Speaking of Audiobooks: September 2011 Releases

Dead by MidnightIt’s a triple treat at Speaking of Audiobooks today.  In addition to our list of September’s new romance releases, we’re featuring Part Two of Beyond the Winners and five audiobook reviews.  Up for review are Karen Robards’ Justice, Kay Hooper’s Zach’s Law, Mary Balogh’s The Secret Mistress, Sherryl Woods’ Flirting with Disaster, and Kelley Armstrong’s Men of the Otherworld.

Beyond the Winners

Our recent Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll featured some big name winners such as Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and J.D. Robb’s In Death series.  Both series swept a number of categories making us wonder what other favorites are out there beyond the big poll winners.  Over the remainder of 2011, we’re taking a number of the poll categories one by one and asking you “What are your other favorites?”

Last month we shared our Contemporary romance favorites and today we’re taking a look at Romantic Suspense.  This category includes romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.  In our poll, Sandra Brown’s Envy took first place while Linda Howard’s Dream Man came in second.

So, what are your other Romantic Suspense favorites?  Let us know in our comment area below.  If another listener states one of your favorites, write it down again because we’re taking an unofficial count.

As a tribute to these favorites that don’t hold an official place on the winning poll ballot, we are utilizing our Goodreads audio bookshelf to summarize those most often mentioned.  Our Goodreads audio bookshelf is actually a number of bookshelves.  Currently we have a Mini-Review shelf (reviews from our columns), a Romance Audiobook Poll Winners shelf, and an Upcoming Reviews shelf.  We’re adding another shelf, Beyond the Winners, and will add to it each time we discuss a poll category.

Let us know your other Romantic Suspense favorites!

Audiobook Romances on Sale in September

Includes new formats of existing audiobooks


Alexander, Victoria – His Mistress by Christmas Narrated by Susan Duerden

Barton, Beverly – Dead by Midnight Narrated by Karen White

Bond, Stephanie – Baby, Drive South Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Dodd, Christina – Danger in a Red Dress Narrated by Angela Dawe

Douglas, Anne – The Kilt Maker Narrator unknown

Feehan, Christine – Dark Predator Narrator unknown

Frank, Jacquelyn – Noah Narrated by Xe Sands

Graham, Heather – An Angel for Christmas Narrated by Christina Traister

Herron, Rachael – How to Knit a Heart Back Home Narrator unknown

Heyer, Georgette – The Grand Sophy Narrated by Clare Willie (Abridged)

Howard, Linda – Prey Narrated by Abby Craden

Johansen, Iris – Capture the Rainbow Narrated by Angela Brazil

Johansen, Iris – Magnificent Folly Narrated by Parker Leventer

Kenyon, Sherrilyn & Love, Dianna – Alterant Narrated by Holter Graham

Kenyon, Sherrilyn – Audio Coffin Box Set Narrated by Carrington MacDuffie & William Dufris

Laurens, Stephanie – In Pursuit of Eliza Cynster Narrator unknown

Macomber, Debbie – 1225 Christmas Tree Lane Narrated by Sandra Burr

Macomber, Debbie – First Comes Marriage Narrated by Angela Dawe

Mallery, Susan – Only His Narrated by Tanya Eby

Mallery, Susan – Sweet Talk Narrated by Therese Plummer

McCarty, Sarah – Caleb Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

McCarty, Sarah – Jared Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

McDonald, L.J. – Queen of the Sylphs Narrator unknown

Quick, Amanda – The Perfect Poison Narrated by Anne Flosnik

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

Robb, J.D. – New York to Dallas Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Roberts, Nora – Treasures Lost, Treasures Found Narrated by Therese Plummer

Roberts, Nora – Tribute Narrated by Jennifer Van Dyck

Roberts, Nora – Untamed Narrated by Kate Rudd

Singh, Nalini – Archangel’s Blade Narrated by Justine Eyre

Singh, Nalini – Bonds of Justice Narrated by Angela Dawe

Singh, Nalini – Play of Passion Narrated by Angela Dawe

Warren, Christine – One Bite with a Stranger Narrated by Kate Reading

Warren, Christine – Walk on the Wild Side Narrated by Kate Reading

Woods, Sherryl – An O’Brien Family Christmas Narrated by Christina Traister

JusticeRomance Audio Reviews

Justice – Karen Robards

Review written by Lea Hensley

Narrated by Angela Dawe

After listening to an hour of the newly released Justice, I was wondering more about the TSTL behavior of heroine Jessica Ford than the plot.  She’s in the Secret Service’s witness protection program (of sorts) after witnessing the murder of the First Lady.  Now that she is established with her new identity, she only takes the slightest of precautions and has more an attitude of “Why are you making me do this?” than anything else.  But I digress because this is one good romantic suspense tale made even better in audio by Angela Dawe’s narration.

Mark Ryan is the Secret Service agent attempting to keep Jess safe – not an easy job.  He’s also her former boyfriend and their established relationship (they called it quits only months before) was quite a plus as I felt an immediate connection between the two despite the fact that they were no longer an item.  Mark pushes to keep Jess safe and give their relationship another chance while she pushes back (with good reason I might add).

But the suspense was, for the most part, just like I like it – with little to no gore and a true mystery.  I had no idea of the villain’s identity and the mystery plays from three separate angles – all intriguing.  Although there are a number of secondary characters, Mark and Jess’s relationship still receives ample attention – another requirement for my idea of a successful romantic suspense.  The part I wasn’t too crazy about?  The final suspense scene – Robards seemed to lose her originality.

Prior to Justice, my only experience with narrator Angela Dawe was Nalini Singh’s Slave to Sensation and I wasn’t overly impressed with her ability to distinguish characters.  However, she won me over with Justice.  Although I was unable to differentiate secondary female and male voices at times, I had no difficulty with Mark and Jess and, I must say, at times that’s all that matters to me.  She understands Mark and Jess and is especially spot on with her performance of Mark.  I had no doubt he was the character Robards intended him to be and that was evident with his first lines.

After I finished Justice and rushed off to Audible to find more of Robards’ romantic suspense backlist, I discovered that Justice is actually the sequel to Pursuit.  I never guessed – Justice stands on its own that well.  Robards’ Web site is not up to date so I can’t be sure of the fact but it appears that Mark and Jess will have at least one more book.  A few unsolved bits remain here although I was quite satisfied with the ending.  I’m definitely backing up and listening to Pursuit.

Zach’s Law – Kay Hooper

Review written by Brenda

Narrated by Rebecca Gibel

The good news is that if you’re a fan of Kay Hooper’s old category romances, narrator Rebecca Gibel is very good.  She provides a number of distinct voices for the variety of characters that populate this adventure.  As is common, the men could have used deeper voices but distinct is the next best thing.  Gibel’s pacing is excellent as is the range of emotions she covers.  I felt she had an excellent handle on the feel of Zach’s Law.

Unfortunately, the feel of the story was not to my liking.  Zach Steele is staking out gun runners in the Rocky Mountains when Theodora (call me Teddy) Tyler’s car dies nearby.  Zach gags her, ties her to a tree, rolls her car into a lake, then hauls her back to his cabin to prevent her from revealing his set up.  Twelve hours later they’re half naked together.  An hour after that Teddy knows, due to a Scottish ancestor with the second sight, that she’s in love with Zach.  Then you add in several amazing coincidences and a romance is born?  Not even I can buy this one!

The action scenes and the other agents becoming involved, along with the eventual conclusion, is okay if you discount the above. I discovered after finishing Zach’s Law that it is one of a running series that features Hagen, a man manipulating events to get the staring couple together. With that foreknowledge, the coincidences may not have seemed so ridiculous but the sudden jump from kidnapped to I love you was a deal breaker.



The Secret MistressThe Secret Mistress – Mary Balogh

Review written by Lea Hensley

Narrated by Anne Flosnik

When Edward Ailsbury, Earl of Heyward, rescues Lady Angeline Dudley from the consequences of her impetuous actions, he sees an improper young woman who is far from any lady he could ever consider marrying.  Angeline sees Edward as the man she will someday marry.

Edward is, in fact, looking for a wife and his family is eager to help in the process.  Arranging for him to share a dance with a most appropriate young lady, Edward is shocked to find she is Angeline.  He’s what one could call a stick-in-the-mud and believes in following the rules – and that includes marrying the ultimate lady who is proper in every way.  And so the fun begins.

After tiring of a seemingly endless number of European historical romances, I listened to few until my interest revived a few months ago with books such as The Secret Mistress. It reminded me of my first days of reading romance when I found teas, balls, and afternoon visits charming rather than overdone.  Narrator Anne Flosnik helped me envision the true spirit of the time with her lyrical British accent.

In the past, I have occasionally found myself challenged by Ms. Flosnik’s interpretation and performance of her male characters but that wasn’t the case here.  Flosnik has acknowledged consciously reworking her male characters and it clearly shows.  I understood Edward’s character more than any other.  Her performance of his thoughts gives the listener an even deeper look into Edward than his words proclaim since he is such a dependable, proper man and it is quite humorous at times.  Edward, as performed, worked for me.  Anne Flosnik has always performed her female characters beautifully and there is no exception here.

Although my interest waned a bit in the last third, I still recommend The Secret Mistress for some fine European Historical entertainment.

Flirting with Disaster – Sherryl Woods

Review written by Melinda

Narrated by Tanya Eby

Art gallery owner Maggie, recently dumped at the altar, tries hiding out to recuperate from the blow.  Her friends find her, drag her back to reality, and involve her in a plan to build a house for a widowed young mother.  If you’re here for the romance, there’s a hot young project foreman named Josh who seems to be just the one for Maggie.  If you’re not interested in the couple, it’s okay, because Flirting with Disaster suffers somewhat from attention-deficit disorder and there are plenty of plots and characters around to keep everyone entertained.

The narrator, Tanya Eby, is talented and experienced – she manages to keep up appearances that the story makes sense. She has an extremely pleasant narration voice and dozens of character voices to keep everyone separate. But the book still meanders around with the various parents and friends of Maggie and Josh popping in and out.  Maggie’s mind weighs if Josh might be better off with the young widow and then there are Maggie’s assorted assistants and their troubles, one of which dominates the last part of the book.  Was it a book about Maggie and Josh?  Was there a secondary romance, and if so, was it Josh’s mother and one of the several villains?  Or was it the assistant and her, uh, former teacher or boyfriend?  Was it suspense?  If so, who was the actual bad guy?  And did they ever finish that house for the needy young widow?  These were my questions after I finished the book.

I enjoyed the first part of Flirting with Disaster and Eby’s narration.  About halfway through the plot started splintering and never really regained shape for me. Flirting with disaster, indeed.



Men of the Otherworld – Kelley Armstrong

Review written by Kaetrin

Narrated by Charles Leggett

A collection of four tales in Kelley’s Armstrong’s popular Women of the Otherworld series, Men of the Otherworld is not really a romance.  It fleshes out the background of some of the series’ pivotal male characters.

The first and last stories feature Jeremy – the first on how he was conceived.   The other two are told from Clay’s point of view – he’s the hero (hmmm – is that the right word?) of Bitten, the first book of the series.  Charles Leggett does a great job with the narration, using different accents and pitches to differentiate the various men in the story.  Given werewolf society in the Otherworld, there aren’t that many women but the female voices that Leggett uses aren’t bad actually.  I particularly enjoyed the last three (the first features Malcolm who is an ass – so it’s hard to enjoy it).  I’ve read the stories in print as well and they translate very well to audio – although I would caution that this is really for fans of the series and if you’ve not read any before, I wouldn’t recommend starting here.

Time for Your Thoughts

What Romantic Suspense audiobooks are your favorites?

What new releases are you looking forward to?

Do you know of a new romance release that didn’t make the list?

Have you listened to one of today’s review books?  What were your thoughts?

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

Ending Notes

I’m announcing news for the Speaking of Audiobooks column and other audio tidbits on Twitter – look for SpeakingofAudio (formerly LeaAAR).

For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, be sure to check out our audio archives for further recommendations and discussions.

Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing and we now have 138 members.  It’s easy to join and it’s a great place for discussion in between our columns.

Enjoy your listening!

- Lea Hensley

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28 Responses to Speaking of Audiobooks: September 2011 Releases

  1. Lea AAR says:

    We now have our Beyond the Winners bookshelf up at the Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads bookshelf. As a result of our first Beyond the Winners session, there are 33 Contemporary romances sitting on the shelf. You may want to take a look.

  2. Susan says:

    My favorite romantic suspense audio books are Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. There are different narrators, and some are better than others. They get better as the series moves along.

    I’m also looking forward to the two JD Robb In Death releases. I have the entire series on Audio. Susan Ericksen is brilliant with her different characters.

    Hmm you’ve convinced me to get The Secret Mistress on audio. Haven’t bought the Kindle version yet, and I have plenty of audible credits right now. I love a good historical romance on audio.

    I really need to join the goodreads audio group. I’m an audiobook junkie. I am allowed to listen at work, so I always have my headset on while doing rather boring spreadsheets.

  3. Lea AAR says:

    I’ll get the ball rolling – my votes for the Romantic Suspense Beyond the Winners shelf? Many – I’m not going to be shy!

    First Linda Howard. I’m such a fan.
    Death Angel
    After the Night
    Dream Man
    Kill and Tell
    McKenzie’s Pleasure

    Katherine Sutcliffe – Darkling I Listen

    Sandra Brown – another author I love (later titles – not early)
    Smash Cut
    Tougth Customer
    Slow Heat in Heaven

    Suzanne Brockmann’s Over the Edge and Out of Control

  4. Lea AAR says:

    Susan – we must have been posting at the same time! Yes, please come join us at Goodreads. You need only set up your shelf with one book (a very simple process) to get started. And then you can add books over a period of time which is sort of fun for your friends since we will be notified of books as you add. My Goodreads shelf is audiobooks only and I know Brenda and Melinda’s are as well. Others have an audiobook shelf within their larger Goodreads shelf. I’ll be looking for you!

  5. Dorothy says:

    I just listened to two that are awesome!

    Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank and Narrated by Xe Sands
    Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison and Narrated by Sophie Eastlake

    They were both great!

    Twitter –>> @akchocoholic

  6. Lea AAR says:

    How could I forget Anne Stuart’s Fire and Ice?! Definitely a favorite.

  7. Carrie says:

    Anne Stuarts’ Black Ice and Ice Blue. Ice Blue was one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to. Loved the story and the narration.

    Also: After the Night by Linda Howard

  8. Tina says:

    I will go with Lea on the Linda Howard books:
    Dream Man (one of my absolute favorites)
    MacKenzie’s Mission
    Now You see her
    Dying to please
    Open Season

    But I also liked
    Karen Rose – Die for me
    Lori Foster – When You Dare
    Allison Brennan – Sudden Death
    Elizabeth Lowell – Moving Target
    Christine Feehan – Turbulent Sea

  9. Susan says:

    How about the Ghostwalker books by Christine Feehan?

    Tom Stechschulte narrates this great series which is futuristic romantic suspense. The narration is really fantastic, too.

  10. Diane says:

    Anything by Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, Jayne Ann Krentz.

  11. Lea AAR says:

    Since we can’t list series on our Goodreads shelf, can you all give me specific books? What is your favorite of the Ghostwalker series or do you want to include several?

    What Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, or Jayne Ann Krentz books in particular? Thanks for any detail you can provide!

  12. Susan says:

    Mind Game, Niko and Dahlia.

    Night Game, Gator and Flame’s book.

    I also love the two brothers, Jack and Ken Norton’s booiks, Conspiracy Game and Deadly Game. In those two books the backstory really gets creepy.

    If I had to pick favorites, it would be those four.

  13. Barbie says:

    Okay so maybe its not only me who enjoys a good Romantic Suspense. Here I am at my computer thinking about what to say about this topic in particular.There is so much to say but I have so little time before my class starts and I have to study for my first exam of the fall semester. So let just say it like this : I heart [ insert cartoon heart] Romantic Suspense Books . I enjoy going into the shadow world , the characters and my top 3 authors on audio are ( of course) Sandra Brown, Linda Howard , and new to my list Elizabeth Lowell.

    In to shadow world we ( readers ) transport ourselves were topics like murder, sex, lies, secrets or as my Law Professor calls it Mrs. Ann Lamb
    ( Murder,Rape,Sodomy,Larceny,Arson,Mayhem,burglary) and many more acts happen in these books. While some authors like Susanne Brockmann ,Marie Force, ( just to name a few) choose talk about mil or army, lawyer in this world the authors I have read/heard stories about Spies, Thieves,Mercs. even business men get some action!
    I think ultimately it comes down to how the author’s perception of the situation, characters and our own perception/ acceptance of the shadow world. I am reminded of movies Cool Hand Luke and True Lies when I read these types of books.

    I enjoy books like this because Sometimes the Hero can turn out to be the villain and the villain can sometimes be the Hero. I enjoy reading about Antiheroes. I always end up wondering why in heaven does he have to act so so…. .
    Some of the heroines in these types of books are equally matched with heros. I say some because some turn out to be DiD ( damsels in distress). But for the most part they are not they are Chicks( sorry to the feminist out there) in Charge ready to fight ,sacrifice , or be the embodiment of the Warrior goddess, Earth Mother etc ( you choose) .They have a handle on their man, life and know what has to be done.
    Okay so I mentioned that my top authors are Sandra Brown, Linda Howard and Elizabeth Lowell.

    Under Sandra Brown- there are more books by her but I tend to space them out. I cant wait for her title.
    1. Tough Customer
    2. Envy
    3. Mirror Image
    4. Led Astray and Devil’s Own
    5. Smoke Screen

    Under Linda Howard- need to buy more of her books
    1. After the Night
    2. the perfect man

    under Elizabeth Lowell
    1. The Wrong hostage
    2. Blue Smoke and Murder
    3.Die in Plain Sight
    well my friends good luck good reads and tip your waiters .

  14. melinda says:

    I’m just going to speak up for LINDA HOWARD master of all things suspense + comedy (sometimes together – how awkward is that?):

    TO DIE FOR – suspense/comedy – ok, the book is much better than the audio because whatshername the narrator really didn’t do Blair’s character justice at all; but in general, I’d say it’s a great combination of suspense and comedy
    OPEN SEASON – suspense/comedy, even in the abridged version which at the moment is the only version I’ve heard (yeah, yeah, I’ll get around to the unabridged soon!)

    (I LOVE Mr. Perfect but haven’t heard it in audio, so I guess my vote would not count – Brenda, you do mean Mr Perfect and not The Perfect Man, right?)

    then for creepy suspense/drama (also LH)
    DEATH ANGEL – truly a marvel in character building and suspense – come on, when Angel looks out and sees whatshisname illuminated in a flash of lightning during a storm, you gotta feel her heart lurch and gut twist!

    then for sort of suspense and mostly romance:
    AFTER THE NIGHT – having grown up in south Louisiana, this story speaks to me even though none of the characters fit the profiles of anyone I ever knew. This is more of a Whodunnit than real “suspense” but there’s some twists and turns.

  15. Diana says:

    Ah, romantic suspense! I adore it and Linda Howard is my queen.

    Linda Howard…..
    Death Angel
    Cry No More
    Dream Man
    All the Queen’s Men
    After the NIght
    Son of the Morning
    Mackenzie’s Pleasure
    Kill and Tell
    Shades of Twilight
    Up Close and Dangerous

    Sandra Brown…..
    Play Dirty
    Smash Cut
    Tough Customer
    Smoke Screen

    Katherine Sutcliffe…..
    Darkling I Listen
    Bad Moon Rising

    Suz Brockmann…..
    Over the Edge

    Elizabeth Lowell…..
    Midnight in Ruby Bayou
    Pearl Cove

    Karen Rose…..
    Die for Me
    Scream for Me
    Kill for Me

    Anne Stuart…..
    Ice Blue
    Black Ice
    Fire and Ice
    Cold as Ice

    Tess Gerritsen…..
    The Surgeon

    JD Robb…..
    Naked in Death
    Innocent in Death
    Witness in Death

  16. Brenda says:

    I’ve probably missed the time frame to vote here but add my ticket to board the Linda Howard train, she is definitely the Queen when it comes to romantic suspense … even if the romance and suspense themes switch importance depending on the book.

    Dream Man
    After the Night
    Kill and Tell
    Mackenzie’s Pleasure
    To Die For
    Mr Perfect – Loved this one when it was released in audio back when, I now find the narrator lacking with Sam’s voice – but I’ll take what I can get until Natalie Ross gets to re do it – wishful thinking much? :)
    Open Season – both abridged and unabridged
    Up Close and Dangerous
    Kiss Me While I Sleep – another one that worked when it was released in audio in 2004 – Now I’m almost afraid to re-listen because I think I’ll ruin my fond memories.

    Then we have …..

    Anne Stuart – Fire and Ice

    Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalkers – All, but especially
    Night Game – Conspiracy Game – Street Game
    I also enjoyed her Drake Sisters series with Turbulent Sea being my favorite.

    Nora Roberts – The Search – many others but this one was the best.

    JD Robb – Any of them – most recently – Treachery In Death

    Brockmann – Out of Control and Over The Edge

    Elizabeth Lowell – Jade Island – Midnight In Ruby Bayou – Moving Target – Die In Plain Sight

    I can give a nod to Jayne Ann Krentz – Susan Andersen and Julie Garwood. Well Garwood’s first two and last three in “romantic suspense” but these authors are pure vanilla in comparison to the above.

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