What Makes a Good Audiobook Great?

June_is_Audiobook_Month2018

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called The Joy of Audiobooks, in which I outlined some of the reasons I love audiobooks so much, and why you might too. I thought about revisiting the topic for audiobook month this year too, but when I re-read my earlier post, so much of it still applied, I figured there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I’ve been giving thought to another topic:

What makes a great audiobook? And conversely, what makes an audiobook not so great? I’ll be sharing my opinions on the topic today, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too.

The Content

I’ve been known to claim I’d happily listen to certain favorite narrators read the phone book. And to an extent, I would. But really, if I’m being honest, I’d much rather listen to them read something I’m actually interested in. Especially if it’s something that lends itself well to the audio format.

Let’s face it. The phone book is meant to be searched as needed, not read linearly. The content makes a huge difference in the reader’s enjoyment. That’s why reference books with complex charts that readers may need to refer back to and graphic novels that rely heavily on images to communicate meaning probably won’t make for great listening experiences.

But that’s okay. Print formats have a place on our shelves too, right? 😉

The Narrator’s Voice

In my reviews, I tend to talk a lot about characters’ voices, but the narrator’s own voice generally comes through in the bits of exposition scattered amongst the lines of dialogue.

A particularly raspy or shrill or otherwise distracting voice can ruin an otherwise good audiobook. Some vocal habits like trailing off in volume at the ends of sentences, overemphasizing the ends of words, frequent mispronunciations, and extraneous noises like loud breathing outside of character, can adversely impact a reader’s enjoyment.

On the other hand, a pleasant and natural sounding voice can blend itself into the background, allowing the story space to shine.

Characters’ Voices

The characters’ voices a narrator creates for an audio production can make or break the audiobook. While I’ve heard there are readers out there who prefer an audiobook read matter-of-factly and without the use of distinctive voices for different characters, I tend to think that approach takes much of the fun out of the format. Personally, I love it when a narrator makes good use of differences in character voices.

Emphasis on good use. Too unique or nasal or whiny and a character’s voice can quickly become annoying. Similarly, too much exaggerated effort in creating a character of the opposite gender, can lead to some eye-rolling moments for the reader.

But on the other hand, one of the worst performances I’ve had the dubious honor of listening to was one where the narrator made absolutely no effort to distinguish voices or to pause between speakers. This made it harder for me to connect with the characters, but even more problematically, I found myself getting lost in conversations, unsure when one character stopped speaking and the next began.

In short, when it comes to character voices, moderation is a good thing. Variations in voices within a range comfortable for the narrator can translate to a fabulous listening experience for the reader.

Pacing and Enunciation

Pauses between paragraphs or lines of dialogue, and especially between scenes and chapters can be important to the reader’s understanding of the audiobook. Likewise, a narrator reading excessively fast or slow can result in a frustrating listening experience.

At the same time, judicious use of variations in pacing, such as speeding up the reading during a high-intensity moment in a thriller, or slowing to savor a romantic or otherwise emotional moment for the characters, can heighten the reader’s connection to the story.

As for enunciation, clarity is king. If I can’t understand what’s being read, or even if it requires too much concentration to catch all the words, it’s going to impact my enjoyment of the story.

Continuity Within a Series

I realize contracts and rights negotiations and timing and … life … can get in the way of keeping the same narrator throughout a series. But (for the people out there who decide these things) please, pretty please try?

One of my favorite audio series was mostly read by one narrator who did a fabulous job of both British and southern accents across genders. I was spoiled, and I fell in love with the characters. And then my heart was broken when a short story featuring the same characters was released by a different audio publisher with a different narrator who didn’t attempt their accents at all. It felt like I was meeting brand new people rather than visiting with old friends.

That was when it hit home just how much difference it can make for the character voices and reading style to be consistent from one book to the next within a series. Just listening to the voices in one book can bring back memories of the characters as read in an earlier book months or years ago and help tie the stories together.

So, yeah, sometimes it works to bring back the same narrator, and sometimes things get in the way of that, but whenever possible… pretty please?

That Special Something

So far, we’ve discussed content, the narrator’s voice, characters’ voices, pacing and enunciation, and continuity within a series as factors in making an audiobook great. But not everything can be that simply explained.

Sometimes, there’s just that special something that takes a good audiobook and makes it great. Could be a spot on accent. Could be an excellent use of music or sound effects. Or maybe it’s when the narrator verbally acts out stage directions like laughter, tears, singing, or slurred speech. You know, actually chuckling, rather than just reading “He laughed.”

Maybe, a narrator’s emotional connection to what he or she is reading shows through in the final production and draws the reader in. Or maybe multiple readers worked together to create a seamless theatrical production.

Sometimes it’s easy to point to one or two, or ten features of an audiobook that come together to make for a fabulous read. Other times, it’s not so easy to explain why the total experience is greater than the sum of its parts. Either way, I love discovering and listening to a great audiobook.

Audiobook Review: Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren

Title: Troubled Waters
Author: Susan May Warren
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Cynthia Farrell
Published: January 2018
Series: Montana Rescue, Book 4
Genre: Contemporary romance, Christian fiction.
Length: 11 hrs, 4 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

With their past tearing them apart, it will take a storm to bring them together . . .

Billionaire Ian Shaw can have everything he wants–except a happy ending. Or at least that’s what it feels like with his fortune recently liquidated, his niece missing, and the woman he loves refusing to speak to him. Despite her love for Ian, Sierra Rose knows he has no room in his life for her as long as the mystery of his missing niece goes unsolved. Sierra has solved it, but a promise to the girl to keep her whereabouts secret has made it impossible to be around Ian.

When Sierra needs funds to repair the damaged PEAK chopper, Ian offers a fundraising junket for large donors on his yacht in the Caribbean. But the leisurely excursion turns into a nightmare when a rogue wave cripples the yacht and Ian and Sierra find themselves washed up on a strange, empty shore.

It will take guts for the PEAK team to rescue the duo. But it will take a miracle to rescue Ian and Sierra’s relationship.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this story ever since I first started reading the Montana Rescue series with Wild Montana Skies and If Ever I Would Leave You. The first book and prequel to the series introduced Ian and Sierra, among other characters, and that’s when I first fell for their story. Then, their story continued on the back burner through books 2 and 3. An agonizing wait! But now, in book 4, we get to see their relationship develop more fully. Their characters are well developed over the course of this book with faith journeys and character development centering on issues of control vs trust. Pete and Jess also see their relationship develop further over the course of this book as well. Readers who enjoy action, adventure, and romance will find much to love throughout this series. And those already familiar with the series, can look forward to a short-term change of setting with action and adventure on the high seas this time around. Highly recommended.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

I’ve listened to several of the titles in this series in audio format, including this one, and enjoyed them greatly. Cynthia Farrell’s reading is consistently excellent from one book to another. Accents, vocal inflections, pacing, and emotional delivery all contribute to the overall effect, and I appreciate the consistency in the way the characters are portrayed from one book to another.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library. I was not expected to write a review, but wanted to share how much I enjoyed the book.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

June is Audiobook Month, 2018

June_is_Audiobook_Month2018

Because I #LoveAudiobooks, I’ll be celebrating “June is Audiobook Month” pretty much all month long on my blog, starting with today’s post. For today, I’m featuring some favorite recent listens, what I’m reading now, and a few of the titles on my to-be-read list. I’ll also refer you on to more “June is Audiobook Month” themed festivities you may want to check out elsewhere on the web.

With a 45 minute commute each way to and from work, and with plenty of other opportunities for listening (while doing laundry or dishes, while working out, etc.) when traditional reading just isn’t practical, I find I tend to read more audiobooks than print books lately. And I love every minute of it.

A few of my favorite recent listens include:

I’m currently enjoying:

  • The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

And eagerly anticipating (on my to be read list):

  • Where Hope Begins by Catherine West
  • Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin
  • Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson (Audie Award winner in Inspirational Fiction)

I’m always on the lookout for more great reads to add to my to-be-read list, so please share in the comments if you’ve been listening to any great books lately!

To keep the Audiobook Month festivities going, check out the following sites:

  • The Audio Publishers Association blog tour will be featuring audiobook themed posts and giveaways all month long.
  • There will also be free weekly giveaways at Audiobook.com throughout the month of June, including Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck (June 8th… It’s one of my favorite audiobooks).
  • The Sync summer audiobook program offers free weekly audiobook downloads aimed at teens 13+ all summer long. I’m especially intrigued to see that The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey has a giveaway scheduled for June 28 – July 4. (Check out this review by one of my favorite bloggers, to see why I’m excited to read it.)

Thanks so much for stopping by to celebrate audiobook month with me! I hope to see you again next week for more audiobook themed fun. :)

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, June 2018

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the June 2018 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s June selection is Callum’s Compass by Sara L Foust. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

By the Book is an in-person book discussion club that has introduced an online Facebook-based discussion option. To join in online, like the By the Book Facebook page, and be sure to check back there periodically for any discussion that may not have made it into your news feed. June’s selection is The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin.

For June, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer AND A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title per month. The selection for June is The Cherished Quilt by Amy Clipston. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

An Amish Winter by Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, and Barbara Cameron (Zondervan, December, Amish Romance

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher (Thomas Nelson, December, Contemporary Romance)

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, December, Historical Romance)

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright (Bethany House, November, Mystery / Suspense)


So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?

Audiobook Review: A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Title: A Name Unknown
Author: Roseanna M. White
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Liz Pearce
Published: July 2017
Series: Shadows Over England, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 15 hours, 17 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

She’s Out to Steal His Name. Will He Steal Her Heart Instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins who helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets–instead they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary is beginning to question whether she can continue in this life when she’s offered the challenge of a lifetime–determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. After all how does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

As Europe moves ever closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown–so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstep pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

When danger and suspicion continue to mount, both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth–about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

My Thoughts on the Book:

A Name Unknown is a delightfully fun read for those readers who like their historical romance with a touch of mystery, intrigue, and humor.

The characters are particularly fabulous. Rosemary for her compelling character arc and faith journey. Peter for his charming awkwardness combined with his thoughtfulness toward others, and an appealing quality I can’t quite pin down with words. I admired the way he “talked” so easily about his faith (in written form anyway), and I enjoyed watching the progression in Rosemary’s beliefs as they wrote back and forth. Their romance is sweet and includes some of my favorite tropes and character traits.

There’s a plot twist I didn’t see coming that was… intriguing. I’m tempted to re-read the whole thing just to convince my inner skeptic that all the pieces really do fit the twist. LOL! But I won’t give away any details. You’ll want to read this for yourself.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

I listened to the audio edition and absolutely loved it. Peter’s stuttering plays quite well in spoken form, and halfway through I had to track down a print copy to see if the author wrote it all out that way or if the narrator was ad-libbing. Sure enough, it’s there in written format too. I think it speaks to both the author’s and the narrator’s skill that Peter’s speech impediment comes across believably and sympathetically in the story, without becoming a barrier to the reader’s enjoyment. Narrator Liz Pearce expertly employs a wide range of voices in terms of accent, gender, age, and emotion, resulting in a lovely overall listening experience.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Audio Sample | Author’s Site

Book Review: No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Title: No One Ever Asked
Author: Katie Ganshert
Publisher: WaterBrook
Published: April 2018
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Challenging perceptions of discrimination and prejudice, this emotionally resonant drama for readers of Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult explores three different women navigating challenges in a changing school district–and in their lives.

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

My Thoughts:

Katie Ganshert is among my favorite authors, so I’ve been looking forward to reading this novel since I first heard about it. And it did not disappoint.

No One Ever Asked addresses challenging and timely societal issues, but not in a heavy-handed way. Rather, we meet three main characters at a pivotal time for their community and for them personally. We see their stories unfold from their own perspectives, and each is challenged at her core in a way that is unique to her own situation.

Camille, Anaya, and Jen are each well-developed flawed but sympathetic characters who face difficulties, make mistakes, and learn something new about themselves and their neighbors along the way.

This is the sort of book that makes you think about things you may have taken for granted, in a whole new light and consider questions you may not have thought much about before. Highly recommended for book discussion groups, as well as anyone who enjoys a thought-provoking, character-driven story.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a complimentary advance reader copy of the book through the Blogging for Books program.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site

Book Review: Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry

Title: Under a Cloudless Sky
Author: Chris Fabry
Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: January 2018
Genre: Historical Christian fiction

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

A charming and engrossing novel for fans of Southern fiction and the recent hit memoir Hillbilly Elegy about a lush and storied coal-mining town—and the good people who live there—in danger of being destroyed for the sake of profit. Will the truth about the town’s past be its final undoing or its saving grace?

1933. In the mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia, two young girls form an unbreakable bond against the lush Appalachian landscape, coal dust and old hymns filling their lungs and hearts. Despite the polarizing forces of their fathers—one a mine owner, one a disgruntled miner —Ruby and Bean thrive under the tender care of Bean’s mama, blissfully unaware of the rising conflict in town and the coming tragedy that will tear them apart forever.

2004. Hollis Beasley is taking his last stand. Neighbors up and down the hollow have sold their land to Coleman Coal and Energy, but Hollis is determined to hold on to his family legacy on Beulah Mountain. Standing in his way is Buddy Coleman, an upstart mining executive who hopes to revitalize the dying town by increasing coal production and opening the Company Store Museum. He’ll pay homage to the past—even the massacre of 1933—while positioning the company for growth at all costs.

What surprises them all is how their stories will intersect with a feisty octogenarian living hundreds of miles away. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s grown children threaten her independence, she takes a stand of her own and disappears, propelling her on a journey to face a decades-old secret that will change everything for her and those she meets.

My Thoughts:

This novel’s gritty historical detail, unexpected plot twists, and literary leanings set it apart as something special within its genre. The coal mining town and its people come vividly to life on the page, as do the spunky octogenarian Ruby and her family. The split time structure works well, flowing logically and smoothly from 1933 to 2004 and back again, without losing the reader along the way.

“I think people see their story here. The pain and brokenness. And it helps them make sense of their own. They soak in the horror and the beauty of it.”

That quote from Chapter 52 is referring to the history of the mining town’s Company Store as shared in a local museum, but I think it could just as appropriately be applied to this work of fiction itself. As with many beautifully written stories, this one uses the specific details of one particular location and cast of characters to address the general human condition in a way that’s broadly relatable.

A great choice for book discussion groups and anyone who enjoys a thought provoking story with some unexpected twists and turns along the way.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a complimentary advance reader copy of the book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, May 2018

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the May 2018 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s May selection is Forgiving Natalie by Kristin Noel Fischer. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

By the Book is an in-person book discussion club that has introduced an online Facebook-based discussion option. To join in online, like the By the Book Facebook page, and be sure to check back there periodically for any discussion that may not have made it into your news feed. May’s selection is If I Live by Terri Blackstock.

For May, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing From the Start by Melissa Tagg AND Catch a Falling Star by Beth K. Vogt. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title per month. The selection for May is The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Perennials by Julie Cantrell (Thomas Nelson, November 2017, Women’s Fiction)

A Place at Our Table by Amy Clipston (Zondervan, November 2017, Amish Romance)

Love Held Captive by Shelley Shephard Gray (Zondervan, October 2017, Historical Romance)

In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury (Howard, November 2017, Contemporary Romance)


So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?

Audiobook Review: Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock

Title: Twisted Innocence
Author: Terri Blackstock
Publisher: Zondervan
Narrator: Nan Gurley
Published: February 2015
Series: Moonlighters, Book 3
Genre: Suspense, Christian Fiction
Length: 7 hours, 28 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Holly Cramer’s past choices have finally caught up to her, but she never expected them to endanger her baby.

Though Holly’s stumbled through most of her adult life as a party girl, she longs to live a more stable life for her daughter. Then police show up to question her about the whereabouts of Creed Kershaw, Lily’s father. She has kept his identity a secret from friends and family—she never even told him about the pregnancy. Now he’s a person of interest in a drug-related murder case.

Determined to keep him out of their lives and turn him over to police, Holly uses her private investigating skills to search for him. But her bravado backfires when he turns the tables and takes her and the baby hostage. As desperate hours tick by, Holly realizes his connection to Leonard Miller—the man who has gunned down several members of her family. Creed claims he’s innocent and that Miller is after him too. His gentleness with Lily moves her, but she can’t trust a man who has held her at gunpoint . . . even if he reminds her so much of herself.

Dangers old and new threaten Holly and her baby, and lives are demanded as sacrifices for love. Through a complex web of mistakes and regret, redemption is the one hope Holly has left to hold on to.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I read and reviewed the first two titles (Truth Stained Lies and Distortion) in this series a long while ago, and somehow never got around to finishing the series until recently. When I stumbled onto this one available as an audiobook on Hoopla through my local library, I figured it was time to finish what I’d started. And yes, I’m glad that I did.

This novel wraps up many loose ends from the first two books, and takes the perspective of a character who wasn’t always seen in the best light in the earlier books, and turns her life around. Wow. Some very meaningful themes throughout the book, including a strong redemptive storyline.

While Creed, the hero, doesn’t start out as a terribly appealing character, the author does a good job changing our perceptions of him over the course of the book and making him sympathetic to Holly and to the reader, until by the end, we’re rooting for them and their relationship.

Overall, a good conclusion to the series. And the author’s note at the end is well worth reading too.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

This series started with one narrator, and switched to another midstream. Generally a risky move, since each narrator will have a different interpretation of the same characters and their voices, which can make for a jarring difference from one book to the next. Fortunately, both narrators did an excellent job with their respective books, so I can’t really complain. Especially since it’s been so long since I read the first two titles in the series.

Nan Gurley did a great job of giving voice and emotion to the characters in this story. I thoroughly enjoyed the listening experience and would highly recommend it.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library via Hoopla. I was not expected to write a review, but wanted to share how much I enjoyed the book.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Audio Sample | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Title: The Masterpiece
Author: Francine Rivers
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Susan Bennett
Published: February 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christian Fiction.
Length: 15 hours, 54 minutes. Unabridged

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.

My Thoughts on the Book:

There’s something special about this book. The story has some thematic and structural similarities to the author’s classic bestseller, Redeeming Love, but dare I say it? I like The Masterpiece even better. Maybe it’s my partiality for contemporary stories? Maybe it reflects the author’s growth over her career? Whatever the reason, this story and these characters have found a place among my all-time favorites.

Roman and Grace each have heartbreaking backstories, which are smoothly integrated into the flow of the present-day story in such a way as to maximize their impact. I cried in the car on my way to work, while listening to this audiobook. (Thankfully, I was able to pull myself together in time for work, but that’s another story!)

Their character arcs introduce gritty bits of reality into the story and require a lot of healing and growth over the course of the book, but their journeys along the way present a beautiful image of God’s love and redemption. The gospel message is discussed in the story, but its introduction felt natural to the plot, and I’m glad the author didn’t shy away from addressing the subject.

The romantic storyline is complicated by the hero and heroine’s backgrounds and by Roman’s initially brooding attitude. I enjoyed seeing the gradual development of the hero and heroine’s relationships with each other and with other characters in the story, and how all those relationships interacted in bringing about a satisfying conclusion to the story. Overall, a sweet romance interwoven with meaningful character development throughout. I highly recommend this title for fans of the genre.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Susan Bennett gives a professional performance throughout this audiobook. The pacing, inflections, and enunciation in her reading make it easy and pleasant to follow her through the story. Character voices and emotions are subtly distinguished, making it easy to follow who’s speaking, without any of the voices sounding awkward or unnatural. I highly recommend the audio edition.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library. I was not expected to write a review, but wanted to share how much I enjoyed listening to the book.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | About the Narrator