A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: The Solstice Prince (Realms of Love #1) by S.J. Himes and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is a very sweet, angst-free story about a young healer who was rescued from slavery and the prince who sees beyond the servant to the heart of the man beneath.

Jamie Buchanan was sold into slavery when his father passed away with tremendous debt. When the slaver’s ship takes on water, it makes port in the kingdom of Pyrderi, a kingdom totally opposite his homeland. This country is ruled by a kind king and his sons are no different, so when Prince Maxim spots the scars made by the chains that bound him, he tries to help the young man but instead scares Jamie away. Until circumstances make it clear that he is the young healer who has been reported missing from the academy and Jamie’s good fortune begins.

As the winter solstice ball approaches, Jamie and Maxim become closer and it’s very evident that the young prince wants Jamie by his side forever. Honestly, there was no conflict in this story at all. It was like listening to a fairy tale, especially given that it was told in the inimitable voice of Joel Leslie. I could listen to him for hours—and I have, many times! This time, he told Jamie and Maxim’s story beautifully and, of course, they did get their HEA.

There’s really not much more to be said. It’s a sweet romance, and I gave it 3 stars because it wasn’t highly complex and there were quite a few misplaced modifiers that I think I would have cringed at if I had read the book, but Mr. Leslie smoothed over them nicely and I was so caught up into the sweet romance that I just kept going. The additional ½ star, making it 3 ½ stars overall, is due to his outstanding narration.

Those who love a sweet, easy listening story should definitely pick this one up in audio. Heartwarming and recommended.

The attractive cover is done in bright colors with caricatures of the two principal characters: the prince and the healer. It depicts the story and grabs attention.

Sales Links: Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Length: 6 hrs and 1 min

Audible Audio
Published April 30th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published November 24th 2017)
ASIN B07CGRWH98
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Rebel (415 Ink #1) by Rhys Ford and Tristan James (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This story has the “flavor” of Rhys Ford’s Sinners Gin or Hellsinger series—there’s a huge cast of characters, all of whom are young men who are just begging to get their own stories. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the author will provide them at some point in the future.

These young men were brought together in their early years through the foster system that didn’t provide any safety net until they formed their own family of sorts. Gus is one of those young men, a tattoo artist who’s been away for a few years, driven by his personal demons, doing what he needed to do to get over breaking up with his lover, Rey Montenegro.

Rey wanted stability and commitment to a future together and apparently Gus didn’t, so he broke up with the moody young man who never seemed to be able to put down roots. Now Gus is back in town and to everyone’s surprise, Gus has been presented with an unexpected gift. The night Rey broke his heart, he got drunk and had sex with a female tattoo artist and he’s just learned from her that her three-year-old son, Chris, is his. Now, faced with trying to get partial custody through a system that rejected him when he was a kid, while also trying to deal with memories of the mother who tried to kill him and was successful in killing herself and his twin, Gus turns to his family-of-choice and to the love of his heart, Rey, to guide him through his nightmares.

The story was interesting and exciting, heartbreaking and heartwarming, and the “feel” of it as I mentioned earlier is similar to that of several of the author’s past successful series so I have no doubt this will be a winner as well. The characters were well-developed, though getting through the introductions to the ensemble cast and their backstories was difficult while listening to the book in audio format. Whereas, in an e-book, I could flip back to easily find a reference to a past event to refresh my memory, that can’t be done in an audiobook and I wanted to be able to do that a few times.

Speaking of audio, the only thing that bugged me about Tristan James’s narration was the extra “s” he put on words ending in “s”. He didn’t just put it where it should be pronounced like in Rhys’s (pronounced Reecez in this case) name but also in others like brothers that he pronounced as brothersez. It detracted from the narration too much to consider the narration top notch and I was disappointed because I generally love his beautiful baritone voice and was looking forward to his narration of this book.

All that being said, I recommend this story to all who love MM romance with couples who are reunited, those who are reformed bad boys, and stories written by Rhys Ford whose word choices give descriptive phrases new meaning. Though I loved this, if given a choice, I’d get the e-book instead of audio.

The cover by Reece Notley depicts a side view of a long-haired man, the hair partially covering his face. Wearing jeans and an open shirt, the ink on his forearm is intricate and beautiful. Very attractive cover!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Book Details:

9 hours 11 minutes

Audible Audio, 9 pages
Published April 12th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published December 29th 2017)
ASINB07C4J6CHN
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series415 Ink #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Heart Unheard (Hearts Entwined #2) by Andrew Grey and Greg Tremblay ((Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Scott has had a crush on his boss for years, but the older man doesn’t seem to return his flirting so he bites his tongue and enjoys their time together at work.  Brent, in the meantime, feels the same way about Scott, but he’s the boss so he’d never act on his crush because it wouldn’t be appropriate. Plus, the age gap bothers him, so he keeps his attraction to himself.  Until Scott is severely injured in an accident and Brent can no longer keep quiet.  Realizing he almost lost the young man before they had a chance to explore possibilities, he makes sure Scott is aware of his interest.

But it may be too late because Scott has lost his hearing due to the head injury he suffered in the crash, and he doesn’t see himself the same way as he used to.  He doesn’t want to be a burden to anyone, least of all Brent.

In this audiobook edition, Greg Tremblay brought the characters to life.  Both men had distinctive voices and I liked the way Greg managed Scott’s voice—just the right volume and intonation to indicate someone who can’t hear himself speaking.  He also gave a variety of voices to the secondary characters, including Scott’s (sometimes overbearing) mother. Thankfully, he didn’t give her a wicked-witch voice as many other narrators may have done. 

Most of the story revolves around trying to determine who hit Scott, since the car hasn’t shown up at any of the auto repair shops. Of course, since Scott and Brent both work at a mechanic’s shop they can easily question their peers about the car, but it isn’t until an accidental sighting by someone picking up a part at another garage that the situation comes to a head. 

There’s also back story on Scott’s ex-friends from his church group, all of whom have turned their back on him when one of them lied about Scott making a pass at him.  And there’s quite a bit of interaction between Scott and James, the blind character from Heart Unseen, who helps Scott adjust to life with his new disability.

And, of course, this is Andrew Grey, who is such a sweetheart that it always shows through in his work, so readers know going into this that it will have life lessons, foolish choices by some characters, and finally, a HEA for two very deserving young men. I definitely recommend this one in audio format.  It’s a great way to spend a day, a commute, or a relaxing weekend.    

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Cover art by LC Chase depicts a young auto mechanic working on the underside of a car while another man looks on.  While it does represent the characters from the story, it’s done in a sepia tone so is not very attention-getting and wouldn’t draw me to this book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Book Details:

Audible Audio
Published March 8th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published November 17th 2017)
ASINB07B8TCLRY
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHearts Entwined #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Practice Makes Perfect (Housemates #3) by Jay Northcote and narrated by Mark Steadman

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

I love this Housemates series by Jay Northcote, and it doesn’t matter if I read the e-book or listen to the audiobook—which I did in this case—it’s always a delightful way to spend an evening’s entertainment.

This one has managed to move to my favorite of the series (though I think I say that every time!) In this story, Dev, a geeky virgin (Oh, my!) moves into the house with Mal and Jez and the other housemates. A first year physics student, the maths genius knows all about adding and subtracting but nothing about relationships, and more importantly, nothing about sex. Well, nothing other than what he’s seen on porn vids. So he sets out to learn and prepares his list of positions and techniques that he needs to learn.

Ewan, one of the guys who rooms in the house next door, and a friend of some of the guys in Dev’s house, is looking for someone to tutor him in maths. He’s a psych major but has to take a statistics course and desperately needs the help. When he spots the cute geek neighbor’s profile on Grindr and reads that he’s a virgin looking for experience, after he’s done swallowing his tongue, he sets out to cut a deal. He’ll “help” Dev get experience and Dev will tutor him in statistics. A match made in heaven.

And really, that’s what it turns out to be. We get a blow by blow (no pun intended) description of each of the lessons, which of course, get hotter and hotter as they progress. We also get to witness the guys’ friendship as it’s blossoming into more than that—if each can get out of his head and into his heart and realize that’s what’s happening. There’s misunderstandings and some small drama, but they do eventually find their way to their HEA. And along the way we’re treated to humor and sweet, tender moments and a lot of super sexy times.

Narrator Mark Steadman was outstanding, as usual, since he always makes me feel as if I’m right there at uni with the gang and enjoying their fun times in the house together. And Ewan’s Scottish accent was just the right touch. The Scot and the geek—a match made in heaven. Each story is like a mini-reunion with the past characters and always leaves me feeling good.

I definitely recommend the series and this one in particular as super sweet and super- hot with two engaging characters who were made for each other.

The cover is just like the others in the series – a simple black-and-white photo of a male with bare torso, and in this case, a pair of glasses. Why not? It has to be Dev, our story’s geek.

Sales Links

Audible.com
Audible.co.uk
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Apple

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook
Published April 19th 2017 by Jaybird Press (first published June 22nd 2016)
Original TitlePractice Makes Perfect
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHousemates #3 settingPlymouth, England (United Kingdom)
England (United Kingdom)

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review :Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan ~ Audiobook narrated by Iggy Toma

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★audiobook clipart bw

NowhereRanch-AudioCover smallerMonroe “Roe” Davis narrates this story of how he found his home— Nowhere Ranch in Nebraska. Representing Roe, and the balance of the cast of characters, narrator Iggy Toma did an outstanding job with this story.

Hired to tend the sheep on the farm of gentleman rancher Travis Loving, Roe works hard from sunrise to sundown. He learned sheep ranching during his childhood on his family farm in Iowa, a farm he hasn’t been back to in five years, not since his father made his opinion on Roe’s sexuality known. Wandering from place to place and never staying in any one location too long, he finds his way to Nowhere Ranch.

Roe never mixes business with pleasure though, and never cruises for men in his own back yard, so he travels several hours to hook up at a gay bar to satisfy his need to be dominated. Shocked when he runs into Travis there, he tries to wait him out so that he can find a hookup and get going. Forced into conversation, they find that their needs match. Dominant Travis would like nothing better than to hook up with a boy who will ask no questions and tell no tales. They determine that they can spend one night together, no strings attached, and Travis swears it will not affect how he treats Roe when they get back to the ranch.

The problem is, of course, that they are indeed suited to each other and neither can leave the other alone once they hook up again afterhours one night at the ranch. Slowly, Travis works his way through Roe’s defenses, using BDSM techniques to help Roe feel a measure of control over his life as he surrenders control to Travis.

One of my favorite quotes summarizes the plan they have to remain unaffected. As Travis tells Roe— “I don’t want a partner. I don’t want a husband. I want a boy. I want a little slut I can order what to do. I want you in boots and spurs and chaps and nothing else, sucking on my cock with a tail hanging out of your ass.”

And that plan suits both of them for a while, until their relationship begins to grow and both men realize they are developing feelings for each other. Eventually, Roe lets his best friend, Holly, in on his secrets, including the biggest secret of all— his family wants him back but they want him back so they can cure him of being a gay, perverted sinner. Not long after that, Roe realizes that his family of origin isn’t as important to him as the family he’s made at Nowhere Ranch with Travis and Holly.

Where the guys go, how Holly’s issues meld with theirs, how Roe’s family issues are resolved, or at least temporarily shelved, and what finally seals their relationship, all make for a highly complex, yet very enlightening, entertaining, and enriching reading experience.

I first read this story in early 2012 when I was new to M/M romance, and it may have even been one of the first BDSM stories I ever read. Though I appreciated it at the time, I have so much more respect now for the way the author introduced the men to the pleasures they would find together in BDSM, as well as for their emotional growth and the beauty of their relationship—from the stalwart, stoic Travis and the anxious, self-deprecating Roe—to the confident men who are secure in their love for each other and the family they have created together.

This story is not for those who want mild, simple romantic sex scenes. The sex is rough, with elements of BDSM including fisting, spanking, and pony play. But it’s done in a way that demonstrates the Dom’s respect for his sub, and the sub’s dependence on the solidity and safety of his Dom. I once heard this described as a classic among M/M BDSM novels, and I heartily agree.

The audio narration by Iggy Toma is outstanding and certainly added to my overall enjoyment of the story. I was able to appreciate every scene, every nuance of conversation, and stand back and enjoy the journey the men took together. Don’t hesitate to pick up the audiobook version of this one.

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The cover by Kanaxa on this 2015 version of Nowhere Ranch depicts a faded out photo of a cowboy in the foreground captured in a head-chest shot as he turns to the side, rope over his shoulder, one hand raised to the brim of his hat. This is superimposed over the silhouette of a lone cowboy standing with his back to the camera, overlooking a prairie. It’s very appealing and a nice depiction of the characters.

Audiosales Link:  Audible  |  iTunes

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition
Published March 3rd 2015 by Heidi Cullinan (first published February 15th 2011)
original titleNowhere Ranch
ISBN139780996120302
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.heidicullinan.com/books/nowhere-ranch
characters: Roe Davis, Travis Loving

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review – The Silence of the Stars by Kate McMurray ~ Audiobook narrated by Michael Ferraioulo

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5audiobook clipart bw

SilenceoftheStars[The]AUDSMEverett Blake is a successful concert violinist who holds a teaching position at Olcott School for talented young musicians in Manhattan and occasionally accepts a short stint with a local symphony since performing is a part of his life he truly loves. He’s recently been cast off by his long term partner, Pierre, a French Chef who landed his own cooking show. A perfectionist, Pierre never failed to let Everett know he wasn’t quite good enough.

Now, four months later, Everett has his own apartment in Manhattan and has hired a local contractor to remodel his kitchen. Sandy Sullivan is the principal contractor for the company in that area and when he arrives on Everett’s doorstep, the mutual attraction is immediately evident.

Sandy is sexy, fun, and an enjoyable companion as Everett discovers over drinks one night. He’s an Army vet who served multiple tours overseas but was injured in Afghanistan when a car bomb exploded and was medically discharged. Unknown to Everett, Sandy suffers from PTSD, the true reason he left the Army. His close friend was killed when that bomb exploded, and though he only suffers occasional flashbacks now, he does still suffer from vivid and frightening nightmares.

When he and Everett eventually have sex, Sandy always finds a reason to leave afterwards, making Everett think that perhaps Sandy isn’t looking for a relationship. Everett, handsome, wealthy and educated, has always chosen to be in a relationship with a man before having sex, and he thought that’s what he and Sandy had started so he’s disappointed each time Sandy goes. When Sandy finally does stay over one night, Everett learns why Sandy always leaves when Everett wakes Sandy in the middles of a nightmare and finds himself thrown to the floor.

Eventually, Sandy decides to seek the help of a psychologist who specializes in PTSD because he’s starting to care for Everett, and he realizes his PTSD and related nightmares are affecting their budding relationship. Sandy’s goal in life has always been to have a large, happy family in a nice home with a wonderful life partner, or husband now that same sex marriage is possible. However, he now believes it’s too late for him, and he faces a struggle to work through his PTSD issues and his thoughts and feelings about his life plans. In the meantime, he and Everett are growing closer and Everett surprises Sandy by standing up for him when they go to meet Everett’s snobby parents. But it’s the little things that Everett does for him, the quiet and strong support he shows in many ways, that eventually helps Sandy more than anything else.

This is a wonderful story about love and relationships, a hurt-comfort story in which both men learn and grow due to being with each other. Everett is not without his own revelations in this story as he re-examines his feelings about love and family and commitment. The narrator, Michael Ferraioulo, does an excellent job in vocalizations of the characters as well as in the overall narration. He has one of those voices that is a pleasure to listen to, and I found that I carried my iPhone around with me all day so that I could listen to this story no matter what I was doing—just like being unable to put down a good book.

Though it is second in a series, there’s no need to read the first one, but I have to admit that now that I’ve met a few characters from that story, I’ll likely go back and read (or listen to) that one too.

Cover by Aaron Anderson depicts a head shot of a man on a solid white background with the title and a music score superimposed over his face. This is a nice way to depict the importance of music in the life of MC Everett while picturing a man who I assume is MC Sandy.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press Audio Book          iTunes   Audible

Book Details:

Narrator Michael Ferraiuolo
Length 7 hours and 0 minutes
Categories:AudiobooksKate McMurrayStars that Tremble and Silence of the Stars by Kate McMurray
Book Type Audiobook
Other Formats: eBook, Paperback