My first impression of this new-to-me narrator was OMG WHO PICKED THIS GUY? In light of the recent Emily Giffin snafu, I hesitate to say in public what I said in a text to a fellow romance audiobook enthusiast, “[this] narration sux.” Honestly, from the minute he pronounced Kleypas to rhyme with iPads, I was alarmed. Then he spoke in Sam’s voice and I nearly DNFd*. Luckily, Sam is only the hero’s brother, so having Sam sound like a chipmunk wasn’t as bad as it might seem. As the story progressed – and to my horror, he does use a drag-queen falsetto for Zoe, the heroine – I enured myself to his quirks, and listened to the story.
This is the third book in Kleypas’ Friday Harbor Series. I really enjoy Kleypas’ contemporary writing. Her characters are all easy to like, and the stories enjoyable in a summer-beach-read kind of way. With Friday Harbor, she introduces a little reality-based paranormal element – it’s our world, but enhanced with some qualities that are a little “out there”.
The Nolan brothers all had to deal with alcoholic parents, but Alex is the only one who has succumbed to the lure of the bottle, which is slowly ruining his life in every way possible. He’s divorced and his construction business is on the rocks when Zoe hires him to remodel her Dream Lake cottage where she plans to care for her ailing grandmother. Alex is plagued by a number of demons, including a ghost only he can see and hear, a man in a WWII pilot’s uniform who doesn’t know who he was or why he’s in limbo. It’s no spoiler that ghost and grandmother have a connection or that Alex and Zoe will have to overcome both a number of real-life, gritty issues to find love in under 10 hours.
After grinding my teeth to the nub over Jeff Cummings for the first half of the book, I decided that his is a pleasant guy voice – maybe better suited for a Dave Barry book than romance. His intonation was fine, no annoying vocal patterns. He read Alex in his own voice, which worked for me. It was every other placement except for that of a secondary character named Justine that seemed wrong. If only he put Zoe in the same octave as Justine! But this is not the entire problem. His approach to romance didn’t work for me either. He does fine with “Those Scenes” if you don’t mind a sort of shopping list reading approach. Where was the attraction? The lust? Doesn’t Cummings have other tools in his narrator belt besides pitch? In the long run, it wasn’t a complete fail – believe me, I’ve heard worse – but I felt like his narration wasn’t a good match for this Lisa Kleypas’ story.
*In reading circles, DNF means Did Not Finish the book – as a verb it means “throw it against the wall” or “erase it from my iPod”.
Book Content: B
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Genre: contemporary romance with a teeny hint of paranormal
Publisher: Brilliance Audio