An Interview with Rachel Grant – and a giveaway!

I discovered Rachel Grant’s romantic suspense novels last year, thanks to a DIK review of Cold Evidence by one of my fellow reviewers at All About Romance. The blend of smart, independent heroine and sexy, ex-military hero is a familiar one, but what really intrigued me – a self-confessed history geek – was the fact that the heroine was a military historian/marine archaeologist. I picked up a couple of the earlier books in the series, and then reviewed the audiobook of Covert Evidence here at AudioGals, awarding high grades for both narration and content. Ms. Grant’s ability to craft a compelling and complex plot with high action content AND combine that with a satisfying, sexy romance captured my attention from the first book of hers I read, and I now count myself among her fans. Her latest book, Tinderbox (review here) is the first in her new Flashpoint series, which is set in the extremely troubled, unstable region of the Horn of Africa – and it’s not an exaggeration to say that she had me on the edge of my seat once or twice while I was listening to it. I was delighted to be able to chat to her about her work in general, and about what’s coming up next. Plus, two lucky winners will get Audible.com codes to get their very own copy of Tinderbox. Be sure to enter the Giveaway at the end of the interview!

Caz: Welcome to AudioGals, Rachel.

Rachel Grant: Thank you so much for inviting me, Caz! I’ve been a fan of this site ever since I discovered it when my first audiobook, Concrete Evidence, was reviewed here.

Caz: That’s great – thank you! We love what we do here and always like knowing that others enjoy it, too.

It’s no secret that I’m real a history geek, so I absolutely love the way you’ve incorporated elements of history and archaeology into your books. I know that your background is in those subjects – could you tell us a little more about that, and how it came about that you have ended up writing romantic suspense novels? Read the rest of this entry »

Tinderbox by Rachel Grant

Tinderbox by Rachel GrantNarrated by Greg Tremblay

I discovered Rachel Grant’s romantic suspense novels less than a year ago, and have been hooked ever since. I’ve read and listened to several of the titles in her Evidence series, all of them tightly-plotted thrillers interwoven with a nicely steamy romance featuring intelligent, sassy heroines and gorgeous, alpha-male heroes. The author makes excellent use of her own background in history and archaeology in her books, which are extremely well researched both in terms of the locations in which they are set, and the technological and specialist detail which add so much interest and depth to the stories. Tinderbox, the first book in her new Flashpoint series is no different. Read the rest of this entry »

Currently Playing for the Gals, 24th March 2017

Woman listening

We look forward to our chats about what we’re listening to each week – we squee over the good and sigh over the not-so-good, tap each other up for ideas for future listens and generally gossip about what’s making our ears happy. Here’s what we’re listening to this week.

BJ

Royally Matched by Emma Chase

Narrated by Andi Arndt and Shane East

 

Caz

Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase

Narrated by Kate Reading

 

Kaetrin

Close to You by Kristen Proby

Narrated by Arielle De Lisle and Roger Wayne

 

Melinda

Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

Narrated by Karen White

 

Shannon

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutoski

Narrated by Justine Eyre

AudioGals earns commissions on purchases made through links to Amazon.com in this post.

Tell us in the comments what’s in YOUR ears this week!

Park Avenue Prince by Louise Bay

Park Avenue Prince by Louise BayNarrated by Andi Arndt and Sebastian York

The hits (and near-misses) just keep coming from Louise Bay, with a new story in what isn’t labeled a series but features some characters from a previous book (The King of Wall Street, Max and Harper). (Sounds like a series to me, by the way.) While Max was the King, Sam Shaw is the Park Avenue Prince – he wasn’t born into money, he grew up with nothing, not even a family, and made his billions on his own, going from retail sales to real estate. Now he’s the owner of a few buildings in Manhattan, and this new swanky condo on Park Avenue. Because success to him doesn’t include “collecting” anything that doesn’t increase in value Read the rest of this entry »

Before Midnight by Jennifer Blackstream

Before Midnight by Jennifer BlackstreamNarration by Matt Addis

Before Midnight is the debut book in the paranormal romance series, Blood Prince, featuring five blood princes (a werewolf, a vampire, a demon, an angel, and a god) who control their own kingdoms in overlapping space but each of whom plays a part in the overarching suspense arc of the series. Each story features a retelling of a different fairy tale and contains its own standalone romance. Moreover, for audiobook lovers, I’m delighted to say that Matt Addis’ narration was fabulous! While the entire series is currently available in e-book format, so far only the first three books have been recorded and released in audiobook format (all of which I’m pleased to say are performed by Mr. Addis). Read the rest of this entry »

One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy

One Week Girlfriend by Monica MurphyNarrated by Kate Rudd and Luke Daniels

Originally published 29 Jan 2014

I have a confession to make. I started One Week Girlfriend in print a couple months ago and for whatever reason, I wasn’t in the zone so I put it aside. I hoped I’d fare better on audio. After my recent experience with Kate Rudd’s narration, I was even more hopeful.

Fable Maguire is a 20-year-old waitress with a bad reputation, living in a college town. While her reputation is worse than the reality, she’s also not a closet virgin either and I liked the way her (actual) sexual experience was neither lauded nor demonised. Drew Callahan is the quarterback for the college football team, 21, and terrified of going home to Carmel for Thanksgiving. He offers Fable $3,000 to go home with him and pretend to be his girlfriend for one week. No sex required; he’s not buying a prostitute – he’s paying her for her time only. But they will have to make it look good for his dad and stepmother, so Fable needs to be prepared for hand-holding, hugs, and maybe some kissing. Read the rest of this entry »

Men of Romance Audiobooks: The Gals Discuss

AudioGals logoMelinda: On March 25, Men of Romance Audiobooks will talk to the Virginia Festival of the Book – narrator Andi Arndt has gathered a group of male narrators to talk about creating performances that carry romance listeners from first blush to happily ever after – one of our favorite topics, right, Gals? Who are some of your favorite male narrators, or should I say, Ear Boyfriends?

 

Caz: I’ve got to start by saying that while there are some really great male narrators of romance out there, THERE AREN’T ENOUGH OF THEM! Earlier, BJ said she often felt that male narrators couldn’t always perform the female characters to her satisfaction and Shannon had similar concerns – whereas with a few exceptions, I would generally prefer to listen to a man who is more likely to sound masculine enough to portray the hero than to a woman who isn’t able to sound suitably/relatively “manly”.

 

Kaetrin: I tend to prefer female narrators as well. I agree with BJ that it seems easier (or at least more likely to be successful) for a female narrator to deliver a good male voice than the other way around.

 

Tangled by Emma ChaseBJ: That’s not to say I dislike male narrators – for instance, I would put Alex Wyndham in the best in class category for Historical Romance. And there’s one male narrator who I consider above average but whose one top performance definitely comes to mind: Sebastian York in Emma Chase’s Tangled. I think he nailed the hero’s character (Drew), a cocky investment banker whose sarcastic humor sounded like it was written for his voice!

 

Melinda: Yes, I’m really enjoying the combination of York reading Chase. He really does get the humor in her writing, and portrays it wonderfully!

 

Caz: Agreed on that. I listened to Tangled recently, and loved it. Sebastian York really has cornered the market on the sexy, alpha guy’s PoV stories à la Chase and Lauren Blakely, to name just two. There’s just something about that laid-back almost drawl of his…

 

Shannon: I’m a huge fan of York’s voice, but his female depictions don’t quite do it for me. People like Nicholas Bolton, Holter Graham, and Jim Frangione are the ones who fill my heart with joy.

 

Man Candy by Melanie HarlowKaetrin: I think Sebastian York has vastly improved his female character voices since his early narrations. I can’t help but think this is something he’s actively worked on. And to Wyndham and York, I’d add Nicholas Boulton, Shane East, and, my most recent “discovery”, Lee Samuels (who I recently rated highly in Melanie Harlow’s Man Candy).

 

Glitterland by Alexis HallCaz: I’m with Kaetrin on Wyndham, Boulton and York, but haven’t heard the others mentioned. Nicholas Boulton would make my top five – his recordings of Laura Kinsale’s books are real highlights in the genre, but he’s incredibly versatile, too. His narration of Alexis Hall’s Glitterland is – quite simply – brilliant (and is up for an Audie this year.) Listening, as I do, to historicals around 90% of the time, the choices are really limited when it comes to finding books read by men. I’ve enjoyed many of Simon Prebble’s romance narrations, but he’s “retired” from the genre now, so other than Nick Boulton and Alex Wyndham, my go-to chap is Derek Perkins, who is someone I know I can always rely on for an excellent all-round performance. James Langton is another favourite, although his female voices can sometimes be a bit problematic. But that goes back to what I said at the beginning, which is that I’m prepared to sacrifice a bit on the women’s voices (unless they’re really dreadful) in favour of listening to a hero I find believable and attractive! (Yeah, I’m shallow…)

 

Shannon: Caz has definitely picked a winner with Derek Perkins. His voice makes me practically swoon whenever I listen to him. His performance of Kerrigan Byrne’s The Highwayman is truly masterful.

 

Caz: I’m so glad you think so, Shannon – I think he’s just got better and better over the last few years, and I’d definitely put him on my “A” list of narrators.

 

Melinda: Agreed, all of those are great! I would add Patrick Lawlor reading romantic suspense by Suzanne Brockmann. And Kaleo Griffith reading Pamela Clare! Both of them are great at making me feel the urgency of the suspense angle, as well as doing the sex scenes just right. Both are a bit inconsistent in delivering women’s voices, though – sometimes spot on, sometimes not. Still, lots of great choices!

 

Shannon: Melinda, you’re totally right about Kaleo Griffith. I love the way he emotes. He excels at making me really feel every scene, which is difficult for any narrator to do. I admit, I’m picky about male narrators in romance. I want them to do female voices without using falsetto, and that’s not something I hear a ton of.

 

The Fulfillment by LaVyrle SpencerLea: I’d add Will Damron to the list. Rarely do I pre-purchase an audiobook but when LaVyrle Spencer’s The Fulfillment was released, I did so knowing he would deliver this old romance decently. Often when an old favorite is finally released in audio, the listener is ultimately disappointed in the narration but not so here. I was completely satisfied with his performance of this Spencer oldie.

 

BJ: In general, I tend to enjoy male narrators when they perform the hero/male PoV in a dual narration with a female narrator who performs the parts of the book from the heroine’s PoV. There are also a number of male narrators who perform romantic suspense very well. For example, Melinda mentions Patrick Lawlor who narrates Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series – he’s really good in those.

 

Caz: This is true. I recently listened to a new-to-me narrator, Greg Tremblay, in a romantic suspense story (Tinderbox by Rachel Grant) and he was absolutely superb.

 

Melinda: Shannon brings up falsetto – actually, that’s my biggest pet peeve. When a male narrator slips into “head voice”, I think he sounds like Julia Child – arg! I’m a fan of the men just slightly raising the pitch and maybe changing the tone to indicate women. One of my first favorite male narrations wasn’t romance, but actor Will Patton reading James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series; he does it right.

 

Caz: I have no idea what Julia Child sounds like, (*goes to look it up on You Tube* – eeek!) but yes, I agree there. Greg Tremblay, who I mentioned upthread, does some of the best female voices I’ve ever heard. No falsetto – which I also find hugely off-putting – but that softening and lightening of timbre and pitch that generally works really well – for me, anyway.

 

Brenda: I’m a big fan of Luke Daniels. He’s the Renee Raudman of male narrators for me in “living” a story. He’s narrated a few of Nora Roberts’ series romance titles – Time Was and Times Change and The Mackade Brothers quartet. Best of the lot was The Heart of Devin Mackade – if you don’t cry at the end with his portrayal of Cassie’s little girl you don’t have a heart. :D

 

Whiskey Beach by Nora RobertsLea: Same here, Brenda. I first discovered Luke Daniels when he narrated Nora Roberts’ Whiskey Beach and was so impressed with his performance that I decided then and there that he was a narrator I would follow to other books. I saw another side of Luke when he participated in our Narrator’s Forum in March 2015. Not only is he a greatly talented narrator but he so clearly articulated his observations on the audio industry. I was thoroughly impressed with his overall knowledge and understanding of the industry and what listeners want to hear – not just in romance but all genres.

 

Melinda: I’ll be interested to hear the panel talk about their experiences as romance narrators – maybe there’s a gender bias at the publisher (or author) side that chooses more women? So far, I’m open to either gender reading it well. I was a little surprised recently by a book in first person from both protagonists point of view, all read by the same female narrator – generally I like women narrators, but I’ve gotten used to hearing the dual narrations, when it’s written in first person. This isn’t new and not specific to romance, either – my first dual narration in first person was The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which was a 5-star listen for me in 2006.

 

Shannon: I’ve become a fan of the dual narration thing too. I think it allows narrators to truly shine in the areas in which they excel. They still perform opposite-gender dialogue, but they can really “become” the character whose PoV they’re representing.

 

Caz: Once again, I’m a dissenting voice, because I tend to prefer one narrator who can do it all ;) But then I suppose it’s a case of what you’re used to; I don’t think I’ve come across an historical romance that uses dual narration, but then the writing style tends to be different. While the reader/listener does get to experience both the H/h’s PoV, 99.9% of the books are written in the third person (which I prefer) while many contemps are first, so perhaps a single narrator works better. But you mentioned gender bias, and I can’t help wondering the same thing. Are there fewer men narrating romance because they’re just not asked? And if that’s the case, audio producers take note: I’m sure I can’t be the only audiobook fan in existence who would like to hear more men narrating romance novels.

 

Melinda: I think the one thing we would all agree on is this: when Romance narration is top-notch, no matter who it is – male or female –  we love it! Please tell us in the comments what you think about male narration in Romance – yay or nay? Who are your go-to Ear Boyfriends? And what questions do you have for the Men in Romance Audiobooks narrators?

 

Older posts «