Ready to Roll is a novella made up of various story formats, from first person accounts written like a screenplay, with actions like “smiles wryly”, and actual storylines told in 3rd person. It takes place in the Troubleshooters world, in Coronado, California, 2010, with references to many of the Troubleshooters characters. It’s Hell Week for the most recent crop of SEAL BUD/S trainees, and Izzy is one of the trainers, making him the central character of this novella. His brother-in-law Ben, still in high school, is the other central character who is going through some rough times with his arch-nemesis, a surly football player in his class. Tensions between the two ratchet when Ben learns the other boy is not only deeply closeted but also experiencing abuse at home.
The screenplay sections seemed a little bit like the old TV series MASH, when they would do recaps and have each character talk directly to the camera (which would be the stand in for a reporter or a counselor or something like that). Each character in the book talks about themselves and their current situation – some of the various BUD/S participants telling us about Hell Week, some of the regular Troubleshooters characters bringing us up to speed on their lives, Ben filling in the gaps in his story. The various SEAL trainers are placing bets on who will “ring out” (and Brockmann defines all the naval and SEAL terms she sprinkles throughout – this one means they drop out of the SEAL program). Ben’s older SEAL brother Dan and his wife Jenn have a colicky baby. Sam Starrett’s kids make a cameo appearance, as well as Sam in a flashback, and Alyssa is mentioned. There’s a long list of familiar names if you’ve been keeping up with the series. There isn’t really much of a cohesive plot, and no “traditional” someone-meets-someone and gets the someone in the end type of romance.
Lawlor and Ewbank spent the last couple of years or so re-recording all the earlier Troubleshooter books that were originally done by other narrators, so they are now officially the Troubleshooter voices, with the addition of Renee Raudman in books 13-16. I have always liked Lawlor’s voice and interpretation of the series – although the regular books do not have first person, the narrations have been split by point of view – all from male POV delivered by Lawlor. His acting and pacing are terrific for the romantic suspense. He differentiates well between the various men; his female delivery is ok, although he does sometimes push a little too hard into falsetto and overacting to bring the women to life. Because I listened instead of reading, I’m not 100% sure, but I think he must have incorporated the screen directions into his delivery whenever possible – he did some laughing and other non-verbal cues but did not say “laughs” or “sighs”. The physical action cues were read aloud (“shrugs sheepishly”) but in an “aside” voice. Ewbank has been a little more inconsistent in her narrations – her early Brockmann recordings were much better than the more recent ones, where she has fallen into a very slow, deliberate pace that sounds wooden and unnatural. In Ready to Roll, thankfully she was not quite as plodding and Eeyore-esque as the re-recorded books (1 – 5 in the series).
This book seems to defy genre – generally I consider the series to be romantic suspense, but there wasn’t really an element of suspense in this book, nor was there a traditional romance. Audible is classifying it as Contemporary Romance. If you’re a Troubleshooters super fan, you might find it a bit tiring that Brockmann continually reminds you what she means when she uses SEAL jargon, but you will probably enjoy an afternoon revisiting the familiar members of the teams and meeting what may be future book heroes and heroines. I’m not sure if this 6-hour novella would have any appeal at all to someone who hasn’t read any of the series, though.
Narration: Melanie Ewbank B- / Patrick Lawlor A-
Book Content: B
Steam Factor: You can play it out loud
Violence Rating: Fighting
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Ready to Roll was provided to AudioGals by Blackstone Audio for a review.