Narrated by Nicole Poole
You might have to have read the entire Writer Friends series to truly grasp the irony of how I first came to read Not Another Bad Date. Each writer is the heroine of one of the 4 books in the series, and Adele writes fantasy/paranormal. Although her story is last, her arc is started in book 1, when her boyfriend Duane blurts out that she has a fat ass, and after she leaves him, he continues to visit her illicitly and leave odd belongings on her doorstep for years. When this title was released, I was in the middle of another book that I was not enjoying. I lived way out in the middle of the Arizona desert, and while on a weekly trip to town, bought this in paperback (at Walmart). My car broke down on the way home, and during the several hours stuck on the side of the mostly-deserted road, I decided to start this book. Funny how fate has a way of stepping in – and that is theme of this book.
Adele started having bad dates suddenly, after leaving Duane about 3 years ago. Every guy she dates suddenly blurts out something rude or crass, or does something untoward, after a night that had been going well. Now that all three of her writer friends have found their HEA, she is feeling a little lonely when her sister calls her – she needs her to come back to their Texas home town and help take care of her 13-year-old niece while she goes through a difficult pregnancy alone, now that her seemingly-perfect marriage has dissolved (also suddenly). Since Adele figures she has been cursed with bad dates, she decides a trip to be with family might be just the thing she needs.
The book starts with a prologue: Devon Hamilton-Zemaitis was a beautiful, wealthy woman who had everything. But now, she has been killed in a car accident, and she’s pretty pissed about that. She’s waiting in line, presumably for St Peter, when an old teacher of hers appears and offers her a deal. Devon has wronged someone in her life, and she needs to make it up in order to go to her reward. Meanwhile, she will exist in a sort of limbo until Devon gives that person a gift. There is one caveat – if that person finds love before Devon gives her the gift, Devon will not be able to redeem herself, and will go in the Other Direction. Once Devon realizes she means that awful girl Adele from her hometown, the one who tried to steal Zach away from her, she decides what to do – and then finds herself stuck in a gray sweatsuit, in Walmart, potentially for eternity.
Zach Zemaitis has been a widower for 3 years, living in a small town in Texas with his 13-year-old daughter since his wife Devon died. He’s a retired NFL football player, and is now coaching the high school team. When he sees the girl he fell for in college on his doorstep, he’s shocked. He hasn’t thought about Adele in a long time – he left her to marry Devon, his former girlfriend who announced she was pregnant several weeks after he had broken up with her.
I have to admit, I read the book several times (enjoyed it every time) and have listened to the audio multiple times as well, and while it’s not “literature”, I feel like I get more out of it every time. When I wrote the first review (in 2008, of the print version), it struck me – while writing – how it all fit together. In spite of the rather macabre setup (Devon’s death), it’s funny and ironic and there are so many levels to the humor, the romance, the family relationships and the quasi-paranormal aspects. I’ve enjoyed remembering the little hints throughout the series, and I laugh still, and tear up still, at the ending. Gibson makes a compelling case for Adele and Devon to find love again, and the emotions are real, even though the mood is light.
I revisited this audiobook after listening to Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ recent release, First Star I See Tonight. Nicole Poole is the narrator of that book as well, and my one criticism of her work in First Star was the lack of appropriate pauses. It’s almost like there’s a deadline for getting through the audiobook, so she just pushes through paragraph, scene and chapter breaks with the same length of pause you hear between related sentences. But her pacing, in general, is really good and not rushed at all, so why doesn’t she just take a short pause every now and then?
My theory is that publishers – or editors – or producers – have made some kind of policy about time. Whether they want a shorter audiobook, a smaller file, less dead air, I honestly don’t know – I can’t fathom the reasons why there would be a post-production edit to remove nano-seconds from a story, nano-seconds that help an audiobook listener understand the rhythm and meaning of the story. It’s a bad policy, and I hope publishers and editors and producers will realize it soon. I can’t see how it can possibly affect the only thing they are interested in (bottom line, AKA ROI) to spend editing time deleting dead air. Maybe it’s automated? In which case, it’s an even worse decision.
Happily, the pauses have not been removed from Not Another Bad Date. Poole’s pacing is very good, and her acting choices spot on. She makes good use of a wide vocal range to put characters in different registers, giving each character a personality and voice. Her narration is very engaging, and definitely brings this story to life. There is one issue I wish editors would correct instead of removing pauses, and I did not hear this in First Star and rarely hear in recent audiobooks, and that is occasional audible breaths. It’s not a loud gulp of air, but I can hear her take in a breath as she begins a sentence. I think that might also be a production issue, and maybe newer noise-cancelling microphones make audible breaths a relic of the past. If anyone in a decision-making position is out there, please make a note: appropriate pauses GOOD, audible breaths BAD. Let your narrator do her job of acting, which includes pauses; let your equipment do the job of making it sound good. OK, rant off.
I give the entire Writer Friends series a big thumbs up in print, and the audiobooks narrated by Nicole Poole (Tangled Up in You and Not Another Bad Date) are terrific. I’ll have to revisit Sex, Lies and Online Dating in audio since I can’t find my review; Kaetrin reviewed I’m in No Mood for Love last year, and liked the narration better than the story. As usual, YMMV!
Book Content: A
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: None
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Recorded Books