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

SMTCMO 3D Cover

  

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

 

SMTCMO teaser6

SMTCMO teaser5rdb

SMTCMO teaser4  

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

AUDIO TOUR The Solstice Prince (Realms of Love #1) by SJ Himes and Narrated by Joel Leslie (excerpt and giveaway)

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 Solstice Prince Audio Banner

The Solstice Prince

Realms of Love Book #1

SJ Himes

Gay Epic Fantasy Romance

 Audio Release: 04.30.18

 

Solstice Prince Audio Cover

Cover Illustration and Design by Sarah Jo Chreene

Narrator: Joel Leslie

 

BLURB

Rescued from slavers, healer novice Jaime Buchanan finds himself alone and free in Pyrderi, a kingdom of magic, mythical creatures, and a culture as open and kind as his homeland was cruel and close-minded.

Despite his rescue, Jaime is not left without scars, both mental and physical. Traumatized by his experience and hiding his gift, Jaime struggles to earn his place in the kitchens of Angharad Palace, the heart of Taliesin City. His former life as a student of the healing arts leaves him at a disadvantage in the kitchens, and his damaged state is becoming more apparent by the day.

One day, when necessity and fate intervene, Jaime meets someone unexpected—Prince Maxim, youngest son of the Pyrderian king, a sword master and a devastatingly kind man. Unaccustomed to powerful people with compassion and heart, Jaime flees. A cascade of events reveals Jaime’s hidden talents of healing, and he finds himself not in chains, but at the beginning of a new life.

This swift change of fortune opens Jaime up to new possibilities, including a smitten prince who cautiously courts Jaime, easing him away from his fears and reminding him that compassion and love can make him strong. The winter solstice is quickly approaching, and Prince Maxim shows Jaime the enjoyment and excitement to be found in a land that embraces the ice and cold, and the mysteries of all things magical. He learns to see the man under the royal mantle, and Maxim is more than even Jaime suspected.

The winter solstice is nigh when tragedy strikes, and Jaime learns that his past of grief and sorrow can be a pillar of strength for his solstice prince. If there is one thing that Jaime believes above all else, it is in the healing power of love.

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

TANTOR

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36566371-the-solstice-prince

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solstice teaser 2

 EXCERPT

His eyes were drawn to the wide shoulders of Prince Maxim, the royal speaking quietly to a pair of full healers in their silver and white robes, the edges trimmed in varying hues of green that denoted their ranks and specialties. One of them saw Jaime hovering and pointed towards him with a smile. Prince Maxim turned and grinned wide when he saw Jaime. Jaime smiled back, flushing. The prince said his goodbyes and strode across the room to him. Long legs, a trim waist, a broad chest, and strong shoulders clothed in black leather pants and a brilliant white shirt, topped with a long jacket in rich sky blue left Jaime at a loss for words. The prince looked every inch the royal.

Prince Maxim was at his side before he was ready, and Jaime shivered, skin tingling from head to toe when the prince gave him a wide smile and offered his hand. Jaime found his much smaller hand engulfed in the prince’s with his long fingers curling over, holding him firmly. His face burned, and he ducked his head, hair falling over his eyes.

“Good morning, Jaime.”

“Good—good morning, Your Highness,” he stammered back, and he gripped the hand holding his in an unconscious plea for support.

He was holding hands with a prince. His life had taken an unexpected twist.

“Please, call me Maxim,” the prince offered, and Jaime gasped, shaking his head frantically. The prince was smiling at him, somehow beyond patient.

“I wouldn’t dare! I couldn’t, Your Highness,” Jaime burst out, heart racing again. “It’s not allowed.”

Prince Maxim drew closer, their joined hands between them, and he gave Jaime a slow perusal, taking in his wide eyes, flushed cheeks, and no doubt able to see the galloping pulse in his neck. “There is no one to gainsay you for the privilege. I do not mind. Please, it would be an honor for you to use my name.”

“Can I—can I think about it?” He couldn’t believe he just said that, and he nearly bit the tip of his tongue off snapping his mouth shut.

Prince Maxim chuckled and turned them both, tucking Jaime’s hand in the crook of his elbow. “While you’re thinking about it, how about I give you a tour of the castle? Something besides the kitchens and servants’ halls? Would you like to see the library? Do you like to read?”

“Master Eames wanted to talk to me…”

“I’ve been ordered to return you promptly after midday by Master Eames, along with strict instructions not to overdo it.” The prince’s charming grin never fell away, and he seemingly saw nothing amiss in a healer ordering about a royal. Master Eames was a distinguished healer, surely used to getting his own way, and Jaime had no desire to run afoul of the healer’s orders either. Prince Maxim continued, “Now what about some breakfast and then on to the library?”

“I love to read. I would love to see the library.” The idea of the prince taking him to personally see anything was spinning about in his mind, making him feel dizzy, and leaving him glad for the strong hand holding onto his.

SJ Himes Logo

I’m a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I’m at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with occasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution, and throw in some magic, and that’s perfection. My current series are: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), The Wolfkin Saga, and the epic fantasy romance series Realms of Love. My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City is impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on…. I’m a nomad, and I’ve yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJHimes/

Website: https://www.sjhimes.com/en

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: How to Bang a Billionaire (Arden St. Ives #1) by Alexis Hall and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Fun! Fun! Fun! I thoroughly enjoyed this story from the beginning. Between the author’s sense of humor and Joel Leslie’s delivery of the one-liners and humorous remarks, I was floating along on a sea of happiness and finding it difficult to stop listening when pesky things like real life kept me from continuing. 

I also wondered why the ratings for this story weren’t higher, and that’s when I found out many people were comparing this to <i>Fifty Shades of Gray</i> or citing that the author seemed to be simulating that story.  Thankfully, I not only never read it, I therefore never jumped on the bandwagon to praise it or to castigate it.  It was of no interest to me, and I’m thankful about that now because it didn’t influence my opinion on this story one little iota. 

As I’ve learned from other audiobooks, when Joel narrates, my enjoyment is not so much about the story, it’s about the performance.  And what a performance!  With a capital P.  I felt as if I was watching a movie or TV show.  And as I said, I couldn’t put this down. 

Arden was a sweetheart, a very self-effacing soon-to-be Oxford graduate, and only helping out a friend when he made the call on behalf of the alumni fundraiser and connected with Caspian Hart.  They engaged in a bit of Arden-like banter, and wonder of wonder, at the actual event, Caspian himself sought out Arden!   

Without giving away the plot, I can say that this was not the heavy BDSM that I anticipated from the blurb.  In fact, there was some light bondage, but I wouldn’t personally classify it as a BDSM story.  It’s a love story, pure and simple—but with all the complications one would expect from an emotionally aloof billionaire and an inexperienced young man with self-esteem issues. 

My heart broke for Arden, and though he was responsible for Arden’s heartache and self-flagellation, Caspian was a wounded soul in his own way, so my heart broke for him as well. 

I loved the voices Joel Leslie gave them—they felt spot-on—perfect in every way. 

Needless to say, I very highly recommend this story to lovers of MM romance—a very definite  must-buy in audio format. 

Cover art:  Rich and dark in tone.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 11 hours
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Audible.com Release Date: January 16, 2018
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B078WZLVX4

A Lila Audiobook Review: How To Bang a Billionaire by Alexis Hall and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Rules are made to be broken . . .

If England had yearbooks, I’d probably be “Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire.” So far, I haven’t. I’ve no idea what I’m doing at Oxford, no idea what I’m going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he’s brilliant, beautiful . . . oh yeah, and a billionaire.

It’s impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he’ll be through with me.

I’m good at doing what I’m told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian’s shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it’s him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn’t have the power to give me.

How to Bang a Billionaire is a more refined, gay version of Fifty Shades of Grey. I did laugh a lot more than with Anna and Christian, but the essence of both stories is the same. A dark, brooding hero that can’t love and keeps everyone at arm’s length, and a young man in distress, helpless without his cool and collected love interest.

There are differences, for example, this story has less supporting characters and young Arden is not a vulnerable, oblivious virgin. There’s no goddess or internal voices even when the reader spent a considerable part of the story in Arden’s head. But overall, the similarities are many.

The characters and the settings are interesting and the author’s prose beautifully written. Humor plays an important part as well as in-depth conversations between the main characters. I enjoyed the descriptions and the troubles Arden got into. I like how Caspian felt comfortable to be himself when he was with Arden.

One of the only things I didn’t like about the story related to the conditions Caspian had for Arden. He accepted him and his rules, only to complain about it a short time after. Caspian had all reasons to move forward without him; which he didn’t do. The other was the lack of background about Caspian. It was hard to get to know him thru Arden’s eyes.

Just like every series, this is not a complete story. It has the start of something good and a solid happy for now. It opens the door for a future that if it follows the Fifty’s saga it won’t have a lovely end until a third book is available.

The narration by Joel Leslie makes everything better. It’s easy to follow the characters’ perspective and how they feel about each other. He makes the reader feel what the characters are feeling making the story more personal and enjoyable.

After reading the story, I’m still unsure of who is on the cover by Brian Lemus. I believe is Caspian but I can be wrong.

Sales Links:  Hachette | Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Joel Leslie

Length: 11 hours

Published: January 16, 2018 (Audio Edition) by Hachette Audio
ASIN: B078WZLVX4
Edition Language: English

Series:  Arden St. Ives
Book #1: How to Bang a Billionaire