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Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Coming home humiliated and saved by a friend’s offer of a job. Coming home to terrible memories of loss and devastation. Can Aiden make Lily understand that she is worth love?

Title: Second Chance Summer
Author: Jill Shalvis
Series: Cedar River #1
Audio Release Date: June 30, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
Narrator: Karen White
Source: Audible.com

Publisher’s Description: Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it’s the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there’s an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid – firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile…

The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life 10 years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge – and this bad boy – a second chance…

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In some cases…spoilers. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

I am a little behind the times as Ruby Lee had read this book in 2015. Her review is here. I listened to it in audio. There is some sex, nothing too graphic. There isn’t a cliffhanger and there is no violence.

This is the first book in the Cedar Ridge series by Jill Shalvis. I have no idea why I picked it up. It’s really not my speed, but I listened from beginning to end. The narrator was ok but it took some time to get used to her. She wasn’t bad or anything, just not like I’m used to. No, I didn’t fast forward or anything. The story was pretty good. I waited for the suspense, but there wasn’t any. This is a story from a woman’s perspective as she returns to her small town home after being humiliated by her old boss in the big city.

She also faces her loss an devastating grief all over again. She lost her sister and her dad 10 years ago. She’d run. It’s not exactly how I would have handled it, but I have neither lost my sister or my dad.

Anyway, it’s kind of a sweet romance, and I’ll probably get the next one of the series. No, I’m not hooked. Not really. Not on chick lit. Give me a good demon or supernatural ass-kicking bounty hunter anytime. Nope, I’m not hooked. I’m just curious is all. It gets 4 stars.

Our reviews in this series…

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Rescuing Casey by Susan Stoker

Kidnapped in a jungle. Held captive for who knows what reason. Left in a hole to die. Casey Shea is in a heck of a spot, and she can only use her brain to save herself and hope her brother comes and gets her.

Title: Rescuing Casey
Author:
Susan Stoker
Series:
Delta Force Heroes
Publish Date: January 2, 2018
Genre:
Military Suspense Romance
Narrator:
Stella Bloom
Source:
Audible

Publisher’s Description: One minute Casey Shea was minding her own business, doing her job, teaching entomology to college students, and the next she was in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle fighting for her life.

Troy “Beatle” Lennon had watched his friends fall head over heels in love, but never thought it would happen to him. Until he sees a picture of one of his teammates’ sisters. That was it. The absolute joy in her eyes calls to him in a way he can’t understand.

But that joy is currently being threatened by an unknown person who’d had Casey kidnapped and hidden deep in the jungle. It’s up to Beatle to find her and keep her safe until the threat against her can be neutralized. Surviving the dangers of the jungle turns out to be the easy part…staying ahead of the killer is much more complicated…and deadly.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words… spoilers. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

No cliffhanger, standalone military romance. No graphic sex but there is violence.

Casey and her students are captured and held hostage for unknown reasons. Luckily, there is a high profile person in her group that is missed right away. Help descends but no one knows what happened to Casey. She’s stuck in a hole in the middle of the jungle and left to die.

Troy and the rest of his team, including Casey’s brother are bound and determined to find Casey. It’s impossible, but with luck and intuition, they find her. This story starts out harsh, but when the romance starts then it lightens up some. It feels weird to have a romance bud in the middle of a high tension situation, but it happens. And then they go home.

I guess the romance that happens back in the states is a little too cut and dried, but the ending is fantastic. The suspense part comes to the reader in a flash of “Oh, no! She didn’t!!”  It was great.

Our reviews in this series…

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Rescuing Bryn by Susan Stoker

Imperfect hero and heroine. Heroine has a heart as huge as her brain, and that is BIG.  Join Bryn in her adventure of getting Dane’s attention and then helping through his own tragedy.

Title: Rescuing Bryn
Author: Susan Stoker
Series: Delta Force Heroes
Publish Date: October 3, 2017
Genre: Military Suspense Romance
Narrator: Stella Bloom
Source: Audible

Publisher’s Description: When you’re a Delta Force soldier, you see a lot. Often too much. But nothing can ever prepare you to see your entire team die before your eyes…

The loss of his Delta brothers—and his arm—has Dane “Fish” Munroe still struggling months later. He’s moved to Idaho, where an isolated lifestyle is making things worse, not better. Not that there’s anyone left to care.

Actually, Bryn Hartwell cares. In fact, she tries to surreptitiously make life just a little easier for the mysterious man who comes into the grocery where she works late at night, only to get a tongue lashing for her trouble. Still, he’s obviously hurting; someone has to worry about him, spurring Bryn to nurse Dane when he hits a particularly low point.

Intrigued by the quirky, kind, socially awkward woman, Dane allows himself to get close to someone for the first time in ages. A potentially epic mistake—because when her interest in the prepper lifestyle puts Bryn in the hands of a homegrown terrorist, losing her could put Dane’s mental recovery permanently out of reach.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words… SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

This is a romance series, hot military guys, standalone story. No cliffhanger. No graphic sex. I have not read these books in order, and it doesn’t mess up the overall arc much.

I enjoyed this book. I seem to really get into the hero/heroine that isn’t perfect. Bryn isn’t gorgeous and perfect. Bryn is genius level smart but that intelligence hinders her in the real world. I could relate to her very easily (not the intelligent part, just the caring part). Dane is surrounded in a cloud of tragedy.  He lost his arm to an IED and is suffering from severe PTSD. Neither of these two is looking for love, but somehow found it anyway.

The story is similar to all the military romances out there, but I like to read these series because each story involves a member of a family that I can belong to for a short time. All these people are there for each other and each care for the other and what is going on with them.

The narrator of this story is female, but she does a really good job of diversifying the characters.  I like her so much that I’ve listened to a lot of her audios.

Our reviews in this series…

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Fused in Fire by K.F. Breene

Some things are worth fighting for, and freedom is one of them. Reagan is Lucifer’s daughter, and she needs to hide from those who want to use her to their advantage. But how can she do that while meeting them on their own turf?

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Fused in Fire
Author: K.F. Breene
Series: Fire and Ice Trilogy #3
Publish Date: October 17, 2017
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Source: Audible.com

Publisher’s Description: I thought the threat from Seattle was finished. That we showed up in time and took care of business.

I hate being wrong. It really ruins my day.

When Roger, the alpha of the North American pack, shows up at my door with the news that a demon has made it to the Underworld with knowledge of me, some hard decisions have to be made.

Do I stay above ground, with all my magical friends, and wait for the battle to come to me? Or do I seek the demon out, and pluck the threat out by the root?

I don’t want my friends to die on my behalf. I could never live with myself. But if I venture into the Underworld, it’ll be the most perilous journey of my life.

This time, it isn’t just my life hanging in the balance, it is my eternity.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words… Spoilers. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

“Just FYI, in case you need a barometer reading on the day’s suckery, it is high. Very high. There is a shitstorm warning in effect.”

This story does have a small mention of sex, but nothing graphic. Reagan is very independent, and she tends to swear a lot. There are parts where demons and other evil creatures meet the business end of Reagan’s sword. This is the conclusion of the trilogy, and it would be smart to read books 1 and 2 prior to this book. Also, there is a satisfying ending, and maybe Reagan and Darius could be brought back for more adventures, but it’s the end for now.

First off, I love Reagan. She is so brassy and snarky that she makes me grin every time she throws out a one-liner. Even when she is surrounded by bad guys, she has something to say that is not necessarily something someone would say when that someone’s life is being threatened. She has bravado, but why shouldn’t she since she’s the daughter of Lucifer. She’s got two powers fighting for dominance: one ice, one fire. She has to try to learn how to wield them or there will be serious trouble.

Darius is a wealthy, elder vampire who does not want a woman in his life. He needs Reagan as leverage, and she is useful with her power. His sire, Vlad, also wants to succeed in his quest to be most powerful, but he’s got a different path. As the trilogy moves along, Darius starts feeling emotional about Reagan. She makes him feel his humanity again. Darius wants Regan for his own and needs to convince her that he’s trustworthy and has her best interest in mind. It’s a feeling that many older vampires want back as they age and lose everything that they were when they were alive.

This story is action-packed, full of great movie quotes, and the daughter of the devil. Reagan has to stop the information that she exists before it reaches her father. She and Darius travel through hell, and Reagan even sees her father from a distance. It’s a fantastic adventure, and Reagan is one kick-ass bounty hunter with powers to boot. Also, if you love great showdowns, the end of this book is one that was worth the price of admission.

Our reviews from in the series…

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Series Spotlight: Esther Diamond (audio) by Laura Resnick

Laura Resnick (author) and GraphicAudio have teamed up to create the Esther Diamond series audios, and it’s a fantastic pairing! If you like full-production audiobooks, you don’t want to miss this series!

I am so excited about the Esther Diamond series’ audiobooks being produced by GraphicAudio! They are fantastic. Try it out for yourself with this sample.

I’m gonna break this Series Spotlight down into two sections: one to talk about the series and one to talk about the audio production because they both deserve their own spotlight.

Series

Esther Diamond is a struggling New York actress. While working on an off-broadway play as a chorus nymph and understudy to the female lead, the lead actress disappears.

Enter Maximillian Zadok, a 350-year-old wizard, stationed in New York by the Magnum Collegium to fight mystical evil. Max implores Esther not to take up her understudy duties for fear she will go missing, too. Once Max convinces Esther that there is mystical evil afoot, Esther rushes to help Max find and stop the culprit before she becomes the next victim.

Meanwhile, the lead actress’s disappearance is also being investigated by Detective Connor Lopez, a sexy Latino with blue Irish eyes. Lopez finds Esther intriguing and would like to get to know her better. Unfortunately, Lopez doesn’t believe in mystical evil, even though Esther’s tried to tell him that it exists. While he is strongly drawn to Esther, he fears she’s unstable, dangerous, and possibly felonious. Their involvement complicates his life and jeopardizes his job, but he has trouble staying away.

During their adventures, Esther, Max, and a number of their friends encounter evil sorcerers, demons, voodoo loa, zombies, vampires, spirits, cursed objects, missing corpses, mob hit men, death omens, drag queens, entitled young adults, harried production assistants, and narcissistic actors. The mysteries are intriguing and well written, but I think it’s the main characters that really shine in the series. They are complex and layered, unique and intriguing, each with their own secrets that are slowly revealed over time.

This series has magic, mystery, and adventure, but it also has humor, friendship, and relationship tension (not everything is rosy in this romance) that builds with each book. It’s more glossy than gritty, on the lighter side of urban fantasy, but the protagonists have depth, and it’s easy to care about them. I highly recommend the series for a fun urban fantasy read.

If you’re not an audiobook fan, you can find the Esther Diamond series in digital and print formats at your favorite online retailer.

Audio Production

I’ve mentioned on this blog before how awesome I think GraphicAudio is. They make audiobooks into full-production masterpieces. They’re essentially radio-plays, for those of us who are old enough to have heard of those. There is a full cast of characters, so the voices are all different and the “he said” and “she said” of regular audiobooks aren’t needed. There’s music and sound effects in all the right places, which enhance the story greatly. As a big fan of audiobooks, I absolutely adore these productions. They are just so much fun!

Graphic Audio did a FANTASTIC job with the Esther Diamond series. I cannot imagine a better casting of voices, especially Colleen Delany as Esther Diamond, Thomas Keegan as Detective Connor Lopez, Bob Payne as Maximillian Zadok, and Tim Carlin as Lucky Battistuzzi. The voice  acting is fantastic and really conveys the character personalities and emotional content of the story. The GraphicAudio actors bring each character completely to life in a way that only the very best voice actors can in regular audiobooks.

The background music and sound effects add such depth and dimension to the story that you really do feel as if you are listening to a movie. It’s that much easier to feel the tension of being stalked when you can hear the footsteps behind you, or to visualize a street fight when you can hear the impact of fists, the grunts of the combatants, and the splash of blood on pavement.

I don’t think I’m capable of expressing just how emotionally involved I feel when listening to GraphicAudio productions. It is an amazing medium for some genres, and I really encourage authors, particularly indie sci-fi and fantasy authors, to consider GraphicAudio for their books before any other audiobook company. Your listeners will experience a much richer version of your creation than I think you’ll find elsewhere.

A rich creation is exactly how I’d describe the Esther Diamond series on GraphicAudio. Five stars for this superb production.

You might also like:

GraphicAudio boasts a number of sci-fi and fantasy series by well-known authors such as Piers Anthony, Stephen Blackmoore, Peter David, Alan Dean Foster, Simon R. Green, Charlaine Harris, Jim C. Hines, Cherie Priest, Stephen Lawhead, Kelly McCullough, Ari Marmell, Elizabeth Moon, Michael Moorcock, Lilith Saintcrow, R.A. Salvatore, Brandon Sanderson, Michael J. Sullivan, Brent Weeks, and Eileen Wilks. They also have a number of audio adaptations of both Marvel and DC comics.

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