Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I thought I would play catch-up with a multi-book review. My goal lately has been to listen to audiobooks I’ve already purchased instead of buying something new. I have over a thousand audiobooks in three accounts, after all. I should be able to find SOMETHING entertaining, right? I landed on three light-hearted urban fantasy/paranormal romance series that had good mysteries and fit my mood perfectly.
I’m not going to include the story descriptions in this review to save space, but I’ll include a link to the series’ Goodreads page for descriptions. I highly recommend all three of these series if you’re in the mood for belly laughs, mysteries, relatable problems, gorgeous men, and a touch of romance.
Ordinary Magic series by Devon Monk
I decided to listen to Devon Monk‘s Ordinary Magic series again. I like this series a lot. It’s quirky and fun, and Khristine Hvam, who also voices the Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood series, does a fantastic job. I’ve liked Devon Monk’s writing since her Ally Beckstrom series. Ordinary Magic is lighter-hearted than Ally, but the mystery is good and I’m eager to see where it goes.
While the first three books in this series are published in the unabridged, single-narrator format, Graphic Audio has the first five books available. Graphic Audio produces full-scale dramatizations, though somewhat abridged. I like both types of productions, but I’d like to stay consistent within a series, so I hope the rest of Ordinary Magic gets made with Hvam narrating. Please, Audible? Pretty please?
Betwixt and Between series by Darynda Jones
After Ordinary Magic, I tried several different audiobooks. Either the story or the narrator wasn’t fitting my mood until I landed on Darynda Jones‘s Betwixt, and I realized I was wanting some light-hearted brain candy rather than my typical serious UF. The signature humor from Jones’s Charley Davidson series is all over Betwixt, and I laughed out loud several times, which was exactly what I needed. Traci Odom does a great job as narrator, ensuring the humor lands just right. My only frustration is that the second and third books aren’t out yet in audio! Bewitched releases on March 30 (a week from now) and Beguiled releases on May 5. All three books are available now in eBook, though, so I might have to switch formats to get more of this delightful series.
Madison Fox series by Rebecca Chastain
I wanted to stick with this lighthearted theme, so I decided to listen to Rebecca Chastain‘s Madison Fox series in audio. Before the audio was released, I had previously read and enjoyed this series in ebook format. So I knew I’d like the story. I just hoped the narrator did it justice. And she did! Elise Arsenault does a beautiful job voicing the characters and bringing the story to life. There are a few shorts and novellas in this series not in audio, and I’d love to see an anthology narrated by Arsenault, along with more Madison Fox adventures. In the meantime, however, I get to reread Chastain’s Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles and catch up on her Terra Haven series, which is starting to appear in audio as well. Thank you, Tantor!
Military Romance bundle in the Romance Package on Audible. Worth it? Or No?
I like military romances and I especially like them when they are bundled so I get 5 books for one price. This one is called the Titan Series by Cristin Harber. This set was bundled up and released on 12/10/18. One tends to think that when the books are bundled that way they may not be that good. One could be right, but these weren’t bad, but they weren’t super either. They were good to cook, clean and work on my hobbies while listening, so they rated a 3. They had their cookie cutter format, but each character was one that had their own story to tell. There was a lot of gratis sex, violence and blood. There was cussing, alpha men who were bossy and women that were mostly strong. I’m not sure I could handle a “helicopter husband” who had to know the who, where and when of my life 24/7.
I think that the books would have been better reading than listening because the narrator had his high points and low points. Multiple times I caught him reading the book instead of narrating it. The part that bugged me the most was the part where he reached the bottom of the page and hesitated to finish the sentence until he turned the page. Like I said, they weren’t great but they were not bad either. Middle of the road.
Title: Winter’s Heat
Publish Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher’s Description: After putting her life on the line to protect classified intelligence, military psychologist Mia Kensington is on a cross-country road trip from hell with an intrusive save-the-day hero. Uninterested in his white knight act, she’d rather take her chances without the ruggedly handsome, cold-blooded operative who boasts an alpha complex and too many guns.
Colby Winters, an elite member of The Titan Group, has a single objective on his black ops mission: recover a document important to national security. It was supposed to be an easy in-and-out operation. But now, by any means necessary becomes a survival mantra when he faces off with a stunning woman he can’t leave behind.
When Titan’s safe houses are compromised, Colby stashes Mia at his home, exposing his secret—he’s the adoptive father of an orphaned baby girl. Too soon, danger arrives and Mia lands in the hands of a sadistic cartel king with a taste for torture. As hours bleed into fear-drenched days, Colby races across the globe and through a firestorm of bullets to save the woman he can’t live without.
Title: Sweet Girl
Publish Date: July 7, 2014
Publisher’s Description: Sometimes falling in love means going through hell…
She’s a sweet girl.
Nicola Hart grew up under the heels of her older brother and his sexy best friend, Cash Garrison. Years of ignoring her spark with Cash has transformed their friendship into a slow burning sizzle. One night with him could ruin everything. Or it could be more than she ever dreamed. They play. They flirt. But they haven’t crossed the line because too much is at stake. Family. Friendship. And the deepest kind of love that she’d have to be crazy to walk away from.
He can’t stay away from.
She’s his best friend’s little sister. The definition of hands off. Cash has tried to ignore her for years. Those innocent eyes and her smile that screams kiss-me-if-you-dare… Instead, he’s looked at every pretty little thing who’s crossed his path, all to ignore the girl he seems destined to want. But when his hard partying ways get old and everyone at school is interested in Nicola, it’s time to stake a claim. To make Nicola his girl, no matter the risks, and hold the hand of the one he really loves.
Sweet Girl is the full length prequel to bestselling Garrison’s Creed. Before Cash and Nicola can fall in love forever, they have to suffer through their first love.
Title: Garrison’s Creed
Publish Date: September 26, 2013
Publisher’s Description: A SCORCHING HOT LOVE THAT STARTED SO MANY YEARS AGO…
A SPY RUNNING FOR HER LIFE
Nicola is an injured CIA agent on the run from a failed undercover operation. Her escape plan shatters when she slams into the man who buried her a decade ago. Cash Garrison. Her first and only love. Now, sexier than her best memory and cradling a sniper’s rifle, he has questions she can’t answer. Why was she alive? And armed?
AND THE MAN SHE COULD NEVER SEE AGAIN
Cash is an elite member of a black ops organization, The Titan Group. He thought Nicola died his senior year of college and swore off love to focus on a decade of military missions. But when she shows up behind enemy lines, bleeding out and wielding a weapon, his heart and mind are unsure how to proceed.
BATTLE BETRAYAL TO SAVE THEMSELVES
Titan and the CIA join forces to uncover a mole hidden in a network of international terrorists and homegrown mobsters, teaming Cash and Nicola again. They fight old wounds and re-ignite sparks while closing in on a double agent. When disaster strikes, Nicola’s hidden past makes her the hunted target and Cash’s best kill shot may not be enough to save them.
Title: Westin’s Chase
Publish Date: September 27, 2013
Publisher’s Description: THE MASTER OF EVERYTHING HAS FOUND HIS MATCH
Jared Westin knows his reputation and likes it. He gets the job done. No emotion. No baggage. That’s why his elite ops company, The Titan Group, is better than the best. They complete projects classified as mission impossible.
And then, in walks a woman as tough as she is sexy. His counterpart in every way, should he choose to admit it.
SHE’S NOT WILLING TO LET HER HEART FALL
Ousted undercover ATF agent Lilly Chase only answers to “Sugar.” Jared is the only man who can see past her leather-and-lipstick demeanor, and that revelation is terrifying. She was fired for helping Titan on a questionable arrest she should’ve ignored, then partnered with Jared’s rival on an assignment in Afghanistan.
Distance and danger do nothing to change her feelings. When she’s left on the side of a mountain to die, an unexpected ally comes forward, and might open her heart.
THE STAKES COULDN’T BE HIGHER
Saving Sugar isn’t a normal rescue operation. It pits Titan against its rival, Jared against his nemesis. Chasing Sugar’s heart isn’t a simple task, either. She fights him, fights them, always ready to run. When she becomes a pawn in a game of collateral damage, Jared must risk his life to save her—the woman whose bravado and surprising sweetness has given him the one thing he never had. Love.
Publish Date: September 28, 2013
Publisher’s Description: Brock Gamble’s epic fall from the Titan Group labeled him a traitor. He betrayed his men. He failed his family. And when he thought he’d hit the lowest point, his wife walked out with their children, leaving him alone to drown himself in the bottle.
Surviving an abduction didn’t end the nightmare for Sarah Gamble. The aftershocks of post-traumatic stress disorder hit her hard. Self-doubt and confusion. Anger and hurt. Running away was an easy escape until Brock shows up on her doorstep offering a trip to paradise and a promise to fix their marriage.
Before the couple can search for answers, Brock is pulled back into the very world that Sarah is so scared of—kidnapping, cartels, and guns—and the stakes are too high for either one of them to ignore.
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Okay, here’s the scoop. If you are an Audible audiobook member (you know who you are), you know that included with your membership you get two Audible Original books for free each month.
Audible Originals are exclusive audio titles created by celebrated storytellers from worlds as diverse as theater, journalism, literature and more, all produced in the Audible studios.
I have listened to the first two books in the series (here are the reviews):
These books are hilarious standalone books (though they are better if started from the beginning and listened to in order) brimming with otherworldly charm from the reigning queen of paranormal romantic comedy, Molly Harper.
Title: Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues
Author: Molly Harper
Series: Mystic Bayou #3
Release date: June 6, 2019
Description: Ingrid Asher is the newest resident of Mystic Bayou, a tiny town hidden in the swamp where shapeshifters, vampires, witches and dragons live alongside humans.
Ingrid doesn’t ask for much. The solitary tree nymph just wants to live a quiet life running her ice-cream shop in peace. Unfortunately, she can’t seem to shake her new neighbor, Rob Aspern, head of the League’s data science department and so good looking it just isn’t fair.
If there’s one thing Ingrid doesn’t need, it’s someone poking around in her business. But the more she gets to know the hunky mathematician, the more she finds herself letting her guard down. Can she trust him with her secrets, or will her past destroy everything?
(Disclaimer: One Book Two nor does their reviewer receive any credits or reimbursements from Audible for this announcement.)
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On our second visit to Ordinary, Oregon, things heat up as the god powers are lost, people turn up dead, new players come to town, and more secrets are revealed.
Title: Devils and Details
Author: Devon Monk
Series: Ordinary Magic, Book 02
Publish Date: August 31st, 2016, by Odd House Press
Genre: Urban fantasy
Cover: Lou Harper, Cover Affairs
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Publisher’s Description: Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea…
Police Chief Delaney Reed is good at keeping secrets for the beach town of Ordinary Oregon–just ask the vacationing gods or supernatural creatures who live there.
But with the first annual Cake and Skate fundraiser coming up, the only secret Delaney really wants to know is how to stop the unseasonable rain storms. When all the god powers are stolen, a vampire is murdered, and her childhood crush turns out to be keeping deadly secrets of his own, rainy days are the least of her worries.
Hunting a murderer, outsmarting a know-it-all god, and uncovering an ancient vampire’s terrifying past isn’t how she planned to spend her summer. But then again, neither is falling back in love with the one man she should never trust.
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Invested Ivana says…
As with the first book in this series, there were a couple of story points I didn’t care much for, but overall, I really enjoyed this visit to Ordinary, Oregon.
I mention in my review for Death and Relaxation that something happens at the end that I feel was too little reward for the sacrifice. Unfortunately, part of the plot of Devils and Details is built on this event, so I was constantly thinking about that while I was listening. There is also the fact that neither Delaney nor her sisters, who are supposed to be the experts at Ordinary guardianship, recognize that a blatant violation of the agreement made between the gods and Ordinary would cause a problem. That bothered me, especially since the rule was made very clear to the reader. That aspect felt too forced in order to make the rest of the story work.
The last bit I didn’t care for was the introduction of a shadowy para-government agency. There is so much going on in Ordinary already that it didn’t feel necessary or fully developed. But perhaps more will come of that in future books.
Despite those story elements, the characters and quirks of Ordinary are fun and compelling, as is the mystery. Bertie and her manipulations, Crow and his cockiness, Odin and his stubbornness, Death and his wacky outfits, Old Rosi, and the werewolves are all wonderful characters that I love visiting. I care about these characters and the town, and that, for me, is what makes for a good story.
Other reviews in this series…
There’s a new Sheriff in town. He “thinks” he’s got everything under control until he meets the local coroner. She’s purple haired goth chick who has her county business in the family funeral home slash bait shop. She’s quick witted, smart and a handful.
I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.
Publisher’s Description: An Atlanta ex-cop comes to sleepy Lake Sackett, Georgia, seeking peace and quiet—but he hasn’t bargained on falling for Frankie, the cutest coroner he’s ever met.
Frankie McCready talks to dead people. Not like a ghost whisperer or anything—but it seems rude to embalm them and not at least say hello.
Fortunately, at the McCready Family Funeral Home & Bait Shop, Frankie’s eccentricities fit right in. Lake Sackett’s embalmer and county coroner, Frankie’s goth styling and passion for nerd culture mean she’s not your typical Southern girl, but the McCreadys are hardly your typical Southern family. Led by Great-Aunt Tootie, the gambling, boozing, dog-collecting matriarch of the family, everyone looks out for one another—which usually means getting up in everyone else’s business.
Maybe that’s why Frankie is so fascinated by new sheriff Eric Linden…a recent transplant from Atlanta, he sees a homicide in every hunting accident or boat crash, which seems a little paranoid for this sleepy tourist town. What’s he so worried about? And what kind of cop can get a job with the Atlanta PD but can’t stand to look at a dead body?
Frankie has other questions that need answering first—namely, who’s behind the recent break-in attempts at the funeral home, and how can she stop them? This one really does seem like a job for the sheriff—and as Frankie and Eric do their best Scooby-Doo impressions to catch their man, they get closer to spilling some secrets they thought were buried forever.
Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*
Nervous Nellie says…
This is an incredibly fun story. Eric is coming from the big city and sees murder in every death that happens in the small town. He is running from a past that is haunting him and is the reason he had to come to the slower small town. Frankie is the county medical examiner and she has quirks. I think she was a quirky and fun character to read.
The McCready family is a hoot. There are eccentric relatives and each one of them have qualities about them that make them individuals and incredibly likeable. Just hearing the fact that they all are associated with the funeral home that also serves as a bait shop makes me laugh. Only in a small town. I like Molly Harper’s writing because of her humor and comedic influence. Each character is individual and separate which makes all of them feel like a family to me for the short time I’m in their world.
There is a little sex, a wanna be burglar and a fun read. I listened to this book out of series order, but the story is a standalone and though there may be back stories I missed, I could follow along just fine. There is no cliff hanger and there is a HEA. I just love Molly Harper and her imagination. 5 stars all the way.
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I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.
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