Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor

Worth the FallNarrated by Johanna Parker

I’ve had the print version of Worth the Fall on my TBR since it was first released after I saw a tweet from Shannon Stacey recommending it. Alas, I have been defeated by the TBR of Doom so when I saw the audiobook come up for review, I requested it.

Abbie Davis is a pregnant, widowed mother of four (that is, four in addition to the bun in the oven). Her parents died when she was very young and she grew up in a series of foster homes. Her husband wasn’t much of a husband; he was too devoted to his job and making money. He was also a serial cheater. Read the rest of this entry »

Veiled Innocence by Ella Frank

Veiled InnocenceNarrated by Chelsea Hatfield and J.F. Harding

Veiled Innocence is a classic forbidden love story, featuring a high school student and her teacher, with a suspense-filled twist. But that’s where the stereotypical comparisons end. There is a lot more than what first meets the eye, and what you would generally expect from a similar themed story.  In fact, by the end, all of my initial impressions were proven wrong. Yes, of course you get a good dose of the guilty pleasure of listening to a clandestine affair that most consider taboo. It’s the underlying suspense, however, that turns this romance into an intriguing puzzle, that you will need to put together one piece at a time, making it a true gem. So kudos to Ms. Frank for crafting a truly clever and intricate plot to Read the rest of this entry »

Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh

Only EnchantingNarrated by Rosalyn Landor

Only Enchanting is the fourth book in Ms. Balogh’s Survivors Club series. It stands very well on its own, but did make me more than a little curious about the characters featured in previous books. We meet them all here, and are given glimpses into the happiness they’ve found, but I definitely want more.

Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, came back from the Napoleonic wars a changed man. Not only does he stammer, but he’s prone to violent fits of temper. After spending time in Cornwall to learn to cope with these ailments, Flavian is much better than he was when he first returned home. His stammer is still present, but far less noticeable, and he is better able to control his Read the rest of this entry »

The Gals Best 2014 Romance Listens

What are the Gals Best Romance Listens from 2014? We asked all of our reviewers to join in this year and choose their top three romance listens. Although some of us chose the same audio, the selections still vary greatly and you’ll find twenty-three Best of 2014 listens on this year’s list.

Lord of Scoundrels lg

1. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Narrated by Kate Reading

Lord of Scoundrels (LOS) was overwhelmingly the number one audiobook of the year at AudioGals with seven of us choosing it as one of our Best of 2014 listens.

Brenda – After so many years of pining for this Loretta Chase classic – then nervously biting my nails wondering who the narrator would be – then counting down the days for the release Lord of Scoundrels – it was a dream come true. A flawless narration by Kate Reading, she didn’t miss the smallest nuance of attitude, feeling, or personalities and brought the much loved written word to life perfectly. It was indeed a dream come true listen. Released only two months into the year, I knew unless a miracle occurred, LOS was going to be my absolute favorite listen of 2014.

BJ - The combination of Kate Reading’s off the charts narration and the fantastic chemistry between this witty couple, make Lord of Scoundrels a must listen for all romance audiobook lovers. I would classify LOS as a must listen classic.

Kaetrin – One of my favourite historical romances, the choice of Kate Reading for narrator made this a delight to listen to. The characterisations were superb and the story is still a delight.

Caz – Given that we’ve just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first publication of Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels, it seems fitting to mention that first.  The story is a perennial favourite, a wonderfully witty yet deeply insightful romance in which the author turns a number of tropes on their heads as she tells the story of a seriously mixed-up young man whose miserable childhood has left him believing himself to be unlovable and the determined young woman who turns his life and everything he had believed about himself upside down. Thankfully, Blackstone Audio chose an incredible narrator to bring this beloved book to life, and Kate Reading does it proud and then some.  Her performance is nothing short of masterful; the characterisations are brilliant and she has a wonderful way with Ms Chase’s dry wit and deadpan humour.

Jessica – I loved the audio because Kate Reading performed both of our lead characters with great skill, highlighting their nuances (the sassy yet proper Jessica and the disenchanted then frustrated Lord Dain). I don’t speak Italian, but Reading sounded authentic and Dain seductive when he spoke to Jessica.

Melinda – Chase’s writing and storytelling are superb – she is a craftsman and an artist with words, her characters finely detailed, her plotting perfection personified. This has long been a book we have all wished for fervently in audio, and thank the audio gods, it has been recorded by one of the very best narrators – Kate Reading.

Lea - At the top of my wish list for years, I was thrilled to see Lord of Scoundrels not only released in audio format but superbly performed and produced! It’s a romance audio enthusiast’s dream come true and I knew when listening that it would become an audio romance classic. And the proof is in – listeners love it!

 

It Happened One Wedding lg2. It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

Narrated by Karen White

Our number two Best 2014 Listen was It Happened One Wedding with three of our reviewers including it in their top three.

Diana – Julie James writes some of the best contemporary romances out there.  Her characters are real, charming, and witty and her writing flows so beautifully.  Karen White knows James’ writing well and nails the comedic timing perfect every time.

Melinda – It Happened One Wedding is the epitome of everything I love about romance audiobooks. It’s a stellar story by Julie James rendered with perfect delivery by Karen White. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love with them all. Thank you, Julie and Karen, for making my whole weekend. Maybe my whole year.

Carrie – Julie James and Karen White are another great author/narrator pairing. James writes well-rounded characters and great dialogue. White’s narrative style makes the listener feel like a good friend is telling them the story.

 

Our number three Best Listen is a tie between Karina Halle’s Sins and Needles and Jeaniene Frost’s Up from the Grave.

 

Sins and Needles3. Sins and Needles by Karina Halle

Narrated by Veronica Den

Shannon – This first book in the Artists trilogy captures everything I love in a good book. The plot was riveting. The characters were well-developed and grew throughout the story. Ms. Halle did a wonderful job creating characters who are flawed, broken, and incredibly real. The narration of Ms. Den was nearly perfect.

BJ - (BJ actually chose the entire series) Without a doubt, the Artists trilogy this is one of the most memorable romantic suspense series I have ever listened to or read!  Karina Halle’s fresh, edgy style kept me on my toes throughout. I became so addicted to this series, that I could not stop until I had finished all four books–the three books in the trilogy and the prequel, On Every Street. The narration got better and better as the series went on too, so much so, that the narrators’ voices became synonymous in my head with the characters.

 

Up from the Grave3. Up from the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

Jessica – Up from the Grave isn’t my favorite of the Night Huntress novels, but it does wrap up the ongoing story well and left me feeling satisfied with the ending and the future in store for Cat and Bones. Tavia Gilbert delivers yet again and I was wrapped up in the story completely.

Megan – The final Bones and Cat. This pick for me was really because of how Ms Gilbert immortalized this series – pun intended.

 

Our other Best of 2014 Listens are listed in alphabetical order by author.

 

Burn for MeBurn for Me by Ilona Andrews

Narrated by Renee Raudman

Lea - A new series from the Andrews/Raudman team! Love, love, love. With superb worldbuilding, heart-pounding suspense, and outstanding narration, I’m completely vested in Nevada and Rogan’s relationship although we only see the beginnings here. Renee brings every little detail to life, fleshes out each character, highlights each bit of humor perfectly, and her pacing for the suspense scenes only adds to the excitement.

 

 

Magic Breaks AudioMagic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Narrated by Renee Raudman

Brenda – As I’m totally invested in the Kate Daniels series, the seventh entry, Magic Breaks, wins out over Andrews’ other (high on my list) 2014 release, Burn For Me. Both titles are narrated by the amazing Renee Raudman. In Magic Breaks, the initial story arc is finally played out which was gratifying to experience while leaving open very interesting possibilities making the listen totally engrossing. A winner in the quest for the top three of 2014 for sure.

 

The Gamble lgThe Gamble by Kristen Ashley
Narrated by Emma Taylor

Brenda – Emma Taylor, with her supposedly (how would I know?) not quite British accent (as Nina was written), added a new dimension to my pleasure in listening. She nailed the rest of the large cast as well but Nina and Holt were the standouts as they were meant to be in this audio release. I’ve listened to all of KA’s available titles and I understand her “you never know what’s around the corner” addictive appeal but Emma Taylor took her words and bumped this title from just another KA book to one of my top three listens in 2014. She didn’t miss a beat and I loved all 25+ hours of it from start to finish.

 

Lady LuckLady Luck by Kristen Ashley

Narrated by Emma Taylor

BJ – I came late to the Kristen Ashley party but she has quickly become one of my top favorite authors. Lady Luck has all of the characteristics you associate with a KA story: a sexy, alpha hero, a strong minded heroine who can’t help but get herself in a bit of trouble, witty humor, suspense, and fantastic chemistry between the hero and heroine as well as non-stop action. Additionally, Emma Taylor’s narration is the best I have ever listened to in a KA audiobook, making this my favorite “whole package” KA audiobook so far!

 

Night Broken lgNight Broken by Patricia Briggs

Narrated by Lorelei King

Kaetrin – I’m a fan of the Mercy Thompson series; Mercy is brave, funny and kick-ass and Adam Hauptmann is all kinds of awesome. I love the way Ms. King delivers Adam’s growly voice and I adore the connection between Mercy and Adam, something which comes across clearly on audio.

 

 

Out of Control latestOut of Control by Suzanne Brockmann

Narrated by Patrick Lawlor and Melanie Ewbank

LeaOut of Control is one of my all time favorites in print format and I was thrilled to see it released in audio format with a talented team of narrators. A multi-romance novel which totally satisfies on every level, it also introduces my favorite Brockmann couple ever – Jones and Molly. It’s an involved storyline without a boring moment during its seventeen hours.

 

 

carnal-giftCarnal Gift by Pamela Clare

Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

Jessica – Pamela Clare always delivers an entertaining yet romantic story. She adds a fair amount of violence which makes it less sweet and more realistic. Kaleo Griffith does a beautiful job – voices are distinctive with accents that match the characters’ homelands and upbringings.

 

 

 

Air Bound lgAir Bound by Christine Feehan

Narrated by Phil Gigante

Diana – Phil Gigante has mad skills when it comes to narration with a particular talent for accents. He can perform a British woman and then a Russian male and make me believe they are two separate people. Combine this extraordinary talent with Feehan’s magically suspense filled story and you have a winner of an audiobook.

 

 

Written in My Own Heart's BloodWritten in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

Narrated by Davina Porter

Melinda – I was pleased that MOBY was an incredibly fascinating story without the narrow plot twists and turns and non-stop heart-racing adventure of the original Outlander. Once again, Davina Porter was magic with Gabaldon’s world. Her narration skills are superb, with pacing and accents and such making it a true joy to listen to.

 

 

A Different Blue lgA Different Blue by Amy Harmon

Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

Shannon – A magical story about a young woman’s search for the secrets of her past. Ms. Harmon’s prose is eloquent, and Ms. Gilbert’s narration brings it to life. Everything about this book was beautiful.

 

 

 

How to Run with a Naked WerewolfHow to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Narrated by Amanda Ronconi

Carrie – I’ve loved Harper’s lighter take urban fantasy genre from the first book I listened to, How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf. Pairing Harper’s well-written and entertaining stories with Amanda Ronconi’s slightly snarky narration is genius. I’ve never been disappointed in a Molly Harper audiobook.

 

 

VenetiaVenetia by Georgette Heyer

Narrated by Phillida Nash

Carrie – I could list a dozen books by Heyer as a “Best of the Year,” every year. Georgette Heyer on audio, especially with the original narrators, are fantastic. Phillida Nash is excellent and delivers the story with impeccable style. Venetia has a different kind of heroine than most Regency romances and Lord Damerel is the perfect foil for her determined plans.

 

 

Sight UnseenSight Unseen by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers

Diana – I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Sight Unseen. Normally I don’t listen to suspense titles – I’m a weeny! – but this book captivated and kept me glued to my headphones. The heroine was like Sherlock Holmes; I loved how she knew things about a person based on observing them. And Rodgers! She had the perfect tone for suspense, keeping pace with the tension in the story very well.

 

 

Uncertain Magic

Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Caz – I can’t pick my audiobook favorites without mentioning Laura Kinsale and Nicholas Boulton. I believe his other commitments contributed to the fact that we didn’t get many new audiobooks from this talented team in 2014, but what we got was still amazing. While I enjoyed listening to Lessons in French very much, I’m going to pick Uncertain Magic as my final choice. It’s not a book I’m familiar with, so I had no idea what to expect, but I was absolutely gripped by the story, which is a wonderful blend of history, romance and mystery with a touch of the mythical about it. Mr Boulton’s performance is every bit as good as we’ve come to expect – his mastery of every aspect of the performance is a thing of beauty, but even more importantly, he finds the emotional heart of the story and the characters, making this a truly unforgettable listen.

 

the suffragette scandalThe Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Caz – The superb author/narrator team of Courtney Milan and Rosalyn Landor takes up another of my top spots. I named The Suffragette Scandal as my favourite book of 2014, and it’s also one of my favourite audiobooks of the year. All the books in Ms Milan’s Brothers Sinister series have been splendidly narrated by Ms Landor, who has a true affinity for this sort of material and an amazing ability to get into the heads of the characters and under their skins, making any of the audiobooks in this series an exceptionally good listen. But The Suffragette Scandal edges in front of the others in the series by a nose. Not only is it an extraordinary story, featuring two very distinctive and unusual protagonists, it’s performed by a hugely talented narrator who expertly captures every subtlety and nuance of the story and the writing.

 

one plus oneOne Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Narrated by Elizabeth Bower, Ben Elliot, Nicola Stanton, Steven France

Megan – Team-narrated, One Plus One is an ensemble performance evoking an Indie film.

 

 

 

 

Song of the FirefliesSong of the Fireflies by J.A. Redmerski

Narrated by Douglas Berger and Chelsea Hatfield

Shannon – This was such a complex love story. I loved the author’s view of true love. It’s truly unconditional, something that’s only hinted at in most romances. Here, we’re shown what it means to love another person, even when it isn’t easy or in our best interest. Both Ms. Hatfield and Mr. Berger are talented performers, who breathed life into scenes and characters in such a way as to make it seem effortless.

 

One SummerOne Summer by Karen Robards

Narrated by Anna Fields

Megan – Classic comfort listen I’d bring to my desert isle.

 

 

 

 

 

his at nightHis at Night by Sherry Thomas

Narrated by Kate Reading

Kaetrin – This is my favorite Sherry Thomas book and I was so pleased when I saw Kate Reading was narrating, especially after her magnificent performance of Lord of Scoundrels. There is some brilliant slapstick humour, along with delicious romance featuring a couple who, for various reasons, have had to hide their vulnerabilities for many years. That’s Kaetrin’s catnip right there.

 

 

Best 2014 Listens by Reviewer

 

BJ

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Artists Trilogy by Karina Halle

Lady Luck by Kristen Ashley

 

Brenda

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

The Gamble by Kristen Ashley

 

Carrie

How To Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Venetia by Georgette Heyer

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

 

Caz

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale

 

Diana

Air Bound by Christine Feehan

Sight Unseen by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

 

Jessica

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Up from the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare

 

Kaetrin

His at Night by Sherry Thomas

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

 

Lea

Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

 

Megan

One Summer by Karen Robards

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Up from the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

 

Melinda

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

 

Shannon

Song of the Fireflies by J.M. Redmerski

A Different Blue by Amy Harmon

Sins and Needles by Karina Halle

 

Lots of good listening this past year! My list of Top Ten Listens of 2014 at Speaking of Audiobooks was published earlier this month so you might want to check that out as well.

Now it’s time for you to share with us. What were your best 2014 romance listens?

 

Lea Hensley

Raine Falling by Paula Marinaro

Raine FallingNarrated by Will Damron and Jill Redfield

Originally published under the title Game Changer, Raine Falling is the first book in Paula Marinaro’s Hells Saints Motorcycle Club series. After listening to and falling totally in love with Joanna Wyld’s Reaper series, I was eager to read a MC romance by a different author. Perhaps I thought the charm would wear off. Luckily, it did not, and I now have a new motorcycle club to swoon over.

Raine Winston grew up way too fast. At the tender age of eight, she was practically raising her younger sister. Her mother had died, and her father was too wrapped up in his own grief to properly look after his two little girls. So, Raine stepped up, and, with the Read the rest of this entry »

Stay by Allie Larkin

StayNarrated by Julia Whelan

I’m not sure if the Internet stalkers were targeting me or not, but a search at Audible for audiobooks narrated by Julia Whelan put Stay on the front page – no matter that it’s from 2010. The cover has a great dog on it because it’s about a woman who gets a German Shepherd for a companion, and hey! I’m a woman who recently got a German Shepherd! Of course, I had to read it.

Stay has chick-lit bones but it’s pure romance, complete with a satisfying HEA, which I was a little worried about when I read the Amazon reviews. Savannah “Van” Leone has been in love with Peter since the moment they met – too bad Peter has been in love with Van’s best friend, Jane, since the moment she introduced them. And so, in the vein of great contemporary romances, she finds herself at the wedding as the bridesmaid, not the bride, dressed in hideous orange (mistake at the dressmakers!). Even Jane’s quasi-evil mother knows Van’s heart Read the rest of this entry »

Wicked by Jennifer Armentrout

wicked armentroutNarrated by Amy Landon

Everyone show my home girl some love! Not that I know Jennifer Armentrout personally but she is from West Virginia—my home state—so I have to give her a shout out whenever I can. Unfortunately, Wicked wasn’t set in our home state, but in New Orleans, which is another area filled with wonderfulness and weirdness in spades.

Ivy Morgan is not your ordinary college student. Instead of spending her nights partying with frat boys however, she spends her nights hunting down and killing Fae. As a member of the Order, it’s her job to protect humans, ignorant of the Other world and its creatures, from being food for the Fae. It’s not an easy Read the rest of this entry »

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