By Dani Pettrey. Read by Therese Plummer.
2016. 8hr. Recorded Books, CD, $77.75 (9781501904882).
Acclaimed narrator Plummer adds a wealth of emotion to the first
in the Chesapeake Valor series of Christian romantic suspense. Griffin, Parker, and Declan grew up as close
as brothers, with each choosing a career
in law enforcement. When Griffin, a park
ranger, finds a fresh corpse at Gettysburg,
it is his sniper background that aids forensic anthropologist Finley Scott and the
entire team in hunting the killer. Plummer uses subtle changes in intonation,
cadence, and accent to distinguish between the various characters. She evokes the tension of the present
danger and the torment of revealing damaging pasts while simultaneously creating a sparkling romantic transformation, from teasing
to longing to commitment. The characters’ invocations of faith also
fall naturally in the rhythms of the dialogue and story. Plummer’s
even pacing and clean enunciation create a smooth and engaging
listening experience. —Karen Toonen
The Perfect Mistress.
By ReShonda Tate Billingsley. Read by Janina Edwards.
2016. 8hr. Dreamscape, CD, $47.99 (9781520017662).
Having witnessed her father’s infidelities, Lauren knows what it
takes to be a perfect mistress. As an adult, she carefully manages
her affairs, keeping angry wives at bay, until she runs into Dr. Matthew King, who
broke her heart in college. When he proposes, she imagines a better future until
her past comes back to haunt her. Reading
in a husky alto, Edwards creates authentic
voices for all the characters in this emotionally driven romance. Lauren’s mother,
embittered by her husband’s many betrayals, stridently rages against
her fate; Lauren’s conniving father’s voice shifts between being seductive and begging forgiveness. As a child, Lauren’s voice expresses
her dismay at her parents’ marital issues, but later, she positively
purrs as she manages her trysts. At the end, Edwards softens and
lightens Lauren’s voice to demonstrate her remorse and to match
the book’s upbeat ending. A good choice for listeners who appreciate family-centered contemporary romances filled with high drama.
By Christine Feehan. Read by Tom Stechschulte.
2016. 16.5hr. Recorded Books, CD, $123.75 (9781501925917).
Narrator Stechschulte’s immersive performance elevates this
twelfth installment of Feehan’s Ghost Walker series, which picks up
where Viper Game (2015) left off. Cayenne, a genetically enhanced
assassin whose spider DNA makes her pure poison, has escaped the
laboratory that created her, thanks to Trap Dawkins, the scientist
who ranks among the most dangerous of the series’ psychically gifted supersoldiers. Fated to be mated with Cayenne, Trap is prepared
to go to extreme lengths to make her his woman. Stechschulte’s
gravelly voice is perfectly suited to the tough guys of the Ghost-Walkers team, whose alpha-male members he voices with raspy
regional accents, from Trap’s terse Midland tones to Wyatt’s Cajun
drawl. Spiked with choice epithets, Stechschulte’s gruff, understated
narration captures the world-weary tenor of the team’s battle-forged
camaraderie, while his unhurried pacing makes the sprawling cast
and extensive world building accessible and engrossing, drawing
both series fans and newcomers into the story. —Gillian Speace
‘Til Death Do Us Part.
By Amanda Quick.
Read by Louisa Jane
2016. 10hr. Recorded Books, CD,
Fans of the author’s Lavinia Lake and Tobias March series should
enjoy this gothic-tinged romantic mystery, which pairs a matchmaker
and a disfigured crime novelist as they pursue a murderous stalker
through the gaslit streets of Victorian London. When Calista Langley
receives a string of memento mori gifts, each macabre trinket engraved with her initials, she reluctantly accepts the assistance of writer
Trent Hastings, author of the best-selling Clive Stone mysteries, in
identifying the sender. Misunderstandings mar their initial meeting,
but an alliance forged of necessity evolves into a passionate bond as
the danger escalates. Narrator Underwood’s crisp diction and resonant tones ably convey Calista’s capable, no-nonsense manner as well
as the standoffish attitude adopted by Trent to mask his vulnerability.
Her energetic performance utilizes subtle shifts in pitch, timbre, and
intensity to distinctly voice a variety of characters, while her brisk pacing guides listeners through an intricate plot. —Gillian Speace
By Linda Howard. Read by Tanya Eby.
2016. 14hr. Harper, CD, $44.99 (9780062467188).
Morgan Yancy is a well-trained member of an intensive combat
team, and he feels he can hold his own in any dangerous situation. So when he’s ambushed and shot, he lets his commanding
officer pull him out of the hospital to hole
up in a small West Virginia town. His reluctant host is an independent, part-time
police chief named Isabeau, and she happens to be the commander’s ex-sister-in-law.
Attraction builds with the tension as Yancy
tries to protect himself and Isabeau from a
determined assassin. Eby uses just the right
pitch to portray her male characters, making
them sound convincing without being exaggerated. Isabeau comes
off suitably feisty and independent, and humorous touches (
provided by Isabeau’s dog, Tricks, and small-town residents) are nicely
voiced. As the plot and the romance heat up, the reader’s expressiveness grows, and listeners will be drawn into both the danger and the
growing sexual awareness. Howard has a firm fan base, and her latest
is sure to be popular. —Candace Smith
By Anne Tyler. Read by Kirsten Potter.
2016. 6hr. Books on Tape, CD, $32 (9780451483966).
As part of the ongoing Hogarth Shakespeare series inviting contemporary authors to reimagine the Bard’s plays, Tyler’s latest takes
on one of the least beloved of his oeuvre, The Taming of the Shrew.
She smartly jettisons the abusive aspects of the story and focuses
instead on the byplay between her central characters: Kate and
Pyotr. Kate is a woman with a strong point of view, overworked at
home and underemployed at a day-care center. Pyotr is a brilliant
Russian scientist, in need of some way to stay in the U.S. Little
doubt how the plot will turn, but Tyler makes it a fun read with
plenty of references to elements of the play itself for those who
like to spot the overlaps and alterations. Perfectly picked to read
the tale is Potter, who creates a wonderful accent for Pyotr and fills
him with oddly charming certitude. She is equally deft at getting
Kate’s opinionated voice just right. Pacing is also a highlight. The
novel is a quick listen, and Potter crafts a rollicking recording that
speeds by. —Neal Wyatt
NEW ROMANCES ON AUDIO