A Chat with Anne Stuart & Giveaway of Consumed by Fire

consumed by fireAnne Stuart is switching gears again. In 2013 and 2014, we enjoyed her Scandals at the House of Russell series – a Historical Romance trilogy. Now, she’s taking us back to the Romantic Suspense genre with the release of Consumed by Fire which is scheduled for next Tuesday, May 26th. Oh boy, there is nothing like an Anne Stuart romantic suspense! Although I thoroughly enjoy her historical titles (oh yeah… House of Rohan series), I’m still partial to her edgy tales of suspense.

Anne graciously agreed to chat with us today and tell us all about it. And to make it all an official celebrationl we’re giving away five (5) MP3 copies of Consumed by Fire narrated by Jill Redfield.


The Giveaway

We’re giving away five (5) MP3 copies of Consumed by Fire. Entry is simple. Just complete the easy entry form found at the bottom of the page by midnight (CST) Monday, May 25th. No comments are necessary to enter although we’d love to hear your thoughts in our discussion area. You may only enter once – anyone entering more than once will be disqualified. We’ll contact winners on May 26th (the day of release) so watch your email as we must have acknowledgement of your win within 24 hours. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll select another winner. The giveaway is limited to those residing in the U.S.


Chatting with Anne

LEA  Hi Anne! Welcome back to AudioGals.

ANNE  Thanks, Lea. Great to be here!

LEA  The last time we talked with you was in 2013 upon the release of the first book in your Scandal at the House of Russell series. Can we take a minute to review that series with our listeners?

ANNE  Oh, I love that series. Three sisters who become domestics in order to find out who murdered their father. So much fun — a little Downton Abbey, a little Upstairs Downstairs. Xe Sands did the audio and she did a marvelous job!

LEA  Oh – we agree! Of course, anything Anne Stuart gets attention around here.

ANNE  Smooch!

ANNE  Amazon’s been very good to me. One of the reasons I signed with them was because they automatically do an audio version as well as physical and e-versions, and you know I’m an audio addict.

LEA  Yes – I think you were the first author I knew who listened as well!

ANNE  Really? I’m completely hooked.

LEA  Can you tell us more about your relationship with Amazon?

ANNE  Well, obviously the publishing is a very small cog in Amazon’s wheel (I went out to lunch with my editors when I was in Seattle last month and was agog) but they’re very dedicated and caring. You end up with two or three editors — the big honcho, the acquiring editor, and then they send the book out to a freelancer for the actual editing. I work with a wonderful woman named Charlotte Herscher and we’ve built up a great relationship over the four books we’ve done.

LEA  I understand that Brilliance is part of the larger Amazon family but operates as a separate entity. Does Brilliance or Audible Studios publish the audio version of your books?

Anne StuartANNE  Brilliance does, which I think is kind of strange, but they’re excellent. They ask me if I have a preference for narrator, and of course I always say Xe, though I have someone new this time and she’s very good. But you may want to talk about that later.

LEA  So, upfront, Amazon offers you as the author a print publication, eBook, and audiobook?

ANNE  Yes, all three. I don’t know if they have separate programs for just e-publishing but I suspect more of them are the triple format kind of contracts, at least for Montlake and Thomas and Mercer (their mystery arm).

LEA  As a listener, I always trust Brilliance to deliver quality audiobooks. You just don’t find many production errors and the narration is usually top notch. I’m not referring to any particular publishers here but the number of production errors we see sometimes surprises me. We don’t see that with Brilliance.

LEA  And that means a lot when you are investing the price of an audiobook.

ANNE  Interesting. I haven’t noticed a difference (as a consumer) but I was always aware of which publishers were to be trusted when I was just a reader.

ANNE  I’m lucky enough that all my audiobooks are tax deductible, so I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to price (Audible loves me).

ANNE  I like Tantor a lot — I think they do an excellent job.

LEA  Oh yes – Tantor is excellent – great romance selection. :)

ANNE  And, of course, Laura Kinsale’s productions are exquisite.

LEA  Kinsale’s audiobooks are now the standard that all others should follow – including publishers. She holds the “elite” title when it comes to excellence in audio direction, production, narration, and of course, writing. It just doesn’t get better for overall quality.

LEA  I think we notice trends by publishers, etc. more as we request review books from publishers.

LEA  So, I automatically think of audiobooks by publisher as well as author and narrator!

ANNE  Yup, that’s different from us listeners, I think.

LEA  And now we’re back to your Romantic Suspense titles (I must admit my personal favorite Stuart genre) with Consumed by Fire, which releases this next Tuesday – May 26th.

ANNE  My personal favorite too, though I love my historicals. But basically in my heart I think of myself as a romantic suspense writer.

LEA  Me too – as a reader/listener, I think first of your dark romantic suspense titles (aren’t they all!). :)

LEA  And now we have Consumed by Fire for our enjoyment – please tell us more!

ANNE  I’m really excited about this one! It’s an offshoot of the Ice series I did for Mira and in an indie production (On Thin Ice). This time the Committee is forming a branch in the US and our dastardly hero and his true love are basically taking a battling road trip in various RVs from Montana down to New Orleans. Though it starts out in Tuscany when they first meet and he betrays her. I have such lovely heroes!

ANNE  Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s the hero and who’s the villain in my books.

LEA  I was just about to ask you what awful thing your hero had done!!

LEA  And I love, love, love that mixing up of the hero and villain!

ANNE  Well, I tend to write Men Who Kill and Women Who Love Them. She’s an inadvertent witness to a hit, so he has to silence her. He does so by seducing her, natch!

LEA  Ah – yes! As only Anne Stuart can give us.

ANNE  It’s delicious if I do say so myself.

ANNE  Have we seen either Evangeline or James in your previous books?

ANNE  Nope, they’re brand new. The only cross-over is Peter Madsen at this point, and he’s only mentioned. Mira never wanted me to write more Ice books, and Amazon wanted something new but with the connection, so this has got the same feel and the same setup with an American rather than international twist. Except in the next book they’re back in the jungles of South America so I guess I have to take that back.

ANNE  I hope to bring in some of the old characters as the series moves along. I’ve just about finished the second one and the third one’s gonna be a corker!

LEA  So, this couple will have two books back to back?

LEA  Or three??

ANNE  Nope. Each book has a stand alone couple with the previous couples showing up in the next books (that was how the Ice books worked). I’m in awe of the books that carry a relationship through three or four books and make it slowly develop. I’d like to try that but I think I like sex and happy endings too much. Still, it would be a challenge since I do love to read them.

LEA  Well, I have to agree with the HEAs with each book.

LEA  I enjoy continuing series but the romance arc within one book is more satisfying to me.

ANNE  But people like Ilona Andrews make cliff-hangers so enticing. I guess as long as there’s room to grow in the relationship then it makes succeeding books fun. But stupid misunderstandings are annoying. Gotta be a real problem to the relationship.

ANNE  Or just not get it fully settled in the previous book.

LEA  I am a huge Ilona Andrews fan – and Jeanine Frost too. I hang on for the next book anxiously along with the other fans. But still – those HEAs are so nice.

ANNE  Sigh. I was just thinking about Renee Raudman and Mad Rogan. Yum!

LEA  Oh, Renee Raudman’s performance of Mad Rogan in Burn for Me – superb!! She is responsible for its inclusion in my Top Ten 2014 Listens over at Speaking of Audiobooks. Really great book turned into fabulous by the narrator.

LEA  Okay, back to Consumed by Fire and your other series – so the only cross-over is Peter Madsen from the Ice series?

ANNE  Yup, Peter tends to be the heart of all the Ice books – he always shows up in one form or the other.

LEA  Which book was HIS book?

Cold as IceANNE  His was Cold as Ice. He was the one who’d had sex with a man in the very first book, but he was the only possible hero of an offshoot (and the Ice books were my first series in 20 years — I hadn’t planned it as a series). So I had to work my way around that little wrinkle.

LEA  I remember now.

LEA  Well, you pulled it off with great style! Hardly felt a bump

ANNE  Cool. I figured women slept with people undercover all the time — why wouldn’t a man? And why only the opposite gender. Operatives are all about shadow lives and lies. It seemed logical.

LEA  I’m open to believing that!

LEA  We are used to seeing Xe Sands associated with your books. And I must admit, we were a little sad to not see her name on Consumed by Fire. But I hear very good things about Jill Redfield.

ANNE  Yes, I was quite distressed when I first saw the Xe wasn’t doing it (I’d requested her, of course) but Jill is really very good. She’s done the Sylvia Day Crossfire novels among other things, and does well with male and female characters. She’s done an excellent job of this, and on top of that, she’s the only one who knows how to pronounce Isobel Lambert’s name! I’d love to talk to her, but she’s very mysterious so I’m guessing it’s a pseudonym. Jill Redfield is a character in a well-known video game as well, so I’m thinking that’s where it came from. She probably records non-racy stuff under a different name but since I only listen to racy stuff, I can’t recognize her.

LEA  Understand. It is harder for me to pick up on similarities in narrators with different names but we have a few reviewers who have quite the ear for it.

ANNE  Someone told me (either an actor friend or someone on here) that some voice artists use pseudonyms for hot books, so I’m guessing that’s what Jill does.

LEA  Yeah, we see that quite often.

ANNE  But it’s a mystery.

LEA  We have an internal list of narrator pseudonyms (some are only educated guesses) but it’s not news we share. We understand that there is a reason for their decision to do such and we respect that. We try to only mention pseudonyms if the narrator has made it known publicly.

ANNE  Good. People should be allowed their privacy. Except, of course, when I want to glom onto all their stuff. I’d listen to Xe or Barbara Rosenblat do just about anything.

LEA  That’s the problem we have as listeners and you know that so well! We often buy by narrator rather than author!

LEA  And we want to know everything they have to offer.

ANNE  Yup. And sometimes they’re baaad.

LEA  Oh yeah.

ANNE  And it’s not the narrator’s fault.

LEA  Totally agree again.

LEA  Jill looks to be relatively new to narrating with twenty titles to her name over at Audible. But I’m very hopeful as she has earned an A and a B here at AudioGals. You better believe I’ll be finding out for myself as soon as Consumed by Fire is released.

ANNE  It’s wonderful, she says modestly.

ANNE  :>

LEA  And, always, we must ask about that lovely backlist you have just waiting for audio production. Any movement forward on that?

ANNE  Rats, no. I’m toying with the idea of recording a novella myself, just to see how it goes, since I have some acting experience, though I think I’d probably read it rather than perform it. I need to get some money together to do some on my own — Mary Jo Putney has done a good job with it and I think hasn’t lost money. I’d do it because I’m dying to relive the books in audio. Won’t be quite the same if it’s my voice, but I may experiment with that.

ANNE  “Some on my own” means with a real narrator. I’d just try the short one for grins. And it might very well be a disaster.

LEA  That’s news we love to hear! One thing we are sometimes concerned with on self-published titles is the author’s unfamiliarity with audio listening. Does a non-audio listener know what makes a good narrator? Well, that’s one thing we don’t have to worry about with you! As a long time audio fan, you understand what romance listeners want to hear.

ANNE  Yup, and I’ll know what sucks:)

LEA  Exactly!

ANNE  So I’d only put it out if it was decent quality

LEA  Last time we talked, you had just appeared in a theatrical production of The Music Man. Any other theater on your horizon?

ANNE  Ah, we’ve got Kiss Me Kate and Hamlet this summer. I’d love to do me some Hamlet — it’s my favorite Shakespeare.

LEA  So, what else is next for Anne Stuart? I mean – we have talked about your current RS series – a couple of plays – and possibly some audios of your backlist…

LEA  Anything else you want to share?!

ANNE  Oh, I’ve got so many things I want to write. After I finish this one, I’m diving into Brandon and Emma’s story from the Rohan family series – it’s long overdue. It’ll be an indie book but they’ve already waited too long. And I’ve got a stand-alone romantic suspense set in Spain with mistaken identity and lots of intrigue — it’s so cool. Plus a really neat idea for the next Fire book. So many books, so little time!

LEA  Wow – so much!! So, is Consumed by Fire Book 1 in the Fire series? Is that the name of the series?

ANNE  Yup, it’s the Fire series as opposed to the Ice series. Makes sense — America is young and fiery, Europe is old and icy. Though my heroes always tend to be a bit icy until you get beneath the first layer.

ANNE  And of course I need to free my Lucifer (a hero) in the Kristina Douglas series, so that’ll be another indie when I have the time. That’s the great thing about indie publishing — beloved series don’t have to die. At least beloved by me.

ANNE  It’s funny because my husband of 40 years is an absolute pussycat.

ANNE  It’s having a great man like him that allows me to explore really dark fantasies.

LEA  Oh, isn’t that the way of it?

LEA  When can listeners expect the next entry in the Fire series?

ANNE  Unfortunately I’m late turning it in due to an injury (frozen shoulder and I couldn’t type) so I’m thinking six months at least.

ANNE  But I’m writing as fast as I can!

LEA  Oh no! Hope that has improved!

ANNE  Enough so I can type, not enough to use a rotary cutter for making quilts (or slicing veggies)

ANNE  But it’s slowly getting better.

LEA  Well, sounds like you will continue to have plenty to entertain us – Fire series or not.

ANNE  I’ve got so many books I want to write that I’ll be writing until I’m 108 (I had a great aunt who lived that long, and health care is better now). I’m never gonna stop.

LEA  Sounds good to me!

LEA  Thanks for joining us today.

LEA  We always love having you here with us.

ANNE  My pleasure! The AudioGals have a special place in my heart!


Time to Enter

Lea Hensley

Infinity + One by Amy Harmon

infinity plus oneNarrated by Tavia Gilbert

I’m always pleased to see new Amy Harmon books available as audiobooks. The fact that Tavia Gilbert narrates many of them is an added bonus. So, it was only natural for me to choose Infinity + One for review. The magic of Ms. Harmon’s writing paired with Ms. Gilbert’s incredibly skilled narration is a combination I can’t resist.

Bonnie Rae Shelby is twenty-one and ready to end her life. The crossover country star is tired of the gilded cage in which her manager, who also happens to be her grandmother, keeps her. Bonnie wants to live life on her own terms, and, if she can’t do that, then perhaps life isn’t really all that worth living. Read the rest of this entry »

Love and Other Dangerous Chemicals by Anthony Capella

Love and Other Dangerous ChemicalsNarrated by Simon Vance and Kate Reading

As anyone who reads my book and audio reviews regularly will know, a foray into contemporary romances/chick-lit is a very rare event for me! But when I was scouring Audible for something new to listen to, I stumbled across Love and Other Dangerous Chemicals, which had attached to it the names of not just one but TWO of what I call my phone-book narrators (i.e., people I’d listen to if they were reading the telephone directory!), and I couldn’t resist it.

In his gently humorous author’s note at the beginning, author Anthony Capella tells the listener how he came Read the rest of this entry »

What a Reckless Rogue Needs by Vicky Dreiling

What a RecklessNarrated by Elizabeth Jasicki

Colin Brockhurst, Earl of Ravenshire has a problem. His father has informed him he is going to sell a family property if Colin doesn’t get married in the next six weeks. Colin had always thought he would inherit the property; he spent his early years there and it’s where his mother is buried. Now his father is telling him that he has to get leg shackled or else lose the family home.

Colin returns home, determined to show his father why he deserves Sommerall. Only he runs into a snag. The snag, or Lady Angeline Brenham (the bane of his early existence) and her family, are staying at his father’s house for a family house party. His father Read the rest of this entry »

First Chapter Listen – Shannon McKenna’s Behind Closed Doors & a Giveaway!

Behind Closed DoorsIn 2002, Shannon McKenna released Behind Closed Doors, the first in her McCloud Brothers romantic suspense series. The beginning to this promising series was discussed all over romance-land with the author winning AAR’s Best New Author Award in their 2003 Annual Reader Poll.

On her website, Ms. McKenna describes the series (which now has thirteen entries), “Some of my novels are loosely linked by the adventures of the McCloud brothers and their many friends, though each book can be enjoyed independently.” To describe more fully what you can find within the McCloud Brothers series, think tough alpha heroes – highly skilled in all aspects of security. I know, we see it everywhere these days – one romantic suspense after another featuring buff, in-charge, incredibly skilled men making money in some aspect of protection services. But in 2002, it felt new and seemed like such a different combination – a love story almost overshadowed by the mystery and very hot scenes that reached into the erotic category. We hadn’t yet experienced Anne Stuart’s Ice series and it was all just a bit unconventional.

Cruising Tantor’s Coming Soon titles a couple of months ago, I discovered five of the McCloud Brothers books scheduled for audio release over the summer and I just had to know how they would stand up today, especially with characters such as Seth Mackey, surveillance expert supreme and hero of Behind Closed Doors, telling Raine (the heroine), “I am not a nice guy and never pretended to be one.” And he really is not a nice guy. Really, truly. But he’s not the villain either. And although Seth seems to hold all the power in the beginning, that changes over the course of the book.

So, how does it compare to those security laden romantic suspenses all over the place today? I have no idea but you better believe I’m checking it out. In fact, I’m listening as I prepare this event. Narrated by new-to-me Nelson Hobbs, I’m enjoying his performance. Beyond that, I’m reserving my thoughts for later!

Back in 2002, I graded it an A and had this to say in my summation, “Somehow, the author has developed an intriguing edge in Behind Closed Doors that is difficult to define, but captivating nonetheless.” I’m wondering how that will feel in 2015.


The Giveaway

We’re giving away five download copies of Behind Closed Doors courtesy of Tantor Audio. Entry is simple. Just complete the easy entry form found at the bottom of the page by midnight (CST) Friday, May 22nd. No comments are necessary to enter although we’d love to hear your thoughts in our discussion area. You may only enter once – anyone entering more than once will be disqualified. We’ll contact winners on May 23rd so watch your email as we must have acknowledgement of your win within 24 hours. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll select another winner.


First Chapter Listen




Time to Enter


We’ll run a review of Behind Closed Doors within the next two weeks. If you listen before that time, we’d love for you to share your thoughts here.


Lea Hensley

Introducing AudioGals Reviewer Lisa!

Lisa's iconWelcome to our newest reviewer – Lisa Finch!

Working with Lisa the last few weeks as we prepared for her introduction and her first review, I found my initial enthusiasm only increased with each discussion we had. Lisa knows books – both from personal reading and working with books for years now. She’s a long time audiobook listener and began listening when she was a teenager. Her first audiobook? Danielle Steele’s Thurston House in cassette tape format!

Although we pride ourselves on our reviewers’ variety of tastes, I believe Lisa will add yet more diversity to the reviews we offer each month. AudioGals has a page dedicated to her under Gal Read the rest of this entry »

The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

The Dress Shop of DreamsNarrated by Jennifer Carr

There could not have been a better narrator for this magical little audiobook than Jennifer Carr. She cast her own spell on this enchanting story with her lovely voice and crisp British accent. Her narration was a perfect combination of age appropriate and gender realistic for each character.

Cora Sparks is a pragmatic scientist. At 25 years old, she has never been in love, and has never wanted to be. Following in the footsteps of her parents, her life revolves entirely around her work in the field of scientific research. She has not time nor patience for any nonsense that might get in the way of her research mission. Her heart was closed to love when Read the rest of this entry »

Older posts «