A MelanieM Audiobook Review: Unlikely Hero by Sean Michael and Jeff Gelder (Narrator)


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5


Eric doesn’t know where else to turn when his daughter is kidnapped, so he calls on his powerful ex-lover, Brock. Brock never expected to hear from Eric again, but he never got over the man, either. When Eric comes to him to help find the three-year-old Josie, there’s no way Brock can turn him down. He has the money and the contacts Eric needs, and he can’t let Eric walk out of his life again. Not after all these years.

Brock has no idea what he’s letting himself in for. Together, Eric and Josie turn Brock’s world upside down while they work with police and private security to find the people who took Josie, and to keep Eric and Josie safe while they do. Even as they get to know each other again, Brock has to fight the feelings he still has for Eric, at least for time being, which just makes it all that much harder. Can Eric and Brock find out who wants to hurt them before it’s too late, or will Brock fall off his pedestal as Eric’s hero?

I had read Unlikely Hero by Sean Michael when it first came out and thoroughly enjoyed the story then so I was curious to revisit it in audiobook format.

It had been some time so the audiobook made the story fresh again.    I love tales with ex lovers getting that second chance at love and Unlikely Hero certainly has that with Eric turning to Brock for help  after nine years because his daughter has been kidnapped.  We get an extremely emotional setup that eventually leads to their breakup details later as they work on getting Josie back.

Brock is all big, strong, hugely rich, and gorgeous man…he all but has the word hero written on his chest.  Eric is the more vulnerable high school teacher who broke it off years ago because he wanted a “normal life”, read that one outside that of a multi-millionaire, with a house in the burbs with kids.  He now has that child who has been kidnapped for no reason anyone can understand.

The rest of the novel seeks to unravel the mystery behind Josie’s kidnapped and watching Brock, and Eric reconnect, and try to figure out how to move forward as a couple, and then as a family with Josie.  Josie, a three year old, is a major character here.  I found her far more successful in the novel than here in the audiobook.  That’s due primarily to the narrator.

Narrating the voices of children accurately is incredibly tough.  You either nail it or you don’t.  And imo, Jeff Gelder just can’t get a child’s voice right.  Josie comes off sounding more like a elderly woman than a three-year old, which is very disconcerting.  Not only does she sound “older” than she is., but it comes dangerously close to being portrayed like a comedy routine because of the disconnect between the voice and the character.  That’s too bad because Gelder’s other voices are just fine for the men he’s playing.

Other factors that seem highlightered here that   perhaps I didn’t notice in the other format?  The length of time it took for the police to put all the clues and details together to catch the perpetrator seemed odd and too long.  I can’t remember.  Maybe the book was written back in 2009, so forensics was less advanced than now and that’s hard to remember when the audiobook comes out in 2018.  But when you start to focus on things that annoy you like a badly done child’s voice, then other elements start to pop up as well.  Funny how that happens.

Still, Unlikely Hero is a sweet contemporary romance with a child firmly at the center.  Love that element?  Then you are sure to love this story.  You might want to read it, however, instead of listening to it.  Jeff Gelder’s “Daddy B, Daddy B” after a while was downright irritating instead of endearing as it was in the story.  What a sham

Cover art: LC Chase is just adorable and perfect for the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, Second Edition
Published March 2nd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 2009)
Original TitleUnlikely Hero
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Audiobook Review: The Perfect Sub (Iron Eagle Gym #2) by Sean Michael and Jeff Gelder (Narrator)


Rating:  2 stars out of 5


While new couple Tide and Lance spend time deepening their relationship and further introducing Lance to the joys and vagaries of being a sub, established couple Tyrone and Bran discover that they still have a thing or two to learn as well.


A new job finds Bran run off his feet, and a visit to the eye doctor leads to the discovery of a brain tumor. Bran is terrified. He strives to be the perfect sub for his beautiful master and sees the tumor as a personal failing as he tries to handle every last phone call, e-mail, and text that comes in, no matter how early or late. When Tyrone finally finds out about the tumor Bran’s been keeping a secret, he realizes he’s been taking his sub for granted, and he works to rediscover his boy and their relationship. Of course, that’s easier said than done given that Bran’s job is taking up all his time and he would rather pretend the tumor just doesn’t exist than actually deal with it.


It’s going to take all of Tyrone’s prowess as a master to help guide Bran through these troubled waters.


I am usually a fan of Sean Michael’s books but this one did not work for me and it was a combination of elements in the story and narration that made it even worse.  Bran and Lance both had so much trouble throughout the first part of the book thinking that they weren’t “worthy” of their masters and that is one dynamic that doesn’t work for me along with the focus on perfection and people looks.  In the end the focus on being perfect was pushed aside for being partners and perfect for each other which was nicer.  Other than that I had a hard time following the timeline in the story but I’m sure if that was from not having the story in front of me to see or not.


Unfortunately I can’t really say that Jeff Gelder did a nice job narrating the story.  He used different voices for each character but they would change throughout the story and then the character described as having a “deep sexy voice” had a very feminine lilt and soft voice most of the time.  He tried really hard to make it sound sensual but I just got the feeling that I was listening to a bad porno.  I think it’s safe to say that this story did not work for me, maybe at some point I can go back and try to read it and see if I don’t have quite the same opinion of it but it won’t be anytime soon.


Cover art by L.C. Chase is nice and goes with the series.


Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press |   Audible | Amazon |  iTunes


Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 7hrs 29min
Published June 9, 2017 (ebook first published March 28, 2016) by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Signs of Desire by Tempeste O’Reily ~ Audiobook narrated by Jeff Gelder


Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

signs-of-desire audioWhen a night out turns into a matchmaking scheme, they thought communication would be their biggest challenge to their happily ever after….

Simon Tyler knows his job as a gay romance author makes his lack of faith in love more than a little ironic, but he’s tired of being used for his wallet. When a night out turns into a matchmaking scheme orchestrated by his best friends—though he’s not the target—Simon’s not thrilled, but since he’s sworn off happily-ever-after anyway, he goes along with it… until he meets the object of their efforts, Adrian, and finds perhaps he hasn’t given up on love after all.

Professor Adrian Keys has tried to date hearing men before, but being deaf himself, he’s never had any success at making a connection. After his friends con him into going out and Adrian realizes it’s all an elaborate plan to set him up, he braces for yet another failure, only to discover there is a spark—except it’s not with the man his friends had in mind, but with Simon Tyler instead.

Not all their friends have found a way past their romantic failures, but Simon and Adrian might be on the path to happily-ever-after.

My fourth audiobook in this series and it’s the one I liked best. Both MCs are sweet and special in their own way. Adrian is a professor at the local college and a computer expert. He’s deaf but that doesn’t stop him from doing whatever he wants to do. He’s the cutie we met in Chase’s story when Chase was trying to date him and Rhys got super jealous.

Simon is his newest love interest. Simon, one of James’s friends, has been around from the beginning of the series. He’s sweet and shy and an LGBTQ+ romance writer.  He’s also extremely wealthy from a rich and powerful family who are pushing for reform that will counteract all the work done by gay rights groups. Needless to say, Simon doesn’t associate with them, but he’s been burned before by guys who only wanted his money, and he’s at the point where he doesn’t trust easily.  When he meets Adrian, though, things change for the better. 

From Adrian’s perspective, Simon is a great person to get to know better. He seems unlike many of the men in his past who treated him as if he was inferior, and he’s far from that. Simon immediately signs up to learn sign language and spends as much time as he can with Adrian so they can get to know one another. 

The angst in this story comes primarily from Simon’s family and from both MCs’ distrust of relationships based on their past experiences. Overall, it’s a great romance and one that I would recommend to those who want to read something sweet and hopeful.

The narration was not bad, the vocalizations varied, but it could be better.  This is the same narrator as books 2 and 3, and I finally figured out what I don’t like about his narration—he makes an extra-long pause at each comma. But it’s not just at each compound sentence comma—it’s each and every comma. This means he pauses for the commas used in direct address, appositives, and interrupters.  It becomes annoying quickly.  If I could wave a magic wand, I’d ask that he not do that, and then I’d be able to say the audiobook was perfect. 

Cover art by Reese Dante is similar to the other books in the series with a soft, watercolor background. In this case a man’s hand, with forefinger and pinky raised, symbolizes sign language. The hand rests against books that symbolize romance writing, thereby capturing the spirit of both men.

Sales Links

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio
Published July 27th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published November 30th 2015)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDesires Entwined #4

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Temptations of Desire (Desires Entwined #3) by Tempeste O’Riley and Jeff Gelder (Narrator)


Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

temptations-of-desire audioThis story overlaps the action that took place in Desire’s Guardian, the previous one in the series so I would highly recommend reading that before starting this one. Dal Sayer, cop and brother of Rhys Sayer (Desire’s Guardian) meets a gorgeous young man at the local LGBTQ center. The man, Alexander James Noble, introduces himself as Alex and tells Dal he’s the chef who volunteers there to prepare meals on Saturdays.

A personal chef for a businessman, Alex, who Dal nicknames Lexi, is gender fluid, switching back and forth to his female persona as the mood strikes him. However, Dal is unaware of that until one night he surprises Lexi when he drops by to see him. Lexi opens the door in his female wardrobe, and with the shock of seeing Dal there, he runs into his bedroom, locking the door behind him. It takes a while, but eventually Dal gets the story of heartbreak, pain and abandonment at the hands of his family who rejected him when they found out he liked to dress in his sister’s clothing. Dal slowly but surely wins Lexi’s trust as he remains supportive and faithful to him and assures him he accepts Lexi completely.

Throughout most of this story, the author weaves in the events that occurred concurrently in Desire’s Guardian, so much of what we learn is repetitive. However, one fresh piece of information is the arrival of Lexi’s twin sister, Lyric, and her family, including her husband who used to spout hatred toward Lexi when they were in high school. Apparently Ly is moving away from their hometown due to her husband’s job, so she arrives to share her good news with Lexi. What I found odd is it appeared that these twins had not kept in touch after he was dumped in front of a hospital by his father years before, and yet when she shows up, she’s fully supportive of his life and embraces both his male and female personas and her husband is as well!

The overused trope that disturbed me the most was the pressure Dal’s parents put on him to find a female, marry, and reproduce in order to give his father grandchildren so he’d want to survive his cancer and be happy. This issue was present in the previous story, but there was more time spent on those conversations in this one. And to be honest, I found the whole situation quite bizarre and sickening. Dal is not a teen—he’s a professional man in his thirties, and having to listen to the whole ridiculous argument from both of his parents was distasteful.

During the last twenty minutes of the story, we finally get fresh information as this is the point where Dal had been injured by helping Rhys rescue his lover. And though what happens with the couple is sweet and worthy of several sighs and “Ahh” moments, it doesn’t save the rest of the book. Topping all this was the ever-speedy narration by Jeff Gelder, who gave both Lexi and Lyric the same voice and narrated the book as if he was reading it for the first time. The narration did not add to the story at all, so I can’t honestly recommend it in audiobook format.

If it didn’t seem as if the whole story was just a rehash of the second book, I believe I would have liked it much more. I love cross-dressing men, and there were a few glimpses of “manties” so there was some redeeming value there. And I really liked Dal, until his way of dealing with his demeaning parents left me feeling ill. Lexi was a sweetheart through and through, and by the end I wasn’t so sure Dal deserved him. I’d recommend the e-book to those who want to complete the series, but as I said previously, it’s not a standalone.

The cover by Reese Dante is done in the same soft watercolors as the others in the series and features a set of scarves and multicolor bracelets—both symbolic of Lexi and very beautifully done.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Published June 15th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 22nd 2014)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesDesires Entwined #3

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Desire’s Guardian by Tempeste O’Reily ~~ Audiobook narrated by Jeff Gelder


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

desires-guardian audioChase Manning, the BFF of James Bryant from Designs of Desire, looks and acts like a twink on the surface, but once someone gets to know the man below the surface, they are shocked at the strength of character and dominant nature they find. And that’s what Rhys Sayer, James’s bodyguard, finds out when he stops being offensive to Chase and starts to allow himself to see with his eyes and not just his prejudices.

When they first met, Rhys had just broken up with his cheating boyfriend, and when the gregarious Chase approached him, he shunned Chase’s advances. That was enough for Chase because he’s no one’s fool. The problem is that he’s still attracted to the big hunk of manhood and finds Rhys incredibly sexy. Even so, he resists the job offer made by Rhys and his partner Mark who need a good IT man. He only capitulates when they sweeten the deal with office space for his new business and after a lot of arm twisting by James, who is now friends with Rhys.

This is not just a simple love story. There’s plenty of danger and intrigue when Rhys and his police officer brother, Dal, connect the dots on a current murder case and realize most of the young victims are Chase’s former boyfriends. Unfortunately, Chase inadvertently puts himself in harm’s way.

I enjoyed this story, though not quite as much as I did the first one. On the flip side, this narrator did a better job than the one who did the first one. However when he narrates, he speaks too quickly and often sounds as if he’s reading the story to a library audience, rather than putting in the necessary drama to bring the book to life. So, as with the first book in the series, I would recommend this story to lovers of MM romance, particularly if you enjoy a story where the big, muscular guy is dominated by the smaller, more effeminate man. However, it might be best to invest in the e-book rather than the audio version.

Cover art by Reese Dante is similar to the first book with a soft, watercolor background. In this case, a man’s hand and wrist are featured with a prominent black cuff on the wrist. This has a direct link back to the story so makes the cover both beautiful and appropriate.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Published June 14th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 5th 2014)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesDesires Entwined #2 settingMilwaukee, Wisconsin (United States)