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Romance

Narrator Madeleine Maby serves up wedding drama in this appealing contemporary love story. Genevieve Mackenzie and Wolf have always been friends—until Genevieve becomes engaged to David. But when Genevieve turns into a runaway bride on her wedding day, Wolf is there to catch her—literally. Somewhere between Genevieve’s self-doubt and Wolf’s troubled childhood lies something beautiful. Maby shares the growing understanding between Wolf and Gen with expertly inflected dialogue. She captures Gen’s sweet, matter-of-fact nature and portrays Wolf in a low, gruff voice that conveys his protective nature. The natural flow of their banter gives Probst’s story added realism. While characters are not always perfectly differentiated in conversation, Maby’s pacing and authenticity will have listeners wanting to hear the other titles in this series. C.A. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Heartfelt performances by Nancy Linari and Allyson Ryan bring out the emotional ups and downs of two women who are restarting their lives. From alternating perspectives, they portray Leanne, who is divorced, and Nichole, who is separated from Leanne's son. The narrators also take on the voices of the women's love interests. They credibly portray the ruggedness of Nichole's Rocco, a tow-truck driver, and the formidable European accent of Leanne's Nikolai, who encounters stereotypical but endearing language mishaps. Linari and Ryan complement each other's performances as they persuasively capture the protagonists' new romances and personal independence. M.F. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine

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Saskia Maarleveld's English accent, resonant voice, and clear diction set the stage for this Regency romance. With a charming lilt, Maarleveld brings out the confusion and naïveté of Hannah Rogers, who is torn between two suitors. Her indecision is well contrasted with the unwavering strength in the voice of Marianna Mayfield, Hannah's selfish and deceitful former mistress. Maarleveld's deftly timed transitions and command of the characters' evocative voices, including those of men and women with various accents, keeps the dialogue flowing smoothly and distinguishes between social classes. Pauses and modulations in volume add suspense to some cliff-hanger chapter endings, adding further enticement to keep listening. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Justine Eyre, winner of multiple AUDIOFILE Earphones Awards, does not disappoint in this latest in the Playful Brides series. Bluestocking Jane Lowndes, who has “a razor for a tongue" when it comes to the handsome Lord Garrett Upton, the bane of her existence, does not want to marry. But then, Jane attends a masquerade ball in disguise, where she encounters her equally disguised nemesis. The romantic sparks fly. Will the romance survive the unveiling? Eyre is exceptional with accents. Her acting skills are showcased in her narration, making this audio experience most enjoyable. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Nicholas Boulton delivers this period piece featuring exiled Princess Olympia and naval war hero Sheridan Drake in a deep, commanding voice. Boulton alternates between a condescending tone and a warmer one as Sheridan returns home after a distinguished career and meets Olympia, who convinces him to convey her to Rome. Later, Olympia and Sheridan’s adventure takes them around the world. Boulton’s portrayal of Olympia sounds distant at first, but he settles into a rhythm as the story unfolds. He admirably characterizes the host of characters the couple encounters, including Sheridan’s Egyptian servant, a band of escaped convicts, and the crews of the ships that bring them back home. Listeners who can’t get enough of the Kinsale/Boulton combination will enjoy another fine listening experience. E.N. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Mary Jane Wells's rich voice immediately draws the listener into the author’s long awaited return to historical romance, set in England in the 1800s. Devon Ravenel never anticipated inheriting an earldom. But with the death of his cousin, he becomes the earl, which means he now has responsibility for a debt-ridden estate and his cousin's three marriageable sisters. Also in residence is his cousin's widow of three days, Kathleen, Lady Trenear. Wells evocatively depicts the passion that arises between Devon and Kathleen and elicits laughs with the mischief that Devon's cousins manage to get into. Listeners will be cheering for Devon as he attempts to rebuild the estate. This is a perfect blend of narrator and story. S.B. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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What do a duke’s illegitimate daughter and a rough-and-tumble theater owner have in common? Narrator Ashford McNab makes Eve and Asa’s unlikely pairing a foregone conclusion. Further, her reading gives the story’s eighteenth-century-London setting verisimilitude for contemporary listeners. Eve Dinwoody holds the purse strings to Asa Makepeace’s theater production, HARTE’S FOLLY. Her prickly manner doesn’t hold up long against Asa’s blunt masculine appeal. Add in the mystery of who is sabotaging the production and solid secondary characters, whom McNab voices in Cockney and Caribbean accents, and it’s hard to imagine better historical romance. McNab’s greatest success is her projection of the undercurrent of longing between Eve and Asa. Her realistic delivery of their shared secrets makes the romance that much more convincing. C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine

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Rosalyn Landor's narration sweeps the listener into the story of Percy, Earl of Hardford, and Lady Imogen. Imogen survived the death of her husband during the Napoleonic War. She is part of the Survivor's Club, along with others who suffered at the hands of war. Percy, however, has led a charmed life. Masterfully voiced by Landor, Percy invades Imogen's home after having inherited her husband's title. Landor evokes a smile as she reads how Percy is adopted by Hector, a stray dog. Landor's portrayal will make the listener want explore the other books in the Survivor's Club series. S.B. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine

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Eric Dove narrates this romantic suspense, which is set 30 years after a series of distinctive murders roiled the Tennessee town of Graveyard Falls. Called in to investigate a possible copycat "Bride Killer" crime, Special Agent Cal Coulter discovers that Mona Monroe, widow of his best friend, is also in the aptly named town, seeking to unbury some mysteries from her own past. As the "Bride Killer" continues to strike, Cal and Mona race to untangle the threads of the mystery while concealing some painful truths and coping with an unresolved attraction. The straightforward, measured narration is a good match for Herron's story. Dove capably differentiates male from female and Tennessee native from out-of-stater, and he's at his best voicing the hard-boiled gumshoe. T.M.D. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Cassidy Swallow finds her calling as innkeeper of Glacier Lily Cottages in Colorado, but she can’t ignore her longing for John Priest, her occasional and intriguing guest in Cabin 11. Narrator Stella Bloom sucks listeners into Cassidy’s ruminations on the hospitality industry, her failed romances, and her addiction for Priest. Bloom’s reading is as juicy as listening to your best friend talk about her love life. Cassidy’s progression from anticipation and excitement to desire and eventually heartbreak is convincing and delightfully dripping with drama. Bloom portrays Priest with a deeper, laconic voice; their steamy and later BDSM relationship is as hot as it gets. Prepare everyone before you start listening; interruptions to Kristen Ashley and Stella Bloom will not be tolerated with good humor. C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Relief worker Honor Cambridge survives a Middle East terrorist attack only to find herself subsequently being used as leverage by Guy Hancock’s paramilitary group, Titan. Narrator Tad Branson plays up the chemistry between Honor and Guy, first in their antagonistic dialogue and later in their romantic encounters. Branson’s rolling vocals slide over Banks’s phrases, deliciously stretching out the tense moments of Honor’s rescue and recapture. Branson fills the male voices of Titan’s team members with ruthless machismo and contrasts Hancock’s arrogance with Honor’s earnest optimism. Reining in the story’s anger and violence, Branson delivers it with controlled strength. Even though listeners may question Hancock’s ethical dilemma, Branson maintains the lovers’ balance between trust and betrayal. C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Nicola Barber’s narration offers a delightful assortment of voices that richly portray the characters of this Regency romance. The resonance of Barber’s voice captures the determination of Rachel Woodley who, after the death of her mother, makes a startling discovery about the father she believed died years ago. Barber’s quickening cadence conveys Rachel’s machinations as she and her cousin set about to perpetrate the scam of a lifetime. Crisp diction captures the propriety of these English characters, while a more nasal tone suggests undertones of condescension. With subtlety, Barber reveals Rachel’s changing emotions, including her dawning realization that perhaps revenge is not so sweet after all. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Therese Plummer will have listeners falling in love and crying their eyes out at the same time. After an embarrassing wedding encounter brings them together, Ginger Dysart and Matt Lacoumette both seek healing from failed marriages and a second chance at love. Plummer adopts a deliciously confidential tone that will draw listeners into the core of Ginger and Matt’s heartache. It’s impossible not to engage fully with the characters. The laughter and hesitations in phrasing that she adds create a natural flow of dialogue. In the heartrending scenes in which the characters express their grief, Plummer does not simply narrate, she shares the characters’ emotional journeys. With Plummer’s narration, Carr’s story is a knockout. C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Rosalyn Landor’s engaging performance, filled with flowing dialogue and charming accents, reveals that love transcends culture and continents. On a trip to visit a friend, Prudence Cabot meets Roan Matheson, an American in search of his runaway sister. Landor brings out Roan’s American accent and gentlemanly ruggedness with deep tones that contrast with Prudence’s proper English accent and gently lilting voice, setting the stage for their miscommunications. Landor’s modulating tones and careful pacing amusingly convey the scandalous talk by gossiping locals, and the societal ironies as Prudence—still unwed at 22 and destined for a life of spinsterhood—finds herself attracted to Matheson and a life of freedom and adventure. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Trying to escape his dark past, Colin Hancock has a life-altering encounter with responsible, hardworking Maria Sanchez. Romance ensues as Maria's own past threatens the future of their relationship. Narrator Christopher Ryan Grant's masculine voice complements the story, adding a sense of strength and making this a love story everyone can appreciate. He perfectly channels the tension between the couple using tones of excitability to guide listeners through each stage of their relationship. His ability to distinguish between the voices of Colin and Maria makes it easier to understand each character. D.Z. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Derek Perkins’s gratifying performance brings out the paradoxes in highwayman Dorian Blackwell. Perkins’s rich English accent and deep, resonant voice convey a sexy hero who is intimidating yet civilized, rough yet gentle. It’s no wonder that spirited Farah Mackenzie finds herself attracted to the notorious outlaw even after he’s drugged and kidnapped her. Perkins’s command of accents and tone creates a cast of delightfully diverse characters such as Murdoch, the humorous Scottish manservant, and Frank, the slow-talking, dim-witted gentle giant who works in Blackwell’s kitchen. Perkins’s range of voices and timing makes for entertaining and telling repartee between the characters as well as adds to the suspense as the real villains of this romance reveal themselves. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2016 Audies Winner © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Whether you routinely devour Christine Feehan’s Carpathian hunters of the undead romances or not, the combined narrative prowess of Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross is epic. Mortal Teagan Joanes discovers her immortal “life mate,” Andre Boroi, in Europe’s Carpathian Mountains. As they represent characters with vastly different worldviews, Gigante's and Ross’s voices meld together surprisingly well. In a sexy fruity voice, Gigante maintains the indicated Carpathian-English accent and embraces Teagan in the verbal caresses of an immortal who has waited centuries to be loved. Ross delivers her part of the story with light humor and touches of playfulness in a tone that continually asks: Is this hot guy a hallucination? Her fluid phrases—sometimes timid, sometimes wondrous, always pleasing—are a charming complement to Andre’s delicious austerity. C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Holy flashback horror! Narrator Andi Arndt deserves an award for keeping this flashback-ridden, issue-riddled tearjerker clear for listeners. Drama students Cassandra Taylor and Ethan Holt meet at school, but Ethan’s self-destructive doubts tear them apart time after time. Eight years later, they have a second . . . or third . . . chance at love, ably portrayed by Arndt. Their tribulations are repetitive, but Arndt manages to create an intense, low-voiced biome for the couple’s intimate moments. Her dialogue and narrative delivery are realistic, creating an immersive experience that’s hard to leave. Ethan’s voice is sex-on-a-cracker compelling—it’s difficult to imagine that anyone else could spark the chemistry between Ethan and Cassandra so effectively. As the characters manage to smooth out the stupidity that keeps them apart, Arndt reveals their indecision and the inevitability of their magnetic attraction. C.A. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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When beautiful Grace Elland finds her boss, a motivational guru, murdered in his home, she becomes both a suspect and the object of a stalker. Add hunky Julius Arkwright, a successful entrepreneur, into the mix, and the plot not only thickens, it sizzles. Narrator Amanda Cobb uses vocal shifts, changes in pacing, and slight but effective accents to make each of the characters distinct and recognizable. Her efforts with the female characters are especially noteworthy and creative. The material is good, and it all combines to make for a captivating listening experience. Krentz’s books are eagerly anticipated, and this latest offering adds to the mystique. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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The first adult book of the Princess Diaries is a delightful journey to the aisle with many twists and laughs along the way. Narrator Arielle DeLisle gives the 11th installment a strong voice that is true to Cabot’s beloved Princess Mia. DeLisle perfectly captures Mia’s feelings as she finds herself being spread too thin in her demanding life. Five years after college, she’s working hard running a teen community center in New York City while maintaining a united front as part of Genovia’s royal family. DeLisle recounts Mia’s bubbly optimism, honesty, and unabashed love for—and attraction to—her fiancé in the established “Princess” diary format, which perfectly preserves both the exciting and mundane aspects of being a modern princess. A.L.C. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Rosalyn Landor continues this series in proper style, bringing her pitch-perfect accent and arch humor to a story of love, seduction, and scandal. She admirably conveys Grace Cabot’s fear of losing her status, fortune, and family upon the death of the Earl of Beckington, as well as her breathless decision to seduce a wealthy viscount into marriage. But that plan backfires completely when Grace realizes that the man she has embraced is the surly and dangerous Jeffrey, Earl of Merryton. Though Landor’s male characters sound a bit stuffy, she conveys Jeffrey’s inner struggles and desires with sympathy, helping this unlikely romance blossom into a story that listeners will savor. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Karen White’s emotional narration brings out the vulnerability and passion behind a divorce lawyer’s facade of untouchability. In spite of her jaded view on relationships, Victoria Spade finds herself falling for neighbor Ford Dixon when they join forces to track down the father of Dixon’s sister’s baby. White effectively sets up Spade’s cool, tough exterior with crisp speech that falters when Spade battles her anxiety attacks. As Dixon, White depicts a sensitive stud who’s playful yet has a serious side. White’s tone and range of voices effectively capture each character’s personality and create a dynamic flow. Her performance especially shines in her perfectly timed delivery of the sexual intensity between Dixon and Spade. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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PJ Colman is heart-attack serious about Asa Barrons, but Asa worries about PJ’s age and his own intense sexual demands. PJ may be just 23, but she knows her own mind, and Asa soon realizes his good fortune. Narrator Sasha Dunbrooke develops the sexual banter between PJ and Asa, along with hints of PJ’s mischievous nature. Dunbrooke smoothly integrates the BDSM-lite sex scenes with controlled pacing and intensity. As PJ establishes herself in the specialty car industry, she faces epic family drama. Dane uses short, choppy phrases, which Dunbrooke confidently delivers as emphatic statements of strong emotion. Some female voices are difficult to differentiate in conversation, but Dunbrooke makes up for it with Asa’s sexy-as-hell alpha-male tones. C.A. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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The audio experience gives listeners greater insight into 17-year-old Emily and 18-year-old Oz’s rocky romance. Emily is the estranged daughter of “Kentucky Reign of Terror” biker Eli, and Oz is her club-assigned bodyguard. Narrator Marguerite Gavin contrasts Emily’s dauntless exterior with her fear of the dark and frustration over family secrets. Narrator Sean Pratt’s older voice seems an odd match for a teenager until we hear Oz’s protective nature and old-soul maturity in action. Pratt’s steady drawl lends credence to Oz’s aspirations to join the biker gang and commit to Emily. The author uses many asides, which are difficult to differentiate from spoken dialogue on the audio. But Gavin’s and Pratt’s narrations illuminate Emily’s and Oz’s true natures just as the teens ferret out hidden truths in the twisty workings of biker culture. C.A. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Steve West's melodic voice puts listeners under a spell with this romance novel. When handsome James Fairbrother, the Marquess of Leath, discovers Nell Trim, his mother's beautiful but less-than-humble companion, skulking around in his library at three in the morning, neither of them is much impressed with the other. And both of them are determined to get to the bottom of the other’s secrets. West uses slight vocal differences to portray the lovely Nell and the Marquess’s ailing mother, and their voices are appropriate and recognizable. But it’s the enigmatic Marquess with whom he excels. West imprints this intelligent and sexy man with just the right deep, sensuous voice to capture the listener's imagination. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Susan Duerden's soft, entrancing voice lends itself to this clever audio romance. Young and insecure Mia Carrington falls desperately in love with Evander Brody, a future duke. But an embarrassing incident results in Mia’s publicly proclaiming him to be the last man she would ever marry. Years later, she comes to regret those words when she needs to marry Vander to keep her young nephew out of the clutches of a wicked uncle. Duerden excels at British accents, and her portrayals of young nephew Charlie and guff but bumbling Chuffy are especially well done. The addition of Mia's notes on her novel writing adds another amusing element to this touching story. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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A multicast presentation is ideal for this convoluted story and its many characters. When Portia Kane finds her husband, a porn producer, with a young actress, she decides she's had enough, despite their lavish lifestyle. Narrator Cris Dukehart skillfully presents Kane's anger and self-loathing and, finally, her determination as she seeks out her high school English teacher, the one man who's never let her down. Jim Meskimen deftly portrays the diminished Mr. Vernon, who left teaching after being attacked by a student. Kane comes alive as she helps him rediscover his love of teaching. Most entertaining is Lorna Raver as wine-loving, spirited Sister Maeve Smith, who never gives up praying for Kane and Vernon. Listeners will be exhilarated by this loving tribute to teachers, writers, and literature. S.G.B. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Bianca Amato's narration is the icing on the cake of this engaging offering from an icon of historical romance. When Arthur Lancaster, the Earl of St. Merryn and one of London's most eligible but aloof bachelors, finds himself jilted and in need of a wife, he turns to an agency to find a suitable candidate. At the same time, he’s investigating the murder of his favorite uncle. Beautiful Elenora Lodge seems to fit the bill, but the road to romance can be bumpy—most entertainingly so for the listener. Amato delivers accents for members of all social strata, and her ability to provide exacting nuances for each voice seems limitless. The versatile Amato’s narration is great fun. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Veida Dehmlow's repertoire of voices and accents makes all of Millard’s characters easily recognizable. Lady Caroline Carrington made the mistake of a lifetime when she turned her back on love and declined to marry the wealthy and handsome but untitled Tom Crawdon. Two years later, when she must pick a peer for a husband or have one picked for her, Lady Caroline is determined to experience a little impropriety first. Complications occur when she encounters Tom again. While Dehmlow’s vocal timbre is most effective with older characters, her upper-crust British accent is fully believable, and her vitality makes this a pleasant Regency listen. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Carrington MacDuffie navigates the humor and high-stakes intrigue of this first Highland Heirs romance. Edmund MacGregor would do anything to save his adopted homeland from English rule, even kidnap the fiancée of the Chancellor of Scotland. Edmund’s resentment and determination are clear from the first volatile scene of this story, and the growing bond between him and the feisty, hapless Amelia is skillfully captured. MacDuffie enhances their forbidden romance and heightens the dread over their inevitable separation. Though her accents are often stilted, MacDuffie does a remarkable job distinguishing between each of the many characters in this historic adventure and is especially adept at capturing the camaraderie between the band of bold Scots heroes at its center. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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A winning combination of author and narrator is quickly apparent in the joining of Gyland’s romance and Melody Grove's soft, soothing voice; deliberate, near-perfect diction; and plethora of British accents. When Jack Blythe, the heir of the Earl of Lampton, and his nasty cousin are held up at gunpoint by a highwayman who may be more than he seems, a chain of events is unleashed that could mean death, the revelation of secrets, and a love that cannot be. Grove's convincing performance keeps the listener engaged. The story has twists and turns aplenty and characters that are likable and well acted. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Scottish beauty Glynis Maclain has loved handsome Lennox Cameron most of her life. Misunderstanding his feelings, Glynis flees to America, where she marries an American diplomat. When she crosses paths with Lennox seven years after she’s widowed, fate gives them a second chance. But Glynis has secrets, and she’s not the green girl she once was. Narrator Ralph Lister masterfully delivers Scottish, Russian, British, and Southern accents. He infuses Lennox with strength, humor, and patience and characterizes Glynis with girlish enthusiasm and, later, a more mature and provocative demeanor. His portrayals of the female characters are especially enjoyable as he gives each a higher, distinct voice in a way that is both creative and imaginative. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Roger Hampton's deep, rich voice is a pleasure to listen to as he spins this clever and lovely tale. Handsome Darius Lindsey, the youngest and poorest son of an earl, is offered a bargain he can’t afford to refuse—the opportunity to bed and father a child with beautiful Vivian Longstreet. This bargain is engineered by the lady's elderly husband, who is ill. Hampton's portrayal of Darius is mesmerizing. He effortlessly imprints the character with a sexy and slightly mocking voice, a strong sense of honor, humor, and reluctantly developing feelings of love. Hampton's depictions of the villainess, the slimy stepfather, the elderly, wise husband, and the sweet children are also outstanding. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Beverley Crick’s dynamic narration conveys the sweet and comedic confusion between star-crossed lovers in a small seaside town in Cornwall. Sophie is keeping mum about a previous relationship that keeps her from giving in to Josh’s advances. Meanwhile, Tula decides to ignore Riley’s affection and turn her attention to Josh, who seems far more industrious and successful than the seemingly unmotivated Riley, who is living off his aunt, a famous romance writer who has her own secret. Crick’s wide range of accents keeps the listening experience fresh and makes it relatively easy to distinguish between all the characters and their various converging storylines. Crick’s performance balances the humor and the heartwarming elements of this light romantic drama. M.F. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Patience Tomlinson's performance breathes strength, honesty, and defiance into this heartrending story, told through the eyes of the sixth wife of Henry VIII. Tomlinson delivers Katherine Parr's narrative with a tone of earnest determination, describing the loss of her husband and the unrequited love of her torturous marriage to Henry VIII, who is portrayed as a nightmarish lout in this historic account. Tomlinson doesn't miss Katherine's gentle, self-deprecating humor, or the strong will that drives her, even during her darkest moments with Henry, making listeners feel as if they're hearing a private confession rather than a work of fiction. Tomlinson captures the supporting cast--particularly Katherine's first husband, John, and the odious Henry--with subtle shifts in tone that perfectly round out this noteworthy performance. B.E.K © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Susan Ericksen keeps her tone light and her pace easy throughout this third book in the American Heiress in London series. She misses some of the subtle humor and tension in this clever, honest romance and doesn't differentiate enough between the numerous male characters, making some scenes confusing. However, she ably tackles the accents of the Earl of Featherstone, a British peer who is determined to bring down a notorious villain, and Linnet Holland, the American heiress whom he saves from a disastrous marriage--by ruining her himself. Ericksen's deft talent with accents makes it easy for listeners to follow the protagonists' quick banter and witty dialogue, if not always the tension and feelings of need growing between them. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Thanks to her talent for characterization, narrator Robin Eller convincingly delivers the romance between Underground Railroad conductor Hester Wyatt and the mysterious Black Daniel, a freedom fighter who appears at her hideaway seeking help and safety. Eller makes their emotional connection tangible from their first meeting. Her consistency and astute ear for accents help overcome potential confusion when Black Daniel returns as the wealthy and privileged Galen Vachon, a man Hester knows she can never have. Eller conveys Hester’s strength and Galen’s determination and devotion with impressive clarity, making each character a unique individual. Her delivery of the narrative, however, remains somewhat flat, obscuring the tension in the plot, as well as the flashes of humor and insight between the stretches of dialogue. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Tavia Gilbert's dramatic talent ensures that each scene of this fast-paced, unpredictable series debut is captivating. She perfectly embodies Ivy, a woman blessed--or cursed--with otherworldly visions. When her sister vanishes, Ivy learns not only that her visions are real but also that she's in mortal peril, and the only person she can trust is the enigmatic, dangerously handsome Adrian, a man who has sworn to betray her. Gilbert switches characters with almost startling swiftness--from Ivy's weary determination and growing dread to Adrian's charming cunning--and deals with the mounting tension between them expertly. She paces her narration perfectly, keeping the action scenes exciting and Ivy's dawning understanding of her powers a source of suspense and surprise. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Captain Ross Poldark returns from America to his family home in Cornwall, where he finds much disappointment. Narrator Oliver Hembrough’s plethora of accents and voices captures the diverse characters and vivid atmosphere of this rich family saga. Not only does Hembrough do a good job with the women in Poldark’s life, but he also effectively portrays the varied socioeconomic positions of the myriad characters through dialogue that ranges from the slurred speech of the housekeepers and miners to the crisp speech of Poldark and his peers. Variations in Hembrough’s cadence and pitch enhance the drama of the story, creating an intriguing listen for lovers of historical fiction and romance. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Anna Parker-Naples sets the tone for this Regency romance with her crisp British accent. Her myriad voices work together to differentiate the sincere characters from those who operate out of self-interest. A high pitch and even pacing reflect the patient and sweet personality of downtrodden Jenny, who has sworn to have nothing to do with the charming and intimidating Captain Tristram Allenby. As Allenby, Parker-Naples alternates passion with restraint as he tries to control his growing love for Jenny despite her manipulative brother’s attempts to keep them apart. Overall, Parker-Naples’s performance makes this story all the more enticing. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Rosalyn Landor’s superb accents conjure the setting of eighteenth-century England for this historical romance. Seventeen-year-old Robert Blake first meets French Countess Jeanne when she’s 15. Though they’re attracted to each other, Jeanne’s father forces her to reject Robert, who is illegitimate. The two don’t meet again until 11 years later. Landor’s persuasive range of voices reflects the genders of the couple as well as their contrasting personalities. Well-timed pacing heightens the intensity of the duo’s shifting feelings and the passion of the sexual encounters between them. Even when the narrative becomes a little bogged down in the logistics of troop movements, Landor’s dynamic performance keeps the story engaging. M.F. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Robert Petkoff proves that opposites do attract in Kresley Cole’s latest immortal pairing between Lucia the Huntress and werewolf Garreth MacRieve. Sparks fly when Garreth tracks his errant mate into the Amazonian jungle as she seeks a weapon with which to off her demonic husband. Petkoff creates an entire bestiary of voices for this steamy paranormal romance. Growling wolves and vampires overcome with bloodlust don’t faze this versatile performer, who is equally skilled with humorous and fight scenes. Throw in Scottish accents and a complex serial plot to keep straight for listeners, and you’re seeing Petkoff’s A-game. His exposition could sometimes be more fluid, but this fades as Cole’s motley Amazon expedition heats up with sassy dialogue and giant lizards chomping on the adventurers’ boat. C.A. 2015 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Kate Reading's smart, subtle performance makes this seemingly lighthearted romance into something quite memorable. Lord Vere has perfected his reputation as London's biggest fool, obscuring his real role as the Crown's most adept secret agent. But nothing can prepare him for the trap set by the desperate--and irresistible--Elissande Edgerton. Though her male characters seem a little overworked, Reading navigates the novel's complicated emotions with impressive skill. Her droll delivery perfectly captures the humor of Vere's carefully orchestrated buffoonery, but she also thoughtfully emphasizes the subtle terror of Elissande's predicament. Elissande herself comes across as a strikingly resolute young woman, and listeners will find themselves drawn into the unexpectedly moving romance between her and the hero. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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As England tries to defend itself against Napoleon, narrator Pearl Hewitt’s charming English accent and deft tonal modulations conjure the high intrigue of espionage. Her high pitch and deft pacing portray young Lady Henrietta Harcourt, who is uncertain whom she can trust. Hewitt uses a deeper, restrained tone to characterize Cord, who is powerfully attracted to Henrietta and attempts to prove himself to her while maneuvering around suspected double agents. The sometimes not-so-restrained moments between Cord and Henrietta are conveyed with a breathlessness that heightens the sexual tension between them. Hewitt’s fluid transitions between narrative and dialogue contribute to the fast pace of this appealing historical romance. M.F. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Anne Flosnik's well-paced narration is the icing on the cake of this charming story of love and forgiveness. No one is surprised when the marriage of shy Bryony Asquith to handsome and gregarious Leo Marsden fails, and the marriage is annulled. But four years later, when Leo is sent to find Bryony in India and escort her home, old hurts and old passions are rekindled. Flosnik's upper-crust British accent is hypnotic. She uses a softer, more vulnerable voice to portray Bryony and a slight tonal difference to portray the masculine voice of Leo. Each character is easily recognizable in this enjoyable romance. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Veida Dehmlow's rich, versatile voice brings to life this second book in the Edwardian Brides series. Lovely Katherine Ramsey must navigate the marriage mart of a London season, looking for a suitable husband. When she begins to have feelings for a handsome but untitled medical student, she must decide whether to follow her heart or her head. Dehmlow hits just the right notes in this inspirational story of faith and love. She’s spot on at portraying all strata of British accents, especially excelling at the voice of Katherine's snooty Aunt Louisa. Just as effective is Dehmlow's portrayl of those "below stairs," each of whom she makes sound distinct and distinctly working class. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Lady Georgiana Pearson, daughter and sister of a duke, who was ruined as a girl, is the focus of this fourth Rule of Scoundrels offering. Now secretly ruling London's underworld as "Chase," one of four owners of The Fallen Angel, London's most exclusive gaming hell, Lady Georgiana must try to keep her secrets, guard her heart, and yet risk all for handsome and determined newspaper kingpin Duncan West. The voice that Justine Eyre gives to each character is spot-on for that character's personality and traits. Using a quiet, whispery tone, Eyre hits the mark in her portrayals of London's elite. A.C.P. 2016 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Rosalyn Landor's varied, easily distinguishable British accents and her ability to portray humor and pathos bring this Regency romance to life. Sir Richard must find a bride quickly. Iris Smythe-Smith, a quiet, underestimated young woman, fits the bill. But she doesn’t trust him. Landor navigates between the characters, giving each a voice and accent that is a perfect fit. Equally gifted as an actress, Landor accurately expresses every emotion the author intends. Julia Quinn never disappoints, and this latest offering is a light and enjoyable listen. A.C.P. 2016 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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A sparkling performance by narrator Veida Dehmlow brings out the nuances of eighteenth-century sexual mores. Widow Lady Morley is in a dire financial state, but she’s determined not to marry for money a second time. Instead, she’d rather defy expectations as an independent woman—even as she finds herself falling for inventor Phineas Buck. Dehmlow brings out the subtle jabs in the battle between the sexes. She’s skilled at portraying male characters, especially the macho Duke of Wallingford and the Italian men whom Lady Morley annoys when she travels to Italy. Dehmlow’s vocal modulation and pacing capture all the irony in the story, making for a lively listen. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Erin Bennett subtly differentiates the characters in this sassy, irreverent romance. In a story that is a slightly darker offering than Phillips's usual fare, Annie Hewitt, a down-on-her luck but plucky would-be-actress-turned-ventriloquist, must spend several months on an island. Enter the dark and brooding but oh-so-gorgeous hero who must save her when a series of escalating pranks threatens her safety. Bennett's portrayal of Hewitt’s talking dummies is especially entertaining—although spooky. Each is distinct, with the perfect voice. Bennett infuses the imperfect but manly love interest with a sexy voice that entices. She gives Annie herself a determined, animated manner that is appealing. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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This tale of revenge and redemption is full of the kind of detail that fans of historical romance will savor. Narrator Antony Ferguson captures the chemistry between the story’s cynical hero and his feisty, innocent lady. Gunnar Rutledge, a dark knight, has captured Adrian, the daughter of the man he considers his worst enemy. But, as he soon discovers, her love may be his only hope for salvation. Ferguson’s narration often sounds stilted, and his characterizations inconsistent, but he does highlight the moments of humor in the dialogue, ensuring a good balance of darkness and light in this quick-moving tale. Throughout, the wit, charm, and emotional power of Adrian’s story shines and will keep listeners attentive until the final confrontation. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Rosalyn Landor's expertise with the romance genre shines through this charming story. Agnes Keeping has never intended to fall in love, but that changes when the charming Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, suddenly shows interest in her. But when Agnes learns that he has proposed only to avoid a former fiancée, she determines to flee, forcing Flavian to prove his growing love. Landor's engagement ensures that every detail of the story sounds vital, and her sensitivity to the characters keeps listeners attuned to their emotional and personal development. This is especially true of Agnes, whose most pragmatic reasoning can't hide her growing infatuation with Flavian. Though Landor's male characters seem overly emphatic in the opening scenes, they mellow out quickly, becoming both empathetic and believable. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Susan Riddell does such a beautiful job of switching between a posh London accent and the friendly accent of Western Ireland that this book takes on a mystical quality that evokes gothic romances of the past, such as WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Riddell's voice captures the listener from the very first words sung by the ghost of young Caitlin. As tragic secrets are revealed, evocative settings include Connemara and the Cliffs of Moher. This gem by Santa Montefiore is a must for any fan of Irish fiction or romance stories. A.L.C. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrators Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale bring out the beautiful simplicity of this love story about a photographer who shows up in a small town in the Midwest and meets a married woman. As the narrators alternate chapters, both offer performances that reflect the natural development of the love affair that develops. The gentle narration keeps the story focused on themes of self-fulfillment and true love, rather than on issues of morality. O’Hara and Pasquale complement each other’s performance with consistent renditions of Richard’s steady speech, reflecting his contemplative nature, and the foreign-born Francesca’s slight accent and soft voice. The dual narration adds to the effectiveness of this quietly stirring romance. M.F. 2015 Audies Winner © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Rosalyn Landor has an entire arsenal of British voices and accents, and they're all on display to perfection in this fun and amusing story. Honor Cabot schemes to convince the handsome and elusive George Easton to seduce her stepbrother's fiancée, whom she views as unfriendly. Landor excels at portraying the old bats who rule the town and the disdainful voices of the privileged gentlemen who are married to them. She gives Honor a warm but determined tone and her malleable stepbrother a slightly haughty voice. Both portrayals are spot-on. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Patricia Gallimore’s splendid narration transports the listener to 1917 England. In this engaging story, Olivia Carr must contend with her shifting social status and two love interests. Gallimore’s myriad voices and range of English accents bring out the various classes of the characters—from the proper diction and tone of the distinguished and ailing Mrs. Sangster to the gossipy, quick-paced chatter of the cook. Gallimore’s deftly handled delivery captures the emotional restraint in the interactions between Olivia and her two loves, in addition to the general propriety between individuals of various classes. Gallimore’s effective narration should delight lovers of English period pieces. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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There’s nothing uncertain about the magic that narrator Nicholas Boulton brings to Kinsale’s sprawling romance, set in eighteenth-century Ireland. Heiress Roderica Delamore has always feared that her ability to hear other people’s thoughts means that she can never marry. But then she meets the enigmatic Earl of Iveragh, who has secrets of his own. Boulton holds nothing back with the Earl’s characterization, moving smoothly from rage and fear to affection. He conveys the brutality of mobs during an Irish rebellion, bringing many different voices and accents into his account. The intensity of his narration draws listeners into both the romance and the historical conflict. Boulton’s urgent narration makes this audiobook just as spellbinding as the Celtic magic that entwines Roderica and Falen’s fate. C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine

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Kate Reading’s performance of this eleventh Pink Carnation installment showcases her clever use of accents, inflections, and perfectly timed wit. This Regency mystery follows Miss Sally Fitzhugh, who unites with the mysterious Lucien, Duke of Belliston, to uncover the mystery of his parents’ grisly deaths and to quell rumors of a vampire stalking London. Reading brings the historic tale to life with her staid accent and droll wit, reveling in the gothic atmosphere and growing romantic tension between Sally and Lucien. She also brings energy and charm to the modern-day romance of doctoral student Eloisa and her British lover, Colin, whose narrative weaves through the historic plot. Listeners will delight in Reading’s fully realized characters and immersive narration. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Alison Larkin is clearly having fun with this witty tale of impoverished but determined Princess Dagmar, whose knight in shining armor arrives to rescue her in the form of Leopold, seventh Earl of March. She finds the wounded and unconscious spy extraordinaire in her garden. Larkin gives Dagmar an endearing childlike voice that is perfect for this smart-aleck sprite. Her portrayal of Leopold is equally clever, imbuing him, by the use of well-timed pauses and well-acted dialogue, with panache, intelligence, and humor. The progress of the romance is appealing and makes the listener laugh out loud. It’s all great fun. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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In this third book in the Charlotte "Charlie" Stone paranormal series, narrator Ann Marie Lee continues to have fun and stay just this side of campy. Charlie, a gorgeous serial killer expert who can commune with the newly dead, and her ghost sidekick and sometimes lover, Michael, are hot on the trail of another serial killer who may have abducted the sister of an FBI colleague. Lee reaches into a bag chock full of great character voices. She gives Michael a gravelly and sexy Southern accent; Tam, another spook expert, the charming and low voice of a Southern belle; and the serial killer, Spivey, a childlike but chilling voice. Charlie herself has prim but determined tones. This entertaining story is enhanced by a first-rate narration. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford (Lilly) defies her aristocratic parents by becoming an ambulance driver in France during WWI. While there, she becomes reacquainted with her brother’s best friend, Robert Fraser (Robby), a Scottish surgeon, and sparks begin to fly. Narrator Alison Larkin reads this historical romance with a relaxed, even pace and perfect enunciation, sounding as if she savors every sentence. Although the story is somewhat formulaic, Larkin’s thoroughly engaged narration makes it worth listening to. Perfect accents include Robby’s Scottish brogue, Lilly’s British accent, and the various regional and international accents of people they encounter during the war. Larkin makes this into an éclair of an audiobook—not filling, but enjoyable as it goes down. M.M.G. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Combining forces, four narrators will make listeners laugh and cry in rapid sequence. Spunky and determined, Jess Thomas struggles to make ends meet cleaning houses, working at a pub, and making do to feed and clothe her two kids, Tanzie, the math wiz, and Nicky, who's gone Goth, as well as their large, hairy black dog, Norman. When her client, software designer Ed Nicolls, drives Jess and her family to Aberdeen for a maths "olympiad," their lives, and his Audi, will never be the same. The quartet of narrators juggles the characters' perspectives as the crises multiply. Jess's optimism makes listeners smile while Tanzie's upbeat approach to numbers is astounding. Grumpy Nicky and sensible Ed add humor to the sad bits. Characters and narrators alike roll with the punches of their lives. M.B.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Nicholas Boulton delivers a delectable performance that showcases the passion and playfulness in this Regency romance. Boulton’s deep tones conjure the devilish and ruggedly handsome Trevelyan. The young woman he loves is Callie, whose intelligence and emotions are equally well represented by Boulton’s light falsetto. The wide variety of English and French accents that Boulton uses makes for rich characters—both male and female. Boulton’s delivery and pacing not only capture the growing emotional and sometimes breathless physical attraction between the star-crossed lovers but also convey their tantalizingly sharp and witty repartee. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Phyllida Nash is in rare form as she performs Heyer’s quintessential Regency romance. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, in Yorkshire, well-bred Venetia, age 25, encounters her rakish neighbor, Lord Damerel, while riding one day. Despite his libertine reputation, Venetia falls into a fast friendship with him. Their dialogue is full of witty repartee, wonderful classical and Shakespearean references that slide off Nash’s agile tongue without hesitation. Nash is perfectly in sync with the passions of the Regency period as cultured words are “ejaculated” (Heyer’s favorite verb) from each character’s lips. Chaste by today’s standards, this romance, with its surprise ending, dramatizes Venetia’s desire to live just outside the norm. M.B.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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When her mother and grandmother die and her long absent father marries a wealthy widow, homeless 19-year-old Blair seeks shelter with her absent parent. But her new stepbrother proves to be a distraction she hadn’t counted on. Jennifer Bronstein portrays Blair with a Southern accent meant to convey a lack of education and intelligence. Since the story is a first-person account, the speech pattern carries over to the other characters. At times, it proves distracting, particularly in the romantic interludes. While the production has earned a spot as an Erotica finalist in this year’s Audie Awards, the story belongs more properly in the romance category as both the writing and narration suit the genre. Bronstein’s light vocal tones are ideal for this unlikely love story. R.L.L. 2014 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Erin Bennett’s versatile narration brings out the ups and downs of this moving story about soul mates, the constancy of love, and family. Bennett inhabits the characters, showcasing their diverse personalities with a wide range of shifts in volume, tone, and accents. Her delivery also reflects the changing moods of the story, first projecting the light mood of the seemingly perfect Nantucket setting and the character of Dabney, its shining star. Bennett also succeeds at dramatizing the tension that ensues when Dabney’s soul mate—and the father of her daughter—returns to the island. Heartfelt yet controlled, Bennett’s performance makes an enticing story all the more engaging. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Therese Plummer's buttery voice conveys the warmth in this romance, set in a small town. After breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Peyton leaves Seattle and winds up in Thunder Point, Oregon, where she lands herself a job at the local doctor's practice. Though Peyton claims it's only a three-month trial, she soon finds herself falling for the small community and for Scott, the altruistic town doctor. Plummer's rich narration captures the familial qualities of the tight-knit community while offering a versatility of male, female, and children's character voices. Plummer's flowing narrative, smooth transitions between the character voices, and natural-sounding dialogue maintain a consistent level of intrigue even when the story itself wanes. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Barbara McCulloh brings out the mystery and erotica in this romantic mystery. After watching a television show about unsolved cases, Zoe begins to question her childhood. She heads to Texas, where she crosses paths with Tyler, a private investigator who helps her discover the truth about her identity. McCulloh’s Texas twang brings out Zoe’s spunkiness and adds to the humor of Tyler’s offhanded comments as he dodges bullets and a romantic entanglement with Zoe. He succeeds at one but not the other. Despite some edits that create odd starts and stops in mid-sentence, McCulloh’s narration delivers the tension of the mystery and the candor of the steamy sex scenes. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Sofia Willingham’s Southern accent helps listeners perceive the football-loving Texas town where Shea Rigsby has spent her whole life playing it safe. But Shea starts to wonder if she’s really happy and soon begins to question herself even more as she discovers secrets and faces tragedy. The calmness and delicateness of Willingham’s voice make this story a pleasant listen. Willingham perfectly voices Shea’s feminine and contemplative qualities and depicts each supporting character’s emotions. This is not an ordinary love story because it’s also about how one rediscovers oneself and how love can sometimes interfere with friendship. D.Z. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Pam Turlow gives a compelling performance of this sweet faith-based romance. Mail-order bride Elli Korpela, from Finland, is eager to start a life with her new husband, Nathan White, and his young niece. But when an intruder attacks Elli, she wonders if dark and dangerous secrets from her past have followed her to America. Turlow’s use of a slight accent and a soft tone offers a credible portrayal of Elli’s shy, quiet side. Turlow’s steadiness reveals Elli’s determination to stay with her new husband in spite of her changing circumstances. Subdued tones and restrained pacing highlight the social mores of the time as Elli and Nathan slowly fall in love. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Julia Whelan expertly builds the tension in this riveting story of love, Fabergé treasures, and international intrigue. Independent and beautiful Lila Emerson, house sitter extraordinaire, gets more than she bargained for when she looks out a window and sees a murder/suicide. Enter hunky artist Ashton Archer, who wants Lila's help in solving the crime. Whelan excels at each of the accents that fill this listening pleasure, using slow and deliberate pacing to increase the suspense. Her low, sexy voice for Ash is especially spot-on as are her voices for some of Ash's snooty relatives. Whelan’s narration is a treat to be savored, and this is exactly the kind of suspense-filled love story that has made Nora Roberts an icon in the genre. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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All the reasons for Gabrielle de Cuir’s success as a prolific narrator are apparent here. She slowly reels the listener in with this compelling story as she expertly weaves between voices and accents. Veterinarian Joy Hudson returns to her small Kentucky hometown, having left 18 years before, after her best friend Jenny was killed in an auto accident. Living with gaps in her recollections, Joy must turn to the man she blames for her friend's death, handsome doctor Jeff Bradford, who was in the car when Jenny died, to discover the truth about that night. De Cuir can act and she turns it on here, building the tension and suspense as the story takes some surprising turns. The addition of a paranormal aspect adds to its appeal. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Janina Edwards's strong narration is convincing throughout the love story of Adé. Beginning with a spontaneous kiss with her college best friend, Miriam, the unnamed, biracial first-person narrator speeds through a journey of self-discovery and transformation. Her naïve, self-centered nature is revealed as she and Miriam journey from Egypt to Africa. Upon encountering Adé, the narrator dumps Miriam to immerse herself in Adé's culture and love, in the process being renamed Farida. Edwards portrays Farida with a pleasant lilt as as Adé's family tests her worthiness to wed him. When he insists on meeting her parents, thus requiring a trip to the U.S., complications abound, and Edwards delivers a gratifying conclusion. M.N.T. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Amanda Leigh Cobb gives an alluring performance of this romantic mystery. When Lucy inherits her aunt Sarah’s house, a gruesome discovery dredges up memories of an event that occurred there when she was a teenager. In the midst of a wild party one night, Mason, the guy she had a crush on, suddenly insisted that she leave. Now it appears that something bad happened at that party. Cobb maintains the tension in this dramatic story as well as providing a lightness in tone that brings out the flirtatious banter between the two sleuthing protagonists. Cobb’s well-tempered pitch modulations and pacing effectively convey the tension and animosity that grow among the townspeople as murders take place and each of them becomes a possible suspect. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrators Lynde Houck and Mike Chamberlain offer stirring and heartfelt performances that convey the intensity of this new adult romance. Houck’s rich tones and precise diction add a biting sharpness to her narration, especially in her portrayal of college student Caroline’s humiliation and anger when she must cope with harassment after her ex-boyfriend posts pornographic photos of her on the Internet. Though Chamberlain’s voice lacks the depth of Houck’s, his timing and intonation convey the conflict in West, Caroline’s love interest, as well as West’s tenderness towards his little sister and his mother’s blind love for her abusive husband. Together, Houck and Chamberlain match the pacing of their narration to create the sexual tension between the two protagonists. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Smart, engaging, and captivating, this offering, set in 1920s San Francisco during Prohibition, is filled with snappy dialogue and enough fun twists to grab listeners from the minute the earphones go on. Aida Palmer can speak to the dead, and they speak right back. She can also get rid of them, which is a service bootlegger Winter Magnusson needs when he finds the dead from his past turning up almost daily. Amy Landon's low, husky voice for Winter and deliberate, determined voice for Aida are spot-on. An enjoyable romp through an interesting time in American history with a paranormal twist that is icing on the cake. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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In this funny, sweet book about sisters, narrator Alison Larkin delivers distinct voices and accents to bring to life the rolicking story of Damaris Chance. A beauty with secrets, Chance is determined not to marry. Charming rogue Freddy Monkton-Coombs also has an aversion to marriage—until he meets Damaris. Their romance leads both on a merry chase, complete with a fake engagement, swimming pigs, and marriage-minded debutantes on the hunt. This touching story, so well delivered, makes one laugh out loud one moment and sigh the next. A listening experience to be savored. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Combine Susan Ericksen, a talented and versatile narrator, and Lt. Eve Dallas, New York City's "Top Bitch Cop"—and the result is listening heaven. In Book 38 of the In Death series, the skeletal remains of 12 girls are discovered in an abandoned building recently purchased by Eve’s husband, the mega-gorgeous Roarke. Eve and her dedicated team—the ever entertaining Peabody, McNabb, and Feeney, as well as a new character, a beautiful forensic anthropologist Eve doesn't much like—must solve the crimes and find justice for the dead. Full of snappy dialogue and witty repartee, the production continues what listeners have come to expect in this series: an engaging, compelling story and distinct, expertly delivered characterizations. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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The silvery voice of Michelle Ford is perfect for this engaging romance set in the seaside town of Merham and filled with appealing characters. Ford’s well-paced reading captures the nuances of time and place as the residential Arcadia House comes under fire throughout several generations. At the heart of the novel are Lottie and Daisy, whose stories are told with aplomb. Ford handles abrupt shifts in point of view without confusion as the story moves between characters and time periods. Moyes has crafted a generational story of love and finding oneself, and Ford's appealing delivery keeps the listener engaged. M.N.T. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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The new Dressmakers series will delight fans of historical romance. Kate Reading's performance brings out the lush period details, immersing the listener in this fascinating world. With subtle inflections and nuances, Reading creates characters that are easily recognizable and sympathetic, most notably the talented Marcelline Noirotis, who is determined to win the patronage of the fiancée of the Duke of Clevedon by transforming her from the worst-dressed woman in Regency London into its most fashionable bride-to-be. Reading's narration evolves smartly, heightening the tension between Marcelline and Clevedon, and drawing listeners into their scandalous affair. Though her measured pace sometimes obscures the wit and humor in the prose, this is certainly a story to relish. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Moyes, a master of characterization, hits the mark in this U.S. release of one of her earlier works. Narrator Nicolette McKenzie expertly draws the listener on board naval carrier HMS VICTORIA for the six-week voyage of 650 Australian war brides who are journeying to meet their British husbands. McKenzie portrays a wide range of personalities of varying ages and stations as the brides and a thousand Navy men traverse the ocean. The story centers on four brides who are randomly assigned to share a cabin for the voyage. McKenzie slowly peels away the layers of each bride's story with wonderful pacing and intonation. Thanks to her expert use of accents, listeners will quickly identify each character and root for her dream to come true. M.N.T. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Cassandra Campbell’s soothing tones are perfectly suited for this classic Macomber romance, which focuses on the characters involved with The Good Yarn, a knitting store in Seattle. Campbell offers distinct voices, making it easy to follow and empathize with the characters in the interwoven stories. These include the even-keeled Lauren, who has patiently stuck with her self-centered boyfriend but now encounters a romantic dilemma. Transitioning fluidly from voice to voice, Campbell also captures the surly immaturity of Bethanne’s adult daughter, who does her best to help her father undermine her mother’s second marriage. Best of all, Campbell’s gentle pacing conveys the warmth and calm of the quaint knitting store that brings these characters together. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Max Bellmore rides herd on Showalter’s epic paranormal romance to excellent effect. He clearly portrays Showalter’s huge cast of immortals, each with individually crafted personas, while simultaneously building sympathy for Kane and Josephina’s star-crossed romance. In particular, he captures Kane’s frustration as he tries to free Josephina from Fae enslavement. Listeners experience firsthand the perils of Josephina’s life in the Fae realm through the indifferent or downright nasty tones Bellmore gives to them. Segmenting an extended plot into meaningful episodes, he alternates moments of high drama with well-inflected description. His commanding voice reflects the mood of Showalter’s action-packed story, filled with both fight scenes and Kane and Josephina’s stolen intimate moments. Bellmore ensures that Showalter’s immortal-length saga doesn't drag for its mortal listeners. C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2014 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Kyle McCarley tackles this twist on the story of Romeo and Juliet with wry humor, convincing and imaginative voices and accents, and an enthusiasm that is entrancing. Benvolio Montague, cousin to fair Romeo, is the "Prince of Shadows" who is cat burgling his way through Verona as the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets comes to its tragic end. Similar to Wicked, this twist on a classic story is told from a different point of view--in this case, Benvolio's-- giving a very different version and added detail to the story made so famous by Shakespeare. McCarley's voice for Romeo, sounding young and foolish rather than romantic, is a stroke of genius. This is a listen to be savored. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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The 23rd installment of Kenyon's paranormal Dark-Hunter series is epic in scope, but Fred Berman does a remarkable job keeping the characters distinct, the plot engrossing, and the tension high. Styxx, has been living in exile for centuries, but when an ancient evil rises, he must find a way to put aside the abuse and pain of his past to fight for his brother--and his own redemption. Though the book is not for the faint of heart, Berman handles each wrenching scene with quiet sympathy and understanding, keeping this story emotionally relevant and moving. His nuanced performance provides an element of innocence to Styxx's tortured character that highlights his heart rather than his many scars, ensuring that his journey is one fans will not soon forget. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Corrie James's lofty British accent perfectly embodies the characters who populate this historical romance. Handsome but distant Felix Rivendale, a marquess dubbed "The Ideal Gentleman,"can't help pursuing the feisty but impoverished--and, thus,unacceptable--Louisa Cantwell. Louisa must marry to help support her family and can't imagine why the most sought after bachelor in London is interested in making sure she isn't interested in anyone else. James performs each of the principals well, demonstrating a wide vocal range and admirable acting skills. The story is clever and tender in places, humorous and somber in others. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Christian Fox handles the author’s trademark elements of scorching tension and witty, emotional dialogue with ease. His soft-spoken strength adds much to this intense romantic mystery. Security experts Cade Walker and Merrick Sullivan discover a wounded, amnesiac woman at a crime scene and resolve to protect her at all costs. Sparks soon fly between this unlikely threesome—until Elle’s past threatens everything they have together. Fox manages to convey each character, most notably the male ones, as distinct, powerfully sympathetic comrades. He conveys Elle’s vulnerability but never makes her appear weak. This kind of impressive insight keeps the scenes between the three main characters sensual and compelling. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Kristen Callihan’s imaginative Darkest London series never disappoints, and Moira Quirk is the perfect narrator to bring each tension-filled scene to life. Mary Chase has been tasked by the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals to hunt down a ruthless killer known as the Bishop of Charing Cross. She’s working alongside the mysterious, infuriating Jack Talent—a man who would do anything to make Mary his but whose secrets may put them both in deadly peril. Quirk manages the eccentric cast of characters with finesse, easily shifting accents and inflections and infusing her dialogue with emotion and urgency. The chemistry between the main characters is palpable, and the mystery elements are gripping, making this an irresistible listening experience for fans and newcomers alike. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Michelle Ford's light, airy voice slowly draws the listener into this witty historical romance. Henry Middlebrook has returned to London from the war with Napoleon with a useless right arm and a plan to find the right wife. He enlists the help of Frances, the witty and likable companion of the woman he has his eye on, Lady Caroline. With a bow to Cyrano de Bergerac, Henry's plan backfires when Frances begins writing letters to Henry, which he wrongly believes are coming from Lady Caroline. Ford uses slight tonal differences to distinguish characters. Her engaging British accent captures both the formality and fun in this enjoyable listen. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Edita Brychta brings freshness to this 50 Shades knockoff with her light voice and British accent. Young and gifted interior decorator Ava O’Shea heads out on a routine consultation for a new and expensive project. The client turns out to be rich, handsome, and determined to have her. She resists, he insists, love ensues. Were it not for the modern setting and erotica, the listener might suspect this novel to have been written by Jane Austen. Brychta’s performance makes the naughty narration quite nice to listen to, and the thin plot nearly unimportant. R.L.L. 2014 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Therese Plummer's quietly appealing voice is the perfect choice for this lovely tale of what a small town can be and come to mean. When a friend mysteriously dies, Hank Cooper discovers that he has been left beautiful, unspoiled Oregon beachfront property, worth a fortune if developed. Cooper must decide if he should take care of what has been entrusted to him or cash it in. Is this place, and a beautiful but reluctant woman, enough to make this town "home”? Plummer’s natural-sounding voice, infused with a folksy, happy tone, is a good match to this story. A.C.P. 2014 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Eleni Pappageorge’s enchanting performance transports the listener across continents with fluid accents, cultural nuances, and believable character voices. Pappageorge depicts the cross-cultural romance of Regina Beswick and Tanner Burkhardt, giving her a strong Southern accent and him a cultured European tone. Tanner has shown up in Tennessee with news that the lively Regina, a skilled auto mechanic, is the royal heir to the kingdom of Hessenberg. Pappageorge’s timing and vocal tone showcase the awkward moments that occur as the “redneck princess” does her best to fit in amid her new and noble surroundings. She nails the sentimental and humorous elements of this faith-based fairy-tale romance. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Patience Tomlinson's presentation of this 1937 jewel is best described as innocently charming—perfect for today's somewhat jaded views of love and romance. Miss Jane Fortune moves to Dingleton and buys an old house, planning to open a tea shop. To complicate matters, her twin sister flees there to hide and avoid unwanted advances from a Frenchman, who has a zesty accent. Tomlinson shines as the mischievous duo keeps villagers confused. Are there one or two of them? When one of their suitors tackles the Frenchman, Tomlinson robustly presents Stevenson's best line: When he's told, you can't hit a man when he's down, he replies, "No, but I can kick him." This delightful story will have listeners laughing out loud. S.G.B. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Scott Brick excels in his presentation of this charming and smart romantic adventure. Cheeky and hunky master thief Nicholas Fox and gorgeous and determined FBI agent Kate O'Hare team up again, this time chasing a piece of art stolen from the Smithsonian, all the while trying to ignore their growing attraction for each other. Brick clearly is having fun as he uses his wide range of voices to make each character easy to differentiate, expressive, and interesting. The banter is hilarious, and Brick delivers it deftly, adding a smirk to Fox's voice and exasperation to O'Hare's. Overall, Brick keeps one engaged and smiling throughout this clever listen. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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The stories of four friends in the town of Smitten intertwine in this delightful faith-based novel centering on themes of family, friendship, and romance. Pam Turlow’s velvety narration engages the listener as she seamlessly moves from one story to the next, transforming effortlessly to portray members of the close-knit community, which includes the four female protagonists and their love interests. Turlow also offers an entertaining prim and proper voice for Pearl Chambers’s quotations from “The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship.” This book, passed down through the Smitten generations, offers vintage, but often apt, advice to guide the friends in their decisions about love and life. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Rosalyn Landor's lovely British accent and engaging delivery provide the perfect pairing for this appealing historical romance. Twelve years ago, handsome William Harrow, heir to the dukedom of Lamont, woke up alone in the blood-filled bed of his soon-to-be, and now missing, stepmother, young heiress Mara Lowe. Dubbed the "Killer Duke" and taking the name "Temple," the disgraced duke has made his way by fighting in a casino. When the missing Lowe secretly reappears and offers him the opportunity to clear his name, the romantic sparks fly. Landor's narration is direct, assured, and quietly appealing. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Julian Rhind-Tutt is simply superb in his narration of this delightful and charming Regency romance, written in 1921, the first novel by Georgette Heyer, "the Queen of Regency Romance." In this tale, the hero turns highwayman after he takes the blame for his younger brother's cheating at cards. The handsome hero must save the beautiful lady who helps him when he is wounded when she’s later kidnapped by the dastardly duke, played by Rhind-Tutt to sneering perfection. He easily moves from the commanding voice of the hero to the shrill voices of the hero's sister-in-law and her friends and positively reeks of snobbery and villainy when portraying the duke. Filled with interesting details of the period combined with an expert narration, this audio offering is captivating. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Allyson Johnson creates a futuristic atmosphere for this space opera. Assassins attacked during Captain Liam Synar’s wedding to Pleiadian Ania Looren, forcing them into a terrible dilemma. To save Ania’s life, Liam attached his demon, Malachi, to her essence, disregarding her wishes to die in peace. Johnson expresses the wistful nature of Liam and Ania’s lost opportunities in an appealing, warm voice. Malachi’s arch, purring voice adds interest to his enigmatic personality. Commanding phrasing evokes an otherworldly atmosphere, but this performance choice sometimes misses the nuances of dialogue or secondary characters. Although marred slightly by breathy sounds, the cliff-hanger ending of this novella will have listeners reaching for the next installment to learn Liam and Ania’s fate. C.A. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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An alluring performance by Rosalyn Landor sets the tone for this charming Regency romance, with all its pomp, circumstance, and absurdities. Twenty-three-year-old Lord Darleigh, blinded in battle and suffering at the hands of his micromanaging mother, is looking for someone who will love him for himself, not his title. When fate throws him together with the insecure Sophia Fry, who is neglected by her relatives, Darleigh comes up with an arrangement that will save both of them. Landor’s inflections bring dimension to the protagonists, revealing not only their social propriety but also their wit and closeness as they good-naturedly observe those around them. Landor also conveys how both Darleigh and Fry become more confident as their love flourishes in this sweet story. M.F. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Justine Eyre's narration of this time-travel holiday romance is sure to warm listeners’ hearts. In 1941, Clara is an actress working on a film set when she finds herself whisked into the past, where she comes face-to-face with the real-life version of her film character's love interest, Jed Landry. It’s easy to believe in Jed and Clara’s romance. Justine Eyre brings a deep, rich voice to Jed, giving him the air of a gentleman. She balances Clara personality with both innocence and strong independence. Eyre brings deep emotion to each character and paces the story well, always keeping listeners in mind of the couple’s limited time together. Eyre's narration will have listeners believing in second chances and a bit of magic at the holidays. S.B.T. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Heyer’s novels tend to be filled with sly wit and great fun, and narrator Sarah Woodward captures both of these qualities perfectly. It’s immediately obvious that Woodward understands the characters and their motivations very well, in particular the titular Sophy, who is both kindhearted and strong headed, and who is determined to put the world to rights as she sees it. Woodward’s performance is occasionally marred with unedited mouth noises. Nonetheless, listeners will be treated by Woodward and Heyer to a romantic, mischievous romp through the upper-class world of Regency London. J.L.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Nicholas Boulton's sinfully appealing voice draws listeners into this sweeping story of beautiful and darkly sinful Allegreto, the bastard and deadly Navona son first introduced in Kinsale's FOR MY LADY’S HEART. Allegreto is determined to regain what he has lost, and to do so he will try to capture the heart of a lost princess of Monteverde, Lady Elena. Boulton's presentation of this story is riveting. Using convincing and easily distinguishable voices and natural pauses, he presents a strong and dynamic narration that is just short of mesmerizing. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Veida Dehmlow’s elegant performance is well matched to this historical romance. When spinster Joan Bennet catches the eye of notorious rake Tristan Burke, the result is a passionate courtship. Joan’s unconventional Aunt Evangeline arrives just in time to encourage Joan’s tentative attempts to win Tristan’s declaration of love. Dehmlow’s proper-sounding voice evokes the strict codes of nineteenth-century British high society while her warm tones reflect the growing intimacy between Joan and Tristan. In addition, Dehmlow’s steady, deliberate pacing enhances the slow buildup of the story as well as Joan’s delicious romantic fantasies. Exquisite moments and a perfect communion of Linden’s lovers await listeners. C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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Kathleen McInerney does a terrific job bringing the characters to life in this witty story. Grace Stanton, a successful lifestyle blogger, must attend court-ordered group therapy, dubbed "divorce camp," when she discovers her husband cheating and drives his expensive sports car into the pool. McInerney transitions between the various "campers," all of whom have demonstrated their disappointment in their own husbands' cheating in spectacular, inventive, and hilarious ways. McInerney makes each of the characters distinct and recognizable and gives each the perfect voice, accent, and vocal mannerisms. Most enjoyable and well performed. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Therese Plummer's expressive narrative voice, combined with her ability to give an interesting and distinct voice to each character, makes this sweet tale of a second chance at love a most enjoyable audio experience. In this continuation of the Thunder Point series, lovely Devon McAllister flees a commune in the middle of the night with her 3-year-old daughter when its leader becomes more and more erratic. Fearing that she’ll be found and forced back into her former life, Devon is befriended by Rawley, a wily curmudgeon who takes her in and teaches her that real goodness does exist. Plummer convincingly conveys the change in Devon—from tentative and fearful to more confident and strong—and her portrayal of Rawley is spot-on. A.C.P © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Narrator Justine Eyre, who has been applauded for her facility with accents, is the perfect choice for this historical romance featuring the brooding Earl of Druridge and the lovely Rachel McTavish, a coal miner’s daughter. When the earl's beautiful but philandering wife is killed in a fire at Blackmoor Hall, Rachel may hold the key to solving the mystery. However, dark forces are at work to keep the lovers apart and to ensure the earl is blamed for the death. Eyre excels at each accent—from the earl's almost bored upper-crust accent to those of the coal miners and the house staff. Her acting talents help make the narration both credible and enjoyable. A.C.P. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Heather Graham’s fans will be thrilled with Andi Arndt’s sympathetic and wonderfully dramatic reading of this classic romance. Lucia Lorenzo had planned to simply enjoy her family reunion. Then she wakes up beside Ryan Dandridge, the very man she has been trying—and failing—to forget. Though Arndt’s Massachusetts accent isn’t as strong as her Southern one, she handles the varied and colorful members of Lucia’s extended family with aplomb. The true magic of her narration is her ability to convey the tension and desire between the main couple from the very first scene. Her energy and charm will draw listeners into this steamy story and keep them thoroughly engaged during the whole emotional journey. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

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The lives of Shandi and William intersect during a convenience store robbery and its subsequent revelations. Author Joshilyn Jackson’s voice delivers the protagonists’ heartbreaking pasts with delicate sensitivity. Shandi, a struggling college student, must cope with her gifted 3-year-old son, Natty, while William, a brilliant geneticist, struggles to reconcile faith and science in the loss of his wife and daughter. Jackson’s innocent tone of wonder keeps the story from descending into unremitting melancholy. Her voice for Natty is delightful while Shandi’s drawl is equally pleasant to hear. She captures William’s Asperger’s in an authentic way with a slightly stiff yet warm voice. Enlivening flashbacks as well as Jackson’s careful pacing and voicings will keep listeners engaged. C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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A sultry musical introduction combined with Robin Miles’s soulful voice sets the tone for this novel about a middle-aged Southern woman’s search for personal fulfillment. Leslie Anne Greene Carter, of Atlanta, becomes fed up with her husband and children, who see her solely as a nurturer and not in the slightest way as a person—so she takes off for Charleston to find herself. Miles’s lively modulations bring out Leslie’s frustrations as well as her amusing observations of the gap between traditional family values and modern realities. Miles’s gruff timbre, critical tone, and disciplined pacing convey husband Wesley’s overbearing nature and lack of awareness of his wife’s needs. Though the transitions between the protagonist’s inner thoughts and her spoken dialogues occasionally blur, Miles’s slightly drawled intonations add considerably to the Southern sensibilities of this charming story. M.F. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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At the start of this romantic suspense, Marcus Danby is already dead but not gone. His ghost is haunting Olivia Gordon, a therapist on the ranch that Danby owned before his death. Narrator Luke Daniels has many characters to field in this addition to the Krewe of Hunters series. His resonant voice is perfect for Olivia’s romantic interest, Dustin Blake, a new recruit in the FBI’s unit of investigators with paranormal powers. Finding out who murdered Danby and why becomes Blake’s personal mission. Daniels’s delivery of narrative is smooth, and his character portrayals and transitions are flawless. Listeners will enjoy this addition to the series. E.E.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Narrators Clare Corbett and Penny Rawlins perfectly capture the experiences and feelings of two women who live in different time periods. “The Girl You Left Behind” is the painting that connects them. Sophie Lefevre, the subject of the painting, lives in occupied France during WWI, and Liv Halston, who currently owns the portrait, lives in present-day London. Sophie’s voice is high pitched, fast paced, and anxious, with French-accented English. The deep, harsh voices of the soldiers who occupy her town have distinctly German accents. In Liv’s time, the characters have a mix of British and American voices. Liv is portrayed with a proper British accent, which contrasts with the voice of her new boyfriend, who hails from New York City. E.N. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Katherine Kellgren narrates the author’s Cousins O’Dwyer novel with a bravado that will bewitch her listeners. Long ago, Sorcha, a witch and healer, began a feud with Cabhan, a fearsome sorcerer. Now as her descendant, Iona, arrives in Ireland to begin a new life with her cousins, she finds an ancient evil still haunting the family—and it’s waiting for her. The ambiance of Ireland is palpable in this audiobook, thanks to Kellgren’s nearly flawless accent and inflections. She does a remarkable job making each character’s voice distinct and the emotions that bind them all instantly tangible. Throughout the book, she emphasizes every shift in tension and intensity, bringing each lush scene to life. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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This “movie in your mind” is just plain good fun. The cast members dramatically re-create West’s many romantic Western characters. The young McCloud brothers have their ups and downs as they persevere in bringing Roberta Morris to justice. Roberta comes to them seeking help in finding her uncle, who has gone missing in the Bitterroot Mountains while mining for gold, but the brothers soon find out there’s more to what happened than she’s letting on. The cast members portray their characters with enthusiasm and panache. The emotional highs and lows are numerous, and sound effects and music add a third dimension to the skillful performance. Fans of Westerns will enjoy the authenticity of the story and the complex relationships. S.C.A. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Put Hagrid, Dumbledore, and Moody out of your mind and revel in the story of Scrooge, some choice spirits, and the lushness of Dickensian prose, winningly articulated by Harry Potter narrator Jim Dale, who rescues A CHRISTMAS CAROL from the cloying sweetness of many cinematic interpretations. Fezziwig, Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley, the spirits, and even Tiny Tim are accorded their unique characterizations. The versatile British actor’s performance of Scrooge as he discovers that his body is left abandoned on a denuded bedstead is as raw and real as when the classic tale was written in the closing weeks of 1843. Dale makes us believe in the Scrooge whose spark has been quenched and carries us along as we watch the various spirits blow the ashes into embers, and the embers into a merry blaze of timeless Christmas cheer. E.E.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2004 YALSA Selection 2005 Audie Award Finalist © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine

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The author’s striking enthusiasm is the star in this memorable guide to father-daughter relationships. Complete with occasional Bible references, his ideas apply to daughters of all ages and run the gamut from simple things we forget to say like “you make me proud” to the suggestion that dads keep a dialogue going about the cultural pressures women face today. Other chapters discuss what not to do and say, how to deal with boyfriends and social gatherings, what to do about risqué clothes and sexual issues—all of which Payleitner reads with charming optimism and a professional-sounding baritone voice. Both energetic and persuasive, he delivers a fitting performance of parenting suggestions that dads too often overlook and that young women need more of. T.W. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Spider-Man has faced countless enemies; now he faces a hidden force that strikes from darkness. Can he identify his tormentor and stop him before he destroys all life? The real hero of this GraphicAudio production is the technical engineer who takes Bennett's excellent story and turns it into an outstanding audio experience. The story is performed by a full cast of actors who fully immerse themselves in the roles of Peter Parker, Mary Jane Parker, Aunt May, and consummate New Yorker J. Jonah Jameson. This production is made for Blu-ray Surround Sound, and the sound effects are compelling: Blaring car horns, the thwip of webs, the whoosh of Spidey swinging to the rescue seem to come from all sides. Listeners will close their eyes and enjoy. M.S. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Packed with all the emotionality that defines the best of Singh’s work, this anthology of Psy-Changeling stories will enthrall longtime fans and, no doubt, win new listeners. The compilation includes two previously published stories and two new novellas featuring DarkRiver and SnowDancer shifters. Each deeply sensual and moving story dramatizes this unique world and its powerful, fiery characters. Angela Dawe does a remarkable job portraying the large cast, though her portrayals of the characters’ passions occasionally sound harsh. Overall, though, her ability to capture their emotions so deftly is a feat that adds immensely to the listening experience. B.E.K. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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On the eve of her daughter's wedding in 1978, the once beautiful Lucy Takeda recounts the horrors she faced as a teenager in a Japanese internment camp. The events of the war years left her both physically and psychologically scarred. Emily Woo Zeller's expressive performance quickly draws listeners into Lucy's world, capturing their interest from the opening murder scene, which prompts Lucy to remember her youth, and maintaining it to the surprising revelations in the closing chapters. Although her narration is sometimes marred by breath sounds, Zeller's consistent and varied characterizations are impressive. Especially noteworthy is her ability to convey Lucy's growing awareness of the underside of camp life and her transformation from a happy, confident schoolgirl to a lonely, guarded young woman. C.B.L. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Most prison books recount rape, assaults, and other horror stories from the wrong side of the wall. This memoir is, on the other hand, a realistic look at the life of a rich woman in a minimum security prison, where the biggest challenges are boredom and the life-sucking sameness. Piper Kerman’s literate account of life in the pen is an engaging work made even better by Cassandra Campbell's delivery. It's tough to make more than a dozen characters come to life and even tougher to give each a distinctive voice; Campbell makes it sound easy. The book seems more realistic than the Netflix television series based on it. The television show is replete with the sex and brutality one expects from prison stories but lacks the day-to-day heart of the book. M.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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In a measured and deliberate reading, Paul Michael recounts the story of Navy SEAL Adam Brown, who was killed in action in August 2010 in Afghanistan. Blehm, whose previous work, THE ONLY THING WORTH DYING FOR‚ describes the Green Berets in action at the beginning of the Afghan campaign in 2001, was able to interview Brown’s family and friends and gain access to the very closed circle of SEAL operators to tell this remarkable story. Brown, a troubled but talented and fearless kid from Arkansas, evolved into quite a different man after he became an evangelical Christian and then a respected SEAL. Michael’s resonant baritone and Midwestern twang suit the text well. M.T.F. 2013 Audies Winner © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine

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Nate Rawlins and Billy Champion set out to conquer the untamed Texas Panhandle of the 1880s the only way they know how: driving cattle, breaking horses, and doing a little drinking and gambling. There's an earthy realism and attention to detail in this first novel that sets it apart. Brett Cogburn, great-grandson of the legendary Rooster Cogburn, has a deft ear for planting emotion and honesty in his rhythmic cowboy dialogue. Narrator Mort Shelby and a cast of voices turn this reading into true theater, and well-placed sound effects and music give the production a sense of place and depth. Young and foolish, Nate and Billy fall for the same girl, run into some hard winters, make some difficult choices, and have to live with the consequences. B.P. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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When does a narration become a performance? When Luke Daniels lets it rip in this quirky tale of eccentric good guys, devious lawyers, and downright nasty smugglers. The cast of colorful characters is an actor's dream, and Daniels throws himself into each characterization with gusto. Unbeknownst to its captain, the fishing vessel Wahoo Rhapsody is being used to smuggle drugs. But when first mate Weevil decides to steal from drug lord La Cucaracha, he sparks a chain of events that find him quickly out of his depth. Enter Atticus Fish, a retired lawyer who is hiding from all organized religions after his successful lawsuit against God. Fish and the Wahoo's captain join forces to save the day. This is the first in a series featuring Atticus Fish and will appeal to fans of Carl Hiaasen. C.A.T. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Edoardo Ballerini, whose acting credits include a stint on “The Sopranos,” is a natural fit for a caper about a New Jersey Mafia family holed up in a village in Normandy, France. Equally comic, violent, poignant, and gory, Benacquista’s MALAVITA is about what happens when former mobster Fred Blake, aka Giovanni Manzoni, is uncovered by a former rival. Think "Goodfellas" family style with a Gallic flair. Ballerini’s French pronunciation is fine enough, and he nails the American and Italian-American accents and attitude. The teenagers are believably bored-superior-affecting. His Fred, an unapologetic killer discovering himself while writing his memoirs, is a study in shifting characterization. And the straight-ahead narrative is clear and well paced. Good, bloody fun, including the delightful melodies used to change scenes. A.C.S. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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The inimitable Davina Porter nails it once again in her performance of THE OTHER CHILD. Amid an atmosphere of dark secrets and fatal consequences, she gives precise personalities to each of the key players in Link's psychological thriller. In Scarborough, on the British coast, a brutal murder connects a range of disparate characters, and a copycat crime leads to a mystery involving children who were evacuated during the Blitz of WWII. Porter matches Link's character development with varying timbre, expression, and emphasis. As the plot requires, she deftly communicates insights into love, cruelty, obsession, and fear. An exquisite translation from the German by Stefan Tobler enhances the subtly building suspense. A.W. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Inking pictures and words on people has become big business and art over the past 15 years, and the author is the current reigning champ of that medium. This is his story—curses and all. Johnny Heller has just the kind of subversive voice that this offbeat book deserves. It’s raspy and not at all clear, and his pacing is slippery at best due to his speeding up and slowing down in tune with the book’s action. However, he exudes enthusiasm, and we get his natural voice for the entire book; there are no character voices other than a small discernible change in tone when someone speaks. The best part is that he’s engaging and sounds as if he’s having a lot of fun. R.I.G. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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In the 1920s, Americans embraced endurance contests— from marathon dances to flagpole sitting and more. In 1928, publicist C.C. Pyle, armed with big dreams as well as a big mouth, organized an ambitious race: a California-to-New York run, with runners averaging more than a marathon a day. Dozens of runners—with limited training knowledge—entered. Robertson Dean recounts the experiences of many of the runners in a deep and folksy tone. As for Pyle, it’s as if you can hear the showman pitching his ideas while talking out of the side of his mouth. It’s a style that is totally appropriate for the man whose financial troubles shadowed him every step of the way. Dean carries the story of the race well, his bass voice clearly bringing this slice of Americana to life. M.B. 2014 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Like fine music that starts softly, then adds layers of intensity until a moving crescendo is reached, Hesketh's remarkable story increases its intrigue and complexity as it builds toward a memorable finish. Norman Dietz is pitch-perfect in his rendition of elderly beekeeper and social misfit Albert Honig, whose pedantic nature is revealed through long passages on the intricate behaviors and lore of bees. Dietz’s tone reflects Honig’s endearing puzzlement as he tries unsuccessfully to comprehend the tragedies of his own small slice of human society. Using nuance and understatement to achieve maximum emotional impact, Dietz's style is an ideal match for this quietly powerful story of lives and loves choked off by the crushing weight of dark secrets. This is beautifully written and presented debut novel. Listeners will be left wanting more. M.O.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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The pleasures of this novel lie in its slow unfolding, its careful details of life (both historical and fantastical) in New York's immigrant communities on the cusp of the twentieth century. The plot is as much about Chava the golem and Ahmad the jinni as it is about the interconnected lives of all those they encounter. George Guidall thoughtfully depicts the large cast of characters with subtle and authentic shadings of voice. His deliberate pacing augments the story’s unfolding, immersing the listener fully in Wecker’s world. The result is something magical, weighted just enough by gritty Lower East Side realism to make it all wholly believable. It’s a beautiful listening experience. J.M.D. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2014 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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If you loved THE ART OF FIELDING, you’ll love this novel. The sport is crew rather than baseball, the setting is a snotty New England boarding school rather than a midwestern college, but much else fits the familiar mold. The moral and psychological questions at its heart are more interesting than winning or losing: Can anyone change? Where does true strength of character lie? With passion and skill Holter Graham portrays the often maddeningly perception-resistant Rob Carrey, the scholarship kid who must transform himself from lone sculler to team rower, and Graham’s racing sequences are heart pounding. Occasionally the drama of Graham’s performance overpowers formulaic writing, but that is hardly the fault of the production. Graham delivers a fast-paced, emotional, and thoroughly satisfying listening experience. B.G. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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In an audio that rises above the clichés of the personal development genre, Sir Ken Robinson’s quiet optimism makes listeners believe they’re not alone in having unfulfilled lives and that change is within their reach. With thoughtful questions and exercises, he provides the tools necessary to reveal your element—the vocation or avocation that feels incredibly natural and makes you feel alive. He’s a clear and humble speaker. His intimate, understated performance creates the perfect atmosphere for quieting down the noise in your life, taking a fresh look at things, and moving your energies in a better direction. Full of inspiring stories as well, this is an outstanding guide presented by one of the most genuine and creative thinkers of our time. T.W. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Depending on their age, listeners may have first known Carl Reiner as a performer on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” the creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” or as the straight man paired with Mel Brooks’s “2000-Year-Old Man.” Here Reiner, who is now 90, delivers a warm and highly personal series of unrelated stories, anecdotes, and reminiscences. Aside from some very minor narration stumbles and a few instances of ambient noise, Reiner’s presentation is beautifully informal and so kind that it sounds as if he is speaking directly and only to you, a treasured friend. Both his writing and narration show superb storytelling skills. This is a must-listen audiobook. A single note of caution, Billy Crystal’s foreword, visible in the hardcover graphics, is, sadly, cut from the audiobook. But what remains is a rare, in-depth look at the very private world of an American legend. W.A.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Kirsten Potter’s nuanced performance emphasizes the wit of Banks’s novel, along with its passion. An arranged marriage forces Laird Graeme Montgomery into an uneasy truce with his clan’s bitter enemies and brings him face-to-face with the enigmatic Eveline Armstrong, whose behavior leaves many to believe her wits to be afflicted. However, as Graeme learns more about his wife and the secret she has hidden from her entire family, he begins to realize that true love can conquer even the fiercest of feuds. Potter handles the diverse cast of characters well, and though her Scots brogue sounds shaky on rare occasion, it isn’t enough to overshadow her superb narration or the charm of her characterizations. B.E.K. 2013 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Among music legends, Bob Marley is second only to John Lennon as a statesman and humanitarian, and, like Lennon, his premature death martyred him. Veteran ROLLING STONE journalist Timothy White first wrote CATCH A FIRE in the eighties. The author’s own untimely death left this edition to be completed posthumously by his widow. Peter Mackin narrates with a voice that’s deep and rich but never dour as he reiterates all the stages of Marley’s luminous path—from his early days as a Jamaican transplant in Baltimore, where brashly growing weed in his window box got him accusatory looks, to his worldwide recognition as reggae’s top emissary. Thankfully, Mackin doesn’t try to mimic Marley’s trademark patois. His respectful delivery pays tribute to an artist whose life was distinctly inimitable. J.S.H. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Simon Prebble’s glorious voice is perfect as that of Stevens, the quintessential British butler—or so Stevens himself might dare to hope. With heartbreaking earnestness, Stevens embarks on a motoring trip to win back a former colleague, Miss Kenton. Along the way, Stevens recalls his past professional experiences with Miss Kenton as well as episodes that formed his own dedication to his employment and his blind devotion to his former employer. Prebble navigates the shifts in time skillfully and deftly captures the subtleties that reveal Stevens’s complex character. At times it seems like a full cast is narrating since Prebble acquires an American accent on demand, as well as regional British accents. This audiobook may inspire multiple listens. L.B.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2013 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine

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This novel about the assassination of a key Nazi leader during WWII is part history, part novel, and part personal reflection on how the author came to write the book and how he researched it. As a result, the listener needs to distinguish between these very different sections. Narrator John Lee moves effortlessly from the conversational sections about writing and research to the almost clinical detail of the history and the heart-stopping action of the plot. He doesn't adopt different voices, but he alters his tone and pacing for each. His German pronunciation is good, and he gives direct quotes just a touch of Teutonic brusqueness. The author’s short chapters make listening a bit difficult at the beginning, but they’re less of a problem later in the work. R.C.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine

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After witnessing the murder of a friend in apartheid-torn South Africa, medical student Isaac Muthethe flees to Botswana. There he meets Alice Mendelssohn, an American who hires him as a gardener. Morse’s achingly beautiful and expansive tale intertwines Isaac and Alice’s stories as they search for new meaning in lives that have taken unexpected turns. It demands much of a narrator, and Carla Mercer-Meyer rises expertly to the challenge. Her understated, unsentimental style is perfectly suited to bringing alive Morse’s story with its vivid landscapes and complicated, patiently observed characters. Even less central characters are fully imagined, and Mercer-Meyer gives them all their due, distinguishing their unique perspectives through subtle vocal and tonal shifts. Whether she’s speaking inflected English or voicing Setswana or Afrikaans phrases, Mercer-Meyer transports listeners, spellbound, to another continent. J.C.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2014 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Forty-nine actors come together in a tour de force to create an amazing audiobook version of Marvel Comics' game-changing series Civil War. Non-comic fans may enjoy it, and comic fans will love it. Everyone sounds perfect—exactly as the characters should, and the music and the sound effects further enhance the experience. While all the actors are outstanding, kudos goes to Richard Cutting, who plays Iron Man with just the right amount of overconfidence and optimism but with dashes of doubt and even a little self-loathing. He heads the government effort to identify, train, and control every superhero after a tragedy kills almost a thousand people. Captain America and others refuse to be conscripted and start a war that splits the superhero community. M.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2014 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

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Still going through withdrawal from the engrossing “Downton Abbey” series? Missing the estate and its people? Reenter this world by exploring Highclere Castle and Lady Almina, the real-life inspiration for the series. The book begins with the marriage of the moneyed, albeit untitled, Lady Almina, daughter of industrialist Alfred de Rothschild, to Lord Carnavon, whose fortune is being diminished by his financially consuming lifestyle. Wanda McCaddon invites listeners into the Countess of Carnarvon’s breezy book, which blends a wealth of archival letters, diaries, and photographs. McCaddon sweeps through the transitions between the downstairs servants and the socially elite, details of furniture and costumes, as well as the changes that come with WWI. S.W. 2013 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine

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This devastating work revolves around Will Bancroft, a British WWI soldier who has been executed for being an absolutist, a soldier who will not fight, and his comrade Tristan Sadler, who agrees to deliver the letters Will received during the war back to his family. The result is a deep mystery wrapped in enfolding layers of tragedy and regret. Narrator Michael Maloney provides a flawless rendition of the story. His impeccable timing, coupled with a deep, soulful English accent, makes this novel a thrilling audio experience. Maloney slowly introduces the atmospheric first few pages using authentic character voices to support the text and employs a varied pace to draw us into the mysterious plot. It all adds up to a rare combination in which text and voice create an unforgettable book. R.I.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2013 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine

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