Dark State

What they were to accomplish did not require idle conversation, just steely resolve.

Jack Slater
Dark State

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Long ago, men of violence ruled with an iron fist. They owed loyalty only to themselves. Their names were whispered but never spoken. In parts of the world, those old traditions still hold strong. Power there spews from the barrel of a gun. Laws are shaped with lead, taxes paid in cold dread.

But not America. Because we, too, have those whose names are whispered. Men who know nothing but the gray zone between life and death, whose only calling in life is to do the things the rest of us dare not, the things that keep us safe. Men like the Hangman, a covert operative whose feats became the stuff of legend. He was the tip of the spear—the man his country unleashed when all hope was lost. Six months ago, someone sold him out. The agency listed him as “killed in action”. He lost everything he held dear.

But legends never die…the Hangman is back. And he’s looking for blood.

Fans of Ryan, Reacher, and Bourne will love betrayed CIA operative Jason Trapp, who stars in a pulse-pounding revenge thriller in 2019’s breakout hit.

Note: Dark State was previously published as Deep State.  

Point of view:
3rd person. Mostly Trapp’s perspective, but several other key characters POVs as well.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
A huge thank you to Kronos Ananthsimha for recommending Dark State. This is the first book in Jack Slater’s Jason Trapp series. Despite being my first experience with Slater as well with narrator Mark Garkusha, I immediately grabbed the audio based on his rec. So glad I did.

The action and mystery start immediately with the events that will be known as “Bloody Sunday”. Slater does a good job balancing worldbulding, suspense, digital spying, and various responses. Trapp finds himself unwittingly drawn into to the conflict and then learns he’s central to solving the mystery of who is behind terrorist attacks. This has strong political thriller elements as well. Pacing was well done and made it difficult anytime I had to stop listening.

I enjoyed the secondary characters, especially President Nash and FBI agent Dani Carter. I hope she’s going to be in future books. Even the protagonist was someone you love to hate. With lots of unreliable folks around, it took me a bit to figure out who it was.

I liked the way Slater wrapped things up. It’s wide open where Jason Trapp can go from here and I’m looking forward to False Flag. However, I’ll absolutely be waiting for the audiobook because…

Narration:
I was nervous listening because not only is Garkusha new to me, this is his first audiobook narration. Garkusha blew me away and I don’t have a single complaint about his performance. He graciously replied to an IG post earlier this week that he’s not new to VO or acting. That experience has obviously paid off. He does a wonderful job with all the emotions, evoking tension, and giving all the characters unique voices and accents consistent with Slater’s writing. What a fantastic listen and I’ll be eagerly waiting for more audios with Garkusha at the helm.

Content Warnings (possible spoilers):
The main theme of this is terrorism and there are several mass shootings. Domestic white nationalists play a large role in the conspiracy which includes racially motivated murders.

About the author:
You can connect with Jack Slater here:

About the narrator:
You can connect with Mark Garkusha here:

My Favorite Quotes

What they were to accomplish did not require idle conversation, just steely resolve. – Dark State by #JackSlater #Audiobook narrated by @markdmitri #Thriller #JasonTrapp #Suspense #Action

“This is a secure line.” “No,” Greaves said quietly, running his fingers through his hair. “Not for this, it isn’t.” – Dark State by #JackSlater #Audiobook narrated by @markdmitri #Thriller #JasonTrapp #Suspense #Action

At the highest levels of government, the process used to identify a target, locate its coordinates and authorize its destruction is known as a ‘kill chain.’ – Dark State by #JackSlater #Audiobook narrated by @markdmitri #Thriller #JasonTrapp #Suspense #Action

So far we’ve tracked almost a hundred separate attacks across thirty-two states, involving upward of three hundred terrorists. – Dark State by #JackSlater #Audiobook narrated by @markdmitri #Thriller #JasonTrapp #Suspense #Action

We’ve gone way past ‘lose your badge’ territory. I’m looking at a ten-year stint at ADX Florence for dereliction of duty. So I guess I’m all in. – Dark State by #JackSlater #Audiobook narrated by @markdmitri #Thriller #JasonTrapp #Suspense #Action

Countdown to Midnight

Now it was time to find out if all their careful planning would pay off.

Dale Brown
Countdown to Midnight

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Nick Flynn is back in action, and he has a new employer–a shadowy intelligence outfit whose roots go back to the very beginning of the Cold War. But his first mission for them almost becomes his last. While meeting with a high-ranking Iranian dissident in the Austrian Alps, Flynn is ambushed and nearly killed… just after learning that Iran and Russia are working together on a mysterious project–one they have codenamed MIDNIGHT.

Flynn is determined to uncover MIDNIGHT’s lethal secrets. Why are Moscow and Tehran covertly retrofitting a massive oil tanker in an Iranian port? What purpose lies behind their closely guarded effort, the brainchild of Pavel Voronin–a ruthless billionaire allied with Russia’s autocratic president?

Flynn and his new team plan to put an end to the nefarious project, but they’re dogged at every step by Voronin’s hired Raven Syndicate killers–elite veterans of Russia’s special forces and intelligence services. As they track the enemy from the streets of Vienna to deep inside hostile Iran, Flynn and his crew must repeatedly risk their lives to pierce the layers of deception around this shadow war.

It’s a race against time to stop Voronin from launching his terrifying new weapon against the United States–potentially killing hundreds of millions and overturning the world’s balance of power forever. The odds are stacked high against Flynn and his team… but that’s never stopped Nick before.

Point of view:
3rd person. Various characters perspectives

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Another action packed addition to the Nick Flynn series. Though – maybe it should be called the Flynn/Van Horn series. Nick is a lot of fun as a protagonist and Laura Van Horn compliments him perfectly and they make a wonderful team. Also, I love authors who write strong, competent, and talented women on teams. While Flynn is the “main character” – this is a team effort. Some old favorites from book 1, Arctic Storm Rising, reappear and it’s enjoyable to see this group reunite.

Brown writes from many perspectives which lets the listener get to know many, many characters well. Even the antagonists are well developed and, while I wasn’t cheering for their success, I was still invested in their stories.

This is a complete story – well paced, full of action, and culminating in a nail-biting final showdown. However, Brown teases that evil has not been completely vanquished and there’s definitely more to come for Nick, Laura, and the rest of the Quartet Directorate.

Narration:
Rob Shapiro was fantastic as always. Brown had so many characters from all over the world encompassing a variety of accents and personalities. Even if the text didn’t say, I would know exactly who was talking based on Shapiro’s unique voices for each of them. This had a lot of emotion that comes through in his performance as well. I can’t imagine reading these to myself. Great listen.

About the author:
You can connect with Dale Brown 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

Being shot at sure got old fast. – Countdown to Midnight by @AuthorDaleBrown #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #NickFlynn #Thriller #Suspense

“Lean back, Nick,” Laura Van Horn said conversationally. Then she fired twice with her own pistol, the sound of the shots deafeningly loud inside the car. – Countdown to Midnight by @AuthorDaleBrown #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #NickFlynn #Thriller #Suspense

I did a lot of fishing with my grandfather when I was a kid. And I don’t remember ever seeing a worm that was worth spit when we were done. – Countdown to Midnight by @AuthorDaleBrown #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #NickFlynn #Thriller #Suspense

Now it was time to find out if all their careful planning would pay off. – Countdown to Midnight by @AuthorDaleBrown #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #NickFlynn #Thriller #Suspense

Maybe we’re not strictly bound by the laws of war, but I’d still draw the line at inflicting my mother on an enemy force—even on a bunch of terrorists. – Countdown to Midnight by @AuthorDaleBrown #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #NickFlynn #Thriller #Suspense

Beach Thing

I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated great sex with ice cream before.

DL White
Beach Thing

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Wade Marshall, super producer to one of hip hop’s brightest stars, was supposed to spend the summer on Black Diamond getting away from the rush of Brooklyn, ridding himself of the distractions that had been impacting his work so he can do what he does best – make beats. But the day he meets Ameenah, he becomes consumed by an entirely different and more attractive distraction–his bold, beautiful, sexy neighbor with the “glorious hips” and a penchant for ice cream.

Ameenah Porter, daughter of successful New York restaurateurs, moves to the beach town of Black Diamond to fulfill her dream of opening a smoothie shop. She doesn’t need the distraction of a new man but the tall, dark and handsome Wade, who’s staying in the giant sized home at the end of her block, is irresistible.

Ameenah’s days at Tikis & Cream are spent cooling off her customers with her gourmet smoothie blends. Her nights on the shores of Black Diamond Bay are enchanting and romantic, and soon Wade and Ameenah find themselves in the middle of a Beach Thing… a fun, meaningless tryst that will end when the summer is over.

Or will it?

Wade is returning to Brooklyn at the end of the summer. Ameenah lives on Black Diamond. Neither want this Beach Thing to end… so is this fling really a fling or is it the beginning of something real… and will they realize it in time?

Indulge in a fun, steamy #beachyblackromance and join me on Black Diamond.

Point of view:
1st person. Alternating between Ameenah & Wade’s perspectives.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
I loved this! The great part about Wade and Ameenah agreeing that their summer fling was finite is that there was practically no angst for the majority of the book. They got to know each other, had a great time, adventurous dates, humor, and enjoyed amazing sex. Both are strong and driven, committed to their businesses, and complemented each other really well.

Things get tricky when they each realize it’s more than just a “Beach Fling” and aren’t sure how the other feels. A little parental drama on both sides. Then they come back together beautifully.

Cute little epilogue. This was the perfect Summer listen.

Narration:
Sharell Palmer was fantastic here. I like the way she distinguishes the chapters that are from Wade’s perspective in a slightly lower register. She does a good job with all the character voices & personalities. Wade & Meenah have a lot of banter that Palmer brought through as well. Easy listen.

About the author:
DL White began pursuing a writing career in 2011 after enjoying a lifetime of reading and hobby writing. In 2015, she published Brunch at Ruby’s, an upmarket fiction novel about three lifelong best friends and the soul food cafe at the center of their friends. Since then, she has published ten Black romance and women’s fiction titles in ebook, print and audio formats with more to come.

DL has a legendary love for coffee, fried chicken, and brunch, especially on a patio. Her true obsession is water: lakes, rivers, oceans, waterfalls! 
When not writing books, she devours them. She publishes reviews and thoughts on writing and books on the blog and publishes short fiction on her podcast.

DL lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

You can connect with DL White here:

About the narrator:
You can connect with Sharell Palmer here:

My Favorite Quotes

The status quo has a way of lowering expectations. I can’t do great things in the same old surroundings. – Beach Thing by @Author_DLWhite #Audiobook narrated by @rogueminkhouse #Romance #BeachRead

I don’t know what’s happening right now. And I don’t know if I should fight it or let it happen. – Beach Thing by @Author_DLWhite #Audiobook narrated by @rogueminkhouse #Romance #BeachRead

I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated great sex with ice cream before. – Beach Thing by @Author_DLWhite #Audiobook narrated by @rogueminkhouse #Romance #BeachRead

It felt like that moment when the sun goes behind a cloud — immediate coolness, loss of brightness and warmth. I already missed her, and she was standing right in front of me. – Beach Thing by @Author_DLWhite #Audiobook narrated by @rogueminkhouse #Romance #BeachRead

Buy a Bullet

The watcher knows now. She is the one. She is the catalyst for his reinvention.

Gregg Hurwitz
Buy a Bullet

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
The Nowhere Man is a figure shrouded in secrecy—a near legendary figure who helps those lucky few who are given the means to reach out to him.

Before he was the Nowhere Man, Evan Smoak was a highly trained government operative known to a few as Orphan X. This is the story of Smoak’s first outing as the Nowhere Man, where after a gear run to Northern California, he happens to spot a young woman at a coffee shop. Brutalized and under the control of a very powerful, unscrupulous man, she knows her life is in danger if she doesn’t escape. And the only person who can help her do that is a man with the background and skills of the Nowhere Man.

Point of view:
3rd person. Entirely from Evan’s perspective.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is book 1.5 of the Evan Smoak series. While it doesn’t contain spoilers to book 1, Orphan X – it’s brevity would best be enjoyed after that background. This review may contain spoilers to previous books.

Short story of a self-identified case that restarts Evan’s “career” as The Nowhere Man. Surveillance and then rescue. Enjoyable hour.*

Narration:
Scott Brick was great.

*Note: If you’re buying the ebook, only 24% of it is the story. The rest is a preview for book 2.

About the author:
You can connect with Gregg Hurwitz here:

About the narrator:
You can connect with Scott Brick here:

My Favorite Quotes

The watcher knows now. She is the one. She is the catalyst for his reinvention. – Buy a Bullet by @GreggHurwitz #Audiobook narrated by @ScottBrick #Thriller #Suspense #ShortStory

Orphan X

When people talk about being tough, maybe that’s all it means— when you’ve got no choices left. You just have to keep going until it’s over.

Gregg Hurwitz
Orphan X

Format:
Audiobook

Note: At the time of this review, the book is available to borrow via Kindle Unlimited with audio included.

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Who is Orphan X?

The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them. But he’s not merely a legend.

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as an Orphan, an off-the-books black box program designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence asset: An assassin. Evan was Orphan X—until he broke with the program and used everything he learned to disappear. But now someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training who will exploit Evan’s secret new identity as the Nowhere Man to eliminate him.

Point of view:
3rd person. Entirely from Evan’s perspective.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
As with most thrillers, it’s hard to explain how much you love them without spoiling anything. Hurwitz’s writing is superb – I was enthralled from the first chapter until the last line. The worldbuilding was as intriguing as the action & suspense. I love that Evan is well trained, but there’s others who are as well – so he’s not operating perfectly or without challenge. It’s hard to know who to trust as a listener and while consistent, Evan is in no way predictable.

I loved the juxtaposition of his “everyday life”, as much as anyone like Evan can have one, with his missions as The Nowhere Man. His relationship with Peter is particularly endearing.

Lots of action, suspense, spy craft, yet layered with an admirable sense of humanity. Twists, turns, and surprises kept me on the edge of my seat. Even knowing there are currently 10 books in the series, I still found myself unsure if Evan would make it out of some situations.

I’m ready to settle in and binge the series.

Narration:
Scott Brick is terrific. He’s a great fit for thrillers and does a fantastic job with all the characters and emotions as well as heightening the anticipation. Great listen.

About the author:
You can connect with Gregg Hurwitz here:

About the narrator:
You can connect with Scott Brick here:

My Favorite Quotes

He had never broken a Commandment and was not about to start now. – Orphan X by @GreggHurwitz #Audiobook narrated by @ScottBrick #Thriller #Suspense

Have you ever had sex with an animal? No. Where does loyalty stop? When someone asks you to have sex with an animal. In the corner Jack sprays out a mouthful of coffee. – Orphan X by @GreggHurwitz #Audiobook narrated by @ScottBrick #Thriller #Suspense

When people talk about being tough, maybe that’s all it means—when you’ve got no choices left. You just have to keep going until it’s over. – Orphan X by @GreggHurwitz #Audiobook narrated by @ScottBrick #Thriller #Suspense

Assessing the genuine in the everyday was his particular blind spot, as he had never lived in the everyday. – Orphan X by @GreggHurwitz #Audiobook narrated by @ScottBrick #Thriller #Suspense

Jack’s voice came to him: Shot placement trumps all calibers. – Orphan X by @GreggHurwitz #Audiobook narrated by @ScottBrick #Thriller #Suspense

The Firstborn

It was a sudden need to protect her, this woman who had stood before the censure of society, giving up her chance to marry well, to be anything more than an outcast with a gentleman’s bastard on her hip and no other family to come to her aid.

Quenby Olson
The Firstborn

Format:
ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Can they put aside their differences for the sake of an innocent child?

Sophia has sacrificed everything for her younger sister, Lucy. She has removed them from the only home they ever knew, taken on the care of Lucy’s illegitimate son, George, and even assumed the role of a widow and mother in order to erase all hint of scandal from the boy’s birth. But rumor continues to follow them like the darkest of clouds, and Sophia must adapt to her new existence as a false widow with no prospects beyond the doors of her small cottage.

Lord Haughton will stop at nothing to prevent the slightest whiff of disgrace from tainting his family’s name. When he learns of his younger brother’s latest indiscretion-one that leaves a bastard child in his wake-Haughton rushes across the country to offer the boy’s mother a comfortable living in exchange for her silence about the child’s true parentage. But he arrives only to have his generous offer thrown back in his face by Sophia Brixton, a sharp-tongued and sharper-witted woman who proceeds to toss him out of her house. But just because he is banished from her home does not mean he is so easily banished from her life.

Point of view:

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This was a wonderful stand alone closed door historical romance (nothing more than a kiss). I love reads with all the emotions and this one definitely fit: it had me laughing, crying, fretting, swooning and everything in between. Sophie & Finn were so similar in personality but their stations in life kept them from seeing it. Thrust together by their siblings’ illegitimate child – each approached how to care & provide for George in a different way.

George wasn’t just a prop in the story – he was integral and appeared in nearly every chapter. Sophie is an amazing de facto mother to him when her sister Lucy skips town. I liked that while Finn & Sophie initially didn’t get along, Olson crafted a story filled with each of them slowly growing to respect and understand the other. Finn’s sister, Bess was a lot of fun (does she get her own book?? Please!).

Overall a lovely read. I’ll be checking out more of Olson’s work.

About the author:
You can connect with Quenby Olson here:

My Favorite Quotes

I don’t have to punish myself. The majority of the town seems more than capable of doing that for me. – The Firstborn by @QEisenacher #HistoricalRomance

I’d rather take this opportunity to remind you that George is as much your brother’s son as my sister’s. So take care to recall that every insult you so carelessly toss over that child’s head, he is your flesh and blood. – The Firstborn by @QEisenacher #HistoricalRomance

Sunday was to be set aside as a day of rest and reflection, but she suspected the authors of said rule had never found themselves running a household which contained a babbling infant as one of its occupants. – The Firstborn by @QEisenacher #HistoricalRomance

Finnian counted backwards from ten while wondering if his sister would forgive him for throwing their little brother through a window. – The Firstborn by @QEisenacher #HistoricalRomance

It was a sudden need to protect her, this woman who had stood before the censure of society, giving up her chance to marry well, to be anything more than an outcast with a gentleman’s bastard on her hip and no other family to come to her aid. – The Firstborn by @QEisenacher #HistoricalRomance

The Beach in Winter

The writer in me tries to find the right words to describe what’s occurred. I’ve whittled it down to two sentences. I was lost. She appeared.

Leslie Pike
The Beach in Winter

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
It’s said no man is an island. But writer Parish Adams is out to prove them wrong. Broken and unable to bear the violent death of his child, he’s isolated himself on a private beach in Maine. He finds no comfort in the warmth of relationships. For Parish, the cold Atlantic Ocean is company enough. 

Scarlett Lyon’s life has taken a dramatic turn. Single and independent, living in Montana, nothing was tying her down. Then her sister’s fatal accident changes everything. She finds herself guardian for her nephew Sam. Now she must relocate to Martin’s Beach. And more jarring than that, become a mother figure. 

Three wounded hearts. Two passionate souls. One tempestuous beach in winter.

Point of view:
1st person. Alternating between Scarlett & Parish’s perspectives.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is the second book in the Lyon Family series. Book 1, A Love for All Seasons is a prequel short story about how the Lyon parents met. You could easily enjoy this without it, but that’s a fun listen if you have a chance.

Pike put me through the wringer with all the feelings in this book. And I loved every minute of it. Grab the tissues fellow listeners, you’re going to need them.

Parish is grieving the loss of his son and Scarlett is new guardian to her 13yo nephew after the loss of his parents. Pike weaves a budding romance through the healing process that all three of these precious souls are going through. The poignant mix of grief, anger, happiness, love, and finding a “new normal” is wonderfully crafted here.

I like that they each have individual relationships – Scarlett & Parish, Scarlett & Sam, and Sam & Parish. Pike gives them all experiences so that they all get to know each other and I adored getting to know them too. I was thrilled with the way she wrapped things up and gave them the perfect epilogue.

I’m looking forward to Nobel’s book, A River in Spring.

Narration:
Maxine Mitchell and Joe Arden are an absolute dream team and they elevated an already fantastic book to another level. It’s an art to bring all the emotions of this writing to life without overdoing it and they were perfection here.

Content Warning (spoilers):
alcohol abuse, death of Parish’s son in a school shooting, non-descript suicide of minor character, suicidal ideations by MC, death of Sam’s parents/Scarlett’s sister & BIL, near drowning of MC & dog

While I already owned the ebook, I did receive a copy of the audiobook from Home Cooked Books and am leaving an honest review.

About the author:
USA TODAY bestselling author, Leslie Pike, has loved expressing herself through the written word since she was a child. The first romance “book” she wrote was at ten years old. The scene, a California Beach. The hero, a blonde surfer. The ending, happily forever after.

Leslie’s passion for film and screenwriting eventually led her to Texas for eight years, writing for a prime time CBS series. She’s traveled the world as part of film crews, from Africa to Israel, New York to San Francisco. Now she finds her favorite creative adventures taking place in her home, in Southern California, writing Contemporary Romance.

You can connect with Leslie Pike here:

About the narrators:
You can connect with Joe Arden here:

You can connect with Maxine Mitchell here:

My Favorite Quotes

Every year in the lead up to the holidays, followed by his birthday, I go darker. This time it started earlier and it’s more intense. – The Beach in Winter by @AuthorLPike #Audiobook narrated by @NarratorMaxine & @TheRealJoeArden

Neither of us are speaking, but all kind of messages are being exchanged silently. – The Beach in Winter by @AuthorLPike #Audiobook narrated by @NarratorMaxine & @TheRealJoeArden

How do I politely ask him to slam me against the wall and fuck me senseless? – The Beach in Winter by @AuthorLPike #Audiobook narrated by @NarratorMaxine & @TheRealJoeArden

Something never felt before passes from her to me and back again. I have no trouble identifying the impression. It’s the feeling this is one of the most purely real moments of my life. – The Beach in Winter by @AuthorLPike #Audiobook narrated by @NarratorMaxine & @TheRealJoeArden

“Van, pull up your pants! Otherwise your pee pee’s going to escape,” my mother says. – The Beach in Winter by @AuthorLPike #Audiobook narrated by @NarratorMaxine & @TheRealJoeArden

The writer in me tries to find the right words to describe what’s occurred. I’ve whittled it down to two sentences. I was lost. She appeared. – The Beach in Winter by @AuthorLPike #Audiobook narrated by @NarratorMaxine & @TheRealJoeArden

“I’m home!” Sam calls from the hall. “Stop kissing.” – The Beach in Winter by @AuthorLPike #Audiobook narrated by @NarratorMaxine & @TheRealJoeArden

Everything I hoped for and all I’m meant to be has been here all along. On this grey, cold, beautiful spot on earth. On the beach in winter. – The Beach in Winter by @AuthorLPike #Audiobook narrated by @NarratorMaxine & @TheRealJoeArden

You Get What You Give

Every day with her is an adventure that I don’t want to end.

Karen Grey
You Get What You Give

Format:
ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
In a sleepy southern coastal town crowned the Hollywood of the East, worlds collide and sparks fly when fate sets up two TV casting directors as accidental rivals.

It’s not just that the town isn’t quite big enough for the two of them. Violet Davenport brings deep roots, local allies, and old-fashioned Southern charm to the table. Nate Fowler’s got deep pockets, tech knowhow, and a family that’s worked in movies since the silent film days.

For their business—and their hearts—to survive, they’ll have to overcome both a bitter hostility and a sweet insta-attraction.

Point of view:
1st Person. Alternating perspectives between Vi, Whitney, Dani, Sully, & Ford.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
While the Carolina Classics series is a loose “spin-off” from Grey’s Boston Classics series (both sets of MCs meet in the prequel, I’ll Stand By You) – you could start here and be fine. New location, new folks, new connections.

Grey mixes it up a bit and this series isn’t interconnected standalones. Each book focuses on a different couple, but you’ll meet all the MCs and there’s definitely some story lines (drama!) that will weave throughout the whole series. I love these kinds of series where you can settle in and really get to know all the characters. 🥰

That doesn’t mean that Violet & Nate are cheated out of their chance to shine. Such a fun couple to get to know as individuals and together in a relationship. After an amazing one-night-stand, a family feud immediately pits these two against each other. Working for competing casting companies suddenly turns lovers to enemies. I really enjoyed the way Grey brought them back together, helped Nate find his real passion, and Vi become a standout in her own right.

Most of the drama comes from Nate’s family, Vi’s friends, and a hurricane. Coastal folks know the chaos created when a tropical storm upgrades at the last moment. Violet’s lifelong friends: Dani, Whitney, Ford, & Sully are also weathering their own storms. While Nate & Vi get a wonderful HFN, a big announcement ends the story on a cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see who gets the next book.

Many thanks to Karen Grey/Home Cooked Books for gifting me an ARC, I’m giving an honest review.

About the author:
Karen Grey is the pen name for award-winning audiobook narrator Karen White. A stage, screen and radio drama actor in Boston, New York and Los Angeles in the late 20thcentury, she balanced child-rearing and career for most of the 2000’s. Now, she’s not only emptied her nest of children, she’s taken it and her many pets on the road, so she can spend more time with her nomadic TV sound mixer husband while she makes up happy-ending stories.

You can connect with Karen Grey here:

My Favorite Quotes

You control everything else in your life to the nth degree. But men? They’re like cute little puppies and you’re the fire hydrant. – You Get What You Give by @KarenWhitereads #CarolinaClassics #Novella #90s #HistoricalRomance

She picks up the end of my tie and begins to reel me in. – You Get What You Give by @KarenWhitereads #CarolinaClassics #Novella #90s #HistoricalRomance

“I’m so sorry,” Whitney says, patting my arm. “Anything I can to to help? Slash his tires? Firebomb his house?” – You Get What You Give by @KarenWhitereads #CarolinaClassics #Novella #90s #HistoricalRomance

When I let go of everything and just feel with this man…that brings me pure bliss. – You Get What You Give by @KarenWhitereads #CarolinaClassics #Novella #90s #HistoricalRomance

Every day with her is an adventure that I don’t want to end. – You Get What You Give by @KarenWhitereads #CarolinaClassics #Novella #90s #HistoricalRomance

Bottles or whatever break, and out there, they get tumbled in the sand and waves until all their sharp edges are worn. – You Get What You Give by @KarenWhitereads #CarolinaClassics #Novella #90s #HistoricalRomance

A Love for All Seasons

In this moment, I sense the future. Feel one year connecting to the next, somehow.

Leslie Pike
A Love for All Seasons

Format:
Audiobook

Note: At the time of this post the audio is on sale for 99¢ across multiple platforms: Kobo, Chirp, & Nook.

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Summertime in Paris, nineteen sixty-nine. Men are on the moon, and American tourist Aurora Masters’ head is in the stars. The sensual sculptor she watches, though a timeworn studio window, is her favorite French piece of art. Mona Lisa who?
 
Gaston Lyon lives up to his name. He is a lion of a Frenchman, strong and confident, with a shoulder length mane. The woman on the bench across the street has come to look for three days. It is time to introduce himself to the one who calls without words.
 
Two strangers and one relentless attraction. It is the Age of Aquarius. Time and distance are no match for chemistry and destiny.

Point of view:
1st person. Alternating between Aurora & Gaston’s perspectives.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is a short story prequel to the Lyons series by Leslie Pike. I didn’t know this was about the parents so it took me a bit to realize the book was set in the 60s. (Totally my fault for not reading the blurb! 🤦🏻‍♀️)

I quickly acclimated and enjoyed the setting. At just under an hour it’s a sweet and steamy look at how Aurora & Gaston met.

I’m ready for Parish & Scarlett’s story, The Beach in Winter.

Narration:
Maxine Mitchell & Joe Arden were wonderful here.

About the author:
USA TODAY bestselling author, Leslie Pike, has loved expressing herself through the written word since she was a child. The first romance “book” she wrote was at ten years old. The scene, a California Beach. The hero, a blonde surfer. The ending, happily forever after.

Leslie’s passion for film and screenwriting eventually led her to Texas for eight years, writing for a prime time CBS series. She’s traveled the world as part of film crews, from Africa to Israel, New York to San Francisco. Now she finds her favorite creative adventures taking place in her home, in Southern California, writing Contemporary Romance.

You can connect with Leslie Pike here:

About the narrators:
You can connect with Joe Arden here:

You can connect with Maxine Mitchell here:

My Favorite Quotes

In this moment, I sense the future. Feel one year connecting to the next, somehow. – A Love for All Seasons by @AuthorLPike #Audiobook narrated by @NarratorMaxine & @TheRealJoeArden #OppositesAttract

Dragon Called

She didn’t know what would happen next, or how he was going to take her, only that he was—and that she wanted to let him.

Cassie ALexander & Kara Lockharte
Dragon Called

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
It’s always a bad idea to fall for a hot, mysterious billionaire with a spooky castle.

Especially when you find out he’s a dragon.

Night nurse Andi Ngo was desperate for money to bail her idiot brother out of jail. A one time nursing gig seemed like the perfect deal: lots of cash, no questions asked. Even when her employer turns out to be the notorious billionaire Damian Blackwood, Andi is determined to keep quiet and finish the job. 

But when Damian saves her life from a monster, there’s no forgetting what she saw – not his insanely superhero physique; not the hungry way he looks at her, like she’s some priceless treasure to be possessed; and definitely not the fact that he’s got another hidden self; he’s an honest-to-god dragon.

Andi knows the dragon shifter’s secret, and he’s definitely far from pleased. 

After a night of monsters and mayhem, he takes her home in his fancy sports car and….asks her for a date.

The expensive, well-tailored suit can’t disguise the fire in his eyes and wildness in his savage smile.

She should say, “no.”

What if she says, “yes?”

Author note: This is the first of a slow burn paranormal romance series featuring a hot dragon shifter hero: heck yes, explicit scenes are in here, but you’ll have to be patient for the HEA to come. 

Point of view:
3rd person. Alternating between Andi & Damian’s perspectives.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is book 1 in the Prince of the Other Worlds series. There is a cute prequel, Dragon’s Don’t Date. You don’t need to listen to that to enjoy this, but it’s a fun intro to the MCs.

While there’s several adventures, questions answered, and some very sexy scenes – relationship wise this is a slow burn spanning multiple books. Damian and Andi have a push/pull and can’t get on the same page at the same time. I like that it isn’t always Damian pushing Andi away.

I love how Andi’s experience as a nurse makes her fairly unfazed when she encounters all the paranormal creatures in Damian’s world. I adored the world that Alexander & Lockharte have built along with a strong romantic suspense element. Normally drawn out relationship drama isn’t my thing, but I really love the action adventure element here. It has me captivated and I’m actually looking forward to Damian & Andi taking a bit to finding their HEA.

Lots to enjoy even with a cliffhanger. I’m looking forward to Dragon Destined.

Narration:
I love Victoria Mei’s performance. She has a wide range of voices, emotions, and personalities. Such a great listen that’s easy to get lost in.

While I own the entire series in ebook, I did receive a copy of the audiobook from Home Cooked Books and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

About the authors:
You can connect with Cassie Alexander here:

You can connect with Kara Lockharte here:

About the narrator:
You can connect with Victoria Mei here:

My Favorite Quotes

Damian had changed in an instant. From the human that he pretended to be, to the dragon that he was. Massive. Mindless. Monstrous. Angry. – Dragon Called by @cassie_author & @KaraLockharte #Audiobook narrated by @ReadbyVictoria #ParanormalRomance #DragonShifter

Andi got to her knees and inhaled because she was an excellent curser in two languages and she was about to tell Austin off, but the look of fear on his face stopped her cold. – Dragon Called by @cassie_author & @KaraLockharte #Audiobook narrated by @ReadbyVictoria #ParanormalRomance #DragonShifter

Which was worse? What ifs or never should haves? – Dragon Called by @cassie_author & @KaraLockharte #Audiobook narrated by @ReadbyVictoria #ParanormalRomance #DragonShifter

She didn’t know what would happen next, or how he was going to take her, only that he was—and that she wanted to let him. – Dragon Called by @cassie_author & @KaraLockharte #Audiobook narrated by @ReadbyVictoria #ParanormalRomance #DragonShifter