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Speaking of Audiobooks: Romance Audio News March 2014

The Luckiest Lady in London 200Today we’re talking about a few promising coming soon or new release titles, taking a look at the audio side of AAR’s recent Annual Poll, sharing the Audie Award Finalists in Romance (complete with an opinion), and providing you with a list of all audiobook reviews at AAR since we started publishing audio reviews separately from Speaking of Audiobooks. There’s a lot going on!

New and Coming Soon Titles 

Sherry Thomas

The Luckiest Lady in London, the winner of AAR’s Best Romance of 2013 in their recent Annual Poll, releases in audio format on March 5th.  It’s Tantor’s first publication of a Sherry Thomas title and I’m excited about their choice of narrator Corrie James. When you check her audio  backlist, James looks to be new to the business but she is thoroughly the professional you hear when listening to her narrations. Recording for over 15 years, she’s only  been narrating commercially since late 2012. Prior to that she recorded for the Library of Congress Program for the Blind. This should be a solid romance audio hit.

Joanna Bourne

In our 2012 Speaking of Audiobooks Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll, our listeners voted Joanna Bourne as one of the Romance Author’s Backlist You Most Want to See in Audio. Penguin released The Spymaster’s Lady in 2010 and, with Kirsten Potter’s narration, it has proven to be a listener favorite. We haven’t seen another Bourne in audio format since but that will soon change. Tantor has picked up The Forbidden Rose, My Lord and Spymaster, and The Black Hawk. Publication of the three is scheduled April 30th – June 10th. We’re especially thrilled as Kirsten Potter will be narrating these titles as well!

Karen Robards/Anna Fields

In case you haven’t heard, Blackstone Audio rereleased the original audio version of Karen Robards’ One Summer narrated by Kate Fleming (Anna Fields). Originally recorded in 2000, this beloved audiobook has been a hard-to-find title for years now, unavailable for purchase in digital format or hard copy unless you were lucky enough to find a used copy. Even then, it’s likely you paid big bucks. Our listeners overwhelmingly chose Anna Fields as their Favorite Romance Narrator in the 2011 Speaking of Audiobooks Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll. Since we won’t be seeing any new Anna Fields narrations, it’s such a treat to see one brought to life for us once again.

Jo Beverley

The first in Jo Beverley’s Malloren Series, My Lady Notorious, was released in audio format on February 19th. Although I don’t have confirmation, I believe the other entries in the series will follow.

Jeaniene Frost

For all you Cat and Bones fans out there, you probably know that Jeaniene Frost’s fascinating Night Huntress series narrated by Tavia Gilbert has come to an end. The final entry in the series, Up from the Grave, was released in late January and we wonder if we will be seeing Cat and Bones again. Possibly in the final entry into the Night Prince trilogy? But there’s news of Frost’s new Broken Destiny series. The first in the series, The Beautiful Ashes, releases on August 26th simultaneously in print and audio formats. We can only hope that Tavia Gilbert is chosen to narrate yet again. These two make such a terrific author/narrator team.


Love Irresistibly audioAudio Availability of AAR’s Annual Poll Winners

It’s time to take a look at the winners of AAR’s recent Annual Poll from an audio perspective. As audio enthusiasts, we recognize that the quality of an audiobook is heavily impacted by the narrator’s performance. And not all narrators are created equally. Therefore winning books in print do not guarantee winning books in audio format. However, a large percentage of this year’s poll winning titles feature talented narrators.

Out of the winners, only four are unavailable in audio format – Laura Florand’s Snow Kissed, Sarah Mayberry’s The Other Side of Us, Anne Calhoun’s Uncommon Passion, and Pamela Clare’s short story First Strike (Clare’s other I-Team entries are available as audiobooks). That means fourteen of the winning print titles are available in audio format. I’m unfamiliar with only three narrators/narrator teams – Nancy Wu from Jeannie Lin’s The Lotus Palace (Audible sample sounds good however), Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra from Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park (only one of two narrators on sound sample), and Kim McKean from Sophie Jordan’s Foreplay (I’m not sold on sound sample – average grade for performance at Audible 3.8 out of 5.0).

Here’s the audio rundown:

The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas   Narrated by Corrie James

Best Romance, Best Historical Romance Set in the U.K., Tied for Best Romance Couple, and Best Love Scenes (in Mainstream Romance)

Love Irresistibly by Julie James   Narrated by Karen White

Best Contemporary Romance, Tied for Best Romance Couple, and Honorable Mention for Best Romance Heroine

Striking Distance by Pamela Clare   Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

Best Romantic Suspense and Honorable Mention for Best Romance Couple

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh   Narrated by Angela Dawe

Best Paranormal Romance and Most Tortured Hero

The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin   Narrated by Nancy Wu

Best Historical Romance Not Set in U.K.

Tangled by Emma Chase   Narrated by Sebastian York

Funniest Romance

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell   Narrated by Rebecca Lowman & Sunil Malhotra

Best Young Adult

Foreplay by Sophie Jordan   Narrated by Kim McKean

Best New Adult

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion   Narrated by Dan O’Grady

Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan   Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Best Romance Hero, Best Romance Heroine, Honorable Mention – Best Historical Romance Set in the U.K., Honorable Mention – Biggest Tearjerker

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews   Narrated by Renee Raudman

Most Kickass Heroine

Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb   Narrated by Susan Ericksen

Honorable Mention – Most Kickass Heroine

One Good Earl Deserves A Lover  by Sarah MacLean   Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Honorable Mention – Best Love Scenes (in a Mainstream Romance) and Honorable Mention – Best Romance Couple

Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh   Narrated by Justine Eyre

Honorable Mention – Best Romance Couple

Snow-Kissed by Laura Florand   No audio version

Biggest Tearjerker

The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry   No Audio Version

Best Category Romance

Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun   No Audio Version

Best Erotica/Romantica

First Strike by Pamela Clare   No Audio Version

Best Romance Short Story


The Audies Awards Romance Finalists – Another Rant

The 2014 Audies Award Finalists were announced on February 18th. In June of 2012, I penned a column, The Audies and Romance, featuring an image of a broken heart. It was a complaint of sorts expressing my disappointment with the romance finalists over the years. In 2013, I wrote another column, The Audie Finalists in Romance, and it contained a good amount of enthusiasm as all five finalists were actually categorized as romance. Although I didn’t think they represented the absolute cream of the crop, I understood enough of the awards’ structure to note improvement over previous years – from a listener’s perspective.

I’m not dedicating an entire column to the romance Audie finalists this year. It seems my assumption (hope) that in the future five romances would be chosen as the romance finalists was flawed.

The Romance Finalists:

The Darkest Craving – Gena Showalter

Narrated by Max Bellmore

For My Lady’s Heart – Laura Kinsale

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Kissing Under the Mistletoe – Bella Andre

Narrated by Eve Kaminsky

The Longest Ride – Nicholas Sparks

Narrated by January LaVoy and Ron McLarty

The Wanderer – Robyn Carr

Narrated by Therese Plummer

s Heart 240I’ll start by saying the Audies did get one thing entirely right this year. I’m thrilled to see Laura Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart narrated by Nicholas Boulton on this list. If ever there was an Audie-worthy book  – this is it.

The other romance finalists? I imagine they are all good audiobooks but the best in the industry for 2013? I doubt that. And what about that reappearance of Nicholas Sparks in the romance category? Sparks’ titles are general fiction and have always been categorized as such. Romance is usually designated only five finalist slots out of 160 (varies from year to year) and although a romance title may pop up in the Paranormal or Solo Narration, that’s not the case in 2014. Why give away a romance finalist slot to a general fiction title?

The Audies are an industry driven award. I’m thrilled when I see one of our favorite narrators as a finalist. It is quite an accomplishment and adds significantly to their credentials. But as a listeners’ guide to the best romances of the year? It’s not that and, if we want to celebrate such, we need to find another way to give recognition to the best romance audios of the year.


Audio Reviews at AAR

Last fall, we started publishing our audiobook reviews along with AAR’s print reviews. At that time, I promised to include a list of the audiobook reviews each month and I failed to do so! My apologies. Here’s a complete list of audiobook reviews since our change:

My Sweet Folly – Laura Kinsale  Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

The Duchess War – Courtney Milan  Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Sylvester – Georgette Heyer  Narrated by Nicholas Rowe

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria – Lauren Willig  Narrated by Kate Reading

About Last Night – Ruthie Knox  Narrated by Coleen Marlo

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion  Narrated by Dan O’Grady

Always on My Mind – Jill Shalvis  Narrated by Annie Greene

When the Marquess Met His Match – Laura Lee Guhrke  Narrated by Susan Ericksen

A Man Above Reproach – Evelyn Price  Narrated by James Clamp

Saving Grace – Julie Garwood  Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

A Kiss for Midwinter – Courtney Milan  Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Charming the Shrew – Laurin Wittig  Narrated by Ralph Lister

The Perfect Match – Kristan Higgins  Narrated by Amy Rubinate

The Ashford Affair – Lauren Willig  Narrated by Nicola Barber

Shadowheart – Laura Kinsale  Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

In Love with a Wicked Man – Liz Carlyle  Narrated by Carolyn Morris

Guardian Angel – Julie Garwood  Narrated by Susan Duerden

Almost Home – Mariah Stewart  Narrated by Xe Sands


Ending Notes

Check out our Speaking of Audiobooks Facebook page to see romance audio updates, industry news, and links to articles of interest.

For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, be sure to check out our audio archives for further recommendations and discussions.

Our affiliated Goodreads group – Romance Audiobooks keeps growing and now has 709 members. Come join us for discussions in between columns.

Enjoy your listening.

– Lea Hensley


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Dianna Love
Dianna Love
03/05/2014 11:03 am

What a great line up of audio books!! I’ve been a fan of Joanne Bourne since her first book in the spy series.

As for the ACX change – Like many authors, I’m not happy with this change, but I will still have audio versions of my books that are released after March 12th. I don’t know if this move by ACX was to weed out low quality audio books since they take 1-2 weeks to review every audio release, but maybe that played into it. Maybe they’re inundated with audiobooks to review.


03/03/2014 4:39 pm

Ditto on the Audie rant – knowing more about the Audie selection process than in previous years doesn’t make me happier with the selections. The listener in me wants the award to be about the narrators abilities combined with the authors work.

But knowing more about the criteria does tell me that Laura Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart should still be a shoo in. Quality in every avenue of the production – down to the smallest detail, a beautiful presentation, a stellar narrator (Nicholas Boulton) with a top of her class author in Ms Kinsale and FMLH has WIN written all over it!

03/03/2014 3:16 pm

I love Nancy Wu’s narration of MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series. She really nails Queen Betsy’s humor. I read the first book in the series myself and thought it was okay. I bought the second book in audio format and Wu has had me hooked on the series ever since. I didn’t even know she had narrated any other books. I’ll listen to the Lotus Palace for that reason alone.

Reply to  Marianne
03/03/2014 4:14 pm

Marianne: I love Nancy Wu’s narration of MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series. She really nails Queen Betsy’s humor…

I agree Marianne! I consider Nancy Wu a favorite narrator based solely on her Queen Betsy performances. Her narration kept me with the series way longer than I would have read in print. ;) The first one Undead and Unwed is still a LOL favorite – including the HEA.

Lea Hensley
Lea Hensley
Reply to  Marianne
03/03/2014 4:34 pm

I have had Undead and Unwed in my audio library for years and haven’t listened to it. Think I’ll be pulling it out now.

03/03/2014 10:52 am

Great column- lots of good recommendations. AND:Yea, Lea- 700+ members!

Lea Hensley
Lea Hensley
Reply to  LeeF
03/03/2014 11:19 am

Thanks Lee! Looks like Tantor is coming on strong this spring with a number of notable romance releases.

Isn’t it amazing how our Romance Audiobooks continue to grow?!

03/03/2014 10:43 am

In a similar vein, how do you feel about the raising of royalties by ACX (or is that a new rant?)

Lea Hensley
Lea Hensley
Reply to  victoria
03/03/2014 11:17 am

Ha! That’s a rant in the making. :) I’m still researching the facts. I don’t feel Amazon/Audible/ACX does anything that isn’t well thought out and part of a long term plan. Quality is an issue with many ACX releases. Who knows? This may be their way of shoring that up. Truly no idea at this time though as it affects the excellent author/narrator combos as well. Would be a tragedy to see fewer of those but hopefully other publishers can step in.

Right now, I’m thoroughly disappointed that the ACX decision means I probably won’t be seeing Laura Kinsale’s last two books (UNCERTAIN MAGIC and THE HIDDEN HEART) in audio format. UM is a fave.

Reply to  Lea Hensley
03/03/2014 11:21 am

i know that has stopped Laura Florand as well

Lea Hensley
Lea Hensley
Reply to  victoria
03/03/2014 11:37 am

I’m unfamiliar with Laura Florand. Is there one her audios over another that you recommend?