The Memory Keeper

Just do what you love as often as you can and your path will be made clear.

Jenny Hale
The Memory Keeper

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Hannah Townsend has the perfect job at a New York magazine, a small but elegant apartment in the Upper West Side, and a successful beau named Miles Monahan. This year, she’s leaving the icy city sludge for sunshine! She’s got tickets for two to Barbados, and she’s meeting Miles at the airport for a week of cocktails, sandy beaches, and the music of steel drums.

But her life is turned upside down in the span of that one morning. Hannah is rocked by the news that her beloved grandmother is very sick, and Hannah needs to come home to her small Tennessee town right away to be with her family and help run her gran’s dilapidated flower shop. If that isn’t enough to deal with, she discovers her boyfriend is seeing someone else.

On her birthday, she finds herself packed into a car on a ride-share to her hometown of Franklin, Tennessee. When everything seems to be going wrong, it’s the kindness of a handsome man from Hannah’s past named Liam McGuire that might just save her. But a new development that threatens Gran’s shop and secrets surrounding Liam could alter both their lives forever.

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

Rellim’s Thoughts:
I started this and then stopped because I underwent emergency surgery. So I took a break to listen to a bunch of old favorites – because narcotics & book reviews don’t mix y’all. I’m on the less potent stuff now and diving back into my TBL.

This turned out to be the perfect book at the perfect time for me. While some heavy subjects are covered, this didn’t feel angsty at all. This is so much more than a romance, it’s really a woman coming to terms with whether or not all the achievements and goals she originally set for herself are still what she wants. Discovering that the town she left behind didn’t forget about her even when she neglected them.

Hale does a wonderful job of introducing the listener to Hannah on one of the worst days of her life. You can’t help but want her to find happiness, security, and love – in all it’s forms. There’s a fantastic road trip, a consecutive storyline featuring her gran’s journal, a family reunion, old & new friends, and an intriguing single dad. Lots of small town feel goods to go around. Hannah is a bit of a fixer and in giving wisdom to others, she reminds herself of what’s really important.

Also, I adore books with kids in them. Liam and his son make a wonderful addition to the story and Hannah’s world. As a closed door romance there isn’t anything more than a few kisses, but Hale builds a wonderful relationship between Liam & Hannah.

I loved the ending and the epilogue. While this completely stands on it’s own and there wasn’t any overt indication it would be a series – I can see how Hale could bring us more lovely stories from this small town and flower shop.

Narration:
Melie Williams is a new narrator to me – but I’m so excited to have discovered her. She was a great choice for this book and I love her performance. She is terrific as Hannah but also captures the nuances of the other characters and keeps everyone consistent. I’m looking forward to hearing more of her work.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author/publisher and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

About the author:
Jenny Hale is a USA Today, Amazon, and international bestselling author of romantic contemporary fiction. Her books have sold worldwide, have been translated into multiple languages, and adapted for television. Her novels Coming Home for Christmas and Movie Guide Epiphany Award winner Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses are Hallmark Channel original movies. She was included in Oprah Magazine’s “19 Dreamy Summer Romances to Whisk You Away” and both Southern Living’s “30 Christmas Novels to Start Reading Now” as well as “Beach Reads Perfect for Summer 2020.” Her stories are chock-full of feel-good romance and overflowing with warm settings, great friends, and family. Jenny is at work on her next novel, delighted to be bringing even more heartwarming stories to her readers. When she isn’t writing or heading up her romantic fiction imprint Harpeth Road, she can be found running around her hometown of Nashville with her husband, two boys, and their labradoodle, taking pictures—her favorite pastime.

You can connect with Jenny Hale here:

About the narrator:
Hey, I’m Melie, and I’m obsessed with audiobooks.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading since I was two, maybe it’s because I’m in love with great stories, or maybe it’s because I can’t help but voice dialogue out loud when reading to myself…but I absolutely love opening the pages of a new manuscript and helping authors bring their words to life.

You can connect with Melie Williams here:

My Favorite Quotes

If your heart’s still beating, the you’re definitely alive and whatever life you want is out there for the taking. You’ve just got to make it happen. – The Memory Keeper by @jhaleauthor @HarpethRoad #Audiobook narrated by @MelieWilliams1 #SmallTown #ClosedDoorRomance #ContemporaryRomance

Just do what you love as often as you can and your path will be made clear. – The Memory Keeper by @jhaleauthor @HarpethRoad #Audiobook narrated by @MelieWilliams1 #SmallTown #ClosedDoorRomance #ContemporaryRomance

Bad Luck in Berlin

In Victor’s line of work a potential threat was a definite threat until proven otherwise.

Tom Wood
Bad Luck In Berlin

Format:
ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
HE GOES BY ONE NAME.
HE HAS NO PAST.
HIS FUTURE IS MURDER.

Victor’s been out of commission for six months—but as dangerous as ever and still at the top of his game. A former assassin-for-hire now locked in uneasy alliance with a CIA special unit, Victor is in Berlin preparing for what was supposed to be a simple assignment: taking out the scout of a notorious crime lord. But life—and death—is full of surprises.

As Victor tracks his target, he realizes that he’s not the only assassin with a special interest in his prey. And if Victor is going to do his job, he has to stop someone else from doing theirs.

Point of view:
3rd person. This one is entirely from Victor’s POV.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is a short story and falls as #1.5 in the Victor the Assassin series by Tom Wood. While there’s somewhat of a spoiler to events in book 1, The Killer – I think if you wanted to get a taste for Wood’s writing or the character of Victor, this is a nice place to start and you could still go back and thoroughly enjoy The Killer.

Most of this book spans a few hours in one evening – but Wood still manages to pack in quite a bit of information about Victor’s skill & training as well as the humanity he tries to cover up most of the time. Caught in the middle of two ops – Victor struggles to balance his own task while protecting a newly discovered innocent. A quick and enjoyable afternoon read.

I’m ready for book 2 (which I grabbed in audio), The Enemy.

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

My Favorite Quotes

I used to freelance. But that didn’t work out in the end. – Bad Luck in Berlin by @TheTomWood #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA #ShortStory

He didn’t know much about his employer, but he knew enough to be considered a liability if his paymaster decided he was of no further use. – Bad Luck in Berlin by @TheTomWood #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA #ShortStory

In Victor’s line of work a potential threat was a definite threat until proven otherwise. – Bad Luck in Berlin by @TheTomWood #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA #ShortStory

Victor’s left hand pushing against the back of his neck where the spine met the skull, fingers spread out across the back of his head to brace, palm pushing against the top of the spine while his right hand reached around to grab hold of the cheek and jaw and wrench clockwise. – Bad Luck in Berlin by @TheTomWood #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA #ShortStory

Iron Hunters

You own it, or you’ll never survive.

JP Oliver & Sasha Goldie
Iron Hunters

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Straight is the last word to describe me. But the club can’t know. 

And I’m not about to jump out of that closet. Cleaning up the motorcycle club’s act is dirty business, and Slim is the one person I trust. I can’t keep away, not when he’s the only man I’ve ever loved. The club can’t know that things are changing between us, but Slim doesn’t want to keep secrets for long. 

As betrayal hits the Iron Hunters from every corner, I know I’m going to have to find a way to balance leadership and love…or I’m going to lose them both. But when my past comes back to bite me, it may already be too late.

Point of view:
1st person. Alternating perspectives, usually by chapter.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
I feel like calling this Books 1-3 is a little misleading. Really, this is a single book that follows the same characters and same storyline/plot that was broken into 3 parts with parts 1 & 2 ending on cliffhangers. Ride With Me, Together We Ride, & Forever We Ride were later packaged into this box set: Iron Hunters. As the complete set it’s a good deal.

This will be best enjoyed by folks who are looking for motorcycle club themed romance that’s a little lighter than typical. Which is exactly what I was looking for when I requested it. The whole central thriller/suspense aspect of the story revolves around Ward & Slim trying to make the Iron Hunters MC’s focus be legit business and income. There is an overall respect of women and without any dubcon or noncon situations (which isn’t always the case in darker MC books). That said, this isn’t without language, violence, illegal activities, or murder. Additionally, one of the legit businesses is porn though they make a point to describe how it will be as safe an operation as possible.

There is a lot of world building and the introduction of a lot of people packed into the first part that bogged the pace down a bit. As the story goes on there are also occasionally some inane conversations that don’t really move the plot forward. Outside of that, I enjoyed a unique take on Ward & Slim coming out (personally and as a couple) in what is generally considered a straight, traditionally homophobic environment. the fact that it wasn’t all sunshine and roses lent a credibility to it as well.

In addition to their personal struggles – they face several sets of enemies, blackmail, and betrayal from within the club. This makes for a nice mystery/suspense storyline in addition to the romance.

Narration:
This was my first time listening to Eric Umstott and it won’t be my last. He did a good job with giving a huge cast of male characters unique voices. I especially liked the way that he spoke in a different voice depending on whether it was Ward or Slims POV. This really helped differentiate the two characters.

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

About the authors:
You can connect with JP Oliver here:

You can connect with Sasha Goldie here:

Powder Burns

Life as an agent was not as glamorous as they made out in the movies!

Isobel Starling
Powder Burns

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
After a series of terrorist attacks on fracking sites owned by a gas multinational named Drilsink, Sir James Aiken’s agency is bought in to find the radical eco-terrorist group responsible. He sends Sam and Declan to work undercover at Imperial College where Intel suggests the group are recruiting. While Sam works behind the scenes, Declan takes on the identity of geologist Dr. Tobias Hunter and soon makes an enemy of a fellow science geek – a man who Declan comes to despise more than Sir James Aiken!

When the operation moves from London to Munich and then Vienna, Sam, and Declan are thrown headlong into a spy scenario straight out of the thriller novels they love to read – but with a distinct and disturbing sexual twist! Sam meets an old friend and uncovers shocking information about James’ past.

With Erik Madsson still imprisoned inside the ALL HQ, James comes to realize that he should have listened to his son. Keeping the enemy inside his own home is about to be the biggest mistake he has ever made.

Point of view:
3rd person. Multiple perspectives, mostly Sam & Declan.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Powder Burns is the 5th book in the Shatterproof Bonds series. All these books build off events from previous books, so you’ll want to listen to them all and in order, as such there may be spoilers to previous books in this review. Also of note, if you haven’t read/listened to the series prequel novella, Top Hat – I would highly recommend that before this book. It can be enjoyed without, but it brings further depth to parts of the story.

At over 10 hours this is the longest of the series – but the pacing is so well done that it didn’t drag out at all. I was enthralled and didn’t want to stop listening. I am so freaking excited about this book and this series – yet it’s so hard to share how absolutely brilliant it is without spoiling anything. So many things from previous books continue to thread throughout the series in ways that make me want to immediately listen again from the beginning. I also cannot express how wonderful the mystery/suspense/thriller aspect is. You could remove every single sex scene and still have a fantastic book.

Thankfully – no one did, because the now married Sam & Declan and their sexy shenanigans are HOT. Boy do they enjoy when their undercover selves meet each other. It’s a fun and interesting twist for the couple and for the listener.

Again, this is a complete story (actually, it’s almost two stories meshed into one longer one), yet Starling sets up the tease that Sam & Declan have more missions ahead of them. Now that I’m all caught up – I’ll eagerly be awaiting another addition to the series.

Narration:
Gary Furlong continues a fabulous narration of the series. Not only does Starling add more characters in this book, but Sam & Declan have undercover personas as well. Furlong’s ability to seamlessly shift between real and pretend is amazing and brings a depth to the writing that I don’t think could be achieved through merely reading it myself. This writer/narrator team is perfection.

About the author:
Isobel loves writing M/M thrillers, mysteries, and historical books.

You can connect with Isobel Starling here:

About the narrator:
Throughout his life he has worn many a hat: He has worked as a teacher in Niigata, Japan; a puppeteer in Prague; an improv artist in Memphis, Tennessee, but made the leap to voiceover in 2015. Gary has narrated over 120 books spanning various genres.

You can connect with Gary Furlong here:

My Favorite Quotes

Declan sensed Sam’s presence a second before he felt the warm slender body slam against his chest in the dark.  – Powder Burns by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

As midnight struck the scene erupted and swiftly became pure chaos.  – Powder Burns by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

Life as an agent was not as glamorous as they made out in the movies! – Powder Burns by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

Does the amazing Samuel Aiken save the day because I need this mission to be over?  I’m not sure how much more I can take.  – Powder Burns by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

I licked him, so he’s mine!  – Powder Burns by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

Being held captive was very, very boring  – Powder Burns by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

Counterblow

The cogs in his brain were whirring back to life, and a rush of electricity had awoken his every cell.

Isobel Starling
Counterblow

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
After the devastating events in the Scottish Highlands, Sam and Declan have moved on to a new, deeper level in their romance. Their commitment to each other is unquestionable; however, there are plenty of questions that need answering about other aspects of their lives, and those who sought to end them.

Sam is trying his best to deal with the day to day frustrations of his injuries. He’s completely dependent on Declan for everything and hates the way the scales have tipped in their relationship. Although he’s officially on leave, Sam’s mind cannot stop replaying all that happened to him and questioning why, and who is behind it all.

Declan’s relief at having Sam home throws him into house-husband mode. He’s happy to take the reins and care for his partner, however, beneath the surface, Declan cannot help but be drawn back to how he felt in the Highlands, and how they were betrayed by a man who was supposed to have their back. Declan had promised Sir James Aiken that he would pay if he hurt Sam, and now Declan has to decide how he can deliver his payback and put his and Sam’s world back on an even keel.

Point of view:
3rd person. Multiple perspectives, mostly Sam & Declan.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Counterblow is the 4th book in the Shatterproof Bonds series. All these books build off events from previous books, so you’ll want to listen to them all and in order.

Isobel Starling can build some serious tension. Not only an emotional wedge in Sam & Declan’s relationship – but there is some serious psychological thriller aspects going on. It was creepy, yet enthralling. Completely unpredictable. Plot twists. I loved it and listened to the whole thing in one day. (I mean, I basically binged the whole series in a little over a week, so…)

I continue to love Sam & Declan as a couple and as individuals. They are not perfect, but they are trying and definitely have each other’s best interests at heart even if they’re slightly misguided at times. Again Starling leaves me squirming to share things without the ability to because I hate giving away spoilers. Declan gets some serious revenge and it’s epic.

This is a complete story in some aspects, but does end on a bit of cliffhangery “there’s more to learn” element that I had to make myself stop and jot down my thoughts before jumping right in to Powder Burns.

Narration:
Gary Furlong continues a fabulous narration of the series. He’s consistent with all the accents and personalities and switches between characters effortlessly. The interview that dominates about a 1/3 of the book is particularly creepy, in a good way. Furlong’s delivery works so well with Starling’s writing.

About the author:
Isobel loves writing M/M thrillers, mysteries, and historical books.

You can connect with Isobel Starling here:

About the narrator:
Throughout his life he has worn many a hat: He has worked as a teacher in Niigata, Japan; a puppeteer in Prague; an improv artist in Memphis, Tennessee, but made the leap to voiceover in 2015. Gary has narrated over 120 books spanning various genres.

You can connect with Gary Furlong here:

My Favorite Quotes

This was love, this wordless magnetic, healing connection.  – Counterblow by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

He looked like shit and felt like shit, but his British sense of decorum made him automatically say “Fine,” to everyone.  – Counterblow by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

Declan loved the electricity and tension that grew between him and Sam when dressing and undressing were involved.  – Counterblow by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

the cogs in his brain were whirring back to life, and a rush of electricity had awoken his every cell.   – Counterblow by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

“Ah Westley,” Declan said affectionately.  He leaned over and gave Sam a kiss on the brow “Ye know you do over think things sometimes.”   – Counterblow by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

Return to Zero

He ran and prayed to whichever God would listen that his partner was alive.

Isobel Starling
Return to Zero

Format:
Audiobook

Note: Books 1-3 have been combined into a box set: audio & ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Pulled into a world of secrets and lies for the man he loves, Declan Ramsay’s life has changed immeasurably in the eight months since meeting, and falling for his boss’s son, Sam Aiken. Declan journey of personal discovery is about to take a darker turn, and for Sam, the world becomes more treacherous than he could ever have imagined.
Two agents are missing — presumed dead, while on a reconnaissance mission at an outdoor adventure center in the Scottish Highlands. Sir James Aiken sends his son and Declan to follow the trail, and discover the fate of the agents.

As the mission offers his first chance to use the skills he learned on the MI6 training course in Morocco, Declan is keen to get started. However, Sir James sees to it that the seeds of doubt and discord have been sewn between the couple, as they begin their mission.

The journey to their Highland location, and the discoveries they make when they reach the G’wan Adventures center, prove that Sir James Aiken has been less than honest with his son. Events in the Highlands force Sam and Declan to face their greatest fears, and understand what they both really want from life — and from each other.

Point of view:
3rd person. Multiple perspectives, mostly Sam & Declan.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
It just gets better and better… at almost 7 hours this is the longest book so far and Starling packs it with an impossible to put down story. All these books build off events from previous books, so you’ll want to listen to them all and in order.

Declan gets more training but still struggles with feeling like he’s years behind Sam. They get a mission where Declan’s experience is invaluable and this seems to put the pair on equal footing. They’re working as a solid team until James and others make the couple hesitate to trust one another. Combine all this with uncovering a company that is quickly becoming not what it appears.

An old nemesis appears and the lovers are separated. The rescue is harrowing and heart wrenching. Gah! I loved it and while it’s a complete story – even more questions are uncovered and I’m looking forward to Counterblow.

Narration:
Gary Furlong continues a fabulous narration of the series. He’s consistent with all the accents and personalities and switches between characters effortlessly. While I enjoy Starling’s writing immensely, I cannot imagine experiencing this without Furlong’s performance.

About the author:
Isobel loves writing M/M thrillers, mysteries, and historical books.

You can connect with Isobel Starling here:

About the narrator:
Throughout his life he has worn many a hat: He has worked as a teacher in Niigata, Japan; a puppeteer in Prague; an improv artist in Memphis, Tennessee, but made the leap to voiceover in 2015. Gary has narrated over 120 books spanning various genres.

You can connect with Gary Furlong here:

My Favorite Quotes

I always thought that home was about a place, but it’s not, it’s the people you share with that make a home, the rest is just… decoration.  – Return to Zero by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

The love they shared was the beginning and the end of everything, and together, they were unbreakable.  – Return to Zero by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

He ran and prayed to whichever God would listen that his partner was alive.  – Return to Zero by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

His lungs stopped working, and the pain was excruciating — like he was being stabbed inside by a million jagged shards of his broken heart.  – Return to Zero by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

Illuminate the Shadows

The only real thing Declan had ever wanted, he now possessed… but for how long? 

Isobel Starling
Illuminate the Shadows

Format:
Audiobook

Note: Books 1-3 have been combined into a box set: audio & ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
After the most amazing week of his life, at Dunloch Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, in Scotland. The charming, mysterious Samuel Aiken has turned Declan Ramsay’s life upside down. Declan has experienced a remarkable change. He has come to terms with the fact he is bisexual, and he has fallen head-over-heels in love with his boss’s son Sam.

However, falling for his boss’s son was never going to be an easy path to happiness, mainly because the boss in question is multi-millionaire property tycoon and former MI5 operative, Sir James Aiken.

Sir James is repulsed by his son’s homosexuality, and so discovering that his employee Declan Ramsay- the man he installed to run his luxury property rental empire- is in a relationship with Sam, does not go down well.

The lovers cannot hide from the looming presence of Sir James Aiken for long! Soon enough James makes his move, and Declan finds out what he will have to endure to stay with Sam, and what he will have to give to feel worthy of Sam’s love.

Point of view:
3rd person. Multiple perspectives, mostly Sam & Declan.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
After As You Wish, I was ready for the super-secret-spy action and Starling definitely delivers. This is one of those books where it’s really hard to share all the things that you love about it without spoiling it for others. Declan is initiated into Sam’s world in a way that neither of them expect, but James is in for some surprises as well. There’s a few scenes with Declan where Furlong’s performance combined with Starling’s pacing makes for an unnerving listen. It gave me chills. Amazing.

They also get their first assignment which is a lot of fun for Sam & Declan as well as the listener. And, of course, there are numerous steamy scenes as the guys are finally able to spend some uninterrupted time living together.

I’m immediately starting Return to Zero.

Narration:
Gary Furlong continues a fabulous narration of the series. He’s consistent with all the accents and personalities and switches between characters effortlessly.

About the author:
Isobel loves writing M/M thrillers, mysteries, and historical books.

You can connect with Isobel Starling here:

About the narrator:
Throughout his life he has worn many a hat: He has worked as a teacher in Niigata, Japan; a puppeteer in Prague; an improv artist in Memphis, Tennessee, but made the leap to voiceover in 2015. Gary has narrated over 120 books spanning various genres.

You can connect with Gary Furlong here:

My Favorite Quotes

The only real thing Declan had ever wanted, he now possessed… but for how long?  – Illuminate the Shadows by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

Declan sat, breathing heavily, waiting for whatever was supposed to happen, to hurry-the-fuck-up and happen.  – Illuminate the Shadows by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

Oh my God!  My boyfriend’s a total geek!  – Illuminate the Shadows by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

He was lucky to still be alive, and it seemed his life really was one disaster after another.  – Illuminate the Shadows by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

The only reason I’d kick ye outta bed is te fuck ye on the floor!  – Illuminate the Shadows by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #Spy #Espionage

As You Wish

The air in the room seemed to crackle with electricity.

Isobel Starling
As You Wish

Format:
Audiobook

Note: Books 1-3 have been combined into a box set: audio & ebook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
1 wedding, 2 best men, one hell of a love story!

Declan Ramsay was set to be the best man at his brother’s wedding in Scotland, sharing the best man duties with the bride’s gay kid brother Sam. Sam was abroad finishing his studies so the best men communicated by email for more than a year and wouldn’t meet for the first time until a few days before the wedding

But on meeting Sam Aiken, Declan is surprised to see he isn’t a kid at all, but a striking, athletic blond man with gorgeous green eyes and a wicked sense of humor. Declan is alarmed by the ferocious attraction he feels for Sam. And as the attraction is reciprocated, the events at Dunloch Castle change everything Declan has ever believed about himself.

But is Sam Aiken all he appears to be?

Point of view:
3rd person. Multiple perspectives, mostly Sam & Declan. Not always clearly defined.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Note: This has been sitting in my pending since before snowpocalypse waiting for me to polish it up & create the graphics for posting. Needless to say, all hell-frozen-over broke loose and honestly, the last thing on my mind was my blog. Then Zoey Castille asked on Twitter about the hottest sex scene we’ve ever read and I immediately thought of… see below. Anyway, boom – reminder that I have reviews to put in the hopper – so for the next few days you get the awesomeness that is Shatterproof Bond!

If, like me, you grabbed this series by Isobel Starling because you enjoy romantic suspense – you might be a little disappointed with the first book, As You Wish. Because this is fairly short (4 hours), firmly in the “establishing the relationship” category, and only remotely hints at any suspense or danger to come in the epilogue.

That said, I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. Grumpy Declan Ramsay is the polar opposite to relaxed and funny Sam Aiken in all ways – including being straight. Or so he thinks. While in some respects this feels a little like “insta love” due to the fact that the bulk of the story occurs over a few days at their siblings’ wedding – Declan & Sam have been emailing for a year. They have cultivated a fairly solid friendship leading up to a wild week in Edinburgh.

It was a lot of fun to experience Sam bring Declan out of his shell and his funk. Declan’s wonder, yet quick acceptance that he was not only attracted to but falling in love with a man. This man. Also, it must be mentioned that one of the hottest scenes in the book is when they are getting dressed in kilts for the wedding. I have no idea how Starling could make putting on clothes steamier than removing them – but she did. I digress. There’s a delightful banter between the men quoting lines from The Princess Bride that is also weaved into the story a few times. Fans will enjoy the references.

The epilogue brings more questions than answers (in the best of ways) and I’m diving right into Illuminate the Shadows.

Narration:
Gary Furlong was terrific. I love the voices, accents, and personalities he gave to Starling’s characters. I think he really helped to differentiate the perspectives in a way that I wouldn’t have if I’d merely read the story. I’m not only looking forward to him in the rest of the series, but will be seeking out more narrations by him.

About the author:
Isobel loves writing M/M thrillers, mysteries, and historical books.

You can connect with Isobel Starling here:

About the narrator:
Throughout his life he has worn many a hat: He has worked as a teacher in Niigata, Japan; a puppeteer in Prague; an improv artist in Memphis, Tennessee, but made the leap to voiceover in 2015. Gary has narrated over 120 books spanning various genres.

You can connect with Gary Furlong here:

My Favorite Quotes

Declan had no idea what to do about it – this sudden realization – he was attracted to a man. – As You Wish by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #GFY

The air in the room seemed to crackle with electricity. – As You Wish by @isobel_starling #Audiobook narrated by @GaryFurlongVo #ShatterproofBond #MM #Romance #GFY

The Killer

He was already dead, but in Victor’s opinion there was no such thing as overkill.

Tom Wood
The Killer

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
His name is a cover
He has no home
And he kills for a living

Victor is a hitman, a man with no past and no surname. His world is one of paranoia and obsessive attention to detail; his morality lies either dead or dying. No one knows what truly motivates the hunter. No one gets close enough to ask. 

When a Paris job goes spectacularly wrong, Victor finds himself running for his life across four continents, pursued by a kill squad and investigated by secret services from more than one country. With meticulous style, Victor plans his escape . . . and takes the fight to his would-be killers. 

Note: This title has also been published as The Hunter.

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

Rellim’s Thoughts:
I have been wanting to sink into another suspense/thriller series that already had a hefty number of published books. (I’ve started several and am waiting for new releases!) So, I took to twitter and asked the awesome folks at Best Thriller Books what they would recommend. While I now have a huge Thriller TBR/L – I immediately jumped on the Victor the Assassin series by Tom Wood to start because it’s narrated by Rob Shapiro.

Through multiple points of view Wood introduces a somewhat likeable antihero in Victor, a variety of CIA directors and agents with questionable motives, potential allies, definite adversaries, and shifting allegiances. I was kept constantly guessing and completely engaged. Also a little angry – I wasn’t always happy about who lived and who didn’t, but that’s generally the case with a good thriller, so it’s a compliment.

At 15 hours, this is a LOT of book and super heavy on the details. I enjoyed Wood’s thoroughness though found myself a little creeped out by it. I’m now going to be paranoid that every ignorably normal person near me is a hit man.  I’m also feeling confident I could add retro safe cracker to my resume as well. It was fascinating and helped bring a level of believability to Victor’s life and world.

*Dear squiggly red line – I know “ignorably” isn’t a word. I don’t care. I’m using it.

Anyway – Not only is this a full and complete story, it actually felt like an entire season’s worth of TV given the number of missions and encounters weaved together. I’m glad I added this to my personal library as it’s the type of audiobook I could listen to multiple times. Wood left things somewhat open-ended by teasing a whole new world of possibilities for Victor and I’m looking forward to more. Next up in the series is a novella, Bad Luck in Berlin (#1.5) and then back to audiobook for The Enemy.

Narration:
As I expected, Rob Shapiro was fantastic. Wood has created a HUGE number of characters and I felt Shapiro did a wonderful job of giving them unique voices and amplifying their personalities. I appreciate his ability to use accents when necessary and pronounce locations with ease as the characters traveled to a variety of countries.

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

At times like this there was no such thing as too many guns. – The Killer by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA TY for the rec @BestThrillBooks & @kashif1307

The face that stared back at him in the mirror was no longer his. Altered so many times he couldn’t remember what he truly looked liked. Sometimes he was glad for that. – The Killer by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA TY for the rec @BestThrillBooks & @kashif1307

I am the bad guy. – The Killer by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA TY for the rec @BestThrillBooks & @kashif1307

He was already dead, but in Victor’s opinion there was no such thing as overkill. – The Killer by @TheTomWood #Audiobook narrated by @RobuLuxe #VictorTheAssassin #Thriller #Suspense #CIA TY for the rec @BestThrillBooks & @kashif1307

Extra Time

They were now the perfect team.
Jay’s team.
Team Ruttman.

C. F. White
Extra Time

Format:
Audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
When it’s time, it’s time.

Jay Ruttman and Sebastian Saunders are back.

Used to the press, used to the public interest, and used to being just the two of them, they’ve forged a life juggling their high-profile careers with their low-key relationship. And it’s working. Mostly.

There’s only two things left hanging that could elevate their contentment to perfection—marriage and a child.

Six years since bridge-gate, and Jay’s spectacular proposal on the Millennium Bridge, the bill has now passed for legal same-sex marriage. It looks like they might be able to finally tie the knot, and the pitter patter of tiny feet isn’t as far flung an idea as it might have first seemed.

Until Jay has his first call up to play for the national team and must, once again, decide what’s more important—family or football.

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

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is a bonus “epilogue” novella for the District Line trilogy and while it’s a complete story on its own – you definitely need to read/listen to the other books, starting with Kick Off. Also, this is labeled as a novella – but it must fall just under some word count because it felt like a full length book and in no way was it lacking.

Oh CF White! I didn’t think I was capable of loving Jay & Seb any more than I did at the end of Come Back and she proved me wrong. The hardest part of reviewing this book is sharing how much I love it without spoiling any of the amazing surprises she has in store for Ruttman & Saunders fans. It is absolutely an emotional ride with highs, lows, disappointments, and celebrations mixed with laughs and family both by blood and those found in friendship. It is the absolute perfect ending to a wonderful series.

Narration:
Piers Ryman is fantastic. I admit that my first time listening, he struck me as sounding kind of older than I would imagine for guys in their early 20s. However, after listening through the whole series, and then listening AGAIN in prep for this book – I honestly can’t imagine anyone else being Seb & Jay. White brings some pretty emotional scenes into this book and Ryman’s delivery had me laughing out loud and also wiping away tears. Kudos! and I will be seeking out more of his work.

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

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

Is this your way of askin’ if we can go to New York and do a PR phota with a family of gay penguins? – Extra Time by @CFWhiteUK #Audiobook narrated by Piers Ryman #MM #SportsRomance #RockStar #OppositesAttract #BestEpilogueEver

They were now the perfect team. Jay’s team. Team Ruttman. – Extra Time by @CFWhiteUK #Audiobook narrated by Piers Ryman #MM #SportsRomance #RockStar #OppositesAttract #BestEpilogueEver