I read and enjoyed Vivian Arend’s High Passion a while back and I have been meaning to try her Six Pack Ranch series too, which begins with Rocky Mountain Heat. The icing on the cake was the narrator. Tatiana Sokolov will be familiar to many as Tanya Eby. As Tanya informed us in her AudioGals interview this past September, she uses the pseudonym Tatiana for her erotica titles only. It’s a way for Eby fans to know what to expect from a listen.
The Six Pack Ranch books chart the romantic lives of the six Coleman brothers. Blake is the oldest brother and his story starts the series. Jaxi is, literally, the girl next door. She is ten years Blake’s junior and ever since he noticed she was all grown up, he has believed he’s too old for her and kept his distance. Jaxi has had her eye on Blake since she was a child and even a brief stint dating Blake’s younger brother, Travis, when she was 18 couldn’t change her mind. Now, at 21, Jaxi is ready to make her move.
When Blake’s mother breaks her arm, his dad enlists Jaxi’s aid to help with her and around the ranch generally. Jaxi moves into the ranch house where, for the first time in a long time, all six boys and their parents are currently living. Proximity makes it harder for Blake to keep his distance and when twins Joel and Jesse express interest in making a play for Jaxi as well, Blake is forced to put up or shut up.
Rocky Mountain Heat is a novella in print and runs just over six hours in audio format. It doesn’t try to pack too much in – the story is about the perfect length to give a very satisfying romantic story for Jaxi and Blake and some snippets regarding another brother, Matt, and his girlfriend Helen. Looking ahead, I can see Matt is featured as the lead in Book 3 of the series.
There are also tantalizing glimpses into the character of Travis – his book is the last in the series. He is hiding a secret and only Jaxi knows what it is. I can guess but I’ll have to wait until the end of the series to find out for sure.
Tatiana Sokolov is a narrator I’ve always found to be pleasing to my ear. While her narration cannot save a dismal book, it can elevate an okay one for me. Here, we had a fun and sexy contemporary story and her narration was an added bonus. My only criticism is that the brothers sound very much the same. I had no trouble distinguishing between Jaxi and Blake or Jaxi and anyone else, or between Matt and Helen, but the boys were almost identical. Jaxi and Helen didn’t share many scenes (I can only think of one and it was brief), which is a good thing as they sounded the same to my ear as well. In fact, if I vagued out for a moment (which happens when I listen sometimes even with a book I am enjoying) and the scene skipped from a Jaxi/Blake to Helen/Matt, I sometimes had to do a double take to work out where I was. Jaxi and Helen sounded the same but they are completely different characters.
Note my use of sexy in the previous paragraph. It’s difficult to know where exactly this audiobook fits on the scale from contemporary romance to erotic romance. I think it falls into the erotic spectrum but at the tamer end. That is, it’s raunchier than your average contemporary novella but doesn’t come near the hotness present in Olivia Cunning’s Backstage Pass (that’s not a criticism by the way). There are explicit sex scenes in the book. I must give Ms. Arend mad props here as this is one of the few erotic stories where the sex scenes don’t sound weird out loud. No doubt that means I need to give mad props to Tatiana Sokolov too but I do think it is a combination of the writing and the narration. There are some things which look fine in print but said out loud they are kind of ick, or laugh-inducing. Here, the scenes were silky smooth and sexy, with an intimacy and affection to them which made it less embarrassing and much more enjoyable than some of the racier books I’ve listened to. Still, I’d recommend not playing in the car when the kids are in it! :D
I really enjoyed this listening experience. It’s a story which doesn’t try too hard or pretend to be anything other than what it is. I loved its lack of pretension and I enjoyed the chemistry between the characters and the camaraderie between the brothers. Travis is a bit of a dick but I’m looking forward to seeing him redeemed as time and the other books go by.
I also enjoyed the Canadian setting and appreciated Tatiana’s Canadian accent which was present throughout the story. Her character delivery was wonderful. Apart from the similarities in some of the voices, I couldn’t fault it.
I’d be very happy to continue the Six Pack Ranch series in audio and I recommend it for those who are looking for a shorter book and don’t mind a bit of spice with their sugar.
Book Content: B
Steam Factor: A cross between Glad I Had My Earbuds In and For Your Burning Ears Only.
Genre: Contemporary Romance – erotica
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Rocky Mountain Heat was provided to AudioGals for review by Tantor Audio.