A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Nova Praetorian by NR Walker and Joel Leslie (narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

NR Walker and Joel Leslie have become my favorite duo as they bring us the kind of superb entertainment I once saw on the big screen in my younger years—Lawrence of Arabia comes to mind. This story is a sweeping saga worthy of the big screen but more readily portable as all one needs is a phone app to get lost in the glory days of Rome.

One of the best lanistas—gladiator trainers—in Rome, Quintus Furius Varus is “tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit.” Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, so he comes to Quintus with an offer he literally cannot refuse, and Quintus ends up in Neapolis, contracted not only as a trainer of guards, but head of those assigned to protect Servius. He’s told the contract period is limited, so once the threat is removed, Quintus can go home to his gladiators and resume his peaceful existence.

Kaeso Agorix was abducted from Iberia and brought to Rome as a slave. Purchased by Servius, he’s handed over to Quintus to train. Their attraction is immediate and intense, and he’s given to Quintus as a personal slave for as long as Quintus is in Servius’s employ. When Quintus discovers Servius’s treachery and plot to gain power, not only is Quintus’s life in danger, but also the lives of Kaeso and the other gladiators. What follows is a complex plot of assassination and treachery and involves not only Quintus and his gladiators, but also Servius and his slaves, and the emperor and his royal guard, the praetorian.

This story is very long and very, very complex with characters who have Ancient Roman names, so it takes time to get to know each one, and it takes a while to understand the politics and the atmosphere of the times. That all being said—it is time well-spent. A grand saga, created by the fertile imagination of NR Walker and brought to life by the brilliant and highly talented Joel Leslie, the character development is outstanding in this large cast of mighty Roman warriors and deceitful Roman politicians. Joel is most definitely a man of a thousand voices in this one. How he managed to pronounce each name, give the character a different voice, and keep up with the pace of the story is beyond me. He and the author made this interesting and exciting and the last chapters fly by quickly. The outcome is surprising and very satisfying. I very highly recommend this to all lovers of a grand adventure, MM romance, and of course, history buffs.

The cover features a Roman guard, holding sword and shield, on the battlefield with the sun coming up behind him. Beautifully done, it’s symbolic of the new guard—the nova praetorian.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audio Details:

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 12 hours and 24 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Love Lane Books Ltd.
Audible.com Release Date: August 27, 2019
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English, English
ASIN: B07WS2T7F1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Deal Maker (Mixed Messages #2) by Lily Morton and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Jude and Asa are at the top of my favorites right now. And their son, Billy—not every author can create a precocious five-year-old and keep him from being annoying, but between Lily Morton’s writing and Joel Leslie’s delivery of Billy’s adorable voice, I’m sold on Bill as my favorite child of 2019.

This audiobook made the original story even better with Joel Leslie’s vocal interpretation of Asa and Jude and the rest of the cast of characters. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—these people become real to me when I can hear their emotions expressed in their voices. There’s drama, humor, anger, and sadness in this story, and every voice is so distinctive there’s never a doubt about who is speaking, especially Billy—what a great voice he was given!

Asa, an older well-known actor, is a gentle soul who loves his son and is extremely protective of his privacy. His heart was broken by a former model after a four-year relationship. So when Jude shows up needing a place to stay and willing to take a PA job to help Asa out, he’s shocked when he’s despised just because he’s an empty-headed male model.

Jude is normally pretty even keel but he can do revenge with the best of them so he proceeds to show Asa just how airheaded a model can be. The author opens each chapter with a note from Asa, written by Jude, in answer to fan mail. The notes are so witty, snarky, and downright decadently humorous, it’s hard to keep from laughing out loud in public places.

We met Jude in the first book, as he’s Dylan’s BFF. His character is much more fully developed here and he’s simply a wonderful person. Caring and concerned for his parents, whom he helps financially, always ready to help a friend in need, and with a great sense of humor, and a huge love for Billy, but his fear of commitment nearly destroys his chance at happiness.

Of course, the author gets them to their happy place, but Jude’s stubbornness does not make the HEA very easy to achieve. I love the way the author handled the last few chapters to bring them together. And the epilogue? Couldn’t be better!

An outstanding audiobook with a super performance by Joel Leslie. I very highly recommend it.

As for the cover by Natasha Snow, the handsome man on the colorful cover definitely attracts attention.

Audio Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audio Details:

Audible Audio, 289 pages
Published September 28th 2019 (first published December 22nd 2017)
Original Title Deal Maker
ASINB07YGTGJWV
Edition Language English
Series Mixed Messages #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Rule Breaker (Mixed Messages #1) by Lily Morton and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5

What a wonderful story! And the audiobook made it even better with the fantastic performance of Joel Leslie, who brought Dylan, Gabe, and the rest of the cast of characters to life. Listening to a book narrated by Joel is like watching the story unfold on the big screen. The voices become real characters. There’s drama, humor, tears (he does crying scenes so well!) and every voice is so distinctive that there’s never a doubt of which MC is speaking.   


The story of Gabe and his personal assistant, Dylan, is filled with the angst of falling in love with an unlovable man, but it’s also laced throughout with humor, much of it dry Brit wit and snark. The author opens each chapter with a note or memo from either Dylan to Gabe or Gabe to Dylan, and many provide laugh-out-loud moments and/or embarrassing barks or snorts in public places.

Gabe is smart, sharp, gorgeous, and wants no part of relationships or feelings with anyone whatsoever, even his current boyfriend. In fact, it’s nothing for them to engage in a threesome with a stranger and afterwards both leave Gabe to his own devices. Dylan is sweet, cute, snarky, and can see through the shell Gabe keeps locked tight around his heart. Their banter is a very important part of this audiobook and keeps readers like me constantly smiling.

Throughout much of the story, although they were attracted to one another, they didn’t act on it since it would break Gabe’s no-sex-with-employees rule. And then it happened and they couldn’t get enough of each other. Some of those locations and situations were funny, but then over time, Dylan loses his heart and Gabe refuses to take it.

Be ready with tissues for this one because Dylan’s heart was literally in pieces all over the floor. And the sobbing and anguished dialogue brought to life by Joel were painful to hear. And yet, I hurt for Gabe as well. His backstory, when we learn it, is heartbreaking and it’s no wonder he refused to share his love with anyone.

Of course, our guys get together in the end, helped along by Dylan’s bestie (who gets his own book next). The epilogue was long enough to tie all the loose threads together in a way that leaves readers knowing this couple is solid and well on the way to their HEA.

I highly recommend this 9.5 hour audiobook to all my friends who enjoy Brit humor, hot sex, angst, love, and redemption, and of course, a very well-deserved HEA.

The handsome man on the colorful cover by Natasha Snow definitely attracts attention.

Sales Links:   Amazon | Audible

Audio Details:

Audible Audio
Published April 15th 2019 (first published August 17th 2017)
ASINB07QM1RCM7
Edition Language English
Series Mixed Messages #1
setting London, England

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review : With a Kick Collection #2 by Clare London and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Volume two in a collection of novellas that take place in With a Kick, an innovative ice cream shop where they make ice creams with liquor for an extra “kick.”

The first story is Pluck and Play featuring Curtis, a young man who’s had his ups and downs in life—mostly downs—but works hard to be a Jack-of-all-trades to many. Basically, if you need an odd job done, it’s Curtis you call. Friends with the staff at With a Kick, Curtis stops in when he has time between deliveries and sometimes even to make a delivery there. It’s on one of those visits he notices the handsome cowboy playing a guitar on the street corner.

Riley is making his living as a busker. His cowboy boots, hat, and accent identify him as American. His ability to carry a tune isn’t the best, or is it the shite music he plays? Curtis can’t decide, but he does decide he’s attracted to the man. Through a series of good days and bad, the two get to know one another and start a sexual relationship, until Curtis’s former lover—and abuser—comes calling. He blackmails Curtis into owing him money for a van Curtis bought from him. But what Curtis doesn’t realize is that instead of having no one to turn to, he has a ton of people willing to back him up, and they are led by Riley and by Brian, Phiz’s boyfriend (Slap and Tickle) and including Eddy and Nuri (A Twist and Two Balls).

The story is heartwarming, funny, and very British. Performed by the inimitable voice of Joel Leslie, it couldn’t be more entertaining. Riley even gets an ice cream named after him, one with bourbon and chocolate crunchies and named Pluck and Play.

The second book on the audio is Double Scoop, which features Patrick, the With a Kick shop owner, and Lee, his young assistant. Lee has been in love with Patrick for a long time, but it isn’t until a freak accident occurs that he finally has his chance to spend the night with the older man. Unfortunately, Patrick is so worried about how Lee might feel the next day that he overthinks everything and constantly puts his foot in his mouth. If he’d just say what’s on his mind he and Lee might have a chance.

Most of the story revolves around Patrick and his misunderstandings—both the ones he perceives and the ones he creates. It makes for a great story, even though I really wanted to whack him in the head a few times to knock some sense into him. The gang of friends, including those who show up in the first story, comes to the rescue in this one, too, as everyone chips in to not only settle affairs at the shop but to assist Patrick and Lee and show them how very much they belong together from now into the future.

I love the voices Joel Leslie brings to this audiobook, not only for the MCs but also for the host of secondary characters. He makes it fun and interesting and an audio I definitely didn’t want to have to shut down when real life intruded. I recommend not only this collection but also collection number one in audiobook format for many hours of listening pleasure.

The cover by Lou Harper is in the same theme as that of volume one and features a handsome young man with a sweet treat, obviously created at the With a Kick ice cream shop, in the bottom right corner.

Buy Links

Audible US

Audible UK  

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 58 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Jocular Press
Audible.com Release Date: April 5, 2019
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English, English
ASIN: B07QHFNXBW

A Lila Audio Review: Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray. When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.

To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?

Salt Magic, Skin Magic is a magical adventure that intrigues the reader from the very start. The more we learn about the characters, the more complicated they get. Their identities are intrinsically attached to the settings and the turn of events. And all senses get engage as the author paints a vivid picture of Thornby’s and Blake’s lives. 

The magical elements mixed with the historical period and the hot but sweet romance set the frame for a story that goes beyond the main characters. All the relationships and friendships are relevant to the plot. As well as the locations in which the characters meet and live. 

The magical system created by the author is interesting and refreshing. It has some common elements to ground it, but the additions give it credibility. The pacing is also well crafted and it has the right amount of backstory and interesting spins to move the action forward.

I did want more answers. The end, as with any other good story, felt a bit rushed. Plus, we don’t get the answers to all the turns and twists the author introduced us. But this doesn’t take much from the story. 

Joel Leslie is one of my favorite narrators and the main reason I selected to review this book. The blurb was interesting and I knew Joel will make it exceptional. 

The cover makes more sense after reading the story. It’s not one that would have made me pick up the book, though. 

Sales Links:  TantoriTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 9 hours and 14 minutes

Published: February 12, 2019 (Audio Edition) by Tantor Audio
ASIN: B07N44S2BC
Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Hidden in Darkness (In Darkness #1) by Alice Winters and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Joel, Joel, Joel. The man of a thousand voices. And when he vocalizes a younger, less experienced, or smaller, less aggressive character, he brings such life, such wonderful humanity to the character’s interactions that I may as well be sitting in front of a big screen TV.  I can picture every wonderful minute.  That’s what happened here.

I really enjoyed this story, and I know that was due, in large part, to Joel Leslie’s narration. The characters were engaging and fun with each other. Their snarky and disparaging words may have come across as rude and nasty on paper, but delivered by this talented voice actor, the barbs and insults were just plain funny! I fell in love with Felix. What a gem! Totally enjoyable and not one to live with caution. He barges into situations without much forethought and then somehow manages to get himself out of trouble.

He also takes the straight-laced Lane and makes him unquestionably loveable. Lane was an undercover copy who was tortured and blinded by one of the men he was stalking. When Felix enters his life to “assist” him in his daily life, his life becomes something he never dreamed of. Instead of feeling sorry for the blind guy, Felix pokes and prods and nags and niggles and Lane gives back just as much as he gets.  Through Felix, we see Lane come to a greater acceptance of his blindness and definitely to a greater acceptance for and need for Felix.  Their relationship is solid by the last scene.

I highly recommend this story in audio format. I’ve just learned there’s a sequel narrated by Joel.  I’ll be on that like syrup on a pancake. This is just the perfect sort of action-packed, and humor-packed, adventure I like to listen to on my walks, or in the car, and because I couldn’t get enough of these characters in Joel’s voice, this one may have accompanied me while I was working. Yes. It’s that good.

The cover features a close-up of a man in a suit jacket and tie, but only the lower half of his face. The tone is dark with a black background. It’s very symbolic of the darkness in which Lane lives.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published February 17th 2018)
ASINB07HJD9RBH
Edition Language English
Series In Darkness #1

A Lucy Audiobook Review : Unscripted Love (Road to Blissville #1) by Aimee Nicole Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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Rated 3 stars out of 5

This story is told in the alternating point of view of Chaz and Kyle.  Chaz is a writer and fan of online gaming who works in a salon.  He has been crushing on the sexy vet, Kyle, for a while and they eventually start to talk and date.  Dr Dimples, as Chaz calls Kyle, is sweet, kind and he likes Chaz very much. He is also a World of Warcraft fan, so they start to bond over that

I would have rated this book higher but I had some issues with Kyle being a doormat at times and with Chaz being ridiculous with his yes/no/yes towards Kyle. Chaz has a secret that he is afraid will send Kyle running, but he had so many chances to come clean about it and didn’t.  Instead, he would run out on Kyle, or not see him.  The secret itself to me wasn’t that big of a deal and I felt it was there just to provide some conflict.  The book actually begins with Chaz whispering the secret into Kyle’s ear and then flashes back to a year earlier when the whole thing actually started. Kyle had noticed Chaz previously in a lustful way but since he was with Gabe he never did anything about it. 

Chaz has some funny inner dialogue.  When seeing Kyle professionally about his pet, Harry, he thinks, “Harry? No, I manscape to within an inch of my life.  No wild bush with hairy man berries here!”  But his obsessing about his secret causes him to run so often that he made me crazy. He has some endearing qualities, such as when “I grabbed a glass of wine, a dog-eared paperback copy of Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles, my phone and set them all on the nifty bath tray that my grandmother got  me for Christmas.”  Anyone who takes a bath while reading Dame Agatha has smarts, I just wish he would have used them.

On the whole, it was a little bland and the “secret” was so blown out of proportion that it was frustrating.  You would think he had a body hidden somewhere, the way he acted sometimes.  It’s very confusing for Kyle when Chaz is very hot and cold towards him. There were times he hurt Kyle for no good reason. “I saw the moment he realized I wasn’t going to stay.  His dashed hopefulness made me want to cry.”  Kyle, grow a pair!

The side characters, Chaz’s best friend, Josh, and his boyfriend, Gabe, play an integral part.  It was a little awkward because Gabe is Kyle’s ex-boyfriend, a serious relationship that apparently parted very amiably.  This is a spin-off of the Curl Up and Dye series and Josh and Gabe get together there.  I probably should have read that first because I think their story would be more interesting.  Josh and Gabe sort of push Chaz and Kyle together and that causes some consternation.  Meredith, the other Chaz and Josh bestie, is strong and wonderful in her own right.

Oh and the family!  I loved the Matrons.  Grandma, Mom and Aunt Sandy, meddling in Chaz’ love life and just being strong women who want their boy to be happy.  They were so awesome.  “We have a book idea for you, dear,” Grandma said. “We want you to write a story about a small-town guy who really likes the town vet is too afraid to act on it… let’s name him Chad…” They miss nothing, those ladies.

Once the secret is FINALLY revealed, Kyle handles the info like a champ (which we knew he would because he is awesome) and it was a bit of a let down after all that Chaz-drama.

I am a big fan of Joel Leslie’s work but this wasn’t my favorite of his audio.  Right in the beginning there was a strange intonation and I was worried.  But as the book started the voices smoothed out, except there wasn’t quite enough differentiation for Chaz and Kyle, so there were times (as I was listening while driving) that I lost track of who was talking. Mom and Gramma, on the other hand, were done so well I could picture them.

This was my first Aimee Nicole Walker book and I would try another of hers. 

Cover art by Jay Aheer is eye-catching and perfect for the story.  Love it.

Sales Links:

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2uzVnkV

AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2tzosN1 

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, 9 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Tantor Audio (first published July 11th 2017)
ASINB07CZ4LZ4Y
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesRoad to Blissville #1
CharactersKyle Vaughn, Charles Bailey” Chaz ” Hamilton

Audio Tour for Someone to Call My Own (Road to Blissville #2) by Aimee Nicole Walker and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

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 Someone to Call My Own Audio Tour Banner

SOMEONE TO CALL MY OWN

Road to Blissville Series, Book 2

AIMEE NICOLE WALKER

M/M ROMANCE

AUDIO RELEASE: 06.19.18

Someone to Call My Own Audio Cover 

PHOTOGRAPHER: Wander Aguiar

COVER ARTIST:  Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art

NARRATOR: Joel Leslie

Listening Length: 8 hours and 49 minutes

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BLURB 

Psychic Emory Jackson and former black ops specialist Jonathon Silver are men from two completely different worlds with one thing in common: heartbreak. Emory still mourns the loss of his husband five years prior, and Jon is reeling with grief from the recent death of his twin brother.

Sparks fly when mutual friends introduce them, but it’s so much more than basic attraction. There’s an undeniable awareness and a sense of belonging that neither man can deny. Despite Emory’s premonition of a future with Jon, he has vowed never to love again. Jon is convinced that his tainted soul is the reason he will never have someone to call his own. What if they’re both wrong?

Maybe these broken men with their jagged edges could somehow align perfectly to form something whole and beautiful. But will that realization come too late for them?

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2ezOhtg

AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2xIi2g6

 

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EXCERPT

 

“What are you doing here, Emory?”

“I think you know.”

“I have a pretty good idea, but what has changed since I left Blissville forty minutes ago?”

“Nothing,” I answered honestly. “I don’t love you, Jon.”

“Yet,” he corrected. “You don’t love me yet.” He reached for my hand and slid his fingers in between mine. “If you walk across that threshold with me, I’m going to push you up against the nearest surface and fuck you. Probably more than once. Can you live with that?”

His words sent an electrical current racing through my body. My dick hardened fast and almost painfully beneath my tight briefs. No one had ever talked dirty to me or tried to dominate me, but it ignited something inside me like he was holding a lit match near gasoline fumes. In Jon’s eyes, I saw the raw need that burned through him just as strong as it did me.

“Take me inside.”

Jon didn’t ask me if I was sure; he gripped my hand tightly and pulled me up the broad, stone steps to the front porch. I expected him to drop my hand to unlock the front door, but he hit a few numbers on a keypad with his left hand before twisting the knob to let us inside.

I had caught a brief glimpse of the living room beyond the foyer before Jon turned to me. He didn’t even bother shutting the door before he backed me up against the foyer table. Jon’s hands immediately went to my neck to loosen my tie while he swooped down and captured my lips in a hard, demanding kiss. He released a torrent of emotions he’d repressed since we met, and I tasted each one on his tongue.

 

 Aimee Logo

I am a wife and mother to three kids, three dogs, and a cat. When I’m not dreaming up stories, I like to lose myself in a good book, cook or bake. I’m a girly tomboy

who paints her fingernails while watching sports and yelling at the referees.

I will always choose the book over the movie. I believe in happily-ever-after. Love inspires everything that I do. Music keeps me sane.

FACEBOOK

AMAZON

TWITTER

BLOG

 

Joel Leslie/Narrator

Joel Leslie is a UK transplant, growing up with American parents in a British commonwealth.  A classically trained actor with an MFA in theatre from USC, he is often cast for his unique ability to deliver native, authentic combinations of American and British sounds.  His great range and ability to bring characters to life with honesty, wit and versatility delights producers and listeners alike.

He is proud to have a strong following with m/m listeners and an ongoing relationship with some of the finest writers in the genre.  He loves that every day he gets to share these beautiful, inspirational and empowering GLBT characters with the world.

His authors have praised him as “a narrator among narrators, a man whose ability to create different characters rests on the power of his voice and his impeccable delivery,” and a “true delight…” “his professionalism, good humor, and charm make him a dream to work with,” “Anyone else would only be second best”.

Joel has consistent access to his home studio for all production needs.  When not in the booth he spends his time chasing after two loquacious wiener dogs.

http://www.joelleslienarration.com/

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: With A Kick Collection #1 by Clare London and Joel Leslie (Narrator

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This collection includes Clare London’s first two London-based novellas of the With A Kick series—A Twist and Two Balls and Slap and Tickle. Also included are two short stories featuring the characters in these books—Nice and Snow and Smack Happy.

With a Kick is a new ice cream shop, featuring ice cream for adults, i.e., ice cream made with liquor in a variety of flavors, one of which is named for the shop’s accountant, Bryan, and his new boyfriend, Phiz—Slap and Tickle. Patrick and Lee are the struggling owners who hope to be successful in the little shop located in the heart of London.

Each story is a self-contained romance, but Patrick and Lee are featured in each story that shows the progress of both their relationship and the business.

A Twist and Two Balls— Eduardo Mancini is going to be a star of the London stage. Unfortunately, his alter ego, Eddy March, hasn’t got further than a bit part in a TV series. One day, when he’s late for an audition, he can’t pay his taxi fare, so he runs off and is chased by the irate driver, Nuri.

This is a sweet romance that starts off with antagonism and moves to love between an awkward, self-proclaimed actor and a cab driver, who has a secret profession. I enjoyed the pace of this story and both characters were terrific. Eddie is hysterically funny as he discovers he doesn’t have enough money to pay Nuri. Nuri, on the other hand, comes off as gruff at first, but it turns out he’s got a sweet marshmallow center.

The two have their ups and downs as does Eddie with his career, but in the long run, it’s family that’s important, and family who help both of them, and the two men get to do what they love best and stay with the person they love best—each other.

Slap and Tickle— This short starts right off with a great scene between Brian, the staid accountant for With a Kick, and Phiz, whose name should have been Spaz. Phiz is a fast-talking, can’t-control-his-mouth klutz, who can’t hold a job because of said klutziness. He also suffers from social anxiety, yet he keeps choosing jobs that require socialization. Joel Leslie kicked it out of the ball park with the voice he gives Phiz. Good heavens, it was perfect! I was hooked immediately, so I was along for the ride as he and Brian got to know each other and began to share their most intimate desires.

This story has a mild BDSM theme and when Brian’s dominant side comes out, Phiz calms and quiets as he finally met a man who can give him what he needs.

Nice and Snow is the first short story—which is actually quite long—and features Nuri and Eddie during their first Christmas season. Nuri is now brushing up on law studies so he can pass the bar exam, and Eddie is working as an actor in a comedy show. Right up his alley, his natural sense of humor has made him very popular.

The story centers on their individual memories of holiday seasons and their plans for this first one. Of course, Nuri’s family wants them to share with them, but Eddie insists they start their own memories because his memories of Santa, Saint Nick, Baba Noel, or whatever name is used are not good ones.

A surprise cab fare and a short ride across town brings both men their Christmas wishes come true. It also leaves them realizing they may have to rethink their beliefs in the jolly old elf. A great story, it provides a nice closure to Nuri and Eddie’s story.

Smack Happy

A delightful short, short story about my favorite character, Phiz, and his Dom, Brian. Phiz is patiently—or impatiently—waiting for Brian to finish his work so he can give Brian a Valentine’s Day gift. Brian finally gives up trying to get anything done when Phiz’s antsy movements and constant interruptions make it clear Bryan had better pay attention to his boy. When Phiz presents him with his gift, the two try it out and find that a good smack on the rear was exactly what Phiz needed to make him happy and peaceful. Add in a taste of Slap and Tickle, the ice cream treat the guys at With a Kick created in their honor, and it’s a perfect Valentine’s Day for these sweethearts. Very cute and a perfect ending for this very nice audio.

Joel Leslie was, as usual, outstanding, and the stories were intriguing and fun. This audiobook sped by and I’m looking forward to the next edition in the series that should be released soon.

Highly recommended.

The cover features a handsome young man and there’s a sweet treat obviously created at the With a Kick ice cream shop in the bottom right corner.

Buy Links and Listen to a sample here

Audible US

Audible UK 

Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 40 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Jocular Press
Audible.com Release Date: June 20, 2018
Language: English
ASIN: B07DVRZ7SY

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