Missing

How do I tell them? ‘I’ve found your daughter and I think I’ll keep her for myself.’

M. K. Chester
Missing

Format:
ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
She shouldn’t be alone. He shouldn’t be the one with her.

Private Investigator and ex-Ranger Noah Sullivan arrives in Nashville to identify the victim of a twenty-year-old kidnapping, one of a series of cases in a nation-wide investigation. He plans to locate the victim, hand off information to authorities, and move on. But Quinn Collier has other plans. How dare this handsome stranger ruin her life and not stick around for the fallout?

Uncovering the truth means questioning everything she’s ever known and destroying every barrier he’s ever put up. Finding lust amid the conflict is easy. Love is a whole different story

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

Rellim’s Thoughts:
The only problem with this book is that it’s hard to express what I love about it without giving away spoilers. M.K. Chester sets up a truly unique set of circumstances that seem far-fetched yet entirely realistic and relatable at the same time.

P.I. Noah detonates elementary school teacher Quinn’s life with the revelation that she is not who she thought she was. He’s unable to walk away and it’s easy to feel the strong initial connection between them as well as the developing relationship. While things are a bit bumpy at first, I love that Chester has Noah & Quinn communicate. Most of the angst surrounds working this expanding case, Quinn coming to terms with her family’s involvement, and Noah finally finding peace with his own past.

This isn’t a mystery in the traditional sense – definitely heavier on the romance and the mystery aspect is centered on the two main characters, how it transforms them, and the love that blooms. This is another perfect mix of sweet and sexy. And there’s an epilogue!

Note: While part of a series, the New South Romance books have no overlapping characters or events. These truly stand alone and can be read/listened to in any order.

About the author:
M.K. Chester is an RWA award-winning author of historical and contemporary romance, urban fantasy and non-fiction.  M.K. is a native Buckeye who lives in Tennessee. She’s married to a veteran, MoM (Mother of Marine), and a grandmother. She adores her Scottish Terriers and is fighting Multiple Sclerosis.

You can connect with M.K. Chester here:

My Favorite Quotes

No one wants to rip you from your reality and absolutely none of this is your fault. – Missing by @M_K_Chester #NewSouthRomance #Mystery #PrivateInvestigator #ContemporaryRomance

He didn’t want to be close to her because he wanted so much to be close to her. – Missing by @M_K_Chester #NewSouthRomance #Mystery #PrivateInvestigator #ContemporaryRomance

After what she’d just discovered, he might be the most honest person she knew. – Missing by @M_K_Chester #NewSouthRomance #Mystery #PrivateInvestigator #ContemporaryRomance

How do I tell them? ‘I’ve found your daughter and I think I’ll keep her for myself.’ – Missing by @M_K_Chester #NewSouthRomance #Mystery #PrivateInvestigator #ContemporaryRomance

10 Days

She’d never been so forward in her life, but he seems so worth the effort.

M. K. Chester
10 Days

Format:
ebook & audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Vacation romances weren’t supposed to last. That’s why they were a thing.  

Maid of honor Reagan Newhart arrives in Charleston only to learn the wedding party is delayed for three whole days. On the bride’s advice, she decides it’s time to let loose.  

Russell Gannon, a regular to Charleston, sees a stunning young woman who grabs his attention. They start an affair that lasts until her friends arrive – and they discover they’re in town for the same wedding, that of his estranged daughter. As the star-crossed lovers dive for cover, a vicious ex-wife, entitled bride, and plenty of self-doubt threaten to derail what could be true love. 

Can they commit to something fleeting and defy the odds to capture their happily ever after? 

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

Rellim’s Thoughts:
May/December romance is my jam. I adore it. However, there’s definitely an art to pulling off age gaps as large as 20 years – and M.K. Chester did it really well. With an added twist of the Best Friend’s Father/Daughter’s Best Friend dynamic and balancing sweet with sexy this was a really enjoyable story.

Covering each day per chapter was a unique way to juxtapose a short time period with feeling like Reagan and Russell really got to know one another – Chester turned a vacation fling into a believable romance. I appreciated that she highlighted the age difference without turning Reagan into a helpless damsel in need of rescuing. Russell’s fears were rooted in his past mistakes and it was interesting to see him examine them in a new light. There’s an evil ex stirring up trouble adding to the tension of trying to keep their romance a secret.

Because the story does end on Day 10, I do wish there was a bit of an epilogue – but I think it’s pretty typical when you enjoy characters this much to always want more. This is an audio I see myself listening to again in the future.

Note: While part of a series, the New South Romance books have no overlapping characters or events. These truly stand alone and can be read/listened to in any order.

Narration:
This was my first experience with Sophie Wilson. I thought she did a great job of being able to sound young for Reagan and older and husky for Russell. I appreciated her subtle southern accent for the Charleston natives. Her inflections brought all the characters to life.

I already owned the entire series in ebook from Kobo. However, I received a free copy of this audiobook from Story Origin.

About the author:
M.K. Chester is an RWA award-winning author of historical and contemporary romance, urban fantasy and non-fiction.  M.K. is a native Buckeye who lives in Tennessee. She’s married to a veteran, MoM (Mother of Marine), and a grandmother. She adores her Scottish Terriers and is fighting Multiple Sclerosis.

You can connect with M.K. Chester here:

My Favorite Quotes

Are we flinging? We could be flinging. We should be flinging. – 10 Days by @M_K_Chester #Audiobook narrated by Sophie Wilson #NewSouthRomance #AgeGap #BestFriendsFather #DaughtersBestFriend

She’d never been so forward in her life, but he seems so worth the effort. – 10 Days by @M_K_Chester #Audiobook narrated by Sophie Wilson #NewSouthRomance #AgeGap #BestFriendsFather #DaughtersBestFriend

He stroked her cool cheek and studied her face so he could remember every detail of her when the week had ended. – 10 Days by @M_K_Chester #Audiobook narrated by Sophie Wilson #NewSouthRomance #AgeGap #BestFriendsFather #DaughtersBestFriend

Crashed

Why did she want to touch his hair when not an hour ago she’d wanted to ruin his life?

M. K. Chester
Crashed

Format:
ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Ella Leary will do anything to keep her father’s legacy alive. Levi Northrup stands in her way.

Her first mistake was crashing the publishing mogul’s party, hoping to dig up secrets that will help her save her father’s magazine when she squares off against him in the boardroom. Her second mistake? Spending a long, hot night in his bed.

Levi sees red when he learns Ella’s true identity and gives her only a single issue of her precious magazine to prove herself while he unravels his father’s final, very personal business deal. What he discovers will either drive them apart for good or pull them back into each other’s arms.

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

Rellim’s Thoughts:
After enjoying M.K. Chester’s Bryeton Books series, I was really looking forward to her contemporary work. This is a “take with a grain of salt” review. Enemies to lovers isn’t my favorite trope, I can and have enjoyed it, but generally not with the consistency of other themes. Additionally, the set-up for Ella and Levi meeting as well as the circumstances of their one-night-stand didn’t really work for me. While that’s really only the first two chapters, it’s the basis for large parts of the angst/conflict in the story.

Even though I didn’t love the story – I did read the entire book, I did like Levi and Ella separately, how they worked out their differences. The ending was sexy and sweet and I liked how Chester wrapped things up.

FWIW – I’ve enjoyed Chester’s other books and adored books 2 & 3 in this series: 10 days and Missing.

Note: While part of a series, the New South Romance books have no overlapping characters or events. These truly stand alone and can be listened to in any order.

About the author:
M.K. Chester is an RWA award-winning author of historical and contemporary romance, urban fantasy and non-fiction.  M.K. is a native Buckeye who lives in Tennessee. She’s married to a veteran, MoM (Mother of Marine), and a grandmother. She adores her Scottish Terriers and is fighting Multiple Sclerosis.

You can connect with M.K. Chester here:

My Favorite Quotes

Why did she want to touch his hair when not an hour ago she’d wanted to ruin his life? – Crashed by @M_K_Chester #ContemporaryRomance #EnemiesToLovers

When no rationale saved her, she ignored logic and flew on adrenaline and desire. – Crashed by @M_K_Chester #ContemporaryRomance #EnemiesToLovers

She’d given him the best night of his life and lied to him, all at the same time. – Crashed by @M_K_Chester #ContemporaryRomance #EnemiesToLovers

So much hard work to get to this moment, this place with her.  And worth all the effort he had in his body. – Crashed by @M_K_Chester #ContemporaryRomance #EnemiesToLovers

My Sister’s Fear

No matter how we try to protect the people we love, there is always the chance that we’ll fail.

T.J. Jones
MY Sister’s Fear

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
The investigations are heating up and so is the romance. A woman is missing, one of their own is kidnapped, and a young girl is sold into prostitution. Slater and Maggie take on organized crime to put an end to the trafficking of girls on the Florida coast and finally stop the man that killed Slater’s best friend.

Point of view:
1st person. Entirely from Eric’s POV.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
I was really looking forward to this book after listening to book 1, My Sister’s Detective, last week. I would not recommend jumping into this without having read/listened to that first – this is wrapping up many mysteries started there.

This is a great series for those who want romance to take a smaller role in the story and while Slater & Maggie’s relationship does progress, it’s closed door. I continue to love the banter between Maggie & Slater as well as the rest of the characters. I’m thrilled that snarky teen Jasmine makes regular appearances and her role as pseudo-little-sister brings out a softer side to the sometimes “get off my lawn” Slater.

That said, this book continues some pretty serious themes including child trafficking, kidnapping, and murder. I like that Jones gives us a few smaller stories that weave together into a larger narrative. Slater & Maggie are officially kicking off their Private Investigation firm (the name selection process is at times hilarious). While continuing to probe Davey’s death, they also investigate a missing person, and pull off three different rescues. Not everyone is as trustworthy as they seem.

While everything feels wrapped up this time around, I’m definitely looking forward to book 3, Slater’s Tempest. While the ebook is available now – I’ll be waiting for the audio. My understanding is it should be released in the next few weeks.

Narration:
Tom Jordon again gives a huge cast of characters unique voices and personalities. His ability and consistency with different ages, sexes, and accents really brought the story to life and makes it easy to keep track of who is who. I’m looking forward to Jordan’s narration as the series continues and I’ll definitely be looking for more of his work.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from Audiobooks Unleashed and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

About the author:
 T.J. Jones is a Minnesota based author with multiple published novels in the Mystery, Thriller, and Romance genres. He writes character driven, entertaining stories with humor and heart.  He is also a fan of happy endings.

You can connect with T.J. Jones here:

About the narrator:

You can connect with Tom Jordan here:

My Favorite Quotes

No matter how we try to protect the people we love, there is always the chance that we’ll fail. – My Sister’s Fear by @tjjoneswtr #Audiobook narrated @TomVoiceover via @AudiobooksU #PrivateInvestigator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery #ClosedDoorRomance

I didn’t mean to shoot him the first time. I was trying to put one between his feet and scare him. Oops. – My Sister’s Fear by @tjjoneswtr #Audiobook narrated @TomVoiceover via @AudiobooksU #PrivateInvestigator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery #ClosedDoorRomance

I’m twice your age and women are still a complete mystery to me. – My Sister’s Fear by @tjjoneswtr #Audiobook narrated @TomVoiceover via @AudiobooksU #PrivateInvestigator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery #ClosedDoorRomance

Let It Be Me

What’s stopping you from mapping the Abs of Glory with your tongue?

Kait Nolan
Let It Be Me

Format:
ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Four years ago, firefighter Caleb Romero saved a child and met the woman of his dreams. But trauma killed the timing, so he’s contented himself with being the friend she needed as she navigated sudden parenthood.

Four years ago, Emerson Aldridge became a mom in the worst possible way. Without qualm, she abandoned her own dreams to shepherd her teenage daughter through their shared grief. Her number one priority has been to raise Fiona the way her best friend would have wanted.

Now Fi’s headed off to college and Emerson has no idea how to feel about her suddenly empty nest. She barely even remembers life before motherhood, but Caleb’s right next door to give her a reminder—along with a toe-curling kiss that catapults them past friends and into something more. The life she wanted before the accident is still within reach. He just has to convince her that their age difference means nothing.

Piece of cake. Right?

Point of view:
3rd Person. Alternating perspectives, not always by chapter, but it’s clearly defined.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
As the beginning of 2021 has left a lot to be desired so far, I was thrilled to have Let It Be Me carry me away. I admit it – I’m a huge fan of Kait Nolan’s writing. Her style clicks for me and she has become one of my buy-it-immediately authors.

Men of the Misfit Inn is a spin-off of Nolan’s Misfit Inn series. What I really appreciated is that while the main character, Caleb, is one of Joan’s many foster children (the MC’s of Misfit Inn were either her foster or adopted children) and there is one chapter that gives us a little heads up of their lives – the references to the previous series do not dominate the book or require having read it to appreciate Caleb’s world.

This was an emotional yet funny friends-to-lovers story. Caleb has waited four years for the timing to be right to woo his best friend and neighbor, Emerson. This also includes some of my favorite themes of a sweet and snarky teen as well as a dog described as “the result of an unholy union between the cat from Shrek and a pit bull.” I don’t think the 8 year difference between the sexy firefighter and beautiful audiobook narrator technically qualifies as “age gap” – but the older woman/younger man was done really well without belaboring the topic.

What I love about Nolan’s writing is that while there is some tension and usually a “big event” (or two, or three!) that conspire to keep her characters from their HEA a little while longer – it isn’t dragged out. We get plenty of time to know Caleb & Emerson, enjoy a burgeoning relationship, relish steamy scenes, laugh at their banter, and can fervently believe in their love story.

Note: I loved Nolan’s dedication in the book, “For Amy, narrator extraordinaire, Thank you for giving life to all the people in my head”. I can’t wait to experience Caleb & Emerson’s story again with Amy McFadden in my ears.

About the author:
Kait Nolan is a RITA® Award-winning Mississippi author who calls everyone sugar, honey, or darlin’, and can wield a ‘Bless your heart’ like a Snuggie or a saber, depending on requirements. She believes in love, laughter, and that tacos are the world’s most perfect food. When she’s not writing, reading, working the evil day job, or wrangling family (both the two-legged and the four-), you can find her obsessively watching The Great British Bake Off.

You can connect with Kait Nolan here:

My Favorite Quotes

An instant. That was all it took for lives to be changed. Lives to be lost. – Let It Be Me by @kaitnolan #SmallTown #Romance #MenOfTheMisfitInn #SingleMom #Firefighter #OlderWomanYoungerMan

She’d found a happy medium of being able to objectively appreciate his…attributes…without objectifying him. Most of the time. – Let It Be Me by @kaitnolan #SmallTown #Romance #MenOfTheMisfitInn #SingleMom #Firefighter #OlderWomanYoungerMan

Something had shifted between them, and Emerson didn’t know what the hell to do with it. – Let It Be Me by @kaitnolan #SmallTown #Romance #MenOfTheMisfitInn #SingleMom #Firefighter #OlderWomanYoungerMan

What’s stopping you from mapping the Abs of Glory with your tongue? – Let It Be Me by @kaitnolan #SmallTown #Romance #MenOfTheMisfitInn #SingleMom #Firefighter #OlderWomanYoungerMan

Love Him Breathless

Can you um…can you not be too nice to me right now? I feel like shit’s falling apart, and I think you being gentle is a sign of the apocalypse.

E.M. Lindsey
Love Him Breathless

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Born and raised in Cherry Creek, Edmund Fitzgerald was the sort of man who tried to find the good in all things. As a natural leader, Fitz reclaimed his trauma after half his body burned in a fire and worked his way up to Fire Chief at the local department. He had a good home, and good friends, even if his romantic life left something to be desired. In spite of his bad luck in love, he managed to keep a cheerful smile on for everyone. At least, until Antoine Tremblay crashed into town.

Literally.

As the older twin with absent parents and a chip on his shoulder, Antoine and his brother grew up nomadic—the inconvenient offspring of traveling teachers who wanted nothing more than to spend their lives seeing the world. While his friends were dreaming of road trips, Antoine was dreaming of a home to call his own. Retreating into his consulting career, Antoine dedicates his life to stabilizing small town economies, and doesn’t hesitate to take a job in Cherry Creek—a town that makes it very clear it doesn’t want Antoine there. Before he even crosses the city limits, Antoine is run off the road by a wild goat, and he’s forced to accept a rescue by a wary man who makes it very clear that Antoine’s presence in Cherry Creek is not welcome.

And what’s worse, the ridiculously attractive, absolutely infuriating Fire Chief seems to be at the center of every single one of his disasters that happens after—and unfortunately there are many. All Antoine wants is to do his job and go home, but Cherry Creek seems to have it in for him, and Edmund Fitzgerald seems thrilled to watch him fall apart. It might be real hatred, or it might just be pigtail pulling, but Antoine isn’t sure which, and he’s not really sure he wants to know. After all, a place like Cherry Creek will never be his home.

Fitz has never found someone worth fighting for, and Antoine has never found a reason to stay, but they know that looking at each other leaves them absolutely breathless. Will that be enough to make a relationship work, or will they decide that their love isn’t worth the fight?

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

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This was super bogged down with so. many. characters. There were a lot of couples or people who either had other books in different series or are going to get a book. Being unfamiliar with anything except book 1 in this “world” – it was overwhelming. I felt like so much of the story was trying to update/explain these other couples that Fitz & Antoine didn’t get enough time making me believe them as a couple. Were they attracted to each other? Yes. But it just never went beyond that in a way that made me believe the “I love you and I want forever” at the end.

I’m not sure if the goal was “slow burn” or “slow sweet small town romance”, unfortunately it missed both and long stretches just felt boring. Which was surprising given how well it was pulled off in Love Him Free and how much I enjoyed that story.

Also, either Lindsey is setting up Owen & Dmitri to get their own stories at some point or the issues that were vaguely referred to were just left hanging. It left the book feeling incomplete rather than as a teaser.

Narration:
Nick Hudson’s narration is likely the only reason I finished this. He does a good job with voices, accents, & emotions.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from Gay Romance Reviews and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

About the author:
E.M. Lindsey is a bisexual, agender gay romance writer currently living in the S.E. United States.  They’re a full-time writer, Classics scholar with a penchant for Ancient Greek, and an avid collector of shoes they will never wear.  When they’re not found creating happy endings on their laptop, they’re either walking their dogs, going on hikes, or enjoying their new home.

You can connect with E.M. Lindsey here:

About the narrator:
You can connect with Nick Hudson here:

My Favorite Quotes

Can you um…can you not be too nice to me right now? I feel like shit’s falling apart, and I think you being gentle is a sign of the apocalypse. – Love Him Free by E.M. Lindsey #Audiobook narrated by Nick Hudson #MM #EnemiesToLovers #Firefighter @_GayRomReviews

My Sister’s Detective

I wondered silently what it would take to really scare Maggie, certainly not something as mundane as a plane crash.

T.J. Jones
MY Sister’s Detective

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
His best friend’s been murdered, an old flame needs his help, and her little sister has definitely grown up! Eric Slater has a lot to sort out. Mystery, murder, and romance on the Florida coast. A wry tale of intrigue, deception, and two people that can’t help falling in love.

Point Road, home of the obscenely wealthy and the beautiful Jeffries sisters. Eric Slater returns from the Navy to find that his childhood friend may have been murdered. Angela Jeffries begs him to investigate, and Maggie, the little sister he barely remembers, wants to help. It turns out, the stunning redhead is one hell of an investigator.

As their feelings turn romantic, Maggie and Slater follow a trail of deception and murder, hoping to prove their dead friend innocent of what they fear most. No one is safe, and the men involved will stop at nothing to cover their tracks, tracks that will lead the pair into the dark world of child trafficking, and expose the worst secrets of Point Road. 

Point of view:
1st person. Entirely from Eric’s POV.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This was my first experience with author T.J. Jones. While it took me a bit to click with the writing and Eric as a character – overall this was an enjoyable listen. This story is unique in that while there is a romantic element, it’s at the very beginning stages and never culminates in more than a few kisses. Perfect for folks who prefer the focus be heavier on the mystery/suspense aspects than on relationship. That said, the relationship and banter between Eric & Maggie is truly delightful. Jones writes an intelligent, competent, and independent Maggie who charms the older and sometimes myopic Eric.

I also enjoyed Eric’s growth as a character throughout the book and appreciated that while Eric is former military, he’s not presented as this perfect infallible super-soldier. He needs and accepts (albeit sometimes begrudgingly) Maggie’s help and acknowledges his shortcomings. Eric mentions his love of the series, Magnum P.I. and the book/perspective definitely has that feel to it – though incorporating more grit.

Sensitive readers/listeners need to be aware that mention of human trafficking in the blurb is something to take notice of. The harsh realities of this issue run throughout the book and the topic is discussed fairly graphically. Jones is respectful of the ramifications on the victims and this gives depth and realism to the story.

While an enjoyable and full book, I would consider this a cliffhanger – not only is Davey’s exact cause of death still unknown at the end, there are a lot of further mysteries and questions uncovered during the investigation. I am looking forward to book 2, My Sister’s Fear.

Narration:
This was my first time listening to narrator Tom Jordon. He gave characters unique voices and personalities. There were a LOT of emotions by numerous characters and he pulled them off well. I especially appreciated performance of the verbal sparring between Eric & Maggie.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from Audiobooks Unleashed and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

About the author:
 T.J. Jones is a Minnesota based author with multiple published novels in the Mystery, Thriller, and Romance genres. He writes character driven, entertaining stories with humor and heart.  He is also a fan of happy endings.

You can connect with T.J. Jones here:

About the narrator:

You can connect with Tom Jordan here:

My Favorite Quotes

I wondered silently what it would take to really scare Maggie, certainly not something as mundane as a plane crash. – My Sister’s Detective by @tjjoneswtr #Audiobook narrated @TomVoiceover via @AudiobooksU #PrivateInvestigator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

I couldn’t help wondering, what would Magnum do? – My Sister’s Detective by @tjjoneswtr #Audiobook narrated @TomVoiceover via @AudiobooksU #PrivateInvestigator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Maybe Maggie and I weren’t the only ones investigating Davey Templeton’s death. – My Sister’s Detective by @tjjoneswtr #Audiobook narrated @TomVoiceover via @AudiobooksU #PrivateInvestigator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

The Lucky One

Even if it’s the worst thing you can imagine, it might still be true.

Lori Rader-Day
The Lucky One

Format:
Audio

Publisher’s Synopsis:
From the acclaimed author of Under A Dark Sky comes an unforgettable, chilling novel about a young woman who recognizes the man who kidnapped her as a child, setting off a search for justice, and into danger.

As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community, but against the odds, her policeman father tracked her down within twenty-four hours and rescued her from harm. In the aftermath of the crime, her family decided to move to Chicago and close the door on that horrible day.

Yet Alice hasn’t forgotten. She devotes her spare time volunteering for a website called The Doe Pages scrolling through pages upon pages of unidentified people, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. The post is deleted as quickly as it appeared, leaving Alice with more questions than answers.

Embarking on a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to connect the dots and find her kidnapper before he hurts someone else. Then Alice crosses paths with Merrily Cruz, another woman who’s been hunting for answers of her own. Together, they begin to unravel a dark, painful web of lies that will change what they thought they knew—and could cost them everything.

Twisting and compulsively readable, The Lucky One explores the lies we tell ourselves to feel safe.

Point of view:
3rd Person. Alternating perspectives clearly defined, usually by chapter.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
My first listen for 2021 turned out to be absolutely fantastic! This was a narrator motivated pick and I’m thrilled that searching for an audiobook performed by Leslie Howard brought me to discover Lori Rader-Day. This was my favorite kind of mystery/suspense novel. Lots of fascinating characters, complex yet compelling backstories, all melding into a completely unpredictable ending.

I liked and was annoyed by both Alice and Merrily – which I think is what made them truly human and relatable. The secondary characters were equally intriguing. I loved that Rader-Day dropped all these subtle hints about what was coming without ever tipping me off to the mysteries (plural!) that would be revealed. I’m looking forward to listening to this again to find the subtle clues that I likely missed the first time around.

I’ll definitely be adding more Lori Rader-Day to my TBL.

Narration:
After discovering her through the Dr. Whyte Thriller series – I was already in love with Leslie Howard’s narration style. I think she was the perfect choice for this book. She gives Alice & Merrily, two unique women, separate voices and personalities. Howard also does a fantastic job of evoking emotion and tension which is absolutely necessary for this book.

About the author:
Lori Rader-Day is the Edgar Award-nominated and Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of The Lucky OneUnder a Dark SkyThe Day I DiedLittle Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. She lives in Chicago, where she is co-chair of the mystery readers’ conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago and the national president of Sisters in Crime.

You can connect with Lori Rader-Day here:

About the Narrator:
Leslie Howard specializes in spiritual nonfiction and self-help, as well as YA, sci-fi, and thrillers. You can connect with her here:

My Favorite Quotes

Even if it’s the worst thing you can imagine, it might still be true. – The Lucky One by @LoriRaderDay #Audiobook #NarratorMotivated by @LeslieHowardVO #Suspense #Mystery #PsychologicalThriller

Sometimes people get loved, whether you think they should or not. People are more than one thing, OK? – The Lucky One by @LoriRaderDay #Audiobook #NarratorMotivated by @LeslieHowardVO #Suspense #Mystery #PsychologicalThriller

If not for bad luck, Alice would have none at all. – The Lucky One by @LoriRaderDay #Audiobook #NarratorMotivated by @LeslieHowardVO #Suspense #Mystery #PsychologicalThriller

She could see every choice every way, both sides, all sides always, every decision splitting off into infinite directions. She was immobilized by choice. – The Lucky One by @LoriRaderDay #Audiobook #NarratorMotivated by @LeslieHowardVO #Suspense #Mystery #PsychologicalThriller

Ocean Grave

Cold eyes. An endlessly gnawing mouth. One of nature’s most sadistic creations. 

Matt Serafini
Ocean Grave

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
On their honeymoon in Madagascar, a young couple are drawn into the hunt for lost treasure. Their search grabs the attention of a bloodthirsty pirate who intends to seize the riches for himself. The seedy government agents on his trail have their own reasons for wanting it too. And they’re all in the path of a creature long thought extinct. A creature that has turned the world’s third largest ocean into a hunting ground. A creature that is about to turn their dreams of fortune and glory into a nightmare from which there’s no escaping.

Point of view:
3rd person. Various perspectives, all clearly defined.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is my first book by Matt Serafini and overall it was a good listen. I think the summary does it somewhat of a disservice because, while the interactions with the prehistoric creature are weaved throughout, the author brings so much more in terms of suspense, peril, and plot.

Be prepared for a LOT of characters, some of which will meet their demise in the same chapter they’re introduced. While this lends itself to significant tension surrounding the ever-looming sea monster, it also makes it difficult to get invested in the characters that will be around for much of the story. There’s a few inconsequential scenes and background information that bog the pace down at times.

That said, I did appreciate the interaction, mistrust, and begrudging cooperation between the various characters. It definitely made it difficult to predict what would happen and who would be the next to succumb to a watery grave. Serafini presents two female protagonists who are intelligent and determined, though somewhat objectified. Overall, the treasure hunting aspect was also enjoyable.

I liked the ending which leaves the survivors’ futures up to to my imagination or perhaps gives Serafini the option to take them on new adventures.

Narration:
This listen was narrator motivated. I discovered Sean Duregger earlier this year when I listened to Out for Blood. Duregger does a great job with a HUGE casts of characters of various sexes, ages, and accents. I appreciated the various emotions and tension he brought to the story.

I received a free advance copy of this audiobook from the narrator and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

About the author:
Hailed as “one of the best new voices in horror fiction” by Brian Keene, Matt Serafini’s books include Feral, Devil’s Row, Island Red, and Under the Blade, which FilmThrills called “one of the best slasher films you’ll ever read.”

He co-authored a collection of short stories with Adam Cesare called All-Night Terror and his short fiction has appeared in numerous anthology collections, including Dead Bait 4, Clickers Forever: A Tribute to J.F. Gonzalez, and the upcoming Welcome to the Show.

He has written extensively on the subjects of film and literature for numerous websites including Dread Central and Shock Till You Drop. His nonfiction has also appeared in the pages of Fangoria and HorrorHound.

Matt lives in Massachusetts with his wife and children.


You can connect with Matt Serafini here:

About the narrator:
Sean Duregger is an award-winning audiobook narrator with a lifelong love for horror, science fiction, fantasy, and cinema trash. As a youth, Sean often sneaked into the Horror section of his local video store and allowed his imagination to take over as he prowled shelf after shelf of lurid VHS covers. Such films were not likely to get the family rental approval, so he could only stare at those jackets in wide-eyed wonderment about the terrifying and disgusting tales that lurked inside.

As an alternative to those visual feasts, he began devouring the works of Stephen King and other paperbacks of that ilk. Late at night, secure in a blanket fort and armed with a flashlight, Sean would fill his active mind with monsters, both human and not of this world. His love for reading and a penchant for creating voices to accompany the tales naturally led Sean to pursue audiobook narration. His enthusiastic embrace of genre fiction shines through in his work, enabling him to believably immerse listeners in tales from outlandish worlds.

An avid collector of paperback books from the 1980s and 1990s, Sean has become a sort of genre fiction archaeologist, unearthing tales from those decades and breathing new life into them in audiobook form. When he’s not narrating, Sean actively pursues new projects straight from his bookshelf.

Sean lives in Southern California with his wife, three kids, and two dogs.

You can connect with Sean Duregger here:

My Favorite Quotes

Do not be discouraged. There is a little pirate in everyone. – Ocean Grave by @MattFini #Audiobook narrated by @SeanNarrates #Horror #TreasureHunt #Pirates #NarratorMotivated

“Death’s head… Death’s head… Death’s head…” – Ocean Grave by @MattFini #Audiobook narrated by @SeanNarrates #Horror #TreasureHunt #Pirates #NarratorMotivated

Two men. One lifeboat. A single paddle. – Ocean Grave by @MattFini #Audiobook narrated by @SeanNarrates #Horror #TreasureHunt #Pirates #NarratorMotivated

His life was in tatters and there was nothing left to lose. – Ocean Grave by @MattFini #Audiobook narrated by @SeanNarrates #Horror #TreasureHunt #Pirates #NarratorMotivated

Cold eyes. An endlessly gnawing mouth. One of nature’s most sadistic creations.  – Ocean Grave by @MattFini #Audiobook narrated by @SeanNarrates #Horror #TreasureHunt #Pirates #NarratorMotivated

The Christmas Deal

A genuine kiss—sweet and soft and sure all at the same time, pressing their lips together like there was nothing else in the whole world but the two of them. Nothing casual about it.

Keira Andrews
The Christmas Deal

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Will fake boyfriends become the real deal this holiday?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—except ex-Marine Logan is jobless and getting evicted. Worse, he’s a new single dad with a stepson who hates him. A kid needs stability—not to mention presents under the tree—and Logan’s desperate.

Then he meets lonely Seth and makes a deal.

Can Logan temporarily pretend to be live-in boyfriends to increase Seth’s chances at a promotion? If it provides a roof over their heads for the holidays, hell yeah. Logan considers himself straight—he doesn’t count occasional hookups with guys—but he can fake it. Besides, with his shy little smile, Seth is surprisingly sexy.

Make that damn sexy.

Shocked that Seth has only been with one man, Logan can’t resist sweetening their deal to teach him the joys of casual sex. No strings attached. No feelings. No kissing.

No falling for each other.

Easy, right?

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

Rellim’s Thoughts:
I can always count on Keira Andrews for an enjoyable story and The Christmas Deal is no exception. Single Dad, Fake Relationships, & Opposites Attract are some of my favorite tropes, and I’ve definitely been in the mood for some holiday-themed books, so this was a good fit. It’s also a complete stand alone.

Logan, 37, is grumpy, recovering from an injury, out of a job, and about to be homeless. To top it off he’s the only parent to his deceased wife’s son, Conner. Being a step-parent doesn’t come naturally. Seth, 38, is workmates & friends with Logan’s sister Jenna. When a work situation forces Seth into inventing a family – Jenna loans him Logan & Conner. The caper begins!

While it is successful in contrasting Seth’s “buttoned-up” persona and is consistent with Logan’s character, the plethora of cuss words did feel like a bit much at times given that this is a holiday-themed book. Overall the story is at turns sweet, sad, and funny; Logan coming to terms with his true feelings for Seth, Seth worried about falling in love with a straight man, and Conner struggling to find his place in what has been an unstable world. These come together nicely and ultimately this is an enjoyable Christmas listen.

The initial ending is an HFN as Logan & Seth recognize that even though they’re going from pretend to real – it is a burgeoning relationship. Andrews provides a lovely 5-years-later epilogue that solidifies the HEA.

Narration:
John Solo does a good job here. All the characters have distinct and consistent voices. Solo, as always, does a terrific job evoking emotions and he really brings this story to life.

About the author:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, fantasy, and paranormal fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said:

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

You can connect with Keira Andrews here:

About the narrator:
John Solo has been a professional performer for 20 years, although this whole acting thing is a relatively new development. Prior to all of this he made his living as a salesman, engineer, security guard, mechanic, construction worker, purveyor of polyester dress suits… The list goes on ad nauseum, but he prefers to think of himself as an Itinerant Adventurer and loveable scoundrel! When not acting like someone else in front of a microphone, John prefers to indulge in the simpler things in life; games of chance, sword-fighting and traveling the world… all from the comforts of his own overstuffed couch.

You can connect with John Solo here:

My Favorite Quotes

Caper, caper, caper! – The Christmas Deal by @keiraandrews #Audiobook narrated by John Solo @falconsoundco #MM #SingleDad #FakeFiance #OppositesAttract #BiAwakening #Holiday

A genuine kiss—sweet and soft and sure all at the same time, pressing their lips together like there was nothing else in the whole world but the two of them. Nothing casual about it. – The Christmas Deal by @keiraandrews #Audiobook narrated by John Solo @falconsoundco #MM #SingleDad #FakeFiance #OppositesAttract #BiAwakening #Holiday

Seth forced himself to move slowly instead of launching at Logan like an attacking predator. – The Christmas Deal by @keiraandrews #Audiobook narrated by John Solo @falconsoundco #MM #SingleDad #FakeFiance #OppositesAttract #BiAwakening #Holiday