My most recent listen—HATE NOTES by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward, read by Sebastian York and Lynn Barrington—proposes the millennial’s version of a bucket list. Rather than making a to-do list motivated by terminal illness, the main characters accomplish adventures that simply make their lives richer and more fulfilling. Their list expresses gratitude and bravery as well as a good measure of silliness. Looking at other recent titles, I notice that they comprise a sort of audio bucket list. I’ve never lived in a small town with a large family circle, but thanks to the arch sweetness of Diana Luke in K.M. Jackson’s AS GOOD AS THE FIRST TIME, I can experience that—and so can you! Read more…
These days, if you live in the East (or Midwest or Mid-Atlantic or Northwest), you can’t look at a short-sleeved shirt without a faint feeling of nausea. We escaped the last snowstorm when cold air sat on top of us and pushed the snow out to sea but we’re due to get a couple more and they say, the polar vortex is breaking up through the end of February. (Translation: Snow. Lots of snow.) In my personal opinion, one of the things that makes bitter cold more bearable is connecting with friends and having a great time. You know that friend who always erases your bad mood and makes you laugh out loud? You get their call, email, or text, and suddenly you’re smiling? Well, welcome to the audiobook version of that with these humorous rom-coms! Insta-friendship coming right up with these fun, flirty titles. Read more…
Author Kathleen Woodiwiss (1939-2007) owns the signature honor of creating the historical romance in its 20th-century form. Her alpha heroes dominated every situation and often gave her vivacious, intelligent heroines no end of trouble. Her novels were known for their length—happy doorstoppers every one—and her sweeping prose that delved as deeply into setting as they did into characterization. Her first novel was THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER, but I would equally draw your attention to ASHES IN THE WIND, a worthy read-alike to GONE WITH THE WIND, and A ROSE IN WINTER, a Beauty and the Beast-motif historical. Always in Woodiwiss’s writing was an insurmountable difference of opinion between the hero and heroine. He married her sister first, he evicted her father, he invaded her country . . . I could go on.
The genius of Woodiwiss—and of this group of audiobooks—is the delicate negotiation from adamant disagreement to common ground and lasting affection. Romance truly is a negotiation. All you have to do is decide which title to try first.
FAIR, BRIGHT, AND TERRIBLE: Welsh Blades, Book 2
by Elizabeth Kingston, read by Nicholas Boulton
Hedgehog Inc. Productions
AudioFile Earphones Award
Narrator Nicholas Boulton’s imposing presence lends authority to the scheming heroine of this historical novel. Facing the utter collapse of Wales, which has fallen to the English, Eluned accepts an arranged marriage in order to avenge her late husband’s death by killing the man most responsible for it. But she soon discovers that her fiancé is an old flame. Boulton commands this medieval romance doused in political warfare.