A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Rebel (415 Ink #1) by Rhys Ford and Tristan James (Narrator)


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This story has the “flavor” of Rhys Ford’s Sinners Gin or Hellsinger series—there’s a huge cast of characters, all of whom are young men who are just begging to get their own stories. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the author will provide them at some point in the future.

These young men were brought together in their early years through the foster system that didn’t provide any safety net until they formed their own family of sorts. Gus is one of those young men, a tattoo artist who’s been away for a few years, driven by his personal demons, doing what he needed to do to get over breaking up with his lover, Rey Montenegro.

Rey wanted stability and commitment to a future together and apparently Gus didn’t, so he broke up with the moody young man who never seemed to be able to put down roots. Now Gus is back in town and to everyone’s surprise, Gus has been presented with an unexpected gift. The night Rey broke his heart, he got drunk and had sex with a female tattoo artist and he’s just learned from her that her three-year-old son, Chris, is his. Now, faced with trying to get partial custody through a system that rejected him when he was a kid, while also trying to deal with memories of the mother who tried to kill him and was successful in killing herself and his twin, Gus turns to his family-of-choice and to the love of his heart, Rey, to guide him through his nightmares.

The story was interesting and exciting, heartbreaking and heartwarming, and the “feel” of it as I mentioned earlier is similar to that of several of the author’s past successful series so I have no doubt this will be a winner as well. The characters were well-developed, though getting through the introductions to the ensemble cast and their backstories was difficult while listening to the book in audio format. Whereas, in an e-book, I could flip back to easily find a reference to a past event to refresh my memory, that can’t be done in an audiobook and I wanted to be able to do that a few times.

Speaking of audio, the only thing that bugged me about Tristan James’s narration was the extra “s” he put on words ending in “s”. He didn’t just put it where it should be pronounced like in Rhys’s (pronounced Reecez in this case) name but also in others like brothers that he pronounced as brothersez. It detracted from the narration too much to consider the narration top notch and I was disappointed because I generally love his beautiful baritone voice and was looking forward to his narration of this book.

All that being said, I recommend this story to all who love MM romance with couples who are reunited, those who are reformed bad boys, and stories written by Rhys Ford whose word choices give descriptive phrases new meaning. Though I loved this, if given a choice, I’d get the e-book instead of audio.

The cover by Reece Notley depicts a side view of a long-haired man, the hair partially covering his face. Wearing jeans and an open shirt, the ink on his forearm is intricate and beautiful. Very attractive cover!

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Book Details:

9 hours 11 minutes

Audible Audio, 9 pages
Published April 12th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published December 29th 2017)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series415 Ink #1

An Ali Audiobook Review: Absinthe of Malice (Sinners #5) by Rhys Ford and Tristan James (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
absinthe-of-malice-audiobookWe’re getting the band back together.

Those five words send a chill down Miki St. John’s spine, especially when they’re spoken with a nearly religious fervor by his brother-in-all-but-blood, Damien Mitchell. However, those words were nothing compared to what Damien says next.

And we’re going on tour.

When Crossroads Gin hits the road, Damien hopes it will draw them closer together. There’s something magical about being on tour, especially when traveling in a van with no roadies, managers, or lovers to act as a buffer. The band is already close, but Damien knows they can be more—brothers of sorts, bound not only by familial ties but by their intense love for music.

As they travel from gig to gig, the band is haunted by past mistakes and personal demons, but they forge on. For Miki, Damie, Forest, and Rafe, the stage is where they all truly come alive, and the music they play is as important to them as the air they breathe.

But those demons and troubles won’t leave them alone, and with every mile under their belts, the band faces its greatest challenge—overcoming their deepest flaws and not killing one another along the way.
I enjoyed this story and I thought it was a creative way to give us updates on all four of the couples in one story.  The guys are on the road as the blurb says, but a lot the story is about Miki starting to work through things.  Since Miki is my all time favorite from this series that was a great thing for me.  The story follows the guys on their first tour and lot of things happen.  It’s pretty fast paced and is filled with some serious moments and some more light-hearted ones.  Even though the guys are on the road, their partners and other family members also make frequent appearances.  Brigid and Donal steal every scene they’re in for me. I just adore them both.
I don’t want to spoil the plot and say more about it but know that it is fast paced and entertaining.  The four relationships are in various places and things are a little more challenging for two of the couples but overall they’re all doing well and it was really touching to see them work through their various issues.  The end is not really a cliffhanger but definitely leaves you ready to get the next book as soon as possible.
This book was narrated by Tristan James who has also narrated the previous other books in the series.  This was my first time doing one of these books on audio and I enjoyed his narration a lot.  There were a lot of characters in this but I was never confused as to which one was talking.  There are also various accents from different countries and I thought he did those well too.  I did struggle a bit with the beginning of each chapter as they recount a moment from the past or song lyrics.  I prefer those when I’m reading the books.  It works better for me when I can see them.  It’s a small complaint and one that might be just an issue for me.  Overall I really liked the narration and I thought the narrator did a really good job.
Cover by Reese Notley:  I like this cover a lot.  It’s striking and the color really catches the eye, plus it goes with the book’s title.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
Listening Length: 6 hours and 49 minutes
Audible Audio, 7 pages
Published October 3rd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published June 22nd 2016)
Original TitleAbsinthe of Malice
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSinners #5

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Hexbreaker by Jordan L. Hawk ~ Audiobook narrated by Tristan James


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

HexbreakerWill a dark history doom their future together?

New York copper Tom Halloran is a man with a past. If anyone finds out he once ran with the notorious O’Connell tunnel gang, he’ll spend the rest of his life doing hard time behind bars. But Tom’s secret is threatened when a horrible murder on his beat seems to have been caused by the same ancient magic that killed his gang.

Cat shifter Cicero is determined to investigate the disappearance of one friend and the death of another, even though no one else believes the cases are connected. When the trail of his investigation crosses Tom’s, the very bohemian Cicero instinctively recognizes the uncultured Irish patrolman as his witch. Though they’re completely unsuited to one another, Cicero has no choice but to work alongside Tom…all the while fighting against the passion growing within.

Tom knows that taking Cicero as his familiar would only lead to discovery and disaster. Yet as the heat between them builds, Tom’s need for the other man threatens to overcome every rational argument against becoming involved.

But when their investigation uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all of New York, Tom must make the hardest decision of his life: to live a lie and gain his heart’s desire, or to confess the truth and sacrifice it all.

Get ready for eight-and-a-half hours of entertainment from the talented mind of the highly creative paranormal author, Jordan L. Hawk, and the smooth, delicious, and melodic voice of Tristan James.  There would’ve had to have been a very big goof-up in this audiobook for me not to enjoy it with that talented combo involved.  And there wasn’t, so I did. A lot! 

This is book one in a new series, Hexworld, though there is a prequel, The 13th Hex, that can be read prior. It’s not necessary, but IMHO, it adds to the story since the characters from the prequel are featured as principal secondary characters in this one.

Tom Halloran has been living a lie for eight years, hiding from his past identity as Liam O’Connell of the notorious O’Connell Gang, who started the Cherry Street fires. Tom saw his father and brother go on a killing rampage, wiping out his whole family, and when Tom used his hexbreaking skills to remove the hex from his brother, the man immediately died.  Tom now carries the guilt of killing his brother, and the grisly memory of his father tearing his mother’s face half off, along with the guilt of not being able to stop any of it. He hides his hexbreaking abilities and is working as a regular cop in New York City, having assumed the identity of a man he found dead in an alley who was fresh off the ship from Ireland and on his way to take a job as a patrolman.

Though he wants nothing to do with the Metropolitan Witch Police, the other law enforcement agency in the city, his mission to find out who killed one of the shopkeepers on his patrol takes him there, and that’s when the adventure begins.  Because he meets Cicero, a cat familiar, unbonded, untamed, and the most beautiful man Tom has ever seen—though with the temperament of an aloof cat who got away with the cream.

This story sets the stage for this new world, the world of hexbreakers, witches, and familiars who work for the MWP, trying their best to maintain law and order in the turn of the (19th to 20th) century. There’s angst, heartache, and regret; but there’s also hope, bravery, love, and redemption.  The adventure is complex and interesting, and the world-building was outstanding. 

As Tom and Cicero, aided by Dominic and Rook, attempt to solve the mystery surrounding the murders that appear to be caused by the same hex that killed Tom’s family, they are joined by a host of secondary characters, some of whom turn out to work for “the bad guys” and some of whom I hope will return in future installments of this series.  Tristan James’s talent for speaking with authentic-sounding British and Irish accents enhances this already amazing story. 

The book is totally different from the Whyborne and Griffin series, and yet equally as intriguing and satisfying.  Don’t miss a chance to get into this series now.  It’s going to be a wonderful adventure.

The cover art, by the author, depicts two men holding hands and embracing—one behind the other—in the top pane; and a background map of NYC with the shape of a black cat superimposed over the map in the lower pane. The cover is attractive and perfectly conveys both the characters and setting of the story.

Sales Links

Audiobook Details:

Published August 3rd 2016 by Widdershins Press LLC (first published May 6th 2016)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHexworld #1

A Lila Audiobook Review: Eyes Only for Me by Andrew Grey and Tristan James (Narrator)


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

eyes only for me audiobookClayton Potter has been in love with his straight friend, Ronnie, for years, but he knew he didn’t have a chance, or that’s what he though. The book starts with Clay taking care of a business party for Ronnie and making it a success. We get to see Ronnie’s way with women and the relationship Clay and Ronnie share with their gym partners.

From the moment Clay gets the call about his father, Ronnie takes charge, helping him get to the hospital. He’s the support Clay needed and always craved, which confuses Clay. Ronnie booked a hotel for them to spend the night and that’s when their friendship starts to change.

The next morning, they deal with the consequences of their time together as best as they could. Clay felt Ronnie’s distance but understood his reactions. With Clay staying behind to take care of his father, they have the opportunity to think about their next move.

For the rest of the story, we get to see how they struggled to save their friendship and to be what the other needs. Their pasts and current situations take a toll on their new relationship, and they had to make the decision to give up on each other or fight through.

Eyes Only for Me wasn’t what I expected. The blurb sounded interesting, and I was ready for a nice friends-to-lovers story, instead, I got to read about two men that happened to be in the right bed at the right moment. I can say that this story didn’t work for me.

In my opinion, the MCs have two personalities each. One when they are having sex and another when they are not. There’s nothing wrong with having or giving control to your partner during sex, but the way Clay treated Ronnie felt uncomfortable. From their very first time, Clay is cornering Ronnie and acting as if Ronnie had been involved with men before.

Yes, some descriptions let the reader know that Ronnie wasn’t getting what he wanted with women, but Clay’s magically transformed him. For me, Ronnie went with the flow just because he could. I didn’t felt a connection between them other than in Clay’s musings. According to him, Ronnie was the type of partner he wanted, but that knowledge didn’t translate into the relationship.

Also, Ronnie’s memories about an event in his childhood felt unnecessary, and it’s a topic I don’t consider should be used to create tension between the characters or to be perhaps a reason Ronnie had never considered a relationship with a man.

The description of the settings and the characters were interesting and relatable. The writing is up to par. One thing the author was able to show very well was the friendship between the men, their gym trips, dinners, and breakfast meetings. We get to see all the personalities and how they interact. What they meant to each other and how far they would, or not, go for each other. And the way the author described how Ronnie’s mind works was credible.

Tristan James is one of my favorite MM narrators, and he definitely saved this book for me. If I had read the ebook, I’d probably had rate it a lot lower than three stars. As always, Tristan delivered an excellent performance. I enjoyed the way he made a distinction between Clay’s words and his narration. The female voices weren’t as perfect as the others, but that’s to be expected.

I loved the cover by L.C. Chase and the intensity of the characters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see Clay and Ronnie in them.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Amazon | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Tristan James
Length:  6 hours and 19 minutes

Published:  January 25, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English