The Bennet Women

Something about EJ sparkled when she spoke like this. Will found it intriguing.

eden Appiah-Kubi
The Bennet Women

Format:
Audiobook

At the time of this review – the ebook + audio is available to borrow via Kindle Unlimited.

Publisher’s Synopsis:
In this delightfully modern spin on Pride and Prejudice, love is a goal, marriage is a distant option, and self-discovery is a sure thing.

Welcome to Bennet House, the only all-women’s dorm at prestigious Longbourn University, home to three close friends who are about to have an eventful year. EJ is an ambitious Black engineering student. Her best friend, Jamie, is a newly out trans woman studying French and theatre. Tessa is a Filipina astronomy major with guy trouble. For them, Bennet House is more than a residence—it’s an oasis of feminism, femininity, and enlightenment. But as great as Longbourn is for academics, EJ knows it can be a wretched place to find love.

Yet the fall season is young and brimming with surprising possibilities. Jamie’s prospect is Lee Gregory, son of a Hollywood producer and a gentleman so charming he practically sparkles. That leaves EJ with Lee’s arrogant best friend, Will. For Jamie’s sake, EJ must put up with the disagreeable, distressingly handsome, not quite famous TV actor for as long as she can.

What of it? EJ has her eyes on a bigger prize, anyway: launching a spectacular engineering career in the “real world” she’s been hearing so much about. But what happens when all their lives become entwined in ways no one could have predicted—and EJ finds herself drawn to a man who’s not exactly a perfect fit for the future she has planned?

Point of view:
3rd person. Various perspectives, usually by chapter, clearly defined.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This was a fun Pride & Prejudice modern reimagining. I’m not a purist on what makes something a “retelling” or “inspired by” or whatever delineations some folks like to make – for me it was if you’re familiar with Pride & Prejudice you’ll enjoy all the nods and references, but if you aren’t you won’t be thinking, “what on earth is this author doing”?

I loved the characters and just had a great time living this year with them. I specifically enjoyed that while EJ, Jamie, Dia, Tessa, Lee, etc. all had these distinct backgrounds and experiences, the tension & drama came more from launching into adult and post-college life than from any unnecessary spats between the characters. I appreciate that Appiah-Kubi acknowledges how trials/struggles have influenced who each person is without making the focus trauma. There’s an immense normality in their uniqueness and it was a great balance.

As with P & P, I felt the pacing lull in certain areas though I don’t know how much of that is just that I can’t connect as well with some aspects of the characters’ lives – being <<gasp>> two decades older. I imagine there’s probably a huge struggle with how to categorize this book: romance? women’s lit? LGBT fiction? NA? YA? etc. Which, I kind of think is awesome – because it really defies being singularly slotted. There is romance, but it’s no more important or detailed than the other major decisions EJ (and to a less extent others) is making in her life. Any sex scenes are closed door and in general sex isn’t the focus of the relationships. Jamie is transgender, but despite some understandable hesitancy regarding how others may initially respond to her, it’s mostly a non-issue. There’s some interesting dynamics around Lee & Will being famous.

Part of me would love another book that gives more on Jamie & Lee and some of the other characters – but I’m glad that they didn’t take over EJ’s story. There is an HEA and a path forward for EJ’s life that I enjoyed.

Note: This is solidly New Adult in terms of being set around graduating college for most of the characters. However, I think this would be a fantastic listen for high school age folks (I happen to have two!).

Narration:
L Morgan Lee was new to me and I really enjoyed her young, vibrant portrayal of the characters. She did a good job of differentiating male, female, young, old, etc. It really was just a fun listen.

About the author:
Eden Appiah-Kubi fell in love with classic novels in fourth grade when her mom read her Jane Eyre, chapter by chapter, as a bedtime story. She’s an alumna of a small New England university with a weird mascot (Go Jumbos!) and a former Peace Corps volunteer. Eden developed her fiction writing through years spent in a small Washington, DC, critique group. Today she works as a librarian and lives in the DC suburbs with her husband and hilarious daughter.

You can connect with Eden Appiah-Kubi here:

About the narrator:
L Morgan Lee (she/her) is an Obie award-winning actress and theatre maker. She is most known for her performance in the Pulitzer Prize winning musical, A Strange Loop which garnered her a Lucille Lortel nomination and the distinction of being the first openly transgender actor to originate a role in a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of theatre.

Dedicated to being a part of work centering underrepresented voices on both stage and screen, she recently, began developing a new play entitled, The Women (2021) with visionary and theatre artist, raja feather kelly. The piece asks a group of women and nonbinary writers to create vignettes speaking to various experiences and expectations of womanhood – and is a sort of present day response to the 1936 Clare Boothe Luce play. The Women (2021) had its first step as a part of Ars Nova’s 2021 Vision Residency.

You can connect with L Morgan Lee here:

My Favorite Quotes

Some days being a woman is choosing the cherry for your shit sundae. – The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimited

He kissed her again in a way that helped her understand the concept of swooning. – The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimited

Children without cable grew up loving their TV for two reasons: Sesame Street and game shows. – The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimited

Ever since you watched Looking for Mr. Goodbar in that seventies film class, you’ve been worse than my mother.- The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimited

Something about EJ sparkled when she spoke like this. Will found it intriguing. – The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimited

Leap of Faith

A performer without an outlet is merely a mannequin.

C. F. White
Leap of Faith

Format:
Audiobook – I happened to buy Audible, but this one is widely distributed and available all the places plus in some libraries.

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Sometimes all you need is a little push.

Running from his shattered gymnastics career, Charlie Avrill’s one hope for redemption is the strange and colorful world of the circus. His skills should make him a good fit for seasoned performer, Darius Lungo. But Darius won’t compromise his high stakes act for just anyone.

Still mourning the loss of his performance partner who unexpectedly abandoned the show, Darius’s heart can’t take another temporary filler. No matter how perfect Charlie might seem at first glance. But the circus is dying, and Darius owes his bosses a stellar act to sell.

Putting their differences aside to recreate the star attraction, Darius and Charlie grow closer with each rehearsal. But Charlie’s only in the ring for a one-night-only performance and the circus is due at its next stop — off the island and into Europe.

Can Charlie push aside his fears and take the leap of faith to change his entire life? And, if he does, will Darius still be there to catch him?

Point of view:
3rd person. Alternating perspectives, not by chapter, but clearly defined.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
I grabbed this on release day because I consistently enjoy CF White & Piers Ryman. I also love age gap & unique tropes – CIRCUS! I’m thankful for other reviews that pointed out this was slow burn – because I saved it for a day when that’s what I was in the mood for.

Darius is turning 40 and while he thoroughly enjoys his life with Godeaux’s Travelling Circus, he pines for something more permanent in his personal life. He’s also quite the grump. While Charlie is in his early 20s, he’s definitely not a sunshine either. White really lets us get to know these two characters and their history and readers see how their lives actually intersected long before they met. I got to know and love Charlie’s family and the Godeaux “found family” which really helped with understanding the MCs better.

Once they get together (about 70% mark) – it gets pretty steamy, but they still struggle to communicate well on what they each want and need in life and from each other. Obviously – ROMANCE! – they do finally work it out. I liked the epilogue in terms of Darius & Charlie’s relationship, and while not a cliffhanger it did kind of open the door to more story.

Note: White commented on another review that she IS continuing Darius & Charlie’s story in a serial on her website called, “Encore!”. Chapter 1 is even in audio. (also, if like me you find it when you need a little more caffeine in your system, scroll down to the bottom & read “up” or you’ll end up reading chapter 2 before you listen to chapter 1.)

Narration:
 I again enjoyed Piers Ryman’s performance. I really liked his growly, grumbly voice for Darius. He did a good job with all the other voices as well. It was easy to listen to and kept the various characters consistent in my mind.

About the author:
Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail–leave.

Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly search for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.

Eventually she moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.

After her second son was born with a rare disability, C F White’s life changed and it brought pen back to and paper after having written stories as a child but never had the confidence to show them to the world. Now, having embarked on this writing journey, C F White can’t stop. So strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride

You can connect with CF White here:

My Favorite Quotes

He was far too important. He was the star after all. And a grouch. A prickly grouch. A prickly and now officially old grouch. – Leap of Faith by @CFWhiteUK #Audiobook narrated by Piers Ryman #MM #Romancce #AgeGap #Gymnast #Acrobat #Circus #SlowBurn

He stroked a hand through thick, almost jet-black hair, then when the couple parted, and the full length of him came into view, Charlie widened spellbound eyes. – Leap of Faith by @CFWhiteUK #Audiobook narrated by Piers Ryman #MM #Romancce #AgeGap #Gymnast #Acrobat #Circus #SlowBurn

he’d effortlessly transformed from the ever-grisly Darius Lungo into—The Flying Romanian, The Angel Air Dancer, The Death-Defying Darius—the performer. – Leap of Faith by @CFWhiteUK #Audiobook narrated by Piers Ryman #MM #Romancce #AgeGap #Gymnast #Acrobat #Circus #SlowBurn

There was a glint of something mischievous, something dark, something roguish twinkling in his eyes and Charlie had to blink to cut himself off from the continued penetration. – Leap of Faith by @CFWhiteUK #Audiobook narrated by Piers Ryman #MM #Romancce #AgeGap #Gymnast #Acrobat #Circus #SlowBurn

A performer without an outlet is merely a mannequin. – Leap of Faith by @CFWhiteUK #Audiobook narrated by Piers Ryman #MM #Romancce #AgeGap #Gymnast #Acrobat #Circus #SlowBurn

Kill for Me

This city might be your house, but you’re a hen and I’m the fox you invited inside it.

Tom Wood
Kill For Me

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
For years, two sisters have vied for the turf of their dead crime boss father. Across the streets of Guatemala City, bodies have piled up; the US Drug Enforcement Agency, operating far from its own borders, is powerless to stop the fighting. 

But now one sister has a weapon that could finally win the war – a cold, amoral hitman known, fittingly, as ‘Victor’. 

Freed from previous employers the CIA and MI6, Victor is a killer for-hire whose sense of self-preservation trumps all else. Yet as betrayal and counter-betrayal unspool in the vicious family feud, Victor finds himself at the centre of a storm even he could be powerless to stop.

Point of view:
3rd person. Alternating perspectives, not by chapter, but clearly defined.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Kill for Me is the 8th Victor the Assassin book by Tom Wood. While I love a series where you can dig in and events continue to unfold and build on each other – this was a bit of a departure from that with completely new locations and characters. I still enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed all the others. This book ties with No Tomorrow as my favorite of the series.

The premise seems simple, kill the sister. As with all of Victor’s jobs, nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. Two warring cartel factions leave a spider web of duplicity to navigate. Even those who hired him are hiding information. Another assassin on the scene complicates things even further.

I love the way Wood brings all these tiny stories and events together. Individually all intriguing and suspenseful but culminating into a fast paced and unpredictable ending. Victor remains an enigma that acts in surprising ways while still so very him.

The only problem with this book is that now I desperately want to listen to book 9, A Quiet Man… alas the audio isn’t available yet.

Narration:
Rob Shapiro continues to give Victor a consistent sound and personality that has made these audios so easy to binge. He also does a fantastic job with all the accents and a delivery so seamless that I’m completely absorbed in the story. He continues to be one of my favorite narrators.

About the author:
You can connect with Tom Wood here:

About the narrator:
Rob Shapiro is a voice actor, narrator, songwriter and performer living in Los Angeles, but he’s really everywhere.

You can connect with Rob Shapiro here:

My Favorite Quotes

He paid no attention to politicians unless he was hired to kill them. – Kill for Me by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #DEA #Cartel

If patience was a virtue it was the only way in which he was virtuous. – Kill for Me by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #DEA #Cartel

When he was a boy the first book he had stolen was about Houdini. – Kill for Me by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #DEA #Cartel

This city might be your house, but you’re a hen and I’m the fox you invited inside it. – Kill for Me by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #DEA #Cartel

“Who are you?”

“I’m your murderer.” – Kill for Me by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #DEA #Cartel

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend

I asked Jeremy because I wanted him to suggest Will Stafford as my fake boyfriend, and that’s exactly what happened.

Jackie Lau
Grumpy Fake Boyfriend

Format:
ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Meet Will Stafford…

I’m a pretty simple guy. When I’m not writing a science fiction novel, I’m watching a good movie or reading a book. Alone. I like my reclusive life. That is, until my only friend asks for a favor—pretend to be his baby sister’s boyfriend on a couples’ getaway. Her ex is going to be there and she needs me as a buffer.

I should have said no, but Naomi is bubbly, energetic, and beautiful. She also means everything to her brother. But now, our fake romance is starting to feel all too real, and I find myself stuck between the promise I made to my friend and risking my heart to the one woman who might actually get me…

Point of view:
1st person. Alternating between Will & Naomi’s perspectives.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
I found Jackie Lau totally by accident (she commented on a tweet by another author I follow) and when I looked up her work – I had to read this! Yup, my second grumpy/sunshine trope of the week PLUS it checked my love of brother’s-best-friend/best-friend’s-sister as well.

This was a delightfully funny, easy to read, and sexy romance. Will & Naomi have known each other for almost 20 years, however they haven’t really spent a lot of time together so this is best enjoyed when in the mood for an insta love story. Set over an extended Canada Day weekend, I liked that Lau gave these characters plenty of conversations to get to know each other. Their quibbles & quips had me laughing out loud.

I wish that we’d learned a little more about Naomi and that she’d spent less time focused on her ex & his new girlfriend. That said, I like the way that Will was there to redirect her energy and thoughts so that she could enjoy the weekend with her friends. The ending was sweet (literally!) and I’m looking forward to more of Lau’s books.

About the author:
Jackie Lau decided she wanted to be a writer when she was in grade two, sometime between writing “The Heart That Got Lost” and “The Land of Shapes.” She later studied engineering and worked as a geophysicist before turning to writing romance novels.

Jackie lives in Toronto with her husband, and despite living in Canada her whole life, she hates winter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys gelato, gourmet donuts, cooking, hiking, and reading on the balcony when it’s raining.

You can connect with Jackie Lau here:

My Favorite Quotes

Fusion is pretty neat, and it would be the solution to everything. Sadly, it’s always fifty years away. – Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by @JackieLauBooks #RomanticComedy #GrumpySunshine #FakeBoyfriend #OppositesAttract #AsianRomCom

People who trash novels because they contain swear words confuse me. I don’t fucking understand them. – Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by @JackieLauBooks #RomanticComedy #GrumpySunshine #FakeBoyfriend #OppositesAttract #AsianRomCom

I asked Jeremy because I wanted him to suggest Will Stafford as my fake boyfriend, and that’s exactly what happened. – Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by @JackieLauBooks #RomanticComedy #GrumpySunshine #FakeBoyfriend #OppositesAttract #AsianRomCom

Sure, my fake boyfriend and I argue a lot, but with him, I never feel any pressure to be anything but who I am. – Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by @JackieLauBooks #RomanticComedy #GrumpySunshine #FakeBoyfriend #OppositesAttract #AsianRomCom

The Hill We Climb

When day comes, we ask ourselves:
Where can we find light
In this never-ending shade?

Amanda Gorman

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration. Taking the stage after the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden, Gorman captivated the nation and brought hope to viewers around the globe. Her poem “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country” can now be cherished in this special audiobook. Including an enduring foreword by Oprah Winfrey, this keepsake celebrates the promise of America and affirms the power of poetry.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is one of those times where the moment of live delivery at a particular moment in history far outshines the impact of the words delivered via audiobook 8 months later. I also think the effusive praise sets an expectation that few could meet.

It’s a lovely poem and I enjoyed Gorman’s delivery.

Note: Understand that outside of a 2 minute introduction by Oprah Winfrey, there is nothing further included in this 10 minute audio (or the ebook). For a commemorative work, I had hoped for a bit more substance. While the audios are somewhat reasonably priced at less than $3, it’s hubris to charge $10 for the digital or physical book versions.

The Final Hour

Dying didn’t hurt, but coming back to life sure did.

Tom Wood
The Final Hour

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Former CIA agent Antonio Alvarez has been tracking a vicious murderer for years, a nameless hitman responsible for numerous homicides.

Once, the Agency deflected him away from his search, but now promotion has given him a second chance to right the past.

Only problem is, the killer has vanished. 

Thousands of miles away, the professional known as Victor has stopped working – recently he began to care; he made mistakes. But there’s another assassin, Raven, who needs his help – and she is hard to refuse . . . 

Point of view:
3rd person. Alternating perspectives, not by chapter, but clearly defined.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
The Final Hour is the 7th Victor the Assassin book by Tom Wood. There are a lot of references to previous books in this one and the series is best enjoyed in order.

Wood brought back Raven!!!! I love, love, love Victor and all these books. However, I simply adore the interplay between these two. It makes for a fantastic story. Or six. Because holy moly did Wood give backstories and smaller incidents to create an intense last third that kept me giving the stink eye to anyone who dared ask me to pause the audio. I enjoy their banter, how they work together, how they fight, and that the fact still remains… neither truly trusts the other.

Yet Victor & Raven make a pact to work together as long as it serves both their interests. With enemies coming at them from all directions it does. Until it doesn’t.

There’s even more depth and insight as we’re treated to Alvarez’s perspective on what it’s like to hunt for Victor. How Victor has alliances and enemies and it’s often difficult to tell them apart.

So good. I’m ready for even more Victor in Kill for Me.

Narration:
Rob Shapiro continues to be a fantastic match for Wood’s writing. Wood has so many personalities, accents, & emotions and Shapiro does justice to them all. I just love listening to these books.

About the author:
You can connect with Tom Wood here:

About the narrator:
Rob Shapiro is a voice actor, narrator, songwriter and performer living in Los Angeles, but he’s really everywhere.

You can connect with Rob Shapiro here:

My Favorite Quotes

If she dies, then I have eliminated a dangerous threat. If she lives, then I have gained a useful associate. – The Final Hour by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA

Dying didn’t hurt, but coming back to life sure did. – The Final Hour by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA

This may not be good for the body but it’s great for the soul. – The Final Hour by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA

If this is your way of asking me out on a date you’re going about it in the worst possible way. – The Final Hour by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA

We have a complicated relationship but at the moment we’re on the same side. – The Final Hour by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA

Omega Mine: Search for a Soulmate

I’m happy. Are you happy? I’m really happy.
Um, so…what do we do now?

Leta Blake
Omega Mine: Search for a Soulmate

Format:
ebook

Note: This was originally released in 2018 under Blake’s pen name, Halsey Harlow. It has been reissued but my understanding is the content has not changed.

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Can an Alpha find his dream Omega on reality TV?

Alpha Hank Morrow is a police officer and Alpha bear shifter who has never found the right Omega. Without the steadying influence of a bond with his Omega, Hank’s powerful Alpha senses are beginning to overwhelm and endanger not only him, but his fellow police officers and the entire city of White Edge. The chief of police and the governor sign Hank up for a reality TV show to help unmatched Alphas find their dream Omega. 

Omega Mine: Search for a Soulmate certainly isn’t Hank’s idea of a great plan, but he’s not given a choice. Now he’s off to a tropical island to meet over one hundred potential Omegas in a televised version of hell. 

Or is it? 

Evan Vaughn is an unmatched Omega. He and Hank have actually met once before at an Alpha-Omega mixer, but apparently he didn’t make much of an impression at the time. Will that change on the set of Omega Mine? And can anything real come out of a reality TV dating show? Hank and Evan are about to find out…

The Bachelor meets Alpha-Omega romance!

This book is nearly 40,000 words of an oblivious bear shifter finally meeting his soul bonded match and a happy ending you’ll love! Warning: There is no mfm in this book. There is no ménage in this book. There is no cheating in this book. There is an attraction to someone that is not the other MC but it does not come to fruition.

Point of view:
3rd person. Mostly from Hank’s perspective but there were two small sections from his police captain’s perspective.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Confession time – I do not like reality TV shows. Look, I’m old enough to remember watching the very first season of Real World on MTV when I was in high school and the current iterations are beyond ridiculous to me. That said, for some bizarre reason – I really like books that use them as a backdrop. I guess because authors, unlike actual show producers, are looking for a happily ever after.

I spotted Omega Mine on Leta Blake’s twitter and jumped on it. She unabashedly advertises this as a fluffy romance with an oblivious bear shifter and that’s what it is. This stand alone was an easy read with two completely opposite characters (another favorite trope of mine). The shifter aspect is used to set up the story and the reason for participating in the show – but I didn’t feel it was actually a huge part of the story. I’m fine either way and it didn’t detract for me.

Hank is a grumpy older bear shifter who needs to find a mate to calm his Alpha-senses so that he doesn’t become a danger to others. Evan is a free-spirited professor who responds to all the show contrived chaos with equanimity. There’s an age gap of Hank being in his 40’s and Evan in his 30’s, and while both are bisexual everything is M/M (no ménage or cheating). There’s a lot of laughs, a tiny bit of drama, and a strong friends-to-lovers feel to it despite the short amount of time the MC’s know each other. Overall a wonderful curl up on the couch weekend read for me.

About the author:
Leta Blake: Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can connect with Leta Blake here:

My Favorite Quotes

Hank sounded so lifeless and boring, so uncommitted. What television viewer, much less prospective Omega, was going to be lured in by that? – Omega Mine by @LetaBlake #MM #Romance #OppositesAttract #Shifters #RealityTV #AlphaOmega

I know you didn’t choose me for any reason other than that you don’t want to punch me—very much. – Omega Mine by @LetaBlake #MM #Romance #OppositesAttract #Shifters #RealityTV #AlphaOmega

It looks like you’ve got a wolf in your room, Captain. – Omega Mine by @LetaBlake #MM #Romance #OppositesAttract #Shifters #RealityTV #AlphaOmega

They curled into each other and said nothing more until sleep claimed them both. – Omega Mine by @LetaBlake #MM #Romance #OppositesAttract #Shifters #RealityTV #AlphaOmega

I’m happy. Are you happy? I’m really happy. Um, so…what do we do now? – Omega Mine by @LetaBlake #MM #Romance #OppositesAttract #Shifters #RealityTV #AlphaOmega

The Highlander’s Enchantment

He was her husband, her protector, and she needed him.

Eliza Knight
The Highlander’s Enchantment

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Lady Blair Sutherland has always followed the rules. As the youngest of five, she’s spent years observing her older siblings misbehaving—but even more importantly she’s learned a lot about smoothing over disputes. On a playful dare with her cousins, Blair writes a fictitious note, and puts it in a bottle, but at the last minute refuses to follow along and send it out to sea. As the months pass, she forgets about what she’s written until a warrior lays siege to her clan’s castle—in her name—claiming her brother is a murderer. For a lass who’s never been in trouble—her world is about to turn itself inside out. 

Laird Edan Rose has been looking for a way to prove himself to his clan after the murder of his older brother. When he was a lad, his father sent him to foster with Robert the Bruce, but never asked him to return home. Gone all these years serving his king, he has to make his mark and show his clan he has what it takes to lead by finding his brother’s killer. When the possible answer to his deliberations comes in the form of a message in a bottle, he wastes no time in taking action. Though he hopes the man responsible for his clan’s pain will surrender, Edan is not afraid to wage war. If he has to, he’ll lay siege to the castle, rescue the lass, and take out his enemies, gaining the respect he seeks.

When a Highlander rides on her brother’s castle, Blair is aware the blame lies at her feet. If the only way to clear her family’s name is by giving herself up to a stranger and helping him find the true assassin—for she’s certain it is not her brother—then she is willing to be the sacrificial lamb. But once she’s in Edan’s arms, the only thing that comes to mind is wondering if his kiss is as powerful as his embrace. Having only desired to show his worth to his clan, Edan is now determined to prove himself worthy of Blair’s heart. However, their passion comes to a halt when the one who wanted his brother dead, decides the two of them are a loftier prize.

Point of view:
3rd person. Alternating POVs, not by chapter but clearly defined.

Rellim’s Thoughts
The Highlander’s Enchantment is the fifth & final book in the Sutherland Legacy series by Eliza Knight. Again, while each book stands on its own – characters and a few minor events from previous books are mentioned and it’s best to listen to these in order.

I admit that the missive in a bottle “set-up” didn’t really work for me as it felt too contrived. That said, once Blair and Eden were together I was as in love with this story and the characters as all the others. Poor Eden just wanted to be a respected warrior and he’s suddenly thrust into being Laird and investigating his brother’s murder. Blair was mostly content to remain the overlooked baby of the family, but she does long to find love, marriage, and a home of her own.

My favorite part of these stories is that Knight creates angst for the couples from external sources. While they have periods of getting to know each other, there’s no pointless relationship drama. Eden & Blair are no different – they are drawn to each other and quickly interest and lust turns to love. Despite a somewhat chaotic backdrop, they are adorable together.

The people of Rose castle have a traitor and murderer in their midst. Even after Connor’s death various people are nearly killed and distrust of the newcomer makes Blair the focus of their suspicions. While keeping them anonymous Knight includes a few creepy sections from this person’s point of view and I liked that it took a while for me to guess who they were.

Again, a great mix of sweet, sexy, mystery, suspense, and peril. It’s a great series that I’ve enjoyed listening to every book of.

Narration:
Antony Ferguson is again a great match with Knight’s writing. He does a wonderful job with voices, accents, and emotions. I really enjoy how he brings all the unique personalities to life.

About the author:
Eliza Knight is a USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of sizzling historical romance. Under the name E. Knight, she pens riveting historical fiction. She runs the award-winning blog, History Undressed. When not reading, writing and researching, she likes to cuddle up in front of a warm fire with her own knight in shining armor.

You can connect with Eliza Knight here:

About the narrator:
AudioFile Earphones Award winner Antony Ferguson is a native of London, England. He is a classically trained actor and has appeared in numerous productions in London, Off-Broadway, and regional theater. As a voice actor, he has over fifty audiobooks to his credit and was recommended by the “All About Romance” Web site as one of the best male narrators at performing female characters. He lives in Los Angeles.

You can connect with Antony Ferguson here:

My Favorite Quotes

Ye stood on that field of flowers in naught but a night rail looking like ye wanted to do battle with me. – The Highlander’s Enchantment by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Mystery #Suspense

She wanted to be a living saint, and now she’d had a taste of what it meant to be wild and…she liked it. – The Highlander’s Enchantment by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Mystery #Suspense

You see, my darling, the things we really want—sometimes they come to us disguised as something else. So you must ask yourself what you really want. – The Highlander’s Enchantment by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Mystery #Suspense

I canna marry ye simply because I want to keep on kissing ye. – The Highlander’s Enchantment by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Mystery #Suspense

They spent the rest of the day in each other’s arms, discovering what made each of them gasp and sigh, until Blair was delirious with happiness and completely sated. – The Highlander’s Enchantment by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Mystery #Suspense

He was her husband, her protector, and she needed him. – The Highlander’s Enchantment by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Mystery #Suspense

White Trash Warlock

Spirit is life. So all living things have magic. That’s why the immortals have more magic than any of us.

David R. Slayton
White Trash Warlock

Format:
Audiobook

Note: While the author’s website only links to Audible for the audio – it’s available on other platforms like Libro.fm, Kobo, Chirp, etc.

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Not all magicians go to schools of magic.

Adam Binder has the Sight. It’s a power that runs in his bloodline: the ability to see beyond this world and into another, a realm of magic populated by elves, gnomes, and spirits of every kind. But for much of Adam’s life, that power has been a curse, hindering friendships, worrying his backwoods family, and fueling his abusive father’s rage.

Years after his brother, Bobby, had him committed to a psych ward, Adam is ready to come to grips with who he is, to live his life on his terms, to find love, and maybe even use his magic to do some good. Hoping to track down his missing father, Adam follows a trail of cursed artifacts to Denver, only to discover that an ancient and horrifying spirit has taken possession of Bobby’s wife.

It isn’t long before Adam becomes the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, save his sister-in-law, and learn the truth about his father, Adam will have to risk bargaining with very dangerous beings … including his first love.

Point of view:
3rd person. By chapter. Mostly from Adam but some from Bobby’s perspective.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
White Trash Warlock is David R. Slayton’s debut novel and the first of his Adam Binder series. I loved it! It’s a unique and sometimes dark combination of paranormal, urban fantasy, mystery, suspense, thriller and romance.

Slayton has created a fantastic world that’s easy to get immersed in. I listened to this in two days and didn’t want to push pause. I couldn’t help but be invested as Adam investigated the magic (good and bad) that is deeply entrenched in himself, his family, and the world. His searching revealed a host of magical beings and traveling between the mortal world and spirit realm. I admit that urban fantasy isn’t a genre I have a lot of experience with, but Slayton gave enough information so that I didn’t feel lost without disrupting the pacing.

While there was a bit of a romantic element, it was discussions of previous relationships and the very beginning of a new one. The “steamy” didn’t go past a few kisses. Poor Adam was hurt by his first boyfriend and has always had a hard time balancing love with the drawbacks to having magical gifts so it was nice to see him get a bit of an HEA. I don’t want to say with who because how that unfolded was a part of what I really enjoyed about this story and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.

I felt that all the characters were dynamic and while mostly from Adam’s point-of-view – there’s definitely a group that has formed. Each brings individual talents, information, perspectives, and sometimes baggage. The banter is at times sharp, sad, and witty. Long-held secrets are revealed in ways that change all of them.

I wouldn’t consider this a cliffhanger per se as there is definitely resolution to many mysteries introduced at the beginning of the book. However, even more are uncovered so I’m looking forward to spending time in this series. Book 2, Trailer Park Trickster, will be released in October. I’ll definitely be listening to this again before then.

Narration:
Michael David Axtell did a wonderful job narrating this. There is a huge cast of characters to work with – men, women, old, young, various accents, and lots of emotions. Axtell’s performance was terrific and helped me feel fully immersed in Slayton’s world.

I won a free copy of this audiobook from entering a BookSweeps giveaway and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

About the author:
David R. Slayton grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where finding fantasy novels was pretty challenging and finding fantasy novels with diverse characters was downright impossible. Now he lives in Denver, Colorado and writes the books he always wanted to read.

You can connect with David R. Slayton here:

About the narrator:
From Axtell’s website: Let me tell you a bit about myself.  I come from Everywhere, USA (in order: Connecticut, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Pennsylvania, New York). Too far back?  Okay, fine.  Currently I live in New York City with my wife and dog and work as an actor, singer, narrator and pianist.  I am a passionate performer and storyteller and am fascinated by communicating to audiences through different mediums.  For a time after college, I pursued music and toured with the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble, Chanticleer.  However, I realized I craved a more theatrically based performance path, so I left Chanticleer to pursue my MFA in Acting from The New School for Drama (’17).  I also began recording audiobooks for ACX which opened up an entire industry of exciting possibility and opportunity!

You can connect with Michael David Axtell here:

My Favorite Quotes

Guthrie was a good place to be from, but it wasn’t a great place to live, not when you were like Adam, in all the ways Adam was like Adam. – White Trash Warlock by @drslayton @BlackstoneAudio #Audiobook narrated by #MichaelDavidAxtell #UrbanFanstasy #Mystery #Suspense #Thriller #Paranormal #MM #Romance

It’s always swords with you, Adam Lee. – White Trash Warlock by @drslayton @BlackstoneAudio #Audiobook narrated by #MichaelDavidAxtell #UrbanFanstasy #Mystery #Suspense #Thriller #Paranormal #MM #Romance

Kissing was great. Sex was nice, but he craved something else, something he didn’t have a name for. – White Trash Warlock by @drslayton @BlackstoneAudio #Audiobook narrated by #MichaelDavidAxtell #UrbanFanstasy #Mystery #Suspense #Thriller #Paranormal #MM #Romance

Spirit is life. So all living things have magic. That’s why the immortals have more magic than any of us. – White Trash Warlock by @drslayton @BlackstoneAudio #Audiobook narrated by #MichaelDavidAxtell #UrbanFanstasy #Mystery #Suspense #Thriller #Paranormal #MM #Romance

I might hate your guts, but I’ll do what I can for her. – White Trash Warlock by @drslayton @BlackstoneAudio #Audiobook narrated by #MichaelDavidAxtell #UrbanFanstasy #Mystery #Suspense #Thriller #Paranormal #MM #Romance

He fed the meter a few quarters. Contented, it tried to lick his face before closing its eyes and drifting to sleep like a cat in the sun. – White Trash Warlock by @drslayton @BlackstoneAudio #Audiobook narrated by #MichaelDavidAxtell #UrbanFanstasy #Mystery #Suspense #Thriller #Paranormal #MM #Romance

The Highlander’s Secret Vow

I swear, I will never let anyone hurt ye again, lass.

Eliza Knight
The Highlander’s Secret Vow

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
When Liam Sutherland was a lad of fifteen summers, he saved a Sassenach lassie’s life, and secretly vowed to always keep her safe. As the prized warrior for his clan, and youngest son of the laird, his responsibilities at the castle continue to mount, and just when he’s about to forge a name for himself, he receives a mysterious missive that has the power to make him leave everything behind.

Cora Segrave, daughter of an English baron, owes her life to the Scot who saved her years ago during a border raid. When her family home is destroyed, and they are taken prisoner, there is only one man she knows can save her—the one man she’s never been able to forget.

Answering Cora’s plea for aid will jeopardize Liam’s reputation, and maybe even cause a rift with his family, but a vow is a vow, and he cannot turn his back on her—or his heart. The only choice he has is to save her before it’s too late, and pray his family and king will understand. In saving her, just maybe he’ll be able to save himself.

Point of view:
3rd person. Alternating POVs by chapter.

Rellim’s Thoughts
The Highlander’s Secret Vow is the fourth book in the Sutherland Legacy series by Eliza Knight. Again, while each book stands on its own – characters and a few minor events from previous books are mentioned and it’s best to listen to these in order.

While I truly enjoyed the others, this is probably my favorite so far. I just adore Knight’s mix of sweet, sexy, mystery, suspense and a little humor. These books are so easy to listen to and Liam and Cora are particularly endearing. Most of the conflict come from external sources so there’s little unnecessary angst. I also love that she gives the characters plenty of time to get to know each other and I always feel like they’re perfect for each other.

The pacing of this one was fantastic with a big rescue, travel, a battle, and several people who can’t be trusted. I really loved the ending and the chance to do a little catching up on the other Sutherlands. I do admit to wishing one character would have fallen off a horse or something given their behavior, but Knight is kinder than I am.

Looking forward to the final book of the Sutherland siblings, featuring Blair, The Highlander’s Enchantment.

Narration:
Antony Ferguson continues to be a great match with Knight’s writing and these characters. It’s so easy to dive right back into this world with Ferguson in my ears.

Content Warning (may contain spoilers): Attempted rape. The same antagonist tries twice. I would consider the description of the first attempt minimal on details, but it is mentioned several times. The second is a present-tense attack that features physical assault & ends in the female character fighting back & nearly killing her attacker.

About the author:
Eliza Knight is a USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of sizzling historical romance. Under the name E. Knight, she pens riveting historical fiction. She runs the award-winning blog, History Undressed. When not reading, writing and researching, she likes to cuddle up in front of a warm fire with her own knight in shining armor.

You can connect with Eliza Knight here:

About the narrator:
AudioFile Earphones Award winner Antony Ferguson is a native of London, England. He is a classically trained actor and has appeared in numerous productions in London, Off-Broadway, and regional theater. As a voice actor, he has over fifty audiobooks to his credit and was recommended by the “All About Romance” Web site as one of the best male narrators at performing female characters. He lives in Los Angeles.

You can connect with Antony Ferguson here:

My Favorite Quotes

without fear, one is reckless. And when one is reckless, everyone gets hurt. – The Highlander’s Secret Vow by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Sassenach

Come soon, for I fear my death. – The Highlander’s Secret Vow by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Sassenach

the thin string holding her together was tearing, one fiber at a time. – The Highlander’s Secret Vow by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Sassenach

This was not the reunion I had imagined. – The Highlander’s Secret Vow by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Sassenach

I swear, I will never let anyone hurt ye again, lass. – The Highlander’s Secret Vow by @ElizaKnight #Audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson @BlackstoneAudio #SutherlandLegacy #ScottishRomance #HistoricalRomance #Sassenach