A MelanieM Audiobook Review: The Hockey Player’s Heart (Hockey Hearts) by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss with Finn Sterling (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When hockey star Caleb Carter returns to his hometown to recover from an injury, the only thing he’s interested in is a little R & R. He never expects to run into his onetime crush at a grade school fund-raiser . Seeing Aaron Price hits him hard, like being checked into the boards. The attraction is still there, even after all these years, and Caleb decides to make a play for the schoolteacher. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take, right?

Aaron has been burned by love before and can’t imagine what a celebrity like Caleb could possibly see in a guy like him. Their differences are just too great. But as Aaron spends more time with Caleb, he begins to wonder if he might have what it takes to win the hockey player’s heart.

The Hockey Player’s Heart (Hockey Hearts) by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss combines several elements that made this an automatic listen.  First and foremost is hockey!  I love hockey and hockey players and this story has that in hockey star Caleb Carter who is returning home to rehab his injury.  Secondly? The chance for an old crush to reignite into something more.  Caleb has always had something for Aaron Price who long ago used to tutor him in math.  Now both are grown and will get the chance to meet again back in FosterGrove, their hometown where Aaron teaches math.  Yes! Second chances!  Another favorite trope of mine.  And thirdly?  The fact that Aaron’s been hurt before and doesn’t see himself as anyone lovable or good enough for a relationship.

The character of Caleb is by far my favorite.  Strong, generous, thoughtful, yet not perfect, Caleb is the one you instantly connect with.  Aaron the teacher I absolutely adored.  The scenes with his students shines with the knowledge of someone with understanding of what makes a great teacher.  It’s with his students and within the framework of his profession that Aaron is a whole person. Outside of it, then Aaron is a person full of doubts and issues of self-worth.  I thought the authors did a sensitive job with Aaron’s past and yet, in many respects for me, this aspect of Aaron…his constant insecurity issues almost became an irritating factor after a while. Especially when faced when the hurt he was causing without actually having more discussions.

Yes, it all came right at the end through a totally charming scene that showed Aaron how wrong he’d been.  Still.  While I appreciated the need for Aaron to work through his issues, I just felt as though it went on far too long considering the length of the story.  More romance, less nattering about.  Because together they are wonderful!

The narration by Finn Sterling was terrific.  I loved his voice for Caleb, and he juggled all the roles easily, even the feminine voices, like Caleb’s sister’s and Aaron’s students which did come across as young as they were written.  Well done!  Listening to this story, the time flew by,  I was able to lose myself in their romance and have a wonderful doing doing it.  That lets me definitely recommend this audiobook to you as well.

Cover art: Bree Archer. Love this cover.  It’s bright and happy, with Foster Grove’s main street laid out behind  Caleb!  Great job.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, Dreamspun Desires #50
Published March 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published January 16th 2018)
Edition Language English
SeriesHockey Hearts #1
CharactersAaron Price, Caleb Carter
settingF oster Grove, New York (United States)

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: ​Lost and Found by Rick R. Reed and Narrator: Michael Neeb

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park.

On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle.

Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park the next summer, there’s a problem—who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be—but that’s just what Flynn experienced.

A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it—and along the way, they just might fall in love.

Rick R. Reed loves dogs, being happily owned by one himself.  And it shines through every story of his that has a canine element to it.  It’s especially clear in Lost and Found where a beagle, named Barley or Hamburger depending upon the person,  provides the bridge to romance, love, and HEA.

Here one Barley gets lost by one Flynn, found by Mac he turns into Hamburger.  One beagle beloved by two men.  But when Flynn happens upon  his beloved beagle in the  company of Mac, all the lost,, the  pain and guilt involved in not being able to find his Bailey comes rushing back.  And of course, Mac doesn’t want to lose his “Hamburger”.

Reed does a wonderful job of portraying the angst and battle involved when it comes down to our feelings for our animals.  They are an important part of us and recognizing that fact helps us understand Mac’s actions better.  We can at least empathize a little even as we recognize that he took the wrong path and then couldn’t stop.

I appreciated the slow approach to romance between the two main characters but wish that Reed had given us more insight into Flynn or at least as much as he did with Mac.  It would have helped make Flynn’s ease in decision making towards the end more grounded and realistic.  I wanted to know more about his job and how he felt about it and his friends.  Instead we are heavy on Mac’s side of the story and it sort of feels off kilter at the end.

Narrator Michael Neeb does an incredible job with the voices and the story.  I fell effortlessly into Lost and Found, pulled into the characters that Neeb’s voice created for me along with Reed’s heartwarming, sweet tale of  two men, one happy beagle and their HEA.

Cover art: Reese Dante.  I love this cover.  It’s just perfect for the characters, and storyline.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible |iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 4 hours and 52 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Audible.com Release Date: December 28, 2017
Language: English
ASIN: B078MQ29SR

A MelanieM Audiobook Review: DRAMA MUSCLE (Nicky and Noah mystery #2) by Joe Cosentino ~ performed by Chip Hurley

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

It could be lights out for college theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza. With dead bodybuilders popping up on campus, Nicky, and his favorite colleague/life partner Noah Oliver, must use their drama skills to figure out who is taking down pumped up musclemen in the Physical Education building before it is curtain down for Nicky and Noah. Complicating matters is a visit from Noah’s parents from Wisconsin, and Nicky’s suspicion that Noah may be hiding more than a cut, smooth body. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining second novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and weights up!

I’ve been reading this series in eBook so I was wondering how the audiobook would affect or change my memory of the original tale.  In this case, the wonderful narration of  Chip Hurley definitely enhanced my enjoyment of a story I already found vastly entertaining.

Joe Cosentino always manages to mix mystery, murder and romance together in his Nicky and Noah stories and come up with something that’s likes to slide between the high and low camps of comedy. While the comedy is front and center on the narrative stage, the author doesn’t forget to balance his plot, mixing in the occasional elements of pathos and of course huge abundance of romance and love.

I had to laugh even before I got started, the imagery of musclemen acting as deities still cracking me up.  Then the narration started and Chip Hurley pulled me right into the story.  Keeping the right instructional tone you would expect of a professor when needed, dry and funny also popping up to give the character Nicky Abbondanza life and believability, Chip Hurley did a terrific job making a story I was already familiar with new again.    Really, this  story is beautifully suited for narration.

Chip Hurley flows easily back and forth between the voices, although I would have wished for a little more character definition here.  Still there was enough variation in tone and inflection to know which person was speaking easily, especially the smooth southern tones he uses.  Combine that with  parents, more professors, more bodybuilders and their possible mates?  Then you realize Hurley has done an amazing job of taking Cosentino’s hilarious story and bringing it to life in audio form.

There are a lot of characters here (many musclemen and Greek gods) plus professors that get involved in the mysteries and murders (yep bodies do fall).  Turns out I enjoyed it even more the second time around in audio format.  Its funny the voices are never the ones I have created for the characters in my head but quickly take their place if the narrator is good and does their job as Hurley does here.  Now Nicky and Noah have voices firmly fixed to go with the characters in the books I’ve read.

I love this series and Nicky and Noah.  They are throughly entertaining and always make me laugh with their antics even as the bodies pile up.  Now I have the series to look forward to in audiobooks!  And yes, I recommend them in both formats.  Pick them up and get started with Nicky and Noah today.

Sales Links:

Audiobook Details:

Length: 6 hours, Release Date: February 22, 2017