like Ferrone and that word “honeygirl!”

“When it comes to a flat-out failure for male narration of a romance, my vote goes to Richard Ferrone, narrator of Elizabeth Lowell’s Only series. His narration is actually pretty impressive until his heroine utters her first words and you can’t help but think of Diana’s Monty Python reference. Even worse is the occasional injustice done to these manliest of men heroes. In the printed version of Only Love, Whip is a strong, considerate hero but Ferrone’s verbalization of Whip’s repeated claims of being a yondering man always seeking the sunrise he’s never seen, while referring to Shannon as Honey Girl, cast him forever in my mind as a slightly effeminate silly man. What a waste!”

I actually envisioned Whip dancing off into the sunset (no horse beneath him) as he utters those yondering man/honeygirl lines (repeatedly).  Where was the image of this utterly male cowboy on a magnificent horse as I envisioned him leaving while I read in print?!

Unfortunately, Only Love ruined me for any Ferrone narration.  I know, I know – that’s unfair.  I should challenge myself to listen to another but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to rid myself of the sound of Whip telling his honeygirl about his yondering ways when hearing Ferrone’s voice.

But hey Melinda, I’ll meet you anytime for another audio duel although I doubt we’ll find that much to disagree on!

Visions of HeatVisions of Heat – Nalini Singh

Review written by Brenda

Narrated by Angela Dawe

Vaughn, a jaguar changeling, was taken in by the Leopards after traumatic childhood events left him an orphan.  He’s drawn to isolated Faith Nightstar, an F Psy who has begun to see more than the financial futures she was trained to predict.  As a foreteller, she sees the future while it can still be changed which she determines to do before another murder happens.

I had to pay close attention while listening to Visions of Heat in order to know who was who, especially among the males.  I was willing to pay the extra attention and it worked for me but, still…I was nearing the halfway point feeling somewhat disappointed.  I could hear inflection and intent in the characters voices, which I liked, but there wasn’t any Life, Pizzazz, Whatever, being added.  There are italicized words in the book that were not emphasized in audio and bits of humor passed flatly.  Both could have improved the oomph of the audio a great deal. Voicing the written nuances is a must.

I did feel the narration picked up in the second half.  I’ll choose the audiobook over reading in the future since the low gravelly voice and attitude Dawe used for Vaughn toned down his jerk quotient, making me like him a lot more in audio. Knowing Faith is Psy is one thing, having to listen to a cold stilted voice is another, so I was content with her light young voice.

I’ll be re-listening to this one, but I really hope Angela finds her funny bone soon – especially before Riley & Mercy!  The humorous bantering between characters is a big part of what makes this series.  It lightens up the more serious topics within each book which makes the written word the success it is.  Hearing the humor in the audio would mean much more enjoyment for listeners.

Delicious – Susan Mallery

Review written by LinnieGayl

Narrated by Therese Plummer

This is the first in the author’s Buchanan series, and my personal favorite.  I agree with Lea’s original review of the book here.  I like stories of lovers reunited and this is a good one.

Cal Buchanan and Penny Jones’ marriage ended years earlier.  A lot has changed for the two since then.  Penny is now a successful Seattle chef, and through artificial insemination, is finally going to get the child she hoped for.  Cal left the family restaurant chain and has made a success of a chain of coffee places.

Cal is temporarily helping his evil grandmother turn around a failing restaurant.  Ready for a professional change, Penny is delighted when Cal asks her to take over as executive chef.

I read Delicious years ago in print but enjoyed it in audio as a reread.  Ms. Plummer did an excellent job distinguishing between voices; they were varied and generally fit with the personality of the individual.  If anything, I hated Gloria, Cal’s grandmother, even more in the audio version.  She came across as an ice cold witch.

The only thing I didn’t like about the audio version was the voice Ms. Plummer used for Penny’s assistant Naomi.  The voice was nasal and whiny.  I thought she was trying to do either a New Jersey or Boston accent, so was surprised to learn that Naomi was from Ohio.  That issue aside, I genuinely enjoyed the audio version, and will definitely give other recordings by Ms. Plummer a try.

Fire and Ice – Anne Stuart

Review written by Lea AAR

Narrated by Xe Sands

Okay, I’m a little late to the party here, especially considering this is Anne Stuart as well as the fact that I’ve heard so many good things about Xe Sands.

I read Fire and Ice in print upon its release and it was sort of a “meh” experience for me and didn’t come close to ranking as my favorite in the Ice series.  After hearing Xe Sands performance, Fire and Ice lost all its “meh-ness” and amazingly moved up to my favorite of the Ice series!  Now that’s the audiobook experience at its best.  In print I didn’t care much for Reno or Jilly and questioned their maturity level on numerous occasions.  I couldn’t imagine this hero with a long red braid nor could I easily visualize the Japanese setting or bring the accents to life.  With Xe Sands’ outstanding performance, I heard every accent and understood (and liked) both Reno and Jilly through her characterizations. Her delivery made me catch on to the suspense around the curve at every moment.  Her performance of Reno enabled me to see him as a mature and highly talented man.

Fire and Ice is a fast paced audiobook delivered with such perfection that I believe few if any romantic suspense fans will be disappointed.

Shards of Honor – Lois McMaster Bujold

Review written by Brenda

Narrated by Grover Gardner

Science Fiction with a thread of romance is way outside my norm.  Surveying uninhabited planets?  Plans for interplanetary war?  The hero and heroine from opposite sides, finding each other due to an attempted space ship mutiny?  Approaching Lois McMaster Bujold’s Shards of Honor was a challenge, but one I eagerly took.

I’ve read many positive things about narrator Grover Gardner while at the same time being told he “reads” more than performs.  Let’s start with that aspect.  Gardner may not perform in the way we romance lovers’ are coming to expect, but he catches all the emotional vibes and deeper meanings to this multi layered story perfectly using tone, inflection, accent or intensity to differentiate characters whether man or woman.  It was very impressive and the best word to describe his narration for me is compelling. He drew me into this complex story and I wanted to hear his voice reveal the layers.

Yes, I had to work hard to know who was who along with sorting out the depth of what was happening in Shards of Honor.  But that can’t be blamed on the narrator; the story itself does not lend itself to an easy flow of understanding.  The addition of the royal name ” Vor” to many important characters, cities and even the spacecraft’s name made it difficult to keep up with, while the political scheming had my brain struggling to bring everything together.  The levels of intrigue revealed are a testament to a brilliant author.  Reading would have made these aspects easier, but I was captivated by the narration.   I didn’t want to read it myself.

The romance aspect is straightforward, a thin thread that weaves its way through the story, but it’s still satisfying.  Aral and Cordelia are both the stuff true heroes are made of.  Their motivations and actions have you rooting for them and I’m thrilled that their story is continued in the following book, Barrayar.

Shards of Honor has one of the best “I’m in love with him” lines ever.  Cordeilia…“Well, I don’t hate him. Can’t say as I worship him, either.” She paused a long time, and looked up to meet her mother’s eyes squarely. “But when he’s cut, I bleed.”

Bending the RulesBending the Rules – Susan Andersen

Review written by Melinda

Narrated by Carol Monda

Bending the Rules is the second in a trilogy about 3 BFFs who inherit a run-down Seattle mansion. Setting aside the rather implausible circumstances of the inheritance, this book has a plot I enjoy – opposites attract.  Raised on a commune, Poppy Calloway is the liberal do-gooder artist thrown together with the rather strict stick-to-the-rules cop Jason DeSanges who grew up in foster homes because everyone in his family was in jail.  Jason’s saving grace was an older cop who took the time to help him before he followed in his family’s footsteps.  Poppy is doing the same with three young tag artists who vandalized some local businesses.  Even though this conceit has been done time and time again, I like Andersen’s prose and her family building.

My only other experience with Carol Monda was the first book in this series, Cutting Loose.  Her narration was acceptable in both books but considering how low her own voice is pitched during the general narrative, her men’s voices sound a little like teenage boys going through puberty – hoarse and pitched too high.  However, I think I was more tolerant listening to this book because I liked the story and the characters better than Cutting Loose.  Enjoying the story, I did that “thing” we audio listeners do – I slipped into Monda’s reality and accepted her voices (you audio book aficionados are nodding your heads).  She is consistent with characters and never goes overboard with her narration, which is a plus.  Overall, a solid “I liked it” experience.

To Die For – Linda Howard

Review written by Lea AAR

Narrated by Fran Liebow

Easily sitting in my top five favorite contemporaries, I fell in love with Blair and Wyatt in the print version and read To Die For twice before discovering in audio.  I excitedly purchased a copy online only to wait weeks for it to arrive in the mail (no digital downloads at the time).

For those new to To Die For, one must understand going in that the heroine’s looks are perfect and she knows it.  Beautiful, blond, and totally in shape, Blair went to college on a cheerleading scholarship and now owns an exercise club.  Yeah, after hearing that, it was weeks before I could talk myself into giving it a try but boy was it worth it.  And what makes it all work is …Wyatt.

Told in first person, Blair is a completely unique heroine whose thoughts and machinations women will still identify as close to their own at times.  Although many regard this as romantic suspense, I see this as a highly entertaining funny contemporary romance.  Wyatt is sexy as hell and he is listed on my AAR profile as one of my favorite heroes.

However, when I started listening to my long awaited audio version of this beloved book, it was only moments before I stopped in horror thinking “Who chose this narrator and her over the top southern accent?!”  Fran Liebow’s interpretation can be hard on the ears if you’re not prepared.  I continued listening in some despair because, despite that accent, Wyatt sounded just like the hunky hero I envisioned in print.

I picked up To Die For again in audio a few years ago.  I had gained what I hoped was a discerning ear and decided to enjoy it despite Liebow’s accent.  And I did.  Liebow understands this couple and delivers their lines with perfect timing and takes advantage of every humorous moment with skill.  I now consider To Die For a reliable relisten which always brings a big smile to my face.  No, it’s not equal to Anna Fields performing one of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books, but Liebow does this couple right.  Wyatt and Blair react to one another just as I expect them to and her characterizations are spot on.

If you haven’t listened to To Die For or have listened unsuccessfully as I had, I challenge you to give it a try or try again!

Time for Your Thoughts

Have you listened to any of these books?  If so, what are your thoughts?

Is one of these books a personal favorite?

What are your recent additions to your audio library?

And, as always, do you have any audio successes or failures to share?

Ending Notes

Back to our regular schedule next week, our Speaking of Audiobooks column features a giveaway of audiobooks in Jacquelyn Frank’s Nightwalker series.  Make sure you check in and comment for your chance to win.

Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing and we now have 125 members!  It’s easy to join and it’s a great place for discussion in between our columns.

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.

And, don’t forget to submit your ballot for our Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll!

Enjoy your listening!

- Lea Hensley

24 thoughts on “Speaking of Audiobooks: Celebrating Audiobook Month with Reviews

  1. I bumped my membership up at audible.com to two books a month, and it is you guys fault. I haven’t ventured out on books that are new to me, sticking with Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Listened to Ain’t She Sweet, Simply Irresistible, and Natural Born Charmer. With Ain’t She Sweet the hero is very pompous. . written to be that way I know, but he sounded like a Georgette Heyer character. Sometimes Sugar and her sister sounded very similar. And maybe being more from the south, but at times her southern accent sounded all wrong. Still nothing to keep me from listening to it again.

    Liked Natural Born Charmer and Simply Irresistible too although as much as I want to listen to another SeP book I think I am going to hold off. Listening to her books back to back brings home the fact that the heroine are all pretty much smart *sses. And I don’t want to start thinking her books are alike. . which is the kiss of death for me.

    Dark Moon Defender – this is one of my favorite books. In fact if you count listening to it, then I have re-read it twice in six months. I like the audio book okay. First male narrator , and it took some time getting use to his voice. He did the upspeak on several women, and it drove me crazy but those characters had limited parts. One of the characters he gave a British accent, and I never thought of him that way but it worked.

    I find that if I like the book, then I can put up with the voice intonations but with an unread book, then I am pulled out of the story. I tried a In Death book that I hadn’t read, and the first In Death book audio book and Peabody voice drove me crazy BUT I am not crazy about th In Death books. I picked it because I thought it would be more mystery then lots of sex scenes.

  2. LOL over the Only Love reviews! I don’t think that one’s for me. I don’t mind reading those kinds of characters occasionally, but with a narrator emphasizing all the character quirks I don’t think I could do it. Another example of the benefit of reading/skimming versus hearing every word.

    This is very timely because Ferrone narrated a JAK book I’ve had my eye on so I’m forewarned. I appreciate ya’ll being so specific in describing the good and bad qualities of the narration.

  3. I borrowed JAK’s Eclipse Bay (unabridged) from the library and really enjoyed it. It’s a good girl, reformed bad boy romance with a suspense subplot. The identity of the bad guy was a complete surprise to me. I just enjoyed it overall. It’s not awesome like One Summer but to borrow Melinda’s phrase, it’s “a solid ‘I liked it’.” JAK/JC/AQ books are comfort listens for me, assuming a decent narrator of course, and this is one of my favorites so far.

  4. I agree with everything Brenda says about Shards of Honor. It’s an amazing book and I thought the narration was a perfect fit.

    My recent audio failures:
    Hgihlander’s Touch by Moning, narrated by Phil Gigante. I like Gigante, but the narration here was a fail. But even a stellar narration wouldn’t have saved this book for me. I found it boring. I finished the last third on 2X speed just to get it done.

    Gentle Rogue by Lindsey, narrated by Laural Merlington. Merlington’s narration of A Loving Scoundrel was okay, but her narration here was awful. The hero sounded like a degenerate octogenarian. I stopped after less than an hour and plan on reading this in print.

    Successes:
    A short book by Susan Mallery, The Unexpected Millionaire was cute and funny, and the narration by Catherine Carr was great.

    I’m now in the middle of Kitty and the Midnight Hour and loving it.

    • Carrie: I’m now in the middle of Kitty and the Midnight Hour and loving it.

      I’m gonna have to try that one. Several people have said they really liked it. I liked the book but wasn’t impressed with the audio sample on Audible.

      • MaryK:
        I’m gonna have to try that one.Several people have said they really liked it.I liked the book but wasn’t impressed with the audio sample on Audible.

        From the reviews I’ve read, listeners seem to be split on this narrator. My husband thought her narration was perfect, but I occasionally have trouble following her transition from Kitty thinking to Kitty speaking. Still, I really like the narrator and think she’s especially adept at Kitty’s “radio” voice.

        • Brenda: MaryK was the copy of Eclipse Bay you borrowed the one narrated by Joyce Bean? I feel the same way about JAK/JC/AQ when it comes to comfort listens but Mary Peiffer narrated the Eclipse Bay I listened to and it didn’t stick with me as re-listenable. I’ve been considering a re-listen with the Joyce Bean narration though.

          It was Joyce Bean. For some reason Audible only has an abridged version.

          Carrie: I occasionally have trouble following her transition from Kitty thinking to Kitty speaking.

          In the sample, I had a hard time telling the difference between Kitty and the radio guests.

  5. Leigh I need to go check out Dark Moon Defender. I agree on the SEP books, I love the majority of them and really like Anna Fields narrating but they would start to run together with too many back to back listens.

    Melinda you are a riot, I love your reviews. :D Only Love was a book I enjoyed when I read it but Richard Ferrone’s name as the narrator chased me away from trying it via audio and it looks like that was a good thing. My thoughts echo yours on Bending The Rules and Carol Monda.

    Carrie you made me burst out laughing with this one … “The hero sounded like a degenerate octogenarian.” Makes me shudder just to think about the voice that conjured that mental picture. :D And I hate when that happens to my heroes!

    I really liked the narration of Kitty and the Midnight Hour, I thought Margaurite Gavin was perfect at sounding like a late night DJ during those portions of the book.

    MaryK was the copy of Eclipse Bay you borrowed the one narrated by Joyce Bean? I feel the same way about JAK/JC/AQ when it comes to comfort listens but Mary Peiffer narrated the Eclipse Bay I listened to and it didn’t stick with me as re-listenable. I’ve been considering a re-listen with the Joyce Bean narration though.

    Lea your review of To Die For was exactly what happened to me, the first time I tried to listen to it I jerked the earbuds out and looked down at my iPod aghast at Blair’s “voice”. But I tried again about a year later, knowing it was going to be a bit over the top, and ended up loving it. I’ve re-listened more than once since then.

  6. Lea, I still laugh at your line: “His narration is actually pretty impressive until…” – see, you liked his narration!! Well, until he spoke Shannon’s lines. I maintain two things: (1) he is awful at women’s voices but (2) Lowell wrote that cr@p about yondering and honeygirl, not Ferrone! I don’t think Anna Fields could have made it sound any better! Not, uh (who’s a great male narrator?) Jim Dale! Not Will Patton (great on the Dave Robicheaux series)!

    I think I will attempt To Die For now, after reading your review, because it is my #1 favorite print book of all time, at the moment. I crowned it that within minutes of starting it, as I roared with laughter throughout most of it. I’ve just been so afraid of hating the narration!! I actually have the print book of Veil of Night ready to read, now that the narration has left my brain. I’m convinced I’ll like it better than the mediocre narrated version.

    Leigh, I like to do an SEP/Anna Fields marathon about once a year – all the Chicago Stars in a row, then the others. Yeah, I pile ‘em on, and love the whole lot of them! Who cares if there’s a lot of similarities? They’re all wonderful!

  7. Melinda – Ha! I concede your point. I did actually think Ferrone adequately performed the male roles and I would attempt another Ferrone listen if a female narrator was there to perform the heroine. And you are also right – it’s Lowell who burdened him with those lines! But, I still think Ferrone could have made them sound less fairy like…. The print version of Only Love received a DIK grade from me ten years ago despite Shannon’s TSTL insistence that she could make it without Whip’s help. Is there another Ferrone romance you can challenge to me listen to and change my mind maybe a little?!

    I want to know what you think of To Die For! It sounds like we have the same sort of love for that book. I think (hope) you are properly prepared now.

    Leigh – Relistening to SEP’s Chicago Stars series is a huge treat each time I choose to do so. However, I do spread my listens out – not back to back. If I place a few other listens in between, I find I appreciate every line even more! No character confusion. Truly one of the best things about my audio listening is SEP! Also, I noticed somewhere else that you are planning on listening to SEP’s What I Did for Love?? I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts – it is the one SEP that is on my “never again” list.

    • I noticed Caressed by Ice is up on Audible and I’ve put it on my wish list. I’m going slowly with the Psy/Changeling series and spacing them out pretty widely so the character voices don’t start to jumble up in my head.

      Lea AAR: I did actually think Ferrone adequately performed the male roles and I would attempt another Ferrone listen if a female narrator was there to perform the heroine. And you are also right – it’s Lowell who burdened him with those lines! But, I still think Ferrone could have made them sound less fairy like…. Is there another Ferrone romance you can challenge to me listen to and change my mind maybe a little?!

      Ferrone narrated the unabridged version of Krentz’s Trust Me which seems to be hard to find. Has anybody listened to it? I’ve been looking for it on ebay but now I wonder if it’s worth it.

      Brenda: If you listen to Bean’s version of Eclipse Bay, I’d like to know what you think of it, if it changes your mind about the book. I have Gift of Gold read by Peiffer out from the library but haven’t started it yet (cassette handicap). I hope the narration doesn’t adversely affect the book for me since I’ve never read this one.

  8. Richard Ferrone narrates a Rachel Gibson book, It Must Be Love and I liked it right up to the end when he delivered a crucial line completely wrong and threw the whole story for me. But this was back in the day when I was happy to find any book I liked in an audio version, I didn’t pay much attention to the narrators ability. I’d have to listen again in order to decide what I think of his “voices” in the book now. I do know that hearing that one line delivered in a haughty tone instead of the pleading tone it was meant to be has had me avoiding any book narrated by him ever since.

    I know I’m being really nit picky in my review of Visions of Heat, because overall I really did enjoy it. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, I said it early on, and I’ll stand by it, as long as I can differentiate between the hero and heroine’s voices in each book I’m going to pleased because I want to hear this series!
    But I thought I’d offer up a couple of specific examples of where I expected to hear something extra in the tone. Early on Vaughn asks Sacsha why a Psy would live alone, apart from the crowd. Sascha cracks a joke saying “Well she could mate with a panther who prefers to live in the middle of nowhere on top of a tree.” but you’d never know it was supposed to be funny from just listening, except for the words that follow saying “She made a face, but her smile gave her away”.
    Same thing with Vaughn much later in the book, he knows too much touch isn’t good for Faith and he’s thinking …. “But if he didn’t have her soon, he might gnaw off a paw.” There should have been wry humor voiced in that comment. And when he says “Christ, baby, tie me up before you start talking like that.” I want to hear heat!!
    Yeah, it’s all about me and what I want to hear when listening to favorites. :D And I definitely need an in between book when I switch from a Renee Raudman narration to Angela Dawe with this series.

  9. Lea, you didn’t like the story or the narrator on What I Did for Love? I liked the story, so unless the voices are really bad, I should like it.

    • Leigh: Lea, you didn’t like the story or the narrator on What I Did for Love? I liked the story, so unless the voices are really bad, I should like it.

      Leigh – I ended up liking the story line fine once I switched to print. Julia Gibson does not, IMHO, understand this romance, the characters, or SEP’s humor. Here’s the review I wrote for the 1/10 Speaking of Audiobooks column:

      “Disappointment in more ways than one is the best description of my thoughts on the audio version of What I Did for Love. Susan Elizabeth Phillips has rarely failed to thoroughly entertain me but I didn’t perceive all that much magic between Georgie and Bram and greatly missed her customary laughs. After finding myself actually a bit irritated while listening, I finally gave up at the halfway point on narrator Julia Gibson and started reading the print version I had on hand. By reading rather than listening, I was able to salvage some enjoyment and suddenly found myself wanting to finish a book I was barely tolerating in audio. Ms. Gibson’s interpretation of the characters was far from my own and I noticed a few of the gem type moments this author is known for float by unnoticed since the needed emphasis was lacking. The modulation of the characters voices continually resembled one another in a sort of spaced out manner that reminded more of Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure than varied adult characters. Yes, a definite disappointment.”

  10. I was on the Audible site looking for audio versions of Pride & Prejudice & Persuasion and noticed that there’s a veritable slew of narrators. Can anyone recommend a good version of these two books. (Just a note – I can’t stand Anne Flosnik, apologies to any of her fans). Many thanks!

  11. MaryK it wasn’t that I disliked Eclipse Bay with Pieffer narrating, it was just a little flat, I had no desire to re-listen although I’ve re-read the trilogy more than once.

    Pieffer was Books On Tape’s go to girl with a lot of early Krentz work, some of her narrations I really liked, Wildest Hearts, Silver Linings to name a couple and some were a little flat like Eclipse Bay, worth listening to but not worth repeating. The only Krentz narration by her that I absolutely hated was Gift of Gold, :D You’ll have to tell me what you think when you listen. I could tell you what I didn’t like about it but I don’t want to prejudice you. In print I enjoyed Gift of Gold and Gift of Fire both..

    I know I’ve listened to Trust Me, I remember narrations I HATE and the ones I LOVE. So it must have been in the just OK column. Then again I wasn’t nearly as picky at the time I glommed up all her audiobooks.

    • Brenda: The only Krentz narration by her that I absolutely hated was Gift of Gold

      Oh, lovely. Maybe I won’t notice whatever it was.

      I’d definitely re-listen to Eclipse Bay. I even considered getting my own copy for future listens but Audible has only the abridged version. It’s probably just as well because I have enough wish list audios to use up about the next six months of credits. Now I want to listen to Pieffer’s version to see what the differences are.

      I wonder why some books get recorded more than once. A rights transfer maybe? I think Cassandra said if they bought rights to existing audios they’d probably re-record with their own narrators.

      • Aha! My library has a cassette copy of the Pieffer version. I shall investigate. :)

  12. Chiming in on Richard Ferrone here. My opinion is that he should NOT be allowed to narrate romances. I’ve only heard him do Christine Feehan’s Dark books and I refuse to listen to another romance narrated by him. I did use him in the give a less than favorite narrator a second chance challenge category. I picked The Last Templar. Surprisingly he did a good job. His voice was smoother (more normal) and his female voices didn’t make me cringe. Even though The Last Templar was a success for me he will never be someone I want to willingly listen to IF I have a choice.

  13. Yes, it must be a rights thing. The Eclipse Bay trilogy was one of the first things I purchased from Audible, and all three were narrated by Pfieffer.

    When the Joyce Bean copies showed up at Audible I went and checked and the Pfieffer copies were no longer available for purchase. But I can still access my original Pfieffer copies via my Audible library.

    A little confusing but I’m always up for an upgrade in narrators and I like Joyce Bean.

  14. I haven’t had time to read all the comments yet but can I say that I’m listening to Angela Dawe narrate Jenny Crusie’s Maybe This Time ATM and she is Excellent in this one. Yes, she still really only has one “male” voice, but something about the humour of Crusie’s writing must have really connected with Dawe because she really shines in this one. I am liking but not loving her narration in the Psy/Changeling books – I’m happy enough to listen because the stories are so good but I’m not sure Dawe is adding much to the overall experience (if that makes sense). However, in Maybe This Time, she is definitely adding to my enjoyment of the story and I think she’s got the tone of the various characters and what they are saying, spot on.

  15. Kaetrin did you listen to Brockmann’s Infamous narrated by Dawe? She was amazing with that book IMO, which is where all my high hopes came from. Along with the fact that she took a 20+ year old Nora Roberts story, which I did not like upon on revisiting and still made it an enjoyable listening experience. So I know exactly where your coming from in your thoughts of her narration between the Psy/Changeling books and others she has narrated. It has to be the “connection” thing.

    Diane I totally agree, Ferrone has ability and appeal as a narrator, just not in the romance genre, I’ve steered widely around the Feehan books he narrated, which is too bad as he did several of them.

    I gave Fire and Ice an audio shot after Lea’s review, I had not connected with it when reading but the audio completely won me over. The narration was different for me in the beginning, I can’t quite define it beyond “a deliberate pacing” but with the first entrance of the Japanese accents I fell straight in. The characters, Reno in particular, came to life, I understood his motivations for being such an a$$ and Jilly’s fascination with him, and her battle against it. It was laugh out loud funny for me, repeatedly! Come on, after being bruised up in an accident, spending a night in the hospital and then seeing herself in a mirror the next morning; who can’t relate to Jilly, thinking her beloved might have seen her, then saying to herself … “It was a good thing it had only been a dream–she looked like a witch who’d met up with the wrong end of a broomstick”?

  16. Thanks so much for the comments on Fire and Ice, Brenda – truly appreciated! I too was surprised by the amount of humor in the book, as well as the amount of profanity – both of which work perfectly in context and I loved it all. Most of my favorite lines I unfortunately cannot share, but trust Brenda that it really is quite funny in places. I truly hated Reno at the beginning – but he transformed for me. Glad he did for you as the listener/reader as well.

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