To my Valentine: Instead of chocolates, how about a romantic suspense audio?

Discover perfect Valentine’s Day listening

Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams, who writes as Selena Montgomery

True confession: Romantic suspense is not my usual go-to genre. But Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, so I figure it’s time to get in the mood. While the “suspense” parts of romantic suspense titles can run the gamut from spy thrillers to amateur detective work and everything in between, the focus remains on the relationships and the interior emotional landscapes of the characters. There has to be the right balance of potential love and lust with danger, tension, and threats to the main players.

Reckless

My favorite so far in this venture into the genre comes from an unusual source—Stacey Abrams. Yes, the same Stacey Abrams who ran for Governor of Georgia and who provided the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address. In so doing, she became the first black woman and the first non-sitting public official to deliver the rebuttal. She’s a busy woman, because in addition to all that, she’s written eight novels under the nom de plume of Selena Montgomery. RECKLESS features a smart, strong black female lawyer. Narrated by Simone Daye, the characters and their stories come alive, and the balance between romance and suspense seems just right. Read more…

Ellen Quint
A mystery writer, audiobook reviewer and Audies judge. Ellen is currently the program chair of Sisters in Crime-NY and has published two crime short stories: Crossing the Line (Family Matters); Taking the Brooklyn Bridge Back (Where Crime Never Sleeps).

The Romantic Tropes That Listeners Love

Admit it—we all have our favorites

Romance Covers

Romance CoversWhile mystery and science fiction certainly have tropes that weave through the genres—romance rules for recognizable storylines. In the early years of Harlequin et al., certain romantic tropes could not be avoided: boss/secretary, nurse/patient, and teacher/widower-with-son stories were thick on the ground. (Some of the more random ones that I particularly enjoyed were woman inherits castle in remote location, person rescued from waves with amnesia, and man suspects woman of having May/December affair with his father, but really it’s platonic.) Read more…

Caitlin is a librarian from Connecticut who enjoys great narrators and happy endings. She has been reviewing audiobooks for Audiofile Magazine since 2006, and she has had the privilege of judging numerous Audie Award categories since 2009. Her favorite authors are Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and whatever she's listening to right now!

Self: The Nuance of Social Issues

Audiobooks to understand the foundations of and approaches toward today’s social challenges

Tales of Two Americas

Audiobooks about issues and ideas have always been a large segment of the nonfiction catalog, and we’re honoring that tradition with a collection of audios on social issues your friends and neighbors are talking about. Racial and LGBTQ discrimination, unfairness in the workplace, an upside-down criminal justice system—these are issues that deserve our attention.

Tales of Two AmericasWhile the messaging in print and other media outlets is too often full of passion without mercy and chaotic conversations, the social issue audiobooks we hear are invariably more illuminating than divisive. Written persuasively by well-qualified authors, these audios tackle the foundations and nuance of today’s social challenges and offer appealing ideas about how to handle them.

With audiobooks in this genre, the challenge for narrators is bringing the type of tone, attitude, and character that fits the energy and substance of the message. By carefully modulating their passion, a good reader draws listeners into a book’s point of view instead of throwing hand grenades at them. Just watch a bit of political or local-access TV to get a taste of how bombast and an untrained voice can ruin an idea. Read more…

Tom Walken has spent most of his professional life in clinical psychology, primarily as a psychotherapist and now as a management consultant. Reviewing audio programs for more than two decades has exposed him to some great thinkers and helped him become more effective in his work. But the biggest gift has been how listening helps him grow personally, look at himself with calmer eyes, and connect with others with a kinder heart.