Into December and Our Holiday Stories. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Into December and Our Holiday Stories

It’s officially December and our holiday stories, in all formats, are here for our reading and listening pleasure!    While some of us may have returned to our comfort reads this holiday season, there are plenty of wonderful new stories out there to add to your reading festive list!

One of mine this year has been Mr. Right Now by Annabeth Albert!  How I loved that sweet contemporary fake boyfriend story!  If you are in the mood for audio?  Try this one, especially if you are already a fan of RJ Scott’s Texas series.  I loved listening to Home for Christmas (Texas #9) by R.J. Scott  and Narrated by: Sean Crisden.  Barb, our Zany Old Lady, just loved Mr. Naughty List (Home for the Holidays #2) by Leta Blake while I just finished the wonderful No Place Like Home by Annabeth Jacobs (which I will review this week) and The Christmas Oaks (Laurel Holidays #1) by V.L. Locey.

Peter Cratchit’s Christmas Carol by Drew Marvin was recommended by two of our reviewers!  Not to be left out?

A Christmas Wedding by A E Ryecart
717 Miles Christmas by Sophia Soames
A Boyfriend For Christmas by Jay Northcote
Yuletide Treasure (Goddess-Blessed #3) by Eliot Grayson
Mr. Frosty Pants (Home for the Holidays #1) by Leta Blake and John Solo (Narrator)

 

Some of these stories we have reviewed already, some will be reviewed this week.  And there will be more to come.  What stories have you read or listened to that you have loved or enjoyed this holiday season?  Ones that have made your   annual  Holiday List?  Comment and let us know!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, December 1:

  • New Release Blitz with Excerpt for Starlight (Dark Space #3) by Lisa Henry
  • Into December and Our Holiday Stories. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, December 2:

  • Review Tour – Annabelle Jacobs – No Place Like Home
  • COVER REVEAL Rialto (Unbreakable Bonds #8) by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott
  • BLOG TOUR A Broken Winter by Kale Knight
  • A Lucy Review: Snowdrop in a Storm (Snow Globes #3) by Ava Kelly
  • A MelanieM Review : No Place Like Home by Annabelle Jacobs

Tuesday, December 3:

  • RELEASE BLITZ Stocking Stuffers, A Holiday Themed Romantic
  • Release Blitz – Eli Easton – Angels Sing
  • BLITZ Pattern for an Angel by CJane Elliott
  • An Alisa Review I’ve Got You (True-Blue #2) by Becca Seymour
  • A MelanieM Review: Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #4) by A.E. Wasp

Wednesday, December 4 :

  • Release Blitz – Warrior’s Way by M.J. Calabrese
  • Release Blitz, for V.L. Locey – The Christmas Oaks
  • TOUR Becoming Us” by Becca Seymour
  • An Alisa Review Becoming Us (True-Blue #3) by Becca Seymour
  • A MelanieM Review: Boys of Summer (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A.E. Wasp

Thursday, December 5:

  • Release Blitz  – Awakening (Wild Oak, Book 1) by JJ Harper
  • Release Blitz – Waxing Poetic for Christmas by Mara Townsend
  • A Lila Review Peter Cratchit’s Christmas Carol by Drew Marvin
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Honour by A.F. Henley
  • A MelanieM Review: Skater Boy (Hot Off the Ice #3) by A.E. Wasp

Friday, December 6:

  • Cover Reveal – What Works For Us by Colette Davison
  • Review Tour – Jay Northcote – A Boyfriend For Christmas
  • An Alisa Review Rules for Santa (Davey’s Rules #3) by Susan Hawke
  • A Stella Review : A Boyfriend For Christmas by Jay Northcote
  • A Melanie Review The Wolf and the Sparrow by  Isabelle Adler

Saturday, December 7:

  • Release Blitz Request – Red Popcorn Strings & Gumball Rings – Nell Iris

 

Audio Blitz and Giveaway for Prophesy II: The Bringer of Wrath (The King & Alpha Series) by A.E. Via

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Length: 9hrs 23mins
 
Narrated by: Troy Duran
 
The King & Alpha Series
 

Book #1 – Prophesy – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 
Blurb



Shifter and vampire true mates story.


Alek’s older brother, Justice – the Alpha Zenith – was the first shifter to mate with a vampire in many generations, and it was believed the rare, fated pairing would stop at him. But, it hadn’t. Aleksei “Alek” Volkov was second beta, next in succession to the most powerful shifter in the world. He was proud of his title and he took his duties seriously. It was all he had. Until his true mate literally showed up on his doorstep.


Belleron “Bell” Liatos had come to the states for one reason – his best friend and vampire king, Chadwick Bentley. He certainly didn’t come to be pounced on by a wolf that could act independently of its master. Not only was his destined cherished a complicated and confused man, but he was also unaware of the powerful presence that lurked in the shadows of his soul. Bell didn’t know he’d be the key to unlocking an exceptional triad that would play a critical role in fulfilling the prophesy.

A.E. Via has been a best-selling author in the beautiful gay romance genre for five years now, but she’s no stranger to MM. She’s been an avid reader of gay lit for over fifteen years before she picked up her laptop to place her own kiss on this genre. She’s also the founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books, having published a couple great new up and coming MM authors.


A.E. has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Virginia Wesleyan College that she used to start her own paralegal firm after she graduated in 2008. She spent five years preparing and filing bankruptcy petitions for struggling blue collar workers who couldn’t afford to file with a lawyer. It was a rewarding and satisfying career… but another path called to her. Writing.


A.E.’s writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.


Now that she’s gotten over her 10 books published hump, she’s kind of known now for her hardcore, play rough and love hard, bad boy, alphas. However, she does like to push herself to step out of her comfort zone, exploring different tropes, but she won’t push herself into a whole other genre. She’s head over heels for gay romance and she has tons of more hot stories to tell.


Be sure to visit Adrienne on her social media pages and subscribe to her newsletter to never miss another release date! Go to A.E. Via’s official website http://authoraevia.com for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peak at upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.

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A MelanieM Audio Review: Home for Christmas (Texas #9) by R.J. Scott and Narrated by: Sean Crisden

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Can Connor show River a real family Christmas?

When Connor finds River on the roof of the campus admin building, he doesn’t know what to do. His friend is drunk, and shouting into a snowstorm, a bottle of vodka in his hand. The easy part is getting River down; the hard part is insisting River comes home with Connor for Christmas.

River doesn’t have a family, or any place outside of college that he calls home. Not that it matters to him; he’s happy being alone for Christmas in his budget motel, watching reruns of Elf. Only, Connor keeps telling wildly improbable stories of the perfect family celebrations at his parents’ ranch in Texas, and it’s wearing River down. He didn’t ask to be kidnapped. He didn’t want to fall in love with the entire Campbell-Hayes family. But he does.

From one Christmas to the next. This is Connor’s year to rescue River, and himself, for them both to mess things up, make things right, fall in lust and finally, for Connor to show the man he loves what being part of a family can mean.

I read Home for Christmas back when it was first released in 2018 and loved it then.  It felt like a perfect holiday  homecoming for a family and series I had come to love so.  But as I have found so often lately, listening to audio vresions of books I read a while ago makes them fresh and vivid all over again so I was thrilled to see a audio release of Home For Christmas.

The narration by Sean Crisden is darn near perfect as he brings to life once more the story of a grown up Connor bringing a troubled friend  River home to the ranch for Christmas.  Itturns out to be a time of growth, revelations, and love.   And of course, it feels like a huge family reunion as so many characters appear bubbling with familial love and holiday cheer and news.  It definitely feels like family, one the reader has gotten to know intimately over a long series of stories.  Now we add River into the fold, as well as a grown up Conner.

Overlaid between the relationship dynamics between River and Connor are the stabilizing one of Connor’s dads, Jack and Riley Campbell-Hayes, the core couple at the heart of the Texas series.  They continue that role here to my obvious love.  Their deep love, respect, and yes lust for each otherstill propels this story and series forward.  They are both its engine and heart.

At just over three hours, it’s a lovely way to grab a Holiday audio during this busy time.  I love it and it brought this story back to me and made it new again. Yes, I definitely recommend it.

Cover art: Meredith Russell is sweet but I wish it had more of the ranch and Christmas.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audio Links:

Length: 3 hrs and 54 mins

Audible Audio
Published November 7th 2019 (first published November 28th 2018)
Edition Language English
Series Texas #9

A MelanieM Audio Review:Today (Single Dads #2) by RJ Scott and Sean Crisden (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When the world labels a man and judges them blindly, is it possible to ever find love?

Firefighter Eric is on the front line, battling the threat of nature’s destruction in the California grasslands alongside his CalFire team. Focused and calm, even in the direst of situations, he has a strong affection for his fire truck, loves his career, and has best friends he can rely on. All he needs now is love, but that seems to be impossible to find. At his friend’s wedding. Eric falls in lust at first sight with the shy, slim and sexy Brady, even if Brady isn’t the type of guy he usually goes for. What Eric longs for is an equal in his bed, not a smaller guy who might want Eric to role-play big strong firefighter every time they have sex. He wants to find someone he can be vulnerable with, someone who will love him for his soft heart and quiet ways.

Brady’s life plans grind to a halt when his niece and nephew lose their parents in a tragic accident, and he becomes a dad overnight. His Developmental Coordination Disorder rules his life, but he fights both DCD and the fears that chase him every day, to give Maddie and Lucas a home. Agreeing to go to a friend’s wedding is a decision he regrets long before he even gets there. But, he refuses to give in to his fear, even if he might do something that makes him a target for people’s comments and laughter. Meeting Eric, a huge man with a gentle voice and a flair for chivalry, he falls hard. Now, if only he can let himself get past his panic that Eric would never want someone like him, then maybe he could fall in love for real.

The second in the Single Dads series, Today is the story of firefighter Eric’s romance with Brady, from Ash’s (Single) parent support group.  Again we have the mingling of the two closely entwined circles, Ash’s and Sean’s (now married).  In fact, this story starts at their wedding, where Brady emerges from the safety of his home with his nephew and niece to attend.  It’s our first look at him, his emotional state and handling of his developmental coordination disorder. I was not familiar with this disability until this story and I think RJ Scott does a great job in educating the reader about DCD through Brady (at least his level of it), his coping mechanisms, and his fears.

It certainly makes us understand the walls he raises along with the combined losses he has experienced to understand him as a man better.  Eric as well telegraphs well as a believable person, his experiences as a firefighter, the stress and the physical pains all come across too.  While the element of instant love (and lust) remains, the rest falls nicely into place.

If you want to read children with the ability to break your heart at times, RJ Scott can certainly write them.  Realistic adolescence to struggling teen or preteen, haunted by the memory of losing their parents, needed to connect to a uncle with his own hurdles to overcome, and just the basics of childhood to fight through, all that emerges on these pages or through the tones of Sean Crisden who does a marvelous job of narrating the entire story and each and every character.

If you love listening to your stories as I have come to do, then this is one audiobook I can definitely recommend.  The narration is lovely, the story and romance a delight.   And at just a little over four hours the perfect thing for this busy holiday season!

Cover Design: Meredith Russell is just adorable and works for the branding of the series and characters. Love it.

Buy Links: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Audio Book Details:

Audiobook
Published November 12th 2019 by Love Lane Books Ltd. (first published August 23rd 2019)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Single Dads #2

Length: 4hrs 29mins

Narrated By: Sean Crisden

 

Single Dad’s Series Audio

Book #1 – Single – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

Review Audio Tour and Giveaway for Today (Single Dads #2) by RJ Scott and Sean Crisden (Narrator)

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Buy Links: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 4hrs 29mins

Narrated By: Sean Crisden

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

Single Dad’s Series Audio

Book #1 – Single – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

When the world labels a man and judges them blindly, is it possible to ever find love?

Firefighter Eric is on the front line, battling the threat of nature’s destruction in the California grasslands alongside his CalFire team. Focused and calm, even in the direst of situations, he has a strong affection for his fire truck, loves his career, and has best friends he can rely on. All he needs now is love, but that seems to be impossible to find. At his friend’s wedding. Eric falls in lust at first sight with the shy, slim, and sexy Brady, even if Brady isn’t the type of guy he usually goes for. What Eric longs for is an equal in his bed, not a smaller guy who might want Eric to role-play big strong firefighter every time they have sex. He wants to find someone he can be vulnerable with, someone who will love him for his soft heart and quiet ways.

Brady’s life plans grind to a halt when his niece and nephew lose their parents in a tragic accident, and he becomes a dad overnight. His Developmental Coordination Disorder rules his life, but he fights both DCD and the fears that chase him every day, to give Maddie and Lucas a home. Agreeing to go to a friend’s wedding is a decision he regrets long before he even gets there. But, he refuses to give in to his fear, even if he might do something that makes him a target for people’s comments and laughter. Meeting Eric, a huge man with a gentle voice and a flair for chivalry, he falls hard. Now, if only he can let himself get past his panic that Eric would never want someone like him, then maybe he could fall in love for real.

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.


RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.


The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:

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Thanksgiving Week and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Thanksgiving Week and A Growing List of Things to Do!

 

For those of us in the US or for expats abroad its Thanksgiving week.  We are making lists, trying to figure out menus, baking, and getting ready to travel or getting rooms ready for visitors to arrive.  And  then it is on to Yule and December.  Yes, time is flying.

Between the family obligations this week, water main breaks, and more RL events, well, let’s just say my lists grew a little bit larger this week quite unexpectedly.  Luckily my audio books kept me company along with my fur kids.  I have some wonderful audio books to review for you this week.  There are also several holiday romances here bringing with them all things Christmassy and joyous.  I hope you all are making your TBR lists for your Holiday Reading.

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Rogue’s wishes everyone a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.  Happy Reading and Listening.  Meet you all back here, full of leftovers after the holiday is over!

Now where did I put my list?

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, November 24:

  • Thanksgiving Week and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, November 25:

  • Review Tour for Promise (Single Dads #3) by RJ Scott
  • Release Blitz – Magic & Mirrors by L.M. Brown
  • Review Tour Little Love by Siobhan Smile
  • An Ashlez Review: Little Love by Siobhan Smile
  • An Alisa Review: Kindred Spirits by Sloan Johnson
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Promise (Single Dads #3) by RJ Scott

Tuesday, November 26:

  • Release Blitz for Annabelle Jacobs – No Place Like Home
  •  Release Day Blitz: Love and Linguistics by Tara Lain
  • Blog Tour Adore by Ella James
  • Review Audio Tour for Today (Single Dads #2) by RJ Scott
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: Today (Single Dads #2) by RJ Scott
  • A Lucy Review: Husband Hunters by Rick R. Reed
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: Red Dirt Heart 3 by NR Walker and Joel Leslie Narrator

Wednesday, November 27:

  • Release Blitz – Jay Northcote – A Boyfriend For Christmas
  • BLITZ The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler
  • BLog Tour Roxy’s Recovery by Kim Breyon
  • An Alisa Review: Nuttin’ But Trouble (College of United Monsters #4) by C.B. Archer
  • A MelanieM Audio Review: Home for Christmas (Texas #9) by R.J. Scott t and Narrated by: Sean Crisden
  • A Stella Review: Roxy’s Recovery by Kim Breyon

Thursday, November 28:

  • Review Tour – Garrett Leigh – Hometown Christmas
  • GUEST POST But by the Grace of Dog by AF Henley
  • Book Blast – Body Parts And Mind Games by Jude Tresswell
  • An Alisa Review : Hometown Christmas by Garrett Leigh
  • A Lucy Review: But By the Grace of Dog by A.F. Henley

Friday, November 29:

  • Mr. Right Now by Annabeth Albert  Blog Tour and Review
  • Blog Tour Unfettered by Kate Hawthorne
  • Audio Blitz – A.E. Via – Prophesy II: The Bringer of Wrath (The King & Alpha Series)
  • A MelanieM Review: Mr. Right Now by Annabeth Albert
  • An Alisa Review: Weekend at Bigfoot’s by Addison Albright
  • A Stella Review: Just the Thought of You (Mann of My Dreams #3) by Tinnean

Saturday, November 30:

  • A MelanieM Review: Boy Toys (Hot Off the Ice #2.5) by A.E. Wasp

A MelanieM Audio Review: Red Dirt Heart 2 by NR Walker and Joel Leslie Narrator

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Up until Travis arrived on his doorstep, Charlie had lived a very solitary life. He had surrounded himself with isolation; a couple million acres of red dirt, scorching sun and loneliness.

Six months on, winter has settled over the desert, and Charlie has the life he never dreamed possible. But living and working together, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, for six months straight starts to take its toll.

Charlie is a stubborn, stubborn man, who tends to have more conversations in his head than what comes out his mouth, whereas Travis has no problem saying what’s on his mind. And even as they both struggle to communicate, struggle to make sense of need versus want, Charlie can see that he’s pushing Travis away – yet seems helpless to stop it.

When it all boils down to whether Travis should stay or go, maybe the decision won’t be theirs to make.

Listening to the amazing repertoire of voices that emerge from Joel Leslie, the narrator of NR Walker’s Red Dirt Heart series, it has come vividly back to me why I loved this book and series so in the first place.

Here once again I feel all the insecurities that have Charlie Sutton pushing Travis away, fearing that he will leave him sonner or later after all, getting tired of Charlie or the harsh landscape that is the outback of the Sutton Ranch.  Also the deep fear and pain instilled by Charlie’s father about his sexuality that continues to influence his behavior, all in negative ways. It’s a daily battle for Travis to fight, against Charlie’s inner demons and monologues and the verbal fights  that seems to be getting more frequent.

Along with all the personal relationship dynamics, we get the wonderful “found family” on display at the ranch too.  There’s Ma and George, Billy, Bacom, among the core that’s being gathered together here.  There’s watching Charlie stretching forward through his interactions outside the station as well as his tentatively accepting a future outside his fears with Travis at his side.

And always there’s the growing love and deepening relationship between them both that I just love, that encompasses both mens past history, family, respect and love for the land and each other.

This is what it’s all about, right here. Open desert, flat to the horizon, blue sky, red dirt and you.

 

All Red Dirt Heart stories flow naturally, one right into the next, so reading or listening to them without interruption now that the series is finished is a true joy this time around.  It just highlights how well constructed the stories and series is as well as how well developed and multidimensional all the characters are.  Stomtimes a series doesn’t age well with time.  Not so with the Red Dirt Heart series.  In fact, I may even love them a little bit more.  Joel Leslie’s voices have now become those people for me in my head, Trav’s slow southern Texas drawn and Charlie’s broad Aussie tones forever set as theirs.

Nut how I love this love affair.  Of the heart and of the land.

“He had this way of making me love him just a little bit more by doing the simplest of things. The littlest of things.”

I’m heading into RDH 3 audio next, then all the way to the end.  I’m smiling and picturing the station, the people, and yes, even the animals, especially Nugget.  I can’t imagine that as a reader you haven’t found this series already, but if you haven’t the audio version is such a marvelous way to make it’s introduction, via the superb narration of Joel Leslie  who inhabitants these characters as if he was made to do it.  I highly recommend  every aspect from author to narrator.  Just listen in the order they were written and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Cover art:  While all the covers have a certain similarity, this is one of my favorites with the red dirt front and center.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Book Details:

Listening Length: 7 hours and 10 minutes

Audible Audio, Unabridged, 8 pages
Published January 18th 2017 by NR Walker (first published August 17th 2014)
Original TitleRed Dirt Heart 2
ASINB01N9RLT2B
Edition Language English
Series Red Dirt #2
setting Australia

An Alisa Audio Review: Nothing Special V (Nothing Special #5) by A.E. Via and Aiden Snow (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

The boys are back and fiercer than ever!

“We were a unit tonight, moving as one. Even apart, we are deadly, but when combined – we are f**kin’ unstoppable.” ~~ God ~~

Atlanta’s notorious narcotics task force is at it again. They are stronger, bigger, and better than ever. Especially when a city councilman sends RECON Marine, Edwin Steele – who’s been blacklisted from his Oakland department – to join the team. God and Day weren’t recruiting. They have a lot on their plates, like the fact they’re supposed to be getting married soon. They don’t have the time or the patience to integrate a decorated war hero with a slight chip on his shoulder into their well-oiled machine.

A hothead that’s uncontrollable and terrible with authority… but wasn’t that their team motto?

Steele was ready to hang up his shield. He was done fighting with bigoted bastards that couldn’t respect the job. He was good at fighting; he just needed the right team to fight with. When his uncle – City Councilman, Rasmus Steele – shows him a video of God’s team in action, he knows right away, it’s where his nephew belongs in order to restore his faith.

Steele pointed to the driver, a behemoth of a man wielding those massive firearms like a true beast… like a soldier. “And him. Who the hell is he?”

“That’s your new boss. Lieutenant Cashel Godfrey… they call him… God.”

Steele was skeptical about his new placement, but when he meets God’s technology specialist/computer genius, “Tech,” he’s willing to give it his all, and he definitely shows and proves.

Tech is stunning. His sweater vest and khakis, a stark contrast to the blue-jeaned roughnecks he works with. A beautiful sheep amongst the wolves. Steel thinks there’s no way the brilliant man would be interested in a hardhead like him, but Tech has a few badass hidden talents of his own and manages to fool him… fool all of them.

This story is a part of a series but can stand alone. It does not end on a cliffhanger and has a HEA. There are no multiple pairings in this novel.

It’s been quite a while since I read the last Nothing Special book, not because I wasn’t interested I just haven’t had the time, heck I’ve owned the ebook for years.  Well I was very glad to get the opportunity to listen to the audiobook and now want to jump right into the next one.

I enjoy the family all these guys have made and while most of the story focuses on Tech and Steele I like how we see almost all the previous characters and also get to see come of their points of view throughout the story too.  After a not so great first meeting Steele quickly integrates into the team.  Tech has been an integral part of the team but really wants to get out from behind his computer all the time.

Now, I don’t remember if this was in all the other books and I just didn’t notice then, but I got a little sick of hearing how hot everyone on the team was and the only referring to people as their nicknames except for some intimate moments.  I felt like I got to know these characters well and understand them, even when they made a stupid decision.  I liked that Tech and Steele were able to pretty quickly resolve the first few issues they had (which were mostly misunderstandings).

This book was narrated by Aiden Snow and he did a wonderful job.  I liked the voices he used for the characters and I could feel their emotions with how he read the story.  I was easily able to multitask and do other things while listening to the book because it was easy to keep track of where they were within the story.

I liked how the cover art by Jay Aheer shows the different characters/couples in the book.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon | Audiobooks.com

Audio Details:

Audio CD
Published October 20th 2019 by Tantor Audio (first published December 12th 2016)
ISBN 1515944263 (ISBN13: 9781515944263)
Edition Language English
setting Atlanta, Georgia (United States)
Georgia (United States

A MelanieM Audio Review:Red Dirt Heart (Red Dirt #1) by N.R. Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Welcome to Sutton Station: One of the world’s largest working farms in the middle of Australia – where if the animals and heat don’t kill you first, your heart just might.

Charlie Sutton runs Sutton Station the only way he knows how; the way his father did before him. Determined to keep his head down and his heart in check, Charlie swears the red dirt that surrounds him – isolates him – runs through his veins.

American agronomy student Travis Craig arrives at Sutton Station to see how farmers make a living from one of the harshest environments on earth. But it’s not the barren, brutal and totally beautiful landscapes that capture him so completely, it’s the man with the red dirt heart.

Please note: This book is set in Australia, using Australian English and lingo.

NR Walker’s Red Dirt Heart series became an instant comfort read when I first read it when it first came out in 2014.  I adored the characters, the setting (it was one of my first Australian location stories), the differences in our cultures and, yes, the similarities, just everything!  I was wombat crazy and red dirt heart in love!

Time passed and NR Walker became an auto read, her books a must buy.  The Red Dirt Heart series always floating fondly there in her library waiting to be rec’d.  Then came the audio version of NR Walker’s  Spencer Cohen stories and Joel Leslie’s perfect narration, Aussie voice included.  What leapt to mind?  That I needed to listen to Joel Leslie narrating Red Dirt Heart in the worst way.

So back to the outback I went.  Back to the lives of all the people at the Sutton Ranch and the hot red dirt landscape that captures their hearts and souls.  And the readers too so quickly. I always had pictures of how Charlie and Trav looked fixed so firmly in my head, but now?   Oh, my, with Joel Leslie taking such a firm, absolute grasp of NR Walker’s characters and story, here every favorite person burst back into life once more.  Charlie with his distinct broad Aussie accent comes immediately into play and just listening to Charlie, his many inner monologues to his exchanges with Ma and his ranch hands, who he is as a person becomes crystal clear. You know Charlie now, more than ever before.

And its not just Charlie’s accent, but a multitude of australian accents that Leslie comes p with, all genders, as well as all ages.   Then Trav arrives.  All slow, warm, southern Texas drawl flowing out of his mouth….and boom!  It’s as though Trav has walked through our doors, lively, unable to sit still, and more Trav, more three dimensional than I can remember.  Red Dirt Heart is singing to me.  The characters are bright, lively, passionate, and so real it hurts at times.

And this story!  I remember now why I loved it so. Love it so.  There’s Matilda, Ma and George, even the horses Shelby and Texas, plus the ranch hands that become a family.  And alway, always, that red dirt soil and landscape that spreads like another major character across the novel and series that digs just as deep into your heart as everyone else.

You know what I found?  I loved these stories even more.  Joel Leslie and NR Walker are perfection, literary mates mean to be.  And now its on to the rest of the series because you just can’t stop here.

Whether it’s your first time or the upteenth, go immediately for the audio version of the amazing Red Dirt Heart series and fall in love again or all over again.  Tis the holidays.  Treat yourself or someone you love.  I can’t think of a better gift.

Cover art for this series has stayed with me so yes, love it.

Audio Sales:  Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

5 hrs 7 mins

Audible Audio, Unabridged, 6 pages
Published July 4th 2016 by Love Lane Books (first published February 20th 2014)
ASINB01HU3WTHQ
Edition Language English
SeriesRed Dirt #1
Characters Charles Sutton, Travis Craig
setting Australia

A Lucy Audio Review: Finders Keepers by N.R. Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Needing a change of scene, Griffin Burke moves from Brisbane to Coolum Beach to start a new job. The beautiful white sand, aqua-coloured ocean, blue skies, and summer breezes are everything he longs for. What he finds is a mud-covered dog, lost and hungry, with a nametag and a phone number.

Dane Hughes is stuck in Surfers Paradise at a week-long work conference when he gets a phone call from his distraught mother. His dog, his fur baby, Wicket, has run away. Unable to leave and feeling helpless and miserable, he gets a text from a guy. “I think I found your dog…”

Griffin and Dane start talking, and Griffin agrees to look after Wicket until Dane can collect him. With a few days left before his new job starts, Griffin takes Wicket on some coastal adventures and sends Dane photos of their fun, and so the start of something new and kind of wonderful begins.

Griffin might have moved to Coolum in search of a new life, but what he finds is so much more. What he gets to keep just might take some four-legged help.

This was just what I needed after a pretty angsty book and it’s going into my “read after a bad day” folder on my iPad.  Griffin has just moved to Coolum Beach and on a hiking trip ends up giving water to a cute dog.  When he returns the next day, it’s raining and miserable and the poor dog is still there, now wetter and dirtier.  Griffin is a nice person, so he takes the dog, Wicket, and contacts the owner from the phone number on the tag. 

Poor Dane. He’s Wicket’s owner, and he has been frantic.  He left Wicket with his parents while he went away on a work conference and the little escape artist managed to open the screen door and disappear.  Dane’s parents are so upset and Wicket is no where to be found. In swoops Griffin, to say, “Yes, I found a dog.  Can you tell me about him?”  And so begins the friendship turned more of Griffin and Dane. And Wicket the dog, who is far from the parent’s house.

Griffin offers to care for Wicket until Dane returns from his business trip and does so in style, taking him to restaurants and parks, hiking and out for doggie desserts, all the while sending pictures and updates to Dane.  It was adorable.  Dane and Griffin get to know each other via text message and phone calls and I loved that as well. Sometimes it was awkward and adorable.  “And if you were looking-“I cringed at how ridiculous this was.  “-and used dating aps, would you use Tinder? Or maybe Grindr?”  I buried my face in the sofa cushion and rolled my eyes and wanted to die.”

The story basically is the adventures of Wicket and Griffin and then adding in Dane.  Friendly, flirty and then on to more. They do move pretty fast but they admit it.  “He told me he recognized we were moving pretty fast but he liked it, and I told him I agreed.  Wholeheartedly.”   The story is told in alternating first person point of view and I appreciated that as well.  I like getting to hear both sides. 

There is no angst in this book, no conflict.  It’s just a gentle, soft, fluffy story with a meet-cute and a lovely dog.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Narration by Joel Leslie is perfect, as usual.  He gives different voices to Dane and Griffin, making it easy to differentiate between the two and his upbeat tone fits very well.

Cover art, showing Wicket with Griffin, is simple and I felt is conveyed the feel of the story well. 

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible | Audiobooks

Audio Book Details:

Listening Length: 6 hours and 30 minutes

Audible Audio, 7 pages
Published July 30th 2019 by Tantor Audio (first published January 31st 2018)
Original Title Finders Keepers
ASINB07VHJHR1L
setting Australia