A Lila Audiobook Review: The Virgin Manny (The Mannies #1) by Amy Lane and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Growing up and falling in love…

Sometimes family is a blessing and a curse. When Tino Robbins is roped into helping his sister deliver premade dinners when he should be studying for finals, he’s pretty sure it’s the latter! But one delivery might change everything.

Channing Lowell’s charmed life changes when his sister dies and leaves him her seven-year-old son. He’s committed to doing what’s best for Sammy… but he’s going to need a lot of help. When Tino lands on his porch, Channing is determined to recruit him to Team Sammy.

Tino plans to make his education count—even if that means avoiding a relationship—but as he falls harder and harder for his boss, he starts to wonder: Does he have to leave his newly forged family behind in order live his promising tomorrow?

The Virgin Manny is a cute, trope filled love story. I really liked the way Tino and Channing met and how their relationship grew from there. This is a slow-burn story that can be considered May-December even when the age gap was only ten years.

As any other Dreamspun book, this story has very over-the-top events and reactions from the characters. It’s a feel-good tale even when the events that brought the MCs together were nothing to be happy about. Everyone is content with the new little family and there’s minimal to no angst.

There’s a bit of mystery added which gives the book a soap opera feel. I don’t think it was necessary, but it added to the story’s charm. The last part was too slow, but as a whole, the story works great.

John Solo, as always, did a nice job bringing all the characters to life. I enjoyed the different cadence between Tino and Channing and appreciated how well the female voices were integrated.

The cover by Bree Archer shows the main idea behind the story, but it’s a bit generic and stereotypical.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: John Solo
Length: 6 hours 14 minutes
Published: February 14, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B06WLJTZW4
Edition Language: English

Series: The Mannies
Book #1: The Virgin Manny

 

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Romancing the Wrong Twin by Clare London and Rusty Topsfield (Narrator)

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

romancing-the-wrong-twin-audioHow tangled can a romantic web get?

 

When gruff mountaineer Dominic Hartington-George seeks sponsorship for his latest expedition, his London PA insists on a more media-friendly profile—like dating celebrity supermodel Zeb Z.

 

Zeb can’t make the date, so he asks his identical twin, Aidan, to stand in for just one evening. Aidan, a struggling playwright, shuns the limelight to the extent people don’t even know Zeb has a sibling, but he reluctantly agrees.

 

When the deception has to continue beyond the first date, Aidan fights to keep up the pretense. Dominic likes his sassy, intelligent companion, and Aidan starts falling for the forthright explorer. But how long can Aidan’s conscience cope as confusion abounds? Will coming clean as “the other twin” destroy the trust they’ve built?

 

So… I had a hard time with this story.  I thought the concept was interesting, but had trouble with some of the execution.  Dominic is forced into a PR relationship to help him get a sponsorship deal and Aiden stands in for his supermodel brother when Zeb can’t make it.

 

I understood both Dominic’s and Aiden’s points of view in the story, but had a hard time connecting with the characters.  Throughout the story it just seemed that they would both internally whine about their situations or the people around them and to me it made them quite off putting.  While we see them both jump into a physical relationship without much talk about the future and feelings, I can understand their feelings being hurt through misunderstanding, but didn’t really feel the characters emotions.

 

Rusty Topsfield did a nice job narrating this story.  I was able to keep track of the story and characters which is always nice.  I didn’t like some of the voices he had for characters and a few secondary ones seemed quite similar, but the whiny quality of some of the voices he used along with the whininess of the characters didn’t help.

 

Cover art by Bree Archer is nice and follows the pattern for the series.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner PressAudible | Amazon |  iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 6hrs 21min
Published January 3, 2017 (ebook first published November 1, 2016) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

An Ali Audiobook Review: Everything Changes (Resilient Love #1) by Melanie Hansen and Robert Nieman (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
everything-changes-audioWhat happens when friendship catches fire? 

Former Marine and lower-leg amputee Carey Everett keeps a grueling schedule of counseling fellow war veterans and their families. The injury he received in Afghanistan forces him to rely on a reserve of strength he didn’t even know he had. A much deserved vacation will let him reconnect with his best friend, who saved his life and has been there for him through devastating injury and painful recovery. 

Part-time EMT and aspiring singer Jase DeSantis has been in love with Carey for years, but he’s come to accept that his straight friend will never be able to offer more. Jase fills his days with band rehearsals, ambulance shifts, and willing groupies, all while trying to cope with debilitating PTSD. 

A week of sun, fun, and music in San Diego changes Jase and Carey’s lives forever when their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Jase has been longing for that change, but it leaves Carey reeling with confusion. As Jase fights to hold things together, Carey deals with doubts, fears, and his own preconceived notions about labels and the true nature of love.
I really liked this. It had a bunch of my favorite things….friends to lovers, hurt/comfort and some fantastic dirty talking.  The story mostly takes places in the present but there are some flashbacks to their time in Afghanistan.  When the story begins they’ve been through a lot and have not visited each other in awhile although they talk on the phone frequently.  What is supposed to be an average visit turns in to them becoming physical with each other.  While Jase has known for a long time that he loves Carey, Carey identifies as straight and has never thought about crossing from friends to lovers.
As the story goes on Carey admits that he cares deeply for Jase but he really struggles with what it would mean for his life should he begin to identify as bisexual or gay.  I think this part of the story was really well done and I felt it was a very realistic situation.  They have a great foundation of friendship and they’re the rocks in each other’s lives.  It makes sense that it would turn into a physical one.
I especially liked how well these two communicated with each other. There were some bumps in the road but they were open and honest about it. I wish we’d see that more in stories.  I can’t imagine you could make such big changes in your life without having some things to think through and I loved how they talked about this every step of the way.
This book was narrated by Robert Nieman and I thought he did a great job.  He did a good job on both of the MC’s as well as the side characters. He happens to be one of my favorite narrators in this genre so I was pleased to see he was doing this book.  
This was my first time reading this author and I’m looking forward to reading more by her.  I plan to move on to the other books in this series as soon as possible.  I also loved the narration and if you enjoy audiobooks then I definitely recommend this media.
Cover art by Natasha Snow Designs works perfectly for the story and characters.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
Audiobook
Published January 12th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 13th 2015)
ASINB01N20ODJP
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesResilient Love #1

An Ali Audiobook Review: Murmuration by T.J. Klune and Kirt Graves (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
murmuration-audioIn the small mountain town of Amorea, it’s stretching toward autumn of 1954. The memories of a world at war are fading in the face of a prosperous future. Doors are left unlocked at night, and neighbors are always there to give each other a helping hand.

The people here know certain things as fact:

Amorea is the best little town there is.

The only good Commie is a dead Commie.

The Women’s Club of Amorea runs the town with an immaculately gloved fist.

And bookstore owner Mike Frazier loves that boy down at the diner, Sean Mellgard. Why they haven’t gotten their acts together is anybody’s guess. It may be the world’s longest courtship, but no one can deny the way they look at each other.

Slow and steady wins the race, or so they say.
Something’s happening in Amorea. And Mike will do whatever he can to keep the man he loves


But something’s wrong with Mike. He hears voices in his house late at night. There are shadows crawling along the walls, and great clouds of birds overhead that only he can see.
So this book is a trip. It’s impossible to discuss the plot without spoilers so I’m going to skip that. I will say that this book had me hooked from the beginning. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on. Then part way in I thought I had figured it out. I was wrong. Then I had a new theory and I was part way right. And then…….gah. (I could do this all day.) 

Here’s what you need to know. The writing was fantastic. It is some of TJ’s best work imo. I literally couldn’t put this down because I was dying to know what was going on. There are plot points that I really disliked. Plot points I’m not comfortable with. And yet……..I was captivated by this story.

There is a really unique romance. It’s so different than anything I’ve ever read before. It’s this sweet, pure, 1950’s courting type romance and I never would have thought that was my thing but apparently it is. (I still need my smut and won’t be running off to find these kind of romances in general but it really worked with the plot).

The end keeps you guessing. I mean right up to the very end. The very last paragraph or two. I was holding my breathe and while I knew I was intrigued I under estimated how emotionally invested I was because all of a sudden I had tears in my eyes. 

I did most of this on audio and the narrator, Kirt Graves, was excellent. One of the best I’ve listened to. I got about half way through on audio and then switched to reading because I was so impatient to find out what was going to happen. I then switched back to audio for the last few chapters. If you like audios I recommend doing this story that way. It was top notch and really added to the overall storytelling. 
Cover by Reese Dante: I love the cover.  I had seen the guy on the cover on some other books so I didn’t think much about it going into this story.  After reading it though, I have to say the cover is perfect for the story.  
Sales Links
 
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio
Published January 16th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published October 28th 2016)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lila Audiobook Review: Hanging The Stars (Half Moon Bay #2) by Rhys Ford and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

hanging-the-stars-audioAngel Daniels grew up hard, one step ahead of the law and always looking over his shoulder. A grifter’s son, he’d learned every con and trick in the book but ached for a normal life. Once out on his own, Angel returns to Half Moon Bay where he once found…and then lost…love.

Now, Angel’s life is a frantic mess of schedules and chaos. Between running his bakery and raising his troubled eleven-year-old half-brother, Roman, Angel has a hectic but happy life. Then West Harris returns to Half Moon Bay and threatens to break Angel all over again by taking away the only home he and Rome ever had.

When they were young, Angel taught West how to love and laugh but when Angel moved on, West locked his heart up and threw away the key. Older and hardened, West returns to Half Moon and finds himself face-to-face with the man he’d lost. Now, West is torn between killing Angel or holding him tight.

But rekindling their passionate relationship is jeopardized as someone wants one or both of them dead, and as the terrifying danger mounts, neither man knows if the menace will bring them together or forever tear them apart.

Hanging the Stars is a beautiful second chance story. I have a soft spot for young couples that get an opportunity to reconnect and this story doesn’t disappoint. The connection between Angel and West still runs through them after a decade apart. What they had made a difference in the men they became and what they wanted for their future.

The story starts strong and directly into the action. We get adrenaline filled scenes that set the path for the characters to see each other again. There are small coincidences that make their first encounter even more meaningful. Having them get together without trouble or misunderstandings worked for the story.

Each main character has a very defined backstory that intertwines with the other. They have family and friends in common, but at the same time, they have a separate story that’s only theirs. And that’s what makes their story special. A lot is going on against them, but they are ready to face everything together. 

All the twist and turns are fast-paced and keep the reader trying to flip the pages faster. Well, in this case for the audio to hurry up. But this also is the reason I didn’t give the story a higher rating. It was easy to miss an important element with all the information coming our way.

Overall, this is an interesting addition to the story. We get to see Lang, Deacon, and Zig again. Plus, I love Roman and his relationship with Angel. I hope the author give us more stories in this series because there are several characters with a lot of potential for love. 

Greg Tremblay did a good job giving life to the characters and making them unique. Especially the young ones. 

The cover by Reece Notley is nice but a bit generic. Plus, the model’s picture has been used in several stories recently. 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Greg Tremblay

Length:  7 hours 41 minutes

Published: January 12, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press

ASIN: B01N9PZE6V

Edition Language: English

Series: Half Moon Bay

Book #1: Fish Stick Fridays

Book #2: Hanging the Stars

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Redesigning Max (Foothills Pride #2) by Pat Henshaw and David Ross (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

redesigning-max-audioRenowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.

 

When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can’t imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max’s dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?

 

Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.

 

This story is a wonderful continuance in this series.  Fredi is a little sad when he’s with his friend Jimmy and his boyfriend; he has to learn to jump in if he wants what they have in spite of the consequences.  In addition to being known for his interior design, Fredi is also an award winning architect.  He is amazed when he gets to visit Max’s home and expects something similar to his cabin, but gets the exact opposite.

 

This story is told from Fredi’s point of view, which gives us a good view of his thoughts and feelings.  We still get to see the other characters pretty clearly, even if Fredi doesn’t see it at the time.  I love how Max isn’t willing to let others’ prejudice affect his chance with Fredi and sees the light at the end of the tunnel when things go bad.  It was nice to see how each of them admired the other, but didn’t know it until they began talking about their interests.

 

David Ross did a wonderful job narrating this story.  I was able to connect with the characters through hos he showed the characters’ emotions in his reading of the story.  We got to see Guy and Jimmy a bit which is always nice.

 

Cover art by AngstyG is wonderful and gives a great visuals of the characters and follows the pattern for the series.

 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Audible | Amazon |  iTunes

 

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 2hrs 55min
Published December 20, 2016 (ebook first published July 29, 2015)
Edition Language: English

Series: A Foothills Pride Story

An Ali Audiobook Review: Close to You (Sunshine and Happiness #3) by Skylar M. Cates and Tristan James (Narrator)

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 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
close-to-you-audioIt’s hard to recover from a first love. Some people never do.

How hard would you fight to keep your best friend? Marc Lucas and Tomas Santos have been best friends forever, but now their friendship is in a crisis. When they were boys, betrayals ripped their world apart. They thought it was fixed, but some parts remained broken. Ever since he saved him from a humiliation at school, Marc has loved Tomas. The last thing he expects is for Tomas to love him back. To keep his best friend, Marc revisits an abusive past he’s tried to forget.

For Tomas, loving Marc has been anything but easy. His upbringing told him it was wrong, so why did it feel so right? Accepting who he is as an adult, Tomas decides he needs a committed relationship. To his deep sorrow, he can’t seem to find it with Marc.

When the two find themselves alone and in the grip of a hurricane, long-buried feelings emerge. Being “just friends” is no longer an option. They must risk it all on love.
When I started this I was under the impression I could read this as a standalone since it’s about a different couple than the previous books.  Once I started it though I felt like I was missing something so I went back and read the previous books.  I’m glad I did that because these two are side characters with important roles in those stories and it helped me transition into this book.
The story is told from dual points of view and it’s told in the past (when they were teens) and the present.  Tomas comes from a loving home but Marc grew up in a very abusive home.  Child abuse is shown and while I didn’t find it super graphic, be aware if this is an issue for you.  As this story goes along Marc has to start working through his issues to be happy with himself and to be able to have a relationship with Tomas.  Marc has a lot of intimacy issues and fear based on his childhood and these two’s journey is painful and angst filled.
While there is a lot of angst and heartache is this story it ends with a beautiful happily ever after and I loved the journey the author took the characters and the readers on.  This was my first time reading this author and I will definitely be looking to read more of her work.
Cover Artist: AngstyG:  I like the cover.  I’m not typically a fan of the color brown in a monochromatic form but this still stood out and it really fit the mood of the story.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
Audiobook
Published December 8th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 28th 2016)
Original TitleClose to You
ASINB01N9ENUL1
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSunshine and Happiness #3

A Lila Audiobook Review: Lord of a Thousand Steps (Love in Laguna #4) by Tara Lain and K.C. Kelly (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

lord-of-a-thousand-steps-audiobookTo architecture student Ian Carney, family means everything. Taken in by his brother, Jim, when his father threw him out at eighteen for being gay, Ian yearns to create his own family with his boyfriend, Rico. But Rico’s in Mexico caring for a sick father, Ian hasn’t had sex in a month and a half, and his gorgeous boss, Braden Lord, CEO of the architectural firm Ian interns for, is looking better and better.

Braden’s life is chaos. Just out of the closet and going through an ugly divorce from his wife of fifteen years who’s trying to take custody of his two children, he desperately resolves not to succumb to a completely inappropriate attraction to Ian—even though his kids adore both the man and his crazy cat.

When Rico proves to be a snake in the grass and Ian exercises his powers of seduction, what starts as a “friends with benefits” fling turns into real life real fast. Can Ian give up his romantic dreams for an “old guy” who didn’t come out until he carried a mountain of baggage? It’ll only take a thousand steps.

Lord of a Thousand Steps is more than I expected. Since Ian has been, mostly, a side character in the previous stories, I was a tad skeptical. Based on the other books, he was set with Rico and that’s about all I needed to know. After reading the blurb, I wasn’t too interested in Braden, but the author surprised me.

Braden ended as my favorite character in the story. Yes, I do have a sweet spot for middle-aged men with kids. And the less experience they have, the best. I love how protective he is of his children and how that mentality extended to include Ian. It’s sweet to see how well they interacted with the kids as if they were theirs to start with. Plus, his business partners, employees, and clients were great.

On Ian’s side, I like how mature he was for his age. But at the same time, he still had naive and youthful hopes that make him an adorable character. Adding Anderson to the mix just gets the whole thing to a new level. I wasn’t a fan of Rico or the parts of the story that involved him. He was more like a reason for Braden and Ian to get together.

All the troupes and over the top events are there and gave the book that air of fiction based on reality this series does so well. I enjoyed seeing Jim & Ken once again—and how big of a part they played in this story. The rest of the guys are back too. It almost felt as a type of farewell for the series even when I don’t know if this is going to be the last book. Everything is going great in their tight group of misfits.

My only complaint about this book is how the job of an architect and how the intern relates to the rest of the company were depicted. Especially when they talked about Ian’s future plans–his licensing, etc. It was a bit unrealistic, but it can be just me since I have been in Ian’s shoes.

K.C. Kelly did a superb job with the characterization, from the women in the story to the children and especially the main characters.

Another winning cover by Reese Dante. It fits the series and the story perfectly. I love seen Anderson as the focal point.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner |  Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: K.C. Kelly
Length: 7 hours and 42 minutes

Published: December 12, 2016 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B01NCK06F0
Edition Language: English

 

Series: Love in Laguna
Book #1: Knight of Ocean Avenue
Book #2: Knave of Broken Heart
Book #3: Prince of the Playhouse
Book #4: Lord of a Thousand Steps

A Lila Audiobook Review: Suddenly Yours by Jacob Z. Flores and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

suddenly-yours-audiobookWhat happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

Cody Hayes is having one epic morning-after. The hangover following a Vegas bachelor party is nothing new to him, and neither is the naked man in his bed.

His apparent marriage is a different story.

Carefully plotting every detail of his life carried Julian Canales to a Senate seat as an openly gay man. A drunken night of Truth or Dare isn’t like him… and neither is marrying a man he just met. He’d get an annulment, but the media has gotten wind of his hasty nuptials. If Julian’s political career is going to survive, he has to stay married to a man who’s his opposite in every way.

Now he must convince Cody that all they need to do is survive a conservative political rival, a heartbroken ex, their painful pasts… and an attraction neither man can fight.

Suddenly Yours is a classic day after tale. Waking up married suited Cody, but challenged Julian’s well-planned life. At the same time, they balanced each other. Something that’s evident from the very beginning. The opening scene sets the stage for the rest of their relationship and gives the readers hope of a happily ever after.

This is when my problem with the story starts. I’m not a fan of stories that go back in time until they meet again later down the road. Prologues are fine as set ups, but having to wait to see how everything happens doesn’t work for me. My lack of patience makes me skim through the pages. I wanted to see their future together, not their past.

When we are finally back in real time, the story moves smoothly. I did enjoy Julian’s and Cody’s banter and easy friendship. I think they were right for each other. I like how Cody took charge and how Julian tries to do his best for his new husband.

The secondary characters fit the story line and added to the couple’s troubles. Their lack of trust in love feeds from them but in the end, they are surprised when the realization of their relationship catches up with them. There’s no one more clueless about their love than Cody and Julian.

John Solo is one of my favorite narrators and he didn’t disappoint. The mirth behind Cody’s words was evident and the rest of the voice transitions flow easily.

Another cover by Bree Archer. The model works perfectly for the story and the standard Dreamspun Desires background complemented the quirkiness of the book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner |  Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: John Solo
Length: 6 hours and 33 minutes

Published:  December 7, 2016 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B01MQSQ07S
Edition Language: English

 

Series:  One Fine Day
Book #1: Undercover Boyfriend
Book #2: Suddenly Yours

 

A Lila Audiobook Review: Undercover Boyfriend by Jacob Z. Flores and Rusty Topsfield (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

undercover-boyfriend-audiobookTwo men, one lie, and a whole bunch of trouble.

Marty Valdez is in serious trouble. His sister’s wedding is around the corner, and everyone expects to meet Marty’s super-successful underwear model boyfriend – whom Marty invented. Now Marty has to produce a half-naked hottie or suffer the worst humiliation of his life.

FBI agent Luke Myers is in serious trouble. He’s been working undercover to take down a dangerous drug cartel, but his cover’s blown and he needs to disappear. Luckily, a geeky yet intriguing comic book artist gives him the perfect opportunity. Luke just has to pretend to be his boyfriend, and pretending is what he does best. But between Marty’s mother and his ex, Luke might’ve bitten off more than he can chew, and Marty’s knack for finding trouble might ruin more than just his sister’s wedding.

Undercover Boyfriend is one of my favorites in the Dreamspun Desires series. The plot seems simple from the start, but the author did an excellent job adding to it as the story moved forward. It balances the romance and the mystery well even when the reader can guess who the antagonist is and what would happen next.

I love Marty and Luke, separately and as a couple. They’re easy characters to fall for. I kept wishing for everything to go right for them even when this series guarantees a HEA. They’re sweet and over-the-top, but it worked with the character and plot building in the story. It’s great to see how protective of Marty Luke is from the very beginning. And how much compassion Marty has for Luke when they first met.

As I mentioned, the mystery is as important as the romance. It brings to different characters together and continues to build up to the very end. The reader can connect the dots, but it doesn’t take from the story itself. The slow build goes beyond the main characters. It includes every scene in the story.

The secondary characters are as good as the principals and I hope we get to see some of the guys later in the series. Marty’s mom and sister were perfect. Everyone, even the villain, had a reason to take part of the story. There are a lot of coincidences to make the story shine, but in the end, we get another good book by this author.

I like Rusty Topsfield narration. It complimented the story’s soap opera feel. He did an excellent job emphasizing the characterization and making Marty and his family feel realistic.

The cover by Bree Archer matches the rest of the series and gives the reader a nice visual of Luke’s appearance. Adapted to audiobook format.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner |  Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Rusty Topsfield
Length: 5 hours and 51 minutes

Published:  August 9, 2016 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B01JVMUDAY

Edition Language: English

Series:  One Fine Day
Book #1: Undercover Boyfriend
Book #2: Suddenly Yours