A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Dyeing to be Loved (Curl Up and Dye Mysteries #1) by Aimee Nicole Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This story is divided into two parts.  In the prologue, Josh, aka Jazz, Roman, owner of a salon called Curl Up and Dye, witnesses a murder from across the road as he’s taking out the trash one night. Shocked, he immediately calls 9-1-1 to report the crime.  And then he swoons when Gabriel Wyatt, a tall, sexy, and handsome detective arrives on scene.  Though he’s ostensibly not attracted to Gabe, who is way too straight and too uninterested in the effeminate Jazz, it’s Gabe he calls when the murderer shows up a few nights later to take out the eyewitness—Jazz.   Nothing happens, other than animosity, between the two as the prologue, and an epilogue, ends before the actual story begins. 

Jazz has taken a comment Gabe made about Jazz being too femme to heart, and in the early pages of the story, he goes to great lengths to avoid the detective.  That one comment beautifully set up their antagonism, and it returns to haunt them throughout most of the book.  The two share a push and pull attraction as the mystery drama unfolds, even after they find their way to the bedroom.

Jazz is one of those guys who this reader loves to fall in love with—fierce, strong, full of pride and sass. Independent, he also forms strong friendships with those who are his family of the heart, and when one of them is murdered, he’s all-in to help solve the crime—even though he might have to work with Gabe.   

Gabe really likes Jazz, despite his first impression, and he can see what a strong and fiercely independent and loving soul lurks beneath Jazz’s antagonism toward him.  Watching this couple as they push and pull their way to romance is interesting, to say the least.

But it’s Joel Leslie’s narration that saved this book from being just an ordinary MM romance mystery.  The somewhat femme voice he used for Jazz and the deeper, sexy voice he used for Gabe made this a very enjoyable listening experience.

The beginning of the audiobook is a prologue in which a woman who sells potions and predicts future events is murdered.  It’s told from her POV and then is immediately followed by an epilogue.  I’m really not sure why the book was set up this way, and I found it very confusing to listen to in audiobook format. Perhaps if I also had the e-book available I could have looked that over to clear up the point of doing a prologue and epilogue before the main story, but without it, I was not on firm foundation when the main part of the story opened.

The mystery plot in this MM romance was good with lots of twists and turns and possibilities, however, the writing style and execution were poor. There were many adverbial and prepositional phrases out of place—in other words, the way the sentence was structured made the phrase modify the wrong thing or the wrong person.  In my opinion, it needed tighter editing.  I could also “hear” misplaced words and errors.  After all, the narrator can only perform what is on page and sloppy edits show up in audiobooks as well as in e-books. 

But, because of the entertaining narration, I do recommend this to lovers of a fun, sexy, light-hearted mystery romance, and I bumped it up a half star to acknowledge that it’s the audio edition I recommend.


The cover features a photo shot of two sexy men in an embrace.  Very attractive and definitely representative of the two MCs in this story. 

Sales Links:  Audible | Amazon

Book Details:

Audible Audio
Published November 7th 2017 by Aimee Nicole Walker (first published November 8th 2016)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCurl Up and Dye Mysteries #1 settingOhio (United States)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Embrace the Fire (Through Hell and Back #3) by Felice Stevens and Kale Williams (Narrator)


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A few things should be addressed before summarizing the review of this audiobook. First, there’s no mention of the need to read other books in this series, however, I believe my enjoyment of this book would have been greatly enhanced if I had done so.  So although this is ostensibly a standalone, it really is the capstone of a three-book series and I’d recommend that people read the others first—and also read the end of this review for information on the multiple epilogues.

The second thing that bugged me and made me crazy—why would the author give the MC (with the real name of Sebastian) the nickname of Tash when one of the MCs from the previous books in this series was Ash?  And Ash was frequently present in this story.  Then to make it worse, this is an audiobook so the frequency of use of Tash and Ash became way too confusing, especially in the beginning of the story when the couples from the earlier stories frequently made an appearance and I had to figure out all the relationships because I wasn’t warned that the other books should be read first.  It seems this story is connected with others in the series by each one featuring one of three boys who grew up as brothers in poverty under the rough hand of a nasty, abusive foster father.

This book is about Brandon, a young man who ran away from home after one fight too many with that abusive foster father. Thinking he killed the old man, Brandon moved to another city and changed his name to Randy. After a year or so on the streets, he was rescued by a man named Gage who was working in a program helping homeless teens.  Brandon turned his life around and is now working as a teacher.  Hearing of a way to help teens like he was, he agrees to meet with Dr. Sebastian (Tash) Weber, a psychiatrist who is starting another program for bullied LGBTQ youth.

Tash is about fifteen years Brandon’s senior, but he’s hot and Brandon is immediately attracted. Tash isn’t interested in a relationship, however, since his former lover died a few years before and he doesn’t think he can ever love again. 

The two do eventually come together, despite objections from some friends and family members who feel the age gap is too steep and/or Brandon isn’t the right person for Tash and vice versa. Add to that the guilt Brandon carries about his past and this makes for a long story.  It’s nearly ten hours of audio and a great deal of the story is interrelated to characters from the first two books.  Ultimately, it’s discovered that the lost brothers Brandon has never been able to find are the best friends of Gage and Tash and so their lives intertwine even more. 

After a misunderstanding, Brandon travels home to face his ghosts and to make peace with his foster mother, if at all possible.  Tash and the brothers follow and eventually all is resolved.  To be honest, I felt lost so often (and was frankly sick of hearing Tash and Ash in the same sentences!) I was happy to see it end, even though I liked the author’s writing and I liked the core relationship between Brandon and Tash.  I definitely enjoyed the narration by Kale Williams, who I don’t believe I’ve ever heard before.  Even with all of those confusing character names, he managed to juggle multiple voices so I was able to pick out the MCs.  That alone is well worth mentioning. 

I must say, however, I was surprised at the end when the Epilogue chapter was announced and suddenly it’s about people named Mike and Rachel, and I had no idea who they were.  The short scene is at their wedding and all the characters are present. And then suddenly, we had a second epilogue that takes place a month later about Jordan and Luke – MCs from After the Fire — in a little vacation and engagement vignette.    A month later a third epilogue about Drew and Ash takes place — MCs from the first book, A Walk Through Fire, so it’s a little odd to me that the author put the epilogues from these other couples into this book.  But finally, taking place a week after that last one, we get the epilogue for Brandon and Tash and their very satisfying HEA. 

Do I recommend this? Yes, to those who enjoy a contemporary romance with an age gap. However, I highly recommend the first two books be read before this one, or readers will likely suffer from the same confusion I went through.  It really is a three-book series, all of which are linked closely together.


Cover art by Reese Dante in the newest edition features a headshot of two young men in an almost-kiss, hands on each other’s face.  Very attractive, and in keeping with the theme of the others in the series, the word fire in the title is bright red. 


Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2yu0NiV

Amazon UK:  http://amzn.to/2mem4vf

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 9 hours and 42 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: felice stevens
Audible.com Release Date: October 31, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Read

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Submission (Deviations #1) by Chris Owen and Jodi Payne and Narrator: Maxx Power


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Noah is a man in need of submission but hasn’t had any luck finding just the right Dom.  He’s had one contract with a Dom who never found anything to praise him about and was heavily into pain, and one contract with a nice guy who committed the cardinal sin of leaving the room while Noah was in bondage.  Though they are still friendly, Noah cannot submit to him.  He’s done scenes with Bradford, owner of the local BDSM club and Bradford recommended him to Tobias, a very experienced Dom who doesn’t currently have a sub.  Noah comes highly recommended to Tobias and vice versa.  This story is about their early months of navigating the waters between Noah’s needs and Tobias’s desires. 

While interesting, and with a conflict thrown in by Phan, Tobias’s former sub who seems to be present all the time at the club and is also still friends with Tobias, the audiobook seemed to drag for me during the scenes in which Tobias and Noah did role play.  I think that’s directly due to the fact that it was an audiobook rather than an e-book and the voices narrator Maxx Power gave the two men did not lend themselves to the particular historical scenarios the men chose to role play.  Also, there were a lot of sex scenes and I’m sorry to say that after awhile they became ho-hum so I was somewhat bored by about three quarters through and looking forward to the end.

I would have preferred a deeper, more masculine voice for Tobias—one which matched his body size, real life profession, and role in the BDSM community.  By the same token, Noah is a cop and his soft, almost feminine voice did not fit the description the authors built for him early in the story.  A few obvious mispronunciations also pulled me out of the story—most notably read—pronounced as reed when it should have been pronounced as red.  So I can’t give points for the narration.    

Overall, I would like more about the MCs so I may read the other books in the series, but I’m not sold on them yet, and I’m not sure I’d listen to more audio of this series. If you like BDSM with lots of steamy sex scenes, this is a good one to pick, but I can’t recommend the audio version. 


The black-and-white cover art depicts cuffs and a flogger in black tones on a white background.  Looking at future books, it appears this theme is continued with the cover showing a black-and-white picture of a symbol of the BDSM topic.  For example, the next in the series is Bondage and that cover shows a rope.   It’s an effective way to tie the series together.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 8 hours and 56 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Tygerseye Publishing LLC
Audible.com Release Date: May 17, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Poppy’s Secret by Andrew Grey and John Solo (Narrator)


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Pat Corrigan loves his daughter, Poppy, with all his heart. It’s too bad he has to raise her alone. Nine years ago, just as she was conceived with his partner’s sperm, his partner, Edge Winters, walked out on him and hasn’t looked back—until he just now showed up on Pat’s doorstep. The thing is that Pat never told Edge that the surrogate was pregnant already when he left. Pat had just found out and was unable to tell Edge before he came home one day to find Edge packed and ready to relocate for a new job—without Pat.

So now he’s in a quandary—tell him or not. The thing is that Pat is starting to fall for Edge again, and his little girl seems to be in love with “Mr. Edge” as well. Add to his troubles and worries about this, the fact that his mother is diagnosed with cancer and Pat doesn’t know which way to turn.

This is a sweet story, along the lines of the old-time romances being retold as Dreamspun Desires books. Add to that, Andrew Grey’s inherent goodness and sweetness and you get the picture. Yes, there’s trauma, and yes there was a cover-up, but it’s highly likely all will work out by the end. The warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I read or listen to a story like this is exactly what I need for a pick-me-up when I’m a little down. John Solo did a great job narrating, and the story is only five hours long so pick this one up for a car trip or trail hike. I hope it makes everyone feel as good as it made me feel. And, yes—there’s a very definite and sweet HEA.


Cover by Bree Archer is a great picture of a little girl with her arms flung around the neck of her (handsome) daddy’s shoulders. Colorful and cute, it’s attention-getting.

Sales Links

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio
Published March 24th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 15th 2017)
Original TitlePoppy’s Secret
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: You Are the Reason (The Tav #2) by Renae Kaye and Dave Gillies (Narrator)


Rating 4.5 stars out of 5

Davo’s a pretty average guy. He has a decent job, owns his own home, and spends his weekends at the pub. He fully accepts that he’s gay, but doesn’t want to be one of those gays, who are femme and girly. He likes football and other masculine pursuits, and firmly avoids anything that could be seen as femme—including relationships that last beyond fifteen minutes.

Then Davo’s friend and gay idol not only gets a boyfriend, but also adopts a baby girl. Davo is seriously spooked and scuttles down to the pub in fright. That’s where he meets Lee, who is cute from her cherry-red hair, to her pretty little dress and pointy red shoes. Davo is charmed—but how is that possible? He’s gay. Isn’t he? Then Lee tells him he’s actually a guy—he just likes to wear women’s dresses occasionally. Thoroughly confused about an attraction that’s out of character for him, Davo begins the long journey to where he can accept himself without caring what everyone else thinks.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, even though there were many moments in this 8 hour audiobook that caused me to rethink why I was listening to this. Those moments all centered around Davo and his attitudes toward effeminate gay men and his opinions on how men should act—gay or straight, real men don’t wear pink. There were times when his attitude was downright hurtful and unreal. And yet, I kept listening. Why? Because the author wove so much humor into the story, it was easy to believe that his character was somewhat of a spoof of men with that attitude.

The author also gave us the perfect MC to balance Davo’s macho act, and two great characters—Patrick and Jake from The Blinding Light—to make this a heartwarming and lighthearted story with many WTF and equally oh-so-sweet moments along the way.

What saved Davo from being a total jerk was the reveal of how he was raised. The poor guy was literally persecuted from grade school up for having any opinions that weren’t macho. In fact, the worst memory of his young life was of having to throw away his My Little Pony collection. Now, staunch in his opinion of what a real man should and should not do, he’s shocked to see the change in his best mate, Jake, who married a blind man (The Blinding Light) and now has a baby girl. Jake’s whole world now revolves around the baby, and Davo can’t figure out why his macho friend has changed so much.

At the tav, when he meets Lee, a cutie with cherry red hair, he’s freaked by how much she lights his fire. She is attractive and fun and has a good sense of humor, but it’s not until days later, when he finally finds out she’s a he who likes to dress in women’s clothing occasionally, that he feels reassured in his masculinity again.

The author takes us through Davo’s painful journey of self-discovery as he comes to learn more about his perceptions of others, his preconceived notions, and finally, his awakening to his own softer side. Accompanying him on this journey is Lee, the cross-dressing man who, at first, shook up Davo’s world and now is everything he ever wanted. It’s obvious from Davo being my focus in this review that the story is really all about him—more so than many other romances that equally balance perspectives of both characters. Maybe it’s that his attitudes and feelings are larger than life, but it resonates well in the telling of this story.

Along the way, as we share that journey to change with him, we laugh and we cry and sometimes want to kick him in the rear, or slap his face, but by the end, all I wanted to do was wrap him and Lee up in my arms and wish them the best.

Dave Gillies did a terrific job in narrating this audiobook and bringing the characters to life. And I must add kudos for his voice for Lee, which was totally different from the other males—higher-pitched, yet soft and feminine.

This was a really great, heartwarming MM romance. Not to be missed in either e-book or audiobook format.


Cover art by Bree Archer features a back view of a male with naked torso against a light blue scenic background.  The cover is attractive but not one I would have chosen for this story. 

Sales Links

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published March 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published August 7th 2015)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Tav #2
CharactersDave Pederson, Lee Brennan

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Saving Silas by S.J. Himes and Derrick McClain (Narrator)


Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

saving-silas-audiobook*Previously Published as part of Home For The Holidays, A M/M Holiday Anthology, Nov. 29th, 2015.*

This was a sweet-older-guy-rescues-twink story, and though there were quite a few plot holes, I did enjoy listening to it. That may possibly be due to the narration of Derrick McClain, who always comes through with a great narration.

Silas is caught in an alley while a shooter wreaks havoc on an area downtown. He’s in the alley because he crawled out a window to escape the wrath of his father, a nasty man who abhors homosexuals and has caught Silas in a lie about his sexuality. Though he’s always been brutal, this time Silas feels lucky to have escaped with his life and the shirt on his back. He can’t go to the cops because his father is the city’s DA and close friends with the police chief.

Fortunate that EMT Gael Dominic finds him behind the dumpster, the young man wakes up in the hospital to Gael’s soothing voice. Thinking he was underage, Gael volunteered to sit with him since there wasn’t anyone available from DCF. A John Doe that age would need to have someone on standby. Thankfully, when Silas awakens, he tries to keep his identity quiet, due to fear of his father finding him, but he does confirm that he’s nineteen. Unable to stop thinking about him, Gael heads out to visit him again the next day and finds out he’s just left AMA, disappeared from his room—a room which was now conspicuously crowded with men in suits. Acting on a hunch, Gael takes the back stairs generally used by staff and finds Silas near the outside door. When Silas begs for help, Gael can’t resist and takes him to his home.

There within two, possibly three days, they consummate their love, so to speak, and make plans for how Silas can cope without his ID. The resolution to the problem with his father was not quite believable, but no more remarkable than a near-death experience one day, running away the next, and having sex by the third day. It was a good concept, but not believably executed. Sprinkling in a little Christmas holiday emotion for good measure in the hopes it would leave readers feeling warm and fuzzy didn’t quite hit the mark.

So, not bad, not the best, but if you like big, tough, thirty-something, tattooed Alpha males and their romance with nineteen-year-old abused and injured homeless twinks, you may just rate this one higher. By all means, though, if you buy it, buy the audiobook version.

Cover art seems right for the story

Sales Link  Amazon Audible

Audiobook Details:

Listening Length: 3 hours and 38 minutes


Published November 30th 2016 by Sheena Jolee Himes (first published November 29th 2015)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Champagne Kisses by Lynda Aicher and Audiobook narrated by Tobias Silversmith


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

champagnekisses_audiobookIt’s easy to summarize this story—short, sweet, sexy! And the bonus to listening to the audiobook is that Tobias Silversmith narrated it beautifully.

This audiobook is only two hours long, but nearly every minute is packed full of character building, drama, romance, and hot, hot sex. It’s much better than receiving a Christmas stocking full of chocolates. Positively yummy and delicious!

Evan Cleary is a struggling wedding planner who’s spent the last four weeks putting together the perfect wedding for Nate Patterson and his soon-to-be-husband. Unfortunately, on Christmas Eve, their wedding day, Nate finds out his fiancé has been very naughty—banging one of the hotel staff. Major drama ensues, including Nate hurling a vase across the banquet room, leaving his fiancé bleeding with a head wound and on the way to the hospital for stitches. He doesn’t really care though, storming out of the room and promising never to return.

Evan is stunned, but he’d sunk everything he had into making this perfect so the wealthy Mrs Patterson would recommend him to friends and fellow socialites. He needs that business so sets about turning the former reception into a gala Christmas party. Watching from the wings while all this is going on is Nate’s brother, Richard Patterson. Though out and proud, few people know it, and certainly not Evan, but Richard is determined to make good use of Evan’s time later that night, convincing him that the day isn’t a total waste, and neither is the night.

There’s some major steamy hot sex in this story, and of course, it involves champagne and lots of kisses—in all sorts of places. But will the couple move beyond one night? Richard’s made it known he doesn’t do femme and there are few less femme than Evan around. This one is worth picking up to hear what happens. Stick it in your stocking. Stick it in a friend’s stocking and listen to your heart’s content. Is it original? Not so much. It’s holiday trope, but it’s very well done and left me feeling happy, so what more could I ask for? Certainly not chocolates.

Cover art by L.C. Chase shows two hot men, one taking his shirt off, the other loosening his tie. Both ready for a round of Champagne Kisses. 

Sales Links

Riptide Publishing

Audible, Amazon, iTunes

Audiobook Details:


A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: What Happens at Christmas by Jay Northcote and Mark Steadman (Narrator)


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

what-happens-at-christmas-by-jay-northcoteFirst and foremost, the most important disclaimer for this review is that I love holiday stories. The second is that I highly enjoy the work of Jay Northcote. And last, but certainly not least, I love Mark Steadman’s narrations. Put these all together, and it’s a no-brainer that I really enjoyed this short friends-to-lovers story.

Justin is heartbroken over the loss of his boyfriend—probably more so because the ex was cheating on him, works in the same office, and is now going to be at their holiday party—the party for which Justin doesn’t have a date. When his old friend Sean comes back from overseas and admits to Justin that he told his dad that he’s gay before he left on this last trip, Justin is surprised but happy. He’s lusted after the guy he grew up with for years, but Sean was straight, or so he thought.

When Sean agrees to accompany Justin to the office party as Justin’s boyfriend, little does Justin know that Sean is looking forward to the cuddles and kisses as much as Justin is. Add in a snowstorm that strands both men for the holidays, and their decision to stay together gives them a much better chance to follow through on what starts at the party.

Because it’s a short story, there’s not a lot of misunderstanding, angst, and soul-searching, and to be honest, I’m glad for that. But the two fated mates do look forward to their HEA as the story ends.

Jay pulled out the old friends-to-lovers trope, dusted it off, and created a highly enjoyable book. The fact that he got Mark Steadman to narrate shows his brilliance and bumps the rating up a notch. This is one that would make a wonderful stocking stuffer for all lovers of MM romance.

Cover art fits the  character and story.

Sales Links


Audiobook Details:

3 hrs 41 mins

Audible Audio, 4 pages

Published November 11th 2016 by Jaybird Press (first published November 19th 2015)
Original TitleWhat Happens At Christmas
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Wolfsong by TJ Klune and Kirt Graves (Narrator)


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

wolfsong-audiobookOh my! This was the very best shifter story I’ve ever read! A master of intricate plots, TJ Klune applied his very vivid imagination to creating an intriguing, complex drama that also happens to be a sweet story of a love between a man and a wolf—a love fated to last for all time. Add to that, the very talented voice of narrator Kirt Graves, and I could have listened to this eighteen-hour audiobook for another eighteen hours without being the least bit bored. Every time I thought it was coming to an end, a new plot twist was thrown out to intrigue readers and listeners even more.

Ox was a plain-speaking, easygoing, simple man with no expectations for himself beyond being good to his mother. After all, his daddy always told him he’d get nothing but shit in life before his daddy left for good. Ox lived with his mom near the big house at the end of the lane that was vacant for years, until one day he came home to find a boy standing in the road—a boy named Joe, who now lived in the big house. Ox didn’t know it then, but this talkative, high energy boy would someday be the focus of his world.

The author takes us into that world—the world of werewolves and magic—and what an adventure we get! It’s not pretty; it’s not sweet and fluffy romance; it’s gritty, and powerful, and gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and heartwarming drama. But when I finished, I wanted to howl and sing their wolfsong.

It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words, but I don’t think there are enough adjectives to describe how incredible this book is. And the narration? Outstanding and superb are somehow too inadequate to do it justice. Just buy it and listen and wallow in the joy of having found the best book of the year.

The cover by Reese Dante features two paw prints on a black background—striking in its simplicity.

Sales Links

Audiobook Details:

18 hrs 40 mins
Audible Audio, 19 pages

Published October 5th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 20th 2016)
Original TitleWolfsong
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Love on Location by Lucy Felthouse and Joel Leslie (Narrator)


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

love-on-location-audiobookShort and sweet, this story is narrated by the very talented Joel Leslie, thereby increasing my enjoyment exponentially.

Theo Samuels is an actor, filming on location in the village of Stoneydale. There he meets Eddie Henderson, who’s working the set in a minor job, but Theo can’t seem to keep his eyes off Eddie and it appears the attraction is mutual.  That’s actually the last thing Theo wants because he’s deeply closeted and worried that coming out would affect his career.  But the two can’t deny their attraction and when they are caught in the rain one day while out sightseeing, they can’t keep their hands off each other.

Bemoaning the fact that Theo lives in London and Eddie lives in Stoneydale where he’s hoping to find a better job, they decide that they’ll just stay together temporarily and deal with their separation the next time Theo takes off to do another role. Knowing they’ll find it difficult to part, now or in the future, they take a chance and Eddie heads to London with Theo.

Without revealing any more of the fairly short plot, I can say that they do get their HEA. This story is low level angst, with two sweet MCs and an outstanding narrator. Thinking of picking up the audiobook? Don’t hesitate.

The bright, attractive cover depicts two handsome men, well representing the story.

Sales Links

Audiobook Details:

Published September 30th 2016
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/love-on-location/