Our June 2017 Picks

Looking at what’s new for June, there’s an interesting consensus, with three of the Gals looking forward to the C.S Pacat’s Captive Prince series, with all three titles being released at the end of the month.  Otherwise, there are new titles from Ilona Andrews and Jeanienne Frost, a compelling historical from K.J. Charles – and Caz is jumping for joy over the release – at long last – of Mary Jo Putney’s The Rake, one of the most beloved historical romances ever.  Some of our choices have already been released and some are coming out later in the month, but whatever the case, we’ve chosen them based on the usual criteria – we like the author, the narrator or… sometimes it’s just gut instinct.  Are you looking forward to any of these titles?  Or is there something you’re anxiously waiting to get your hands on that we’ve missed out?  Join the discussion in the comments!

 

The Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Narrated by Stephen Bel Davies

M/M fantasy, dark romance – color me intrigued!  This book (and indeed the trilogy it forms a part of) got a lot of attention when it released in e-book format several years ago, and Audible is finally bringing this story to us audiobook fans.  I’m not a hundred percent sure what to expect, but I’m definitely curious to try it.  I’ve also previously listened to Stephen Bel Davies in J.A. Redmerski’s dark romantic suspense title Killing Sarai.  While I’m not the biggest fan of his voice for female characters, he would likely be good at narrating an m/m romance.  – BJ

This series has been on my radar for a while; a year or more ago, it was all over my Goodreads feed and while it’s perhaps not my usual cup of tea, I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about!  I’m not familiar with the narrator, but I’m keen to dive in to what I’m led to believe is one of the best recent fantasy series – Caz

Because it’s a kind of “swords and sandals” fantasy I expected a British narrator. It’s not but the sample I listened to (of another book) didn’t put me off. I love this series so hard. The entire trilogy releases this month. Please don’t be crap. Please don’t be crap. Please don’t be crap. – Kaetrin

The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost

Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

The long awaited sequel to the Broken Destiny series by the fab UF romance duo Jeaniene Frost and Tavia Gilbert releases this June.  Even though it’s been nearly 3 years since the debut in this series (The Beautiful Ashes), I can’t wait to listen. – BJ

Jeaniene Frost and Tavia Gilbert are one of those author/narrator dream teams. Plus, I loved the first book in Frost’s Broken Destiny series. This is a must-have for me. – Shannon

White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Narrated by Renee Raudman

I read this one already and I LOVED it. Renee Raudman will only make it better. I think I will re-listen from book one and maximise the goodness. – Kaetrin

 

 

 

Proud Mary by Lucinda Brant

Narrated by Alex Wyndham

A new Lucinda Brant! More Alex Wyndham! Hooray! – Kaetrin

 

 

 

 

Tremaine’s True Love by Grace Burrowes

Narrated by James Langton

Likeable characters, well-developed romances and well-written familial relationships are the hallmarks of Grace Burrowes’ historical romances and keep me coming back time after time. James Langton has narrated many of her books and is so strongly identified – in my mind – with her unique style, that I can’t imagine anyone else reading her work.  A Burrowes/Langton audiobook is the best kind of comfort listen. – Caz

An Unnatural Vice by K.J. Charles

Narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies

K.J. Charles is one of my favourite writers, and a new book or audiobook with her name on it is a Red Letter Day on my calendar.  I’ve read the book and it’s already on my “Best of 2017” list; the pairing of hard-nosed journalist and charlatan spiritualist is an explosive one, and the continuing story arc of the missing heirs to an earldom is gripping stuff.  Victorian sensation fiction gets a 21st century twist in the best way! – Caz

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Narrated by Shayna Thibodeaux and Deacon Lee

Now that the Beautiful Bastard series is over, the Christina Lauren writing duo is releasing a new stand-alone romance.  The blurb has a definite enemies-to-lovers feel to it and given how well this duo has written in this space before, I can’t wait to listen to their latest.  – BJ

 

 

King of Clubs by Sandra Owens

Narrated by Amy McFadden & Sebastian York

I discovered Sandra Owens last year and I love her brand of romantic suspense. I’m also a sucker for a rescue trope so the blurb really hooked me on this one. – Kaetrin

 

 

The Rake by Mary Jo Putney

Narrated by Mark Meadows

OMG!!  I stumbled upon this one on one of my regular trawls through Audible’s new releases pages and promptly squealed with joy!  One of the best ever historical romances and a perennial favourite, an audio version of The Rake is long overdue.  I am not at all familiar with the narrator, but he’s got a fair few titles listed at Audible (not romances, unfortunately) and the sample sounds promising so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for a great listen. – Caz

The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

Narrated by Gary Furlong

Isn’t it nice when wishes come true?  I’d been hoping this book would get an audio release, AND that it would be narrated by Gary Furlong, who did such a fantastic job with the previous book, The Soldier’s Scoundrel. I loved this story of the elegant con-artist and the reclusive earl with a passion for science when I read it earlier this year, and am eager to re-experience it in audio. – Caz

 

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Narrated by Therese Plummer

I’ve listened to and loved Victoria Schwab’s novels in the past, so Our Dark Duet is definitely on my wish list. Therese Plummer is an accomplished narrator, so a stellar performance is pretty much guaranteed. – Shannon

 

 

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Narrated by Angela Dawe

The Psy/Changeling series is entering its second phase, and I am super excited to see how things develop. Bear changelings sound quite intriguing, and I’ve been hoping to see Silver as a heroine for some time now. The series wouldn’t be the same without Angela Dawe as narrator, so I’m relieved to see she’s back to give life to this sixteenth installment. – Shannon

 

Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker

Narrated by Shayna Thibodeaux

K.A. Tucker is a wonderfully diverse author. Anything she writes is great. So, while I loved her suspense-filled romances, I’m eager for her latest contemporary novel. I’ve listened to Shayna Thibodeaux in the past, and I’m confident she’ll deliver a good performance here. – Shannon

 

 

Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis

Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis

Narrated by Karen White

The combo of Shalvis/White is always a pleasure to listen to – this is a dip into Fiction by Shalvis, as opposed to Romance, so we shall see because I gotta have my HEA!! and I suspect she delivers it here too. – Melinda

 

 

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June is Audiobook Month! Caz’s Top 5 Historical Romance Audiobooks – and a Giveaway!

June is Audiobook Month!

Caz’s Top 5 Historical Romance Audiobooks

I might as well say this right now. I am utterly HOPELESS at choosing favourites. The minute anyone says to me “what’s your favourite (something)?” my mind goes completely blank and I struggle to think of ANYthing, let alone the ones I’d rate above all others. Then after the initial panic has subsided, I can think of too many. But because, when it comes to audiobooks, I’m someone who always places the narrator ahead of the author in terms of importance when it comes to choosing the ones I want to listen to (sorry, authors!), choosing five audiobooks I think would be a good introduction to historical romance in audio for someone who wants to take the plunge but doesn’t know where to start didn’t prove too difficult. My choices are therefore selected by narrator first; and as such, feature my “Fab Four” – four narrators I would quite happily listen to if they were reading the phone book.

As part of the Audio Publisher’s Association June is Audiobook Month celebration, there will be 4 winners of a pair of earbuds and 3 free audiobook downloads from Audiobooks.com! There’s an easy entry form at the bottom of this post!

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn1. Without question, the finest narrator of historical romance working today is Rosalyn Landor. She has an instinctive understanding of the romance genre and an inherent affinity for historicals; her beautifully modulated voice and intonation make her a natural for stories inhabited by well-to-do gentlemen and ladies of the ton. She’s incredibly versatile and can slip easily into different characters from all walks of life, young and old, male and female, and I’ve never been disappointed when listening to her; even when a story is below par, her performance makes it at the very least worth listening to.

It’s difficult to pick just one narration of hers as she has probably recorded more historical romance than anyone else, but if I have to pick, I’m going for the recent recording of Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me, the second of the author’s Bridgerton books. I have a soft spot for it, as it’s the first of Ms. Quinn’s books I read and one of the first historicals I ever read, plus it employs my favourite trope when the hero and heroine are compromised into marriage.

 

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1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London’s most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in all truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better… – Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1814

But this time the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry – he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield – the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate’s the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams.

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands – and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister – but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself.

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Honourable mentions: Mary Balogh’s Bedwyn Saga and Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series

 

Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale2. No list of favourite historical romances would be complete without the name of Laura Kinsale and no list of outstanding narrators could be taken seriously were the name Nicholas Boulton not to appear on it. Mr. Boulton’s recordings of Ms. Kinsale’s books really raised the bar in terms of what listeners have learned to expect from narrators of historical romance, and deservedly so, because these twelve audiobooks should be at the top of anyone’s list of audio HR favourites. The problem then becomes which one to choose. Flowers from the Storm is, quite rightly, one of Ms. Kinsale’s most beloved books, and the audio version is, quite simply, stupendous. This story of the debauched duke brought low in the worst possible way and the young Quaker woman with whom he falls in love is tragic, heart-breaking, spellbinding and gloriously romantic. Nicholas Boulton’s superb performance brings an extra dimension to the story as he literally inhabits the character of the once-proud duke brought low by illness and disability, and his interpretation of Maddie Timms gave me a new insight into her character. You could happily choose any one of these outstanding collaborations to begin with**, but this would be my recommendation.

 

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The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant – and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the “D of J” in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most causal attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.

Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news – the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade.

But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely – and bind them together in need, desire…and love.

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Honourable mention: Seize the Fire boasts probably the most heroic anti-hero ever and is my personal favourite, but perhaps not the best place to start**.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase3. Another writer without whom any list would be incomplete is Loretta Chase. There’s a reason Lord of Scoundrels is a perennial favourite among historical romance readers; it’s funny, sexy and features two superbly matched-characters in the Marquess of Dain and Jessica Trent who enchant readers (and listeners) as they bicker their way to true love. But this is so much more than an historical romantic comedy; the chemistry between the central couple is hot enough to strip paint and their verbal interactions simply sparkle with wit and humour, but there’s a real depth to the story, too, especially when Dain’s past comes back to haunt him. Up until a few years back, Lord of Scoundrels was at the top of our most wished-for audiobooks, and I don’t mind admitting that I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when Kate Reading was engaged to narrate it. Besides being a truly excellent vocal actress, she really ‘gets’ Ms. Chase’s humour and has a wonderful way with the deadpan comebacks that are such an integral part of her writing. Ms. Reading has since gone on to record many other Loretta Chase titles (all but six, I believe) and does a fabulous job in all of them. But Lord of Scoundrels is hard to beat.

 

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Tough-minded Jessica Trent’s sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad. And when Dain’s reciprocal passion places them in a scandalously compromising, and public, position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction…

Damn the minx for tempting him, kissing him… and then forcing him to salvage her reputation! Lord Dain can’t wait to put the infuriating bluestocking in her place—and in some amorous position, And if that means marriage, so be it!—Though Sebastian is less than certain he can continue to remain aloof… and steel his heart to the sensuous, headstrong lady’s considerable charms.

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Honourable mentions: Loretta Chase – The Last Hellion; Sherry Thomas – His at Night

A Splendid Defiance by Stella Riley4. Stella Riley has long been a favourite author of mine and my introduction to her work, over thirty years ago was a book set during the English Civil War called A Splendid Defiance. It’s a perfect blend of historical fiction – the book details real events and features characters who actually existed – and historical romance; and is one of those books that has stayed with me over the years. The romance between a cynical cavalier officer and a young puritan woman is a slow burn, but it’s beautiful, sensual and romantic, and the book’s hero, the complex, irascible but incredibly sexy Captain Justin Ambrose, continues to hold pride of place at the top of my list of book boyfriends.

Christmas came early last year when A Splendid Defiance finally came to audio, narrated by the extremely talented Alex Wyndham, who has rapidly become a firm favourite with all of us at AudioGals. He’s a superbly gifted narrator who frequently makes me forget I’m listening to just one person performing and if you haven’t listened to him yet, you really are missing out.

 

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For two years, England has been in the grip of Civil War. In Banbury, Oxfordshire, the Cavaliers hold the Castle, the Roundheads want it back and the town is full of zealous Puritans. Consequently, the gulf between Captain Justin Ambrose and Abigail Radford, the sister of a fanatically religious shopkeeper, ought to be unbridgeable. The key to both the fate of the Castle and that of Justin and Abigail lies in defiance … but will it be enough?

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Honourable Mentions: Stella Riley’s Rockliffe series; Lucinda Brant’s Alec Halsey mysteries

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James5. My last choice is another narrator-lead one, because I wanted to include something performed by Mary Jane Wells in this list. She’s a firm favourite and another extremely talented narrator and has been chosen to narrate Lisa Kleypas’ current Ravenel series – her work on each of the books so far has gained her A grades here at AG. But I’m going to recommend something a bit different, an historical mystery by Simone St. James called Silence for the Dead. Ms. St. James has all but reinvented the gothic romance in the past few years, and I’ve enjoyed many of her books, but this one made a lasting impression. Set in 1919 at a remote psychiatric hospital in the north of England, it’s a creepy, atmospheric story of things that go ‘bump’ in the night with a healthy splash of romance, and I was gripped from start to finish.

 

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In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?

Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.

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Audiobooks.com link

Honourable Mentions: Simone St. James – The Other Side of Midnight

Caz


 

JUNE IS AUDIOBOOK MONTH – GIVEAWAY! All month long, bloggers will be sharing their favorites around the world in a Blog Tour organized by the Audio Publisher’s Association. Look for AudioGals’ favorites on Fridays in June and let us know your favorites in the comments – series, narrators, authors – plus visit the other blogs for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Fine Print:

Enter for a chance to win. No purchase is necessary. The giveaway is open from 12 am CDT Friday 2 June 2017 through 12:00 am CDT Monday 26 June 2017 (which is midnight Sunday). This is the same giveaway as the one posted June 2 and June 9; if you entered on that post, you are already entered in the giveaway drawing.
Four winners will be chosen. The prize is a pair of earbuds and 3 free audiobook downloads at Audiobooks.com (approximate value: up to US$45.00), which expire 15 July 2017. The codes have been provided by the Audio Publisher’s Association and Audiobooks.com. Entrants are restricted to US addresses only, please.
One entry per person, please. Winners will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter software. Winners will be notified by email used for entry by 11:59 pm Monday 26 June 2017, and will have 24 hours to respond. If no response is received, another winner will be chosen.

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

 

Currently Playing for the Gals, 16th June 2017

Woman listening

As we approach the solstice next week – some of us are in summer, some in winter! – we once again chat about what we’re listening to each week. Longer days for beach reads, shorter days for staying inside and reading. We always 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

Incriminating Evidence by Rachel Grant

Narrated by Nicol Zanzarella

 

Caz

The Rake by Mary Jo Putney

Narrated by Mark Meadows

 

Kaetrin

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Narrated by Steve West

 

Melinda

On Second Thought by Kristan HigginsNarrated by Xe Sands and Amy Rubinate

 

Shannon

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Narrated by Angela Dawe

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!

The Hangman by Mary Burton

The Hangman by Mary BurtonNarrated by Christina Traister

I’m always on the lookout for good romantic suspense. I tend to like around a 50/50 split between the suspense plot and the romantic relationship and I often find the suspense takes too much of the centre stage for my personal taste. Even so, I keep trying because RS is one of my favourite subgenres to listen to. Last year I discovered Sandra Owens. This year, I discovered Mary Burton. The Hangman probably has more like a 60/40 split when it comes to suspense vs romance but it was enough for me.

Detective Tobias Novak of the Richmond City Police is called to a murder scene Read the rest of this entry »

Challenge by Amy Daws

Challenge by Amy DawsNarrated by Will M. Watt, Charlotte Cole, and Martin Foster

What a pleasant surprise! This audiobook had a little bit of everything. I was expecting a sports romance featuring a playboy star player, but what I heard was so much more. From the witty and comical banter to the romance and even the conflict resolution which involved personal growth by both the heroine and hero, Challenge kept me tuned in to my earbuds from beginning to end. Additionally, I enjoyed the different setting as this is a contemporary romance set in London which is unusual enough by itself, and it also features the story of a rising “football” (that’s “soccer” for the Americans reading this) player who is sidelined by a knee injury at a match. Read the rest of this entry »

Virtuous by MS Force

Virtuous by M.S. Force Narrated by Brooke Bloomingdale & Cooper North

Virtuous is the first in a three-book series written by Marie Force under the name MS Force. All three books are out on audio (and I will be reviewing them all here at AudioGals), narrated by Brooke Bloomingdale and Cooper North.

While Virtuous ends on a HFN romantically, it does have something of a cliffhanger as regards the rest of the overarching plot. Essentially, this series is Marie Force’s version of the sexy (and kinky) rich dude and the ingenue. Because it is a romantic series and because it features some BDSM, the author chose to publish under a different name, thus signalling to readers that this is different. Read the rest of this entry »

Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper

Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel CooperNarrated by Derek Perkins

Even though I was very disappointed in the previous book in this series of historical paranormals (The Highland Dragon’s Lady), I remembered reading the print version of Night of the Highland Dragon a couple of years back, and thought I’d give it another go-round in audio. The final member of the MacAlasdair family of shape-shifters is Lady Judith, who resides at the castle of Loch Arach and takes good care of all those who depend on her and the castle for their livelihoods. Into this Highland idyll comes William Arundell, an investigator for a secret branch of the government who starts asking uncomfortable questions about Judith and her family Read the rest of this entry »

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