Speaking of Audiobooks: Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll Results

OutlanderOur first annual Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll results are in and it’s time to share!  While many of the standard favorites shine through as expected, I was delighted with all the other books, narrators, and series that received a good amount of notice as well.  The Poll is divided into five categories:

  • Absolute Favorites
  • Sub-Genre Favorites
  • Narrator Favorites
  • Other Favorites to Ponder
  • Let’s Let the Audiobook Industry Know…

And with that…drum roll please!

The Absolute Favorites Categories

Favorite Romance Audiobook

Winner – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon      Narrated by Davina Porter

If you hang around a romance audio group, it won’t be long before you hear praise – or that should be – lots of praise for Outlander.  Carrying 15% of the votes, Outlander is not only one very fine tale but it also features a dynamite narrator.  Our November, 2009 Speaking of Audiobooks column was dedicated to the Outlander series and this is only a bit of the praise I had to offer:

It goes without saying that Diana Gabaldon’s writing is the basis of the love herein.  Without her exceptional storytelling, where would we be?  However, when it comes to audiobooks, there is a second star in the wings who vividly brings these books to life and that is narrator Davina Porter.  Much of today’s column is high praise of one sort or another for Ms. Porter’s ability to so completely engage my emotions while providing easily distinguished characterizations.

As audiobook enthusiasts, we love Jamie and admire the ever so sensible Claire even more when hearing it performed by Ms. Porter.  An unforgettable tale, its length discourages many listeners but those who do choose to tune in, usually come out thinking it is one of the best – if not the best.  And it seems as though you can’t listen to just one.  I’ve listened to the first four in the series and plan to do so again and probably yet again.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips also figures largely in our favorite romance audiobook selection.  Coming in second and third are the last two entries in her Chicago Stars series, Natural Born Charmer and Match Me if You Can – both narrated by the beloved Anna Fields.  And overall, Ms. Phillips showed her strength by garnering 26% of the total votes in this category.

Favorite Romance Narrator

Winner – Anna Fields

With 39% of the vote, Ms. Fields easily comes in at number one and is best known by romance audiobook fans for her narration of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books (sixteen to be exact).  Most who have listened to one of these gems agrees that the pairing of Phillips and Fields is one of the best, if not the best, romance audiobook teams.  It’s often said that the strength of Anna Field’s performance can transform an average book into an above average listening experience.  Also known as Kate Fleming, Ms. Fields died unexpectedly in 2006 at the age of 41.  We miss her greatly and treasure her many audiobook performances.

Coming in at second place with 11% of the votes is Davina Porter, most recognized in the romance audio world for her narration of Gabaldon’s Outlander series.  Phil Gigante is close behind with 10% (more about Phil later) and Honorable Mentions go to Renee Raudman and Susan Ericksen who each received 7% of the votes.

Favorite Romance Author in Audio

Winner – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Phillips easily takes the crown with 30% of the vote.  Combined with the talent of narrator Anna Fields, her books are a treat to be enjoyed again and again by many a romance listener.  Phillips’ latest audio release, Call Me Irresistible, features a new-to-Phillips narrator, Shannon Cochran, who resonates well with SEP audio fans and we’re hoping to see her return.  Phillips entire backlist is available in audio with simultaneous releases of her new titles in print and audio.  That all makes for some pretty loyal fans.

Another favorite romance author in audio is J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts with 15% of our respondents giving her their favorite nod.  Diana Gabaldon makes another appearance with 10% of our votes.

Favorite Romance Audiobook Series

Winners – Susan Elizabeth Chicago Stars Series tied with J.D. Robb’s In Death Series

Each of these revered series garnered 20% of the votes and it should be noted that both series have the same narrator throughout – Anna Fields for the Chicago Stars Series and Susan Ericksen for the In Death Series.  Honorable Mentions go to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series with 11% of the votes followed by the comparatively new Ilona Andrews Magic Series (Kate Daniels) with 7% of the votes.

Favorite Abridged Romance Audiobook

Winner – Open Season by Linda Howard      Narrated by Kate Forbes

Easily capturing first place with 22% of the vote, the unabridged version of Open Season is one of those hard-to-finds but our listeners are quite happy to settle for the abridged version.

But we can’t talk about abridged romance these days without mentioning Georgette Heyer.  Heyer’s Sylvester came in second with 17% of the votes and I must surmise that it has something to do with narrator Richard Armitage (at least it did for me)!  In fact, Armitage narrations of Heyer books commanded 33% of the overall voting for favorite abridged romance.

Favorite Audio Romance Hero

Winner – Jamie FraserOutlander by Diana Gabaldon

Jamie easily commanded first place with 25% of our votes and that comes as no surprise to me.  If you have listened to Outlander, it is highly likely that Jamie is your number-one guy.  That’s certainly the case with me.

Indicating that our listeners tune into those heroes who appear in more than one book, second place goes to Roarke from J.D. Robb’s In Death series (Book 1 – Naked in Death) with 12% of the votes.  I’ve only listened to the first two in the In Death Series, but after this poll, you may be certain that I’m tuning in for more.

Honorable Mention goes to our third place winner, Tucker Longstreet of Nora Roberts’ Carnal Innocence.  Tucker’s popularity is particularly notable for two reasons.  First, Carnal Innocence is a stand-alone book from 1992 with no repeat performances for Tucker.  But greater in my mind is the fact that the unabridged version is most definitely a hard-to-find audiobook and Tucker’s character must ring strong with those who have been lucky enough to listen.

Favorite Audio Romance Heroine

Winner – Eve DallasIn Death series by J.D. Robb

Futuristic homicide detective Eve is our favorite heroine with 17% of the votes, once again supporting the theory that listeners enjoy getting to know characters through extended series.

Tied for second place with 9% of the votes each are Annabelle Granger of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Match Me if You Can and Claire Fraser of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.  Following in third place is another tie between Blair Mallory from Linda Howard’s To Die For and Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrews’ Magic Bites – each with 7% of the votes.

Favorite Audio Romance Couple

Winner – Jamie and Claire Fraser - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

By now, I think those of you who have yet to experience Outlander in audio may be giving it a second thought!  The favorite couple brought in 16% of the votes – we love those Frasers!

Following very close behind at 15% are Eve Dallas and Roarke of J.D. Robb’s In Death series.  And once again, Ilona Andrews’ Magic Series makes the cut with Kate and Curran from Magic Slays carrying 9% of our votes.

Natural Born CharmerSub-genre Favorites

Favorite Contemporary Romance Audiobook

Winner – Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips      Narrated by Anna Fields

The latest (and last?) book in the Chicago Stars Series earned 12% of our votes and its hero is the irresistible Dean Robillard we first met in Match Me if You Can.  It’s Anna Fields last performance of a Phillips’ book.

Not far behind at 8% of our votes is Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me.  Deanna Hurst narrates this Crusie favorite that keeps bringing readers back in both print and audio.

Once all the votes were tallied for Favorite Contemporary, it became obvious that we have definite author favorites in this genre as well.  Susan Elizabeth Phillips carried 36% of all votes in this category while Jennifer Crusie carried 14%.  Lisa Kleypas’ short list of contemporaries scored well with 12% of all votes.

Favorite Romantic Suspense Audiobook

Winner – Envy by Sandra Brown      Narrated by Victor Slezak

Okay, I have to admit a certain thrill here since Envy was my choice for romantic suspense and it carried 15% of our votes.  This book represents my new view of Sandra Brown as I left her old romances behind and entered her world of romantic suspense.

Second place goes to Linda Howard’s Dream Man narrated by Phil Gigante and it brought in 7% of our votes.

More significantly is the number of votes by author.  Linda Howard definitely proves to be the queen of romantic suspense with 34% of all votes.

Favorite Paranormal Romance Audiobook

Winner – Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward      Narrated by Jim Frangione

The third in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Awakened probably holds the title of favorite in the series among readers and this definitely flows over to the audio version as well with 11% of the vote.

Not far behind at 9% of the vote is Karen Marie Moning’s Kiss of the Highlander.  Voting, however, in this category was scattered.  It’s best summed up by saying Karen Marie Moning’s titles carried 17% of the vote while J.R. Ward’s titles carried an equal amount.

Favorite Historical Romance Audiobook

Winner – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon      Narrated by Davina Porter

Since we didn’t have a category for time travel, Outlander took first place for historical romance with 17% of the vote.  Even the modern portion of the book barely misses the RWA historical cut of 1945.

Second was Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady with11% of the votes.  A vastly popular book when released in print, it’s proven to have quite the following in audio as well.

Favorite Urban fantasy with Romance Thread

Winners – Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews       Narrated by Renee Raudman

tied with

One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost      Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

Both Magic Strikes and One Foot in The Grave carried 10% of the vote.  However, I think this category is best described by the percentage of titles per author.

Ilona Andrews’ titles represented 20% of the votes while Patricia Briggs’ books garnered 17%.  Jeaniene Frost and Karen Marie Moning both brought in 13% of the votes.

Favorite Fantasy or Sci Fi with Romance Thread

Winner – Naked in Death (first in the In Death Series) by J.D. Robb      Narrated by Susan Ericksen

All winners in this category (and thereby most votes) were primarily for the series – not the individual books.  Rather than a specific title within the In Death Series, listeners more often just stated In Death and brought in 24% of the votes.

The same can be said for the second place winner (with 12% of the votes), The Sharing Knife: Beguilement (first in the Sharing Knife Series) by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Votes appear to actually be for the entire Sharing Knife Series.

And third place goes to Karen Marie Moning’s Shadowfever, the fifth and final in the Fever Series.

Narrator Favorites

Favorite Female Romance Narrator

Winner – Anna Field

Ms. Field takes the favorite female category as well as Favorite Romance Narrator with 37% of the votes.  In addition to her narration of Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, she has other jewels in the romance audiobook genre such as the hard-to-find-but-highly-worth-it One Summer by Karen Robards.

Others receiving votes of approval from our listeners include Susan Ericksen at second place.  Susan is known for J.D. Robb’s In Death Series and more recently, Anne Stuart’s Rohan Series.  Davina Porter (Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series) tied with Renee Raudman (Ilona Andrews’ Magic Series) for third.

Favorite Male Romance Narrator

Winner – Phil Gigante

We do so love Phil Gigante and he brings in the largest numbers of all our poll categories with his two wins.  Here he receives a whopping 52% of the votes.  In romance audio, Phil is best known for his performances of Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander Series and Fever Series as well as books such as Linda Howard’s Dream Man.  Phil talked with Speaking of Audiobooks in January, 2011 and, if you’ve not read it, you should definitely check it out.  Phil is a versatile narrator performing in many genres but he remains faithful to the romance genre as well and we always love to see his return.  Have you ever heard of buying an audiobook because of the narrator?  I know this applies here!

Following in second place is Tom Stechschulte with 13% of the votes.  He is best known for his Christine Feehan narrations and his performance of Tucker Longstreet in Carnal Innocence.  Victor Slezak comes in at third with 10% of the votes.  Personally, I remember Slezak first and foremost for his outstanding performance of Sandra Brown’s Envy (our Romantic Suspense Poll Winner).

Favorite Debut Romance Narrator

Winner – Xe Sands

Xe is best known in romance audio for her narration of Anne Stuart’s Fire and Ice.  Her performance gave new meaning to the word “narrate” and she brought in 31% of the votes.  Xe shared her preparation for an upcoming book with Speaking of Audiobooks last month answering many of our listeners’ questions.  She is now on fire narrating Jacquelyn Frank’s Nightwalker Series and I’m already hearing of her excellent performance in Jacob, the first in the series.  (It should be noted that Xe had already gained first place in this category before talking with Speaking of Audiobooks listeners in late June.)

Other debut narrators whose votes deserve mention are Shannon Cochran, narrator of Susan Elizabeth Phillips Call Me Irresistible and Kirsten Potter, narrator of Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady.  Unfortunately Shannon Cochran doesn’t meet the guidelines for this category since she actually debuted prior to 2010.

Best Male/Female Dual Romance Narration

Winners – Natalie Ross and Phil Gigante

Our Favorite Male Narrator, Phil Gigante, pairs up with the highly talented Natalie Ross and brings in 56% of the vote – the largest number of votes in any of our categories.  Their joint narration of Karen Marie Moning’s Dreamfever and Shadowfever includes an excellently characterized first person narrative by Natalie which means she performs the greater part of each book as MacKayla.  However, Phil captured much of the attention playing the unforgettable Jericho Barrons.

Natalie and Phil also pair up in Christine Feehan’s Dark Series.

Another team our listeners enjoy is Patrick Lawlor and Renee Raudman performing the works of Suzanne Brockmann.  They bring in 15% of the votes and recently joined up for Brockmann’s latest release, Breaking the Rules.

Most Disappointing Narration of a Highly Anticipated Romance Audiobook

I can’t say that there are any winners in this category.  First, a vote in this category represents a disappointment.  Second, there were many different choices by our listeners and little consensus.  However, Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas did garner 10% of the votes.  We’ll be reworking this category for next year’s poll to make a better statement to the industry.

Romance Narrator You Learned to Like

Once again, I don’t see a winner for this category but rather a personal win for each of us as we train our ear to appreciate a fine narrator who didn’t work for us initially.  17% of our respondents in this category state that they have learned to like the narrations of Anne Flosnik with 14% saying it’s Renee Raudman.  This represents more of a challenge to you to “Give a Narrator Another Chance.”  It’s actually a category in our 2011 Listening Challenge!

Magic BleedsFavorite 2010 Romance Audiobook

Winner – Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews      Narrated by Renee Raudman

The Magic Series continues to show its strong following with 11% of the vote.  Tied for second are Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie, Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James, and The Search by Nora Roberts.

Favorite Funny Romance Audiobook

Winner – To Die For by Linda Howard      Narrated by Franette Liebow

With 11% of the votes, To Die For is one of Linda Howard’s more unusual tales and, I can personally attest, is hilarious as well.  I’ve listened to it several times and still laugh out loud each time.

Second is Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation at 9% with Molly Harper’s And One Last Thing coming in at third.  Molly Harper is new to me and this book now sits in my Audible shopping cart!

Jennifer Crusie’s titles account for 25% of the funny romance votes followed by Molly Harper with 14% and Susan Elizabeth Phillips at 11%.

Best “Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat” Romance Audiobook

There is truly no clear winner for this category.  However, there are three authors who each claim 15% of the votes for books that keep us on the edge of our seats – Suzanne Brockmann, Sandra Brown, and Karen Marie Moning.

Romance Author Whose Backlist I Listen to the Most

Winners:

Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb

tied with

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Roberts/Robb and Phillips each carried 25% of the overall votes.  Their strength not only lies in the number of audiobooks on their backlists but also as desirable books for relistens.  Shall we say comfort listens?

Tied for second place are Linda Howard and Lisa Kleypas, each with 8% to their name.

Author’s Romance Backlist You Most Want to See in Audio

Winner – Loretta Chase

With 16% of the votes, a wish for Loretta Chase books means some fine European historical romance listening should it happen.  Now, how can we help make this happen?

Pamela Clare With 8% of the votes, I’m hoping that Clare’s historical titles as well as her romantic suspense make it to audio.

Rachel Gibson Also carrying 8% of the votes, Gibson received my vote.  Although a number of her books are already in audio, Gibson is one entertaining author who translates well to audio.

Anne Stuart As another author who already lays claim to a significant number of books in audio, I imagine this is a cry for Stuart’s extensive historical backlist.  If only!

Kresley Cole Also receiving 6% of the vote, I hear this is one wish that may come to pass soon.  The first in her Immortals After Dark Series will be released in August.

A Short List of the Winners for Easy Reference:

First – the Absolute Favorite Categories

Favorite Romance Audiobook – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Favorite Romance Narrator – Anna Fields
Favorite Romance Author in Audio – Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Favorite Romance Audiobook Series – Tie between J.D. Robb’s In Death Series and Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars Series
Favorite Abridged Romance Audiobook – Open Season by Linda Howard
Favorite Audio Romance Hero – Jamie Fraser – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Favorite Romance Heroine – Eve Dallas – In Death Series by J.D. Robb
Favorite Audio Romance Couple – Jamie & Claire Fraser – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Sub-genre Favorites

Favorite Contemporary Romance Audiobook – Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Favorite Romantic Suspense Audiobook – Envy by Sandra Brown

Favorite Paranormal Romance Audiobook – Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

Favorite Historical Romance Audiobook – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Favorite Urban Fantasy with Romance Thread – Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews tied with One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Favorite Fantasy or Sci Fi with Romance Thread – In Death Series (Naked in Death) – J.D. Robb

Narrator Favorites

Favorite Female Romance Narrator – Anna Fields

Favorite Male Romance Narrator – Phil Gigante

Favorite Debut Romance Narrator – Xe Sands

Best Male/Female Dual Romance Narration – Natalie Ross & Phil Gigante

Most Disappointing Narration of a Highly Anticipated Romance Audiobook – Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

Romance Narrator You Learned to Like – Anne Flosnik

Other Favorites to Ponder

Favorite 2010 Romance Audiobook – Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Favorite Funny Romance Audiobook – To Die For by Linda Howard

Best “Keep you on the Edge of Your Seat” Romance Audiobook – No real winner – see column

Let’s Let the Audiobook Industry Know…

Romance Author Whose Backlist I Listen to the Most – Tie between Susan Elizabeth Phillips and J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts

Author’s Romance Backlist You Most Want to See in Audio – Loretta Chase

Time for Your Thoughts

Did any of your favorites make it to the final list?

What is one or more of your favorites you wish had made it to the list?

Do you have questions on any of the categories?

Have you found new audiobooks to add to your personal wish list?

Ending Notes

Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing and we now have 129 members.  Come join in the discussion 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 later this month with another Reviews Only column.

Enjoy your listening!

-       Lea Hensley

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54 Responses to “Speaking of Audiobooks: Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll Results”

  1. PatF says:

    Thanks for compiling the results of the audiobook poll. Audiobooks are among my favorite things. I would be interested to know which of the In Death books reveals Roark’s given name as Patrick!

  2. Paula says:

    Great list! Thank you for compiling this. There are a few here that I have not yet tried & have just added to my wish list!

  3. Connie says:

    I am wonderfully surprised that all my votes made it to the winning list!
    One correction though:
    Favorite Audio Romance Couple 2nd place – it should be Eve Dallas and Roarke (not Patrick Roarke). Roarke’s first name was never revealed in the In Death Series, and Patrick Roarke is Roarke’s (much despised) father.

    • Lea AAR says:

      Connie: I am wonderfully surprised that all my votes made it to the winning list!One correction though:Favorite Audio Romance Couple 2nd place – it should be Eve Dallas and Roarke (not Patrick Roarke). Roarke’s first name was never revealed in the In Death Series, and Patrick Roarke is Roarke’s (much despised) father.

      Thanks Connie for pointing this out. I’m not an In Death expert – by any definition of the word. After reading your comment this morning, we removed the Patrick. After all, I had that name on great authority, uh…Google! Usually I’m a pretty good with the facts but I so wanted a second name for Roarke to make the whole favorite couple runner up sound official “Eve Dallas and ___ Roarke”!

  4. Leigh says:

    Wow, Lea, Thanks so much for the results. I know it had to be tons of work. Just the percentages are enough to give me a headache (grin).

    I just recently jumped on the audio bandwagon. . . I had played around before, listening on long trips in the car. Now I am listening at home. And one of the first authors I bought was SEP. I love Natural Born Charmer.

  5. Xe Sands says:

    I am so very honored by this – wow! And to be included in such amazing company. Thank you all so very much!
    –Xe

  6. Phil Gigante says:

    Lea,

    Thank you! This is indeed a great surprise! Thanks to you and all your listeners out there who make going into the studio a joy. It’s wonderful to be included among the talented folks on this page—some who are my friends, and some I can’t wait to check out!
    Stay Passionate!
    Phil Gigante

  7. Dorothy says:

    Awesome Poll Results!

    I am going to have to check out some of these books that I haven’t read or some of the narrators that I haven’t heard yet.

    Thanks for the work behind the calculator!

  8. PatF says:

    Thanks, Connie . I’ve read all the In Death books and wondered if somehow I could have missed that.

  9. Anne Stuart says:

    Hurray for Xe!!! And fabulous showing for my sister-in-arms, Jenny Crusie!

  10. Xe Sands says:

    Hurray for YOU Anne! It was your snarky, nasty, tasty bad boy that started all this :) And Phil Gigante – you are a delightful man who puts my meager efforts at thanking y’all to shame.

    So everyone: what Phil said!

  11. Natalie Ross says:

    Wow! What an honor. I feel like I just won the People’s Choice award. Thanks to you and all of you who enjoy audiobooks. I’m so fortunate to be a part of such a great industry with the most devoted fans. Thanks again!
    Natalie Ross

  12. Phil Gigante says:

    LOL Xe! Just my usual over-enthusiastic runnin’ at the mouth! Congrats to you on your work–as well as having the coolest name on the site! Looking forward to checking out your debut…

    Phil

  13. MaryK says:

    Such a lot of interesting stuff and so much to comment on!

    Dream Man has been sitting in my audio library for a while and I keep passing over it. I don’t recall ever listening to a male narrator and that’s made me shy away I think. I’ll have to make a point of listening since it showed up in second place.

    I’ve heard recommendations for most of these audios but I don’t remember hearing much about Bet Me or The Spymaster’s Lady. Bet Me is on my maybe list because I really liked the book so maybe I’ll go ahead a get it. :)

    And I may have to give in and at least try Outlander. Davina Porter is a very talented narrator. It’s just such a long and daunting book! And I lost interest in that series pretty quickly. Sagas just aren’t my thing.

    Re the most wished for backlist, Loretta Chase had some good Regencies as well, back when Regency was a distinct category and style. And I’ve often wished for audios of Anne Stuart’s old category Romances. There are some floating around but they’re the dreaded two cassette abridgements. Considering the number of books in her backlist, the percentage that are in audio seems kind of small.

    Finally :) , I’m LOL’ing over Anne Flosnik and Renee Raudman in the “learned to like” category. Based on past discussions of likes and dislikes, that combination strikes me as just too funny! :D

  14. Lea AAR says:

    Thank to Phil, Natalie, and Xe for stopping by. I don’t know if you guys know how much you all mean to us. The first Speaking of Audiobooks column carried the title “It’s All About the Narrator” and it is!

  15. Xe Sands says:

    I am so grateful to you, Lea – and this amazing community. For us? it’s all about the listener :)

  16. Anne fFosnik says:

    Warmest congratulations to all my uber talented colleagues, whose names are a who’s who of the very finest the industry has to offer, and several who I count as dear friends.
    Have to say I have learned a very great deal from reading listeners comments, and always do my best to improve my work. That may very well be the reason I made the list at all!

    • Lea AAR says:

      Anne fFosnik: Warmest congratulations to all my uber talented colleagues, whose names are a who’s who of the very finest the industry has to offer, and several who I count as dear friends.Have to say I have learned a very great deal from reading listeners comments, and always do my best to improve my work. That may very well be the reason I made the list at all!

      Thanks Anne for stopping in! And it’s good to know that you, as a narrator, read our listeners’ comments. We like to think we have good things to offer!

  17. Anne fFosnik says:

    Hi Leah, you have PLENTY to offer, and it is great food for thought, and action. Cannot tell you how much insight I have gained by stopping by!

  18. Susan says:

    Thanks for creating (and tabulating) this incredible poll! Thoroughly enjoyed it.

  19. Diane says:

    you have some great audio winners there. I love my audio books, just wish they would be available when stated on the website, Chapters, I usually have to wait an extra month or so before the are available.

  20. Xe Sands says:

    @Diane: an extra month?!? That’s torture!

  21. melinda says:

    wow – it’s such a great list, but with the actual authors and narrators commenting, I’m too overwhelmed to comment!!!

    just kidding. the regulars all knew I wouldn’t be able to resist having an opinion!!

    LeaAAR, you are a wonder! Thank you for spending the time to tot all this up. Without you in the engineer seat, this couldn’t have happened. Kudos! Thank you!

    • Lea AAR says:

      melinda: wow – it’s such a great list, but with the actual authors and narrators commenting, I’m too overwhelmed to comment!!!just kidding. the regulars all knew I wouldn’t be able to resist having an opinion!! LeaAAR, you are a wonder! Thank you for spending the time to tot all this up. Without you in the engineer seat, this couldn’t have happened. Kudos! Thank you!

      Thanks Melinda – I think you know I totally enjoy this group of people and writing about audiobooks. A perfect mix!

      I’m curious – what did you spend those two credits on?

  22. melinda says:

    Oh – 2 more things: this column made me spend 2 credits at audible – maybe the only 2 books I hadn’t read in the list – and Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross unabridged should be available in November everywhere, since that is when the 10-year contract ends on the abridged! yay! I might have to do a complete re-listen.

  23. Kaetrin says:

    @ Lea – one of Roarke’s many charms is that he has only the one name – like Madonna! :D I can’t believe you’ve only listened to the first 2 in the series! Clearly Brenda and I haven’t had enough influence on you!!!

    What an interesting set of results Lea – how many people voted?

    My choices were up there in the rankings – I have Jacob on my list to listen to (for review here in fact) so I’ll be trying my first Xe Sands narration very soon! I was a bit surprised that some people had to learn to like Renee Raudman though! I think she’s one of the best narrators going around.

    @ MaryK – I’d recommend the audio of Bet Me – if you enjoyed the book, then the audio will, I think, be a win for you too. The narrator captured the snap of the dialogue and the Crusie humour. As I recall, the male voices were more differentiated by tone rather than pitch, but otherwise, I really enjoyed it. Also, I loved loved loved listening to Outlander – I think the audio is better than the book – Porter just brings something extra to the mix I wouldn’t have got on my own.

    Congratutlations to all the winners! :)

  24. Kaetrin says:

    ah, that’s congratulations!

  25. Xe Sands says:

    What is so wonderful to me is the thoughtfulness and generosity with which y’all approach audiobooks. It is humbling to me, and a great demonstration of why I love what I do.

    @Kaetrin – hope you enjoy the listen!
    @ Melinda – definitely don’t let us scare you away! Love hearing your thoughts!

  26. Lea AAR says:

    Well, somehow I didn’t do that right. I was responding to Melinda – not trying to add to her comments!

    Again…

    Thanks Melinda – I think you know I totally enjoy this group of people and writing about audiobooks. A perfect mix!

    I’m curious – what did you spend those two credits on?

  27. MaryK says:

    I’d forgotten this but I snagged a cassette copy of Carnal Innocence off ebay a while back. That’s another one I need to get around to.

    I’m really enjoying the Listening Challenge and the Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group. The Challenge kickstarted me into listening to romance and listening more overall, and the Goodreads group has helped me keep up the momentum. I’m pretty sure I’m behind on my Challenge categories, but it’s because I’ve been distracted by other audios not because I haven’t been listening. My Audible wishlist is out of control!

  28. MaryK says:

    As an aside, since there seems to be a lot of narrators reading this column, I feel I should explain that I’m a difficult listener. :)

    Not in the sense that I have preconceived ideas about what a book should sound like because I don’t usually. But because for me listening to a book is completely different and harder than reading a book. Audiobooks have to be spoon-fed(!) to me. They have to be easy for me to listen to. I can’t substitute listening for reading unless it’s a book I already know well and then listening is more of an enhancement to the book.

    I hope that makes more sense than it seems to on rereading! I’d hate to be in the shoes of a narrator who had me for an audience.

  29. Xe Sands says:

    @MaryK – we are the same kind of listener, it seems :) I often regret being such a tough customer as a listener. The narrator has to grab me immediately, or I have a tough time continuing. Knowing how difficult narrating is, I feel a bit badly about being so very picky…but there it is.

  30. Thank you all so much for loving One Foot in the Grave and and voting it to the top! I love that I tied with Renee Raudman – nice to be in her talented company. And it’s exciting that Davina Porter swept so many categories. Davina narrated the first audiobook I ever listened to years ago, and she was so extraordinary that I thought I MUST learn how to do that. I marvel at her work. Anna Fields is another inspiration and guide, and I regret not having had a chance to meet her before she so tragically died. It makes my day to know that this community cares so deeply about strong performances, and I’ll continue to try to make you happy. In fact, I’m beginning the next Cat & Bones adventure this week, so stay tuned! Thank you all again so much. You made my day!

    • Lea AAR says:

      Tavia Gilbert: Thank you all so much for loving One Foot in the Grave and and voting it to the top! I love that I tied with Renee Raudman – nice to be in her talented company. And it’s exciting that Davina Porter swept so many categories. Davina narrated the first audiobook I ever listened to years ago, and she was so extraordinary that I thought I MUST learn how to do that. I marvel at her work. Anna Fields is another inspiration and guide, and I regret not having had a chance to meet her before she so tragically died. It makes my day to know that this community cares so deeply about strong performances, and I’ll continue to try to make you happy. In fact, I’m beginning the next Cat & Bones adventure this week, so stay tuned! Thank you all again so much. You made my day!

      Thank you Tavia for stopping by. I have heard much praise for the Night Huntress audio series and even have the first two in my audio library. I’m looking forward to experiencing Cat and Bones!

  31. I can’t tell you how much it means to have Anna/Kate’s wonderful work acknowledged. Over the years, she become a dear friend, and I miss her so much. I hope those of you who were her fans heard the heartwrenching podcast on The Moth from her partner, Charlene Strong. Kate was an amazing woman, and I try to focus on how lucky I was to have her in my life instead of the saddness of having her gone.

  32. Lea AAR says:

    Thank you Susan for responding in Anna Fields stead. As you can see by the outpouring of admiration and fondness here, we too feel lucky to have her wonderful performances in our lives. Thank you for graciously sharing with us.

  33. Diana says:

    Congrats to all the narrators and authors honored. I thank you all for countless hours of pleasure. Thanks to the production company people, too, because you’re listening to your customers. Audiobook production just keeps getting better and better. Can’t wait to see those backlists!

  34. melinda says:

    LeaAAR asked “I’m curious – what did you spend those two credits on?”

    And One Last Thing… Molly Harper
    Envy Sandra Brown (in spite of my Fail experience with the 1980s Brown I reviewed – if it made the list, it must be better!)

  35. Lea AAR says:

    I’m getting the Molly Harper as well! And Envy – I promise – it’s nothing like the 1980s Brown books!!

  36. MaryK says:

    Lea – I’m curious about Envy. How does it compare to One Summer? When I think of Romantic Suspense, I think of OS even though it’s pretty tame compared to today’s RS. I know you’re a OS fan as well. Would you put them in the same category or is Envy more Suspense and less Romance?

    • Lea AAR says:

      MaryK: Lea – I’m curious about Envy. How does it compare to One Summer? When I think of Romantic Suspense, I think of OS even though it’s pretty tame compared to today’s RS. I know you’re a OS fan as well. Would you put them in the same category or is Envy more Suspense and less Romance?

      One Summer is my idea of an ideal contemporary romance in both audio and print. Its suspense is minor IMO especially compared to Envy which is definitely romantic suspense to the core. Romance is very important to me in RS and I thought Envy quite romantic although in a different way. Here’s my review for SOA:

      I haven’t been a fan of romantic suspense in the past and Envy changed that – completely. Sandra Brown has to be one of the more refined voices for sophisticated suspense combined with romance. I wasn’t bored for a moment as I listened to Victor Slezak’s superb narration – he simply entrances the listener. The characters voices are clearly distinguished one from another including several male characters with Southern accents. The intriguing storyline centers on two old friends, now enemies, and the woman connected to both who is unknowingly being used as a pawn. I found myself totally caught up in the action as well as the romance and experienced such a sense of loss at its completion that I immediately started listening all over again. A definite A+.

  37. Diana says:

    Envy is one of the first audios I listened to and it’s still a favorite. I first heard it on crackled library cassettes, then bought it on CD and again in digital. Victor Slezak is my heartthrob male narrator and he’s perfect for Sandra Brown’s provocative RS, which doesn’t always conform to romance rules. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a high steam factor read in Slezak’s sexy voice. :) I nagged and beat Lea over the head for month insisting that she listen to Envy. See? I knew she’d love it.

    Also want to mention a Karen Rose RS series narrated by Tavia Gilbert. The Die for Me, Sceam for Me, Kill for Me trilogy has a fabulous story arc read to perfection by Gilbert. It’s got a high body count but the violence is mostly off page. Not to mention that Daniel Vartanian (in the second book) is one of the very finest romance heroes ever written.

    • Lea AAR says:

      Diana:..I nagged and beat Lea over the head for month insisting that she listen to Envy. See? I knew she’d love it.

      Ha! She did! Although in a nice way. I owe my Sandra Brown passion to Diana!

      I’m with you Brenda – with this explanation, I’m ready to try the Rose trilogy.

    • MaryK says:

      Destined for an Early Grave is also in the sale. I have both titles sitting in my cart. I’m going to skim through the paperback and see if it’s one I want to listen to. Pretty sure it is, but I’ve bought a lot of audios lately and I’m trying not to impulse buy. :)

      Lea AAR: One Summer is my idea of an ideal contemporary romance in both audio and print.

      Ah, see that’s what I thought. I am such a wimp about Romantic Suspense. :S

      Diana: Also want to mention a Karen Rose RS series narrated by Tavia Gilbert.

      I’ve heard good things about Karen Rose but have pretty much decided I’m not tough enough for her. My reading background is Mary Stewart and cozy mysteries and so far I haven’t been able to move on to today’s thriller type suspense. Maybe some day.

  38. Brenda says:

    I’ll add my congrats to all the winners, I could go into detail but then it might reach squeeing, and I’m not willing to go there. :) Suffice it to say both the authors and especially the narrators, in this context, that made this Poll make my world go round in a better way most days.

    Karen Rose + Tavia Gilbert … off screen violence, fine romance hero?? I think you might have just won me over so that I’ll give these a try …

    Why is Envy still on my TBL pile when I trust the recommendations??

    Ditto Kaetrin I was a bit surprised that some people had to learn to like Renee Raudman though! I think she’s one of the best narrators going around.

    Just finished a second review book. One has an awesome narrator but the other one could use some help … happy to say it’s nobody that made this list!!! :D

  39. Lea AAR says:

    Three of the winning audiobooks are on sale at Audible until July 19th.

    SEP’s Match Me if You Can $5.95
    Frost’s One Foot in the Grave $8.95
    Crusie’s Maybe This Time $8.95

  40. Brenda says:

    Coming to raise my white flag of surrender … I’ve had a big purple PANSY embroidered on it …. I made it a good way into Sandra Brown’s Envy a couple of days ago but I’m not going to be able to finish it.

    Victor Slezak is amazing, his talent obvious, I love listening to him … but I can’t go this dark, angsty way …. no matter how perfectly all the characters sound.

    Even knowing there is an HEA at the end … even with this fabulous narration, I can’t go there. I’m putting it out there plain and simple so no one gets suckered in by my reviews. I’m all about escape in my listening.

    I need lightness mixed with humor to do RS … maybe I need non reality all together?? Give me a smart mouthed kick a$$ heroine and some creepy monsters to fight and I’m there!

    I’m still working it out, but I now know JD Robb is my limit with thriller type Romantic Suspense. At least I get to laugh myself silly a couple of times with them.

    Fair warning …. my idea of favorite romantic suspense / edge of your seat romance is Karen Robards One Summer or Nora Roberts Carnal Innocence!

    Confession time for this light weight is now over….

    • MaryK says:

      Brenda: Now I know what to use as my Goodreads icon! :D We can be the pansy chapter of Speaking of Audiobooks.

      Meanwhile, bring on the recs for “light” romantic suspense a la One Summer, After the Night, or Shades of Twilight. :)

  41. Lea AAR says:

    lol Brenda! I’m too a pansy but in another way (as you well know) – all those monsters even with a kick ass heroine to handle the day! So we can both wave our flags – just at differing points on the romance sub-genre map.

    It’s funny but I never thought of Envy as the dark story you describe but I must agree it is. I was so compelled by the rich undertow of romance (would it happen? could it be? is he good or is he bad?) that I forgave the darkness – something I don’t ascribe to easily. And I guess that Brown continues to pull me into that darkness without me complaining since I now have listened to a number of her Slezak narrated RS that also fall in the A range for me. And I’m not what one could consider a hard core RS fan – I avoid when possible.

    But thank you for giving this one a try. Sandra Brown is a hard listen for some – as Diana stated earlier, she “doesn’t always conform to romance rules.”

    lol on your thoughts of One Summer as RS. Not that it isn’t – I just think of it as pure contemporary with an element of suspense. Now Carnal Innocence – I agree. So I only see the need for you to fly your pansy flag at half mast!

  42. Brenda says:

    Slezak is 5+ stars in narration that’s for sure and I did get a LOL early in Envy …. from Hatch, the old fisherman that had no use for the tourists in Key West. His irritated grumbling about them and saying the sunscreen they walked around slathered in smelled like a monkey had barfed on them. :D

    Your right about One Summer, the suspense is definitely light and I skip the bad guy POV’s in Carnal Innocence, so there truly is no hope for me! :D

    LOL over your logo idea MaryK I need to keep one in the corner of my Goodreads reviews. :)

    For light romantic suspense I enjoy the single title Nora Roberts releases. The Search from last year was very good. And I see it made the Poll here so I must not be the only one who thought so …. You get a lot of dog training tips (the heroines profession) and search and rescue details using dogs, which I found very interesting. Loved the hero and the sly humor, lots of funny banter between the H and h if you pay attention. The narration by Tanya Eby was good.

    The year before that was Tribute in which you get a detailed DIY house renovation lesson along with your romance and the side of suspense. :0

    Hard to find (narrated by Anna Fields) is Head Over Heels by Susan Andersen. Some light fun with an even lighter suspense angle. But again, I stress, Anna Fields……

  43. sula says:

    Late to the party, but I just wanted to say thank you for this space to talk about, learn about, share about, the joy that is audiobooks. I grew up listening to books on tape, borrowed them from the library through college, existed on MP3 versions of multiple books to get me through long HOT nights in the Peace Corps in Africa, and now to be able to connect with other listeners in a virtual space…well, it’s a treat. :)

    On a side note, Tavia Gilbert, your narration of Cat and Bones has sent me into a full on backlist glom of the entire series. And I’d already read them in paper last year and enjoyed them in a mild sort of way. Now I’m devouring them again because your narration has cranked up the volume on the humor, excitement and passion of the stories. So thanks for that. :)

  44. Aryn says:

    I had to laugh when I saw Anne Flosnik’s name in the ‘narrator [I] learned to like’ category. So very true of my experience with *her* books.

  45. I am late to the wedding! My favorite male narrator is Simon Prebble. I am addicted to his voice! This year I loved The Spymaster’s Lady in audio and I sure hope there is demand for the rest of Joanna Bourne’s books. This is a great site for discussing audiobooks.