Category Archives: Audiobook Reviews

Audiobook Review: Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Title: Land of Silence
Author: Tessa Afshar
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Suzy Jackson
Published: May 2016
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Length: 10 hours, 56 minutes. Unabridged.

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

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

My Thoughts on the Book:

Land of Silence is a beautifully written and emotionally gripping story, told from the perspective of the only woman Jesus called “daughter” in the New Testament. Since few details are known about this woman, besides the health condition from which she was healed, the story Tessa Afshar shares is, of necessity, fictionalized. But what a story! I cried with Elianna over her losses and disappointments, and I longed for her to find peace and healing, both physically and emotionally. Her backstory and motivations were fleshed out in a way that I related to on a deeply emotional level and that fit perfectly with what is known of her true story. Vividly specific cultural and historical details were the icing on the cake, putting me right back there in Biblical times to imagine the joy of one woman’s life-changing encounter with Jesus. I would highly recommend this story in general, but particularly to fans of Biblical fiction.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Suzy Jackson’s portrayal of Elianna beautifully captures this young woman’s essence – her longing, her disappointments, and her hope. The full array of character voices are well done, including Ethan’s and those of secondary characters, but it’s the emotional connection with Elianna this reading fosters that will leave a lasting impression.

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

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Audiobook | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

Title: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus
Author: Beth Moore
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Shannon McManus
Published: September 2016
Genre: Contemporary Mystery. Christian fiction.
Length: 12 hours, 24 minutes. Unabridged.

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

Only God knew why Jillian Slater agreed to return to New Orleans on the news that her father had finally drunk himself to death. It’s not like they were close. She hadn’t seen him—or her grandmother, the ice queen—in almost 20 years. But when Adella Atwater, the manager of her grandmother’s apartment house, called and said Jillian’s expenses would be paid if she’d fly in for the burial, a free trip to New Orleans was too intriguing to resist.

What Adella didn’t tell her was that the apartment house wasn’t a house at all and, whatever it was, bore the dead weight of a long and painful history. As soon as Jillian meets the odd assortment of renters and realizes that her grandmother had no idea she was coming, she hatches a plan to escape. But the investigation into her father’s death quickly unfolds and Jillian is drawn into the lives of the colorful collection of saints and sinners who pass through Saint Silvanus. She soon discovers there is more at stake than she ever imagined. Who is behind the baffling messages and the strange relics left on the steps? Is it possible that her family is actually cursed? Or is it just this crazy old house that holds them all under its spell?

Jillian walks into a web of spiritual and personal danger borne out of her family’s broken history, and despite Adella’s wiliest efforts, only God himself can orchestrate the undoing of all that is going on at Saint Silvanus.

My Thoughts on the Book:

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus made my Top Ten List for 2016, with its fascinating local flavor, colorful similes, entertaining characters, and thought provoking themes. It’s a mystery, complete with murder investigation, but it reads more like a work of general fiction, being so much more focused on the characters and their relationships. There’s some romance in the mix as well, though that aspect takes a backseat to other relationships in the story.

The overall book has a gritty and real feel to it, grappling as it does with some challenging situations, and presenting complex and misunderstood characters and relationships. Some of the main characters weren’t so much likeable at first as sympathetic. In fact, I thought Olivia and Jillian were downright prickly at the outset. But they drew me into the story, because of all they were going through, and because of my curiosity to see where the story was headed. And yes, they grew on me quickly, as I got to know them better.

The secondary characters, especially Adella, kept things interesting with their quirky personalities and witty sayings. In fact, some of my favorite parts of this story were the surprising turns of phrase, unexpected comparisons, and vividly idiosyncratic descriptions used in the story, most frequently from Adella’s viewpoint. Here’s just one quick example from Chapter 5: “Over the next solid hour, Olivia spilled more beans than Adella could have shoveled back into a ten-gallon can.”

This novel would make a great choice for book discussion groups. It made me laugh. It made me tear up. And it made me stop and think about brokenness, relationships, and grace.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narrator, Shannon McManus, did a great job with this audiobook. Sometimes matter of fact, sometimes wry, the reading has character to match that of the text. From male to female voices, young to old, each character was portrayed with uniquely distinctive variations in voice well suited to their personalities and other characteristics. I highly recommend the audio edition to those who enjoy listening to their books.

I borrowed an electronic copy of this audiobook from my local library and received a free print copy from the publisher as part of a Goodreads giveaway. What a pleasant surprise! I was not expected to write a review, but I wanted to share my thoughts.

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

Audiobook Review: Without Warning by Lynette Eason

Title: Without Warning
Author: Lynette Eason
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Tantor Audio
Narrator: Rachel Dulude
Published: August 2016
Series: Elite Guardians, Book 2
Genre: Christian Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary.
Length: 8 hours, 52 minutes. Unabridged.

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

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity. The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he’s not convinced that a bodyguard–and a female one at that–is necessary. A new attack and his niece’s urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who’s behind the intimidation and threats–before a would-be killer strikes again.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I recently enjoyed listening to Lynette Eason’s novel Always Watching so much that I was quick to track down a copy of the second book in this series – also in audiobook format. Without Warning did a great job maintaining the tone and style of its predecessor, while keeping the story fresh, engaging, and suspenseful. I said it in my last review, but I’ll say it again. I love the premise of this series, based around a group of female bodyguards. It was great to get to know Katie better. She’s a strong and capable woman, yet she’s okay with relying on the people around her when she needs to. And her struggle with making peace with her past and her family situation had me rooting for her all the way through the story. Daniel made a great hero too, plenty capable himself, yet comfortable enough in his own skin to not be bothered by his niece wanting to hire a bodyguard for him. Speaking of the niece, she’s quite mature for her age, kind of the opposite of the teenage character found in Book 1. In fact, maybe a little too precocious at times? Or maybe not…? I kept going back and forth on that. Either way, both she and Katie are forced to face their fears before this book is over, and it was great to see how they handled that. Overall, this is quite a suspenseful and action-packed novel, with elements of mystery and sweet romance. Once again, I guessed part of the outcome, but not all of it. I’m hopeful that by Book 3 I may be able to figure it all out ahead of the characters… or maybe the author will keep me guessing. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what these elite bodyguards will be up to next in Moving Target. :)

Specific to the Audio Edition:

This audiobook was read by Rachel Dulude, the same narrator as for the prior title in the series. Hooray! (I say that both because the narrator is good in general, and because I appreciate it when character voices are consistent through the series.) Once again, there’s a good variation in voices to help the listener keep straight who’s talking when, and a couple of the more challenging voices (a teenager and a character with an accent) are handled particularly well. Audiobook listeners who enjoy a suspenseful faith-based tale will want to track down the audio editions from this series.

I borrowed a copy of this audiobook from my local public library. I was not expected to write a review.

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

Audiobook Review: Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig

Title: Raptor 6
Author: Ronie Kendig
Narrator: Adam Verner
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Series: Quiet Professionals, Book 1
Genre(s): Military Thriller, Contemporary Romance
Published: 2014

 Book Description (from publisher, Shiloh Run Press):

Captain Dean Watters keeps his mission and his team in the forefront of his laser-like focus. So when these two things are threatened by hackers, Dean’s Special Forces training kicks into high gear. Failing to stop the hackers from stealing national security secrets from the military’s secure computers and networks isn’t an option. Zahrah Zarrick is a missionary teacher to Afghan children in Mazar-e Sharif. And a target. When Zahrah is captured because of her expertise in quantum cryptology, endangering the US national security, Dean is forced to crack the lockbox around his heart—a move that might come at the highest cost.

My Thoughts:

This may be the first of its type (military fiction) that I’ve read so far, certainly my first by this author, and I have to say I’m impressed.  Even though this is a little bit outside my normal reading habits, I read so many positive reviews of Ronie Kendig’s novels by bloggers whose opinions I respect, I had to give this a try.  Especially when I found a good deal on the audio version.

Here’s a glimpse of what I loved about Raptor 6.  The action and suspense kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what might be coming next.  The characters were engaging and felt realistic, with flaws and a history.  I really enjoyed seeing the camaraderie among the Raptor team members, and I loved how Zahrah stood by her beliefs even when things got difficult.  And yeah, “difficult” is probably the understatement of the year.  This book definitely puts the hero and heroine through the ringer, which makes for some intense reading, and plays a big part in the development of their relationship.  I also found the first person viewpoint of one of the bad guys a pretty fascinating complement to the rest of the story.

Recommended to those who enjoy an action and suspense oriented story with romance on the side.  Raptor 6 is first in the Quiet Professionals series, which includes Hawk (November 2014) and Falcon (May 2015), each telling the story of another of the Raptor team members introduced in this book.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

I haven’t come across very many Christian fiction audiobooks read by male narrators yet, so Adam Verner’s performance made for a nice change.  He did a good job differentiating the characters’ voices and making even the female voices sound natural.  I also thought his narration included just the right amount of character and emotion to give depth and added interest to the listening experience.  I think audiobook fans will find this one worth listening to.

Audiobook Review: Priceless by Joel and Luke Smallbone

Title: Priceless
Author: Joel Smallbone & Luke Smallbone
Print Publisher: Worthy Publishing
Audio Publisher: christianaudio.com
Narrator: David Atlas & Nora Hunter
Published: September 2016
Genre: Christian fiction, Contemporary, Novelization
Length: 8 hours, 5 minutes. Unabridged.

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

She’s Worth Fighting For

This novelization of a major motion picture (Fall 2016) by Joel and Luke Smallbone of GRAMMY Award-winning band For KING & COUNTRY is a powerfully compelling, suspense-filled love story that reminds us that no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or even how far we’ve gone astray, we are of infinite worth in God’s eyes.

The powerfully compelling novelization of the major motion picture by Joel and Luke Smallbone of the band for King & Country. James Stevens was, at one time, a good man with a great life. After the tragic death of his wife and losing custody of his little girl, James is at the darkest crossroad of his life. Angry, desperate, and unable to hold down a steady job, he agrees to drive a box truck on a shady, one-time trip cross country for cash—no questions asked. When he discovers what he is delivering is actually a who, the questions in his mind begin haunting him mercilessly. James becomes an unlikely hero who must fight to save the lives of two young women and finds himself falling in love with one of them. Can love, strength, and faith redefine his past and change the course of his future?

My Thoughts on the Book:

This book is quite an eye-opener on the subject of human trafficking in the United States. It tells the heartbreaking story of two young sisters trapped in a situation they never would have chosen, and the lengths to which an unlikely hero will go to help them escape. It also offers a powerful reminder that we are each priceless in God’s eyes.

The story itself was well told from multiple perspectives that draw readers emotionally into the story and help us to see the kind of thing that could be going on closer to home than we might think. While the subject matter can be difficult to face, I thought the authors dealt with it in a tasteful way, raising awareness without becoming overly graphic or explicit.

Suspense builds throughout the story as characters and readers become aware of what’s going on and as the stakes continue to rise, right up to an adrenaline-powered climax. The story ends with what I felt was an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

While the book’s description calls it a love story, the romantic element seemed to me to come a bit out of left field in the last chapter. The romantic in me would’ve liked to see that relationship develop a bit more on the page rather than between the chapters. But I can’t really complain, as the romance in this story really is secondary to the other plot elements and to the overall theme.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but would be curious to see how this story plays out on the big screen.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The audiobook features not one, but two narrators, which I think is a fabulous idea and works particularly well for this story. David Atlas reads the scenes told from James Stevens’ perspective, while Nora Hunter reads the scenes featuring Antonia and Maria. Each narrator did a great job of drawing me into the perspective of his or her viewpoint characters. The emotion of the story comes through in their voices, and the reading pace felt just right.

I was pleased to find this audiobook available electronically from my local library via Hoopla.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Movie | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Title: Sea Rose Lane
Author: Irene Hannon
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Published: June 2016
Series: Hope Harbor, Book 2
Genre: Christian fiction, Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hours, 20 minutes. Unabridged.

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

Two people starting over . . . in a town known for second chances

After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to Hope Harbor–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect who’s invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to help Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

Come home to Hope Harbor–where hearts heal . . . and love blooms

My Thoughts on the Book:

Fans of Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor (see my review of the first book in this series) will be delighted to return to this small seaside town for another fun contemporary romance with emotional and spiritual depth. The romance between Eric and BJ is sweet, with some whimsical interruptions by local wildlife – namely harbor seal Casper and seagulls Floyd and Gladys. The lead characters are sympathetic and relatable, as they work through past hurts and challenging decisions. And I appreciate the roles faith and community play in both the main plot and several subplots.

Sea Rose Lane could easily be read as a stand-alone, but those who have read Hope Harbor will enjoy spotting a number of striking parallels in plot and theme between the two stories, as well as familiar people and locations. The lead characters (and seagulls) from the last book make cameo appearances in this one. And Charley, with his seaside taco stand and incredible intuition, takes on an even bigger role than last time.

Speaking of which, after reading Hope Harbor, I made a point of trying fish tacos the next time I found the opportunity, and discovered I really like them! Reading this book brought them back to mind, so writing this review is making me hungry. LOL! Too bad Charley’s taco stand isn’t right around the corner, or I know what I’d be doing for lunch.

This book touches on some thought-provoking issues in a gentle manner that could make for a natural conversation starter. So if anyone’s looking for a book for their discussion group, this one could be a great pick. There’s even a pre-made discussion guide available on the publisher’s Web site.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

After listening to two full-length audiobooks read by Therese Plummer, her vocal inflections are becoming very familiar. I have a feeling that even if I read the upcoming Book 3 (Sandpiper Cove) in print format, I’d still “hear” it in her voice… but I plan to seek out the audiobook edition anyway. Her voice feels very natural to the series. Perhaps it’s the laid-back, casual quality that fits the small-town vibe of the book? Either way, the emotion and the characterization reflected in her reading results in a satisfying listening experience – one I would highly recommend.

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

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

Audiobook Review: Always Watching by Lynette Eason

Title: Always Watching
Author: Lynette Eason
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Tantor Audio
Narrator: Rachel Dulude
Published: February 2016
Series: Elite Guardians, Book 1
Genre: Christian fiction, Romantic Suspense
Length: 8 hours, 31 minutes. Unabridged.

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

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity. The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians to protect his son. But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap.

Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him–including Olivia. But in her mind, even more dangerous than the threats to her life is the hold her handsome client has on her heart.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Always Watching by Lynette Eason is among the best romantic suspense novels I’ve read in a while. I particularly enjoyed the premise of this series based around a group of female bodyguards. And I’m happy to report that Olivia and the other bodyguards in her agency are in fact pretty awesome people, both professionally and personally. The romance between Olivia and Wade was fun and believably done. But I think my favorite part is seeing Olivia and Amy (Wade’s preteen daughter) face down their fears to do what needs to be done. The stalker’s attacks keep the level of suspense significant, and the author does a good job keeping readers guessing at who the culprit could be. I guessed some aspects of the ending and was completely surprised by others. I also appreciated the inspirational message. I’m definitely looking forward to reading future installments in the Elite Guardians series.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Rachel Dulude’s reading of this audiobook is excellent. The character voices, both male and female, are believable and unique. I was particularly impressed by the narrator’s rendition of the voices of a couple of preteen girls, and of one of the bodyguards who had an accent. The bulk of the story is told in a crisp matter-of-fact way, but when characters are talking and when things get emotional, the narrator puts you right there in the characters’ heads. Very well done. If audiobooks are your thing, this is definitely one worth listening to.

Thank you to Tantor Audio for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

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

Audiobook Review: Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Title: Secrets She Kept
Author: Cathy Gohlke
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrators: Morgan Hallett and Suzy Jackson
Published: September 2015
Genre: Historical Romance, Christian Fiction
Length: 13 hours, 34 minutes. Unabridged.

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

All her life, Hannah Sterling longed for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following Lieselotte’s death, Hannah determines to unlock the secrets of her mother’s mysterious past and is shocked to discover a grandfather living in Germany.

Thirty years earlier, Lieselotte’s father is quickly ascending the ranks of the Nazi party, and a proper marriage for his daughter could help advance his career. Lieselotte is in love—but her beloved Lukas is far from an ideal match, as he secretly works against the Reich. Yet Lieselotte never imagined how far her father would go to ensure her cooperation.

Both Hannah’s and Lieselotte’s stories unfold as Hannah travels to Germany to meet her grandfather, who is hiding wartimes secrets of his own. Longing for connection, yet shaken by all she uncovers, Hannah must decide if she can atone for her family’s tragic past and how their legacy will shape her future.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I had the pleasure recently of listening to the audiobook edition of Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke. This book has won a Christy Award and an INSPY Award, and this audio edition was a finalist for an Audie Award. Some impressive accolades, yes?

My impression? There’s vivid storytelling here, alongside close attention to historical detail, and the overall emotional impact is powerful. I loved the dual first person storylines and timelines, particularly the way the stories meshed and played off of each other. Hannah’s quest to understand her family’s past made an interesting modern-day frame for the story of her mother Lieselotte’s experiences during World War II. Questions are asked and secrets are gradually revealed to both Hannah and the reader throughout the course of the book in such a way as to deepen the emotional impact. Thematically, characters wrestle with issues surrounding forgiveness, and I thought the appearances by Corrie Ten Boom within the plot were a lovely touch, helping to drive home the book’s message in memorable terms.

Much as I admired and enjoyed reading this book, there was one aspect of the ending that bugged me. [Will try to be vague here so as not to spoil anything…] When all the secrets were revealed, I found myself skeptical that one character’s perceptions of another could have been so skewed in the way they were… despite the explanations given… and I didn’t really get why those misconceptions couldn’t have been corrected earlier. [Anyone else who’s read it feel the same way? Or am I maybe overthinking this?]

Anyway, while I can’t say this was my number one ranked read of the year, or my favorite title from this author (loved Saving Amelie so much!), I can say that this is an excellent book, well worth the read, particularly for anyone with an interest in World War II era stories.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narrators for the audio edition did a great job conveying the story in an engaging and dynamic way. And yes, I did say “narrators” plural. There are two narrators for this story, one for each time period and its first person viewpoint character. That is to say, Suzy Jackson tells Lieselotte’s portions of the story set during World War II, while Morgan Hallett relates Hannah Sterling’s more modern-day rediscovery of the past. I felt this arrangement worked fabulously for this story. The two narrators have distinctly different voices and styles, which seemed well matched with the personality of the main character they each portrayed. As an added benefit, when returning to the audiobook after a break in listening, it was easy to tell within a brief soundbyte which time period and which character’s world we’re visiting, simply by recognizing the voice of the narrator. Overall, a great listening experience, and highly recommended.

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

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | On Goodreads | Author’s Site | Discussion Guide

Audiobook Review: Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert

Title: Miranda Warning
Author: Heather Day Gilbert
Narrator: Becky Doughty
Publisher: Self Published
Published: Audio – December 2015, Print – May 2014
Series: A Murder in the Mountains
Genre: Mystery
Length: 8 hours, 33 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Audiobook: (from the author’s Web site)

Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her.

But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox—a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting—Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer…or the next victim might be Tess herself.

Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

My Thoughts on the Audiobook:

I first reviewed this book back in August 2014 and loved its setting, its characters, and the way the story unfolds with glimpses into multiple viewpoints and time periods revealing key pieces of the mystery a bit at a time. But that was back before there was an audio edition. The more recent release of the audiobook through Audible, combined with the offer of a review copy, provided just the excuse I needed to re-read this lovely mystery.

Since I’ve already gushed about the contents of the book, I’ll refer you back to my earlier review for my thoughts on plot and characters, and focus here on my reaction to the narration. (That kind of seems like a fitting focus for today anyway, since June is audiobook month!)

The narrator, Becky Doughty, did a fabulous job with this audiobook. She tells the story in a casual and relaxed manner, just as I imagine Tess (the first-person narrator) would, with just the right amount of humor, sarcasm, emotion, and excitement coming through in her voice at any given moment. Each character has his or her own voice in dialogue with careful attention paid to gender, age, accent, and emotion. I was particularly impressed by the scene segments shared from Rose’s perspective. The inflections, tone, and accent used give these scenes a feel all their own, making it easy to follow whose story is being told even without the visible scene breaks you’d have as a guide in the written book.

I tend not to re-read very many books, since there are so many out there yet to be read a first time, but I’m glad I took the time to try this one in audiobook format. The story was just as good the second time around, and Becky Doughty’s performance is not to be missed!

Thank you to the author for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

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

Audiobook Review: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Title: Against the Tide
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Audio Length: 11 hours, 29 minutes; Unabridged
Publication Date: October 2012
Genre(s): Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction

About the Book (from print publisher, Bethany House):

After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

Lydia’s talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.

When Bane’s enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane’s mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.

When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive?

Thoughts on the Story:

Against the Tide initially caught my attention because of all the recognition and awards it received. This book won a RITA Award, a Christy Award, AND a Daphne de Maurier Award. Talk about some impressive credentials! Then I saw that the audio edition was narrated by an incredibly popular multi-award-winning narrator, and I knew this was an audiobook I couldn’t pass up.

So, now that I’ve read it, do I think the story lives up to its reputation? Yes, most definitely.

Both lead characters are wonderfully complex, and the storyline is compelling and thought provoking. Plus, if I can borrow what Lydia says of Bane (page 173):

“Everyone ought to have a brilliant, glorious rascal in their life just once, right?”

At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Bane. Could this “rascal” be trusted? Why did the admiral call him dangerous? Was he really a worthy hero? I’m guessing if I’d read The Lady of Bolton Hill first, in which Bane also appears, I might have understood him better from the outset. (At this point, I have not yet read The Lady of Bolton Hill and only recently learned of the connection. Anyone who has read it want to weigh in here?) As it was, I got to know him, and like him, a little at a time, just as Lydia does. Which was a lot of fun. J

The romance is sweet, the suspense page-turning, and the historical aspects engaging. There’s an Author’s Note at the end detailing some of the factual historical information included, and I’ve got to say, the history surrounding medications like Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was pretty shocking. It makes me appreciate some of the regulations in place now all the more.

Possibly one of the most interesting aspects of this book was the discussion on law vs morals. I’ll let Bane and Lydia speak for themselves in this quoted passage (from Chapter 10, page 97):

Lydia’s jaw dropped. “Is this kind of thing legal?”

“Cleaning offices? Of course it is.”

“But you are suggesting looking at records on people’s desks, in their files.”

He pierced her with that blue gaze, assessing her. “Lydia, sometimes there is a difference between things that are legal and things that are moral. I’m looking for smugglers, that’s all. Most of the opium in the market is being brought in by a smuggler working in the Boston Custom House. Trying to find him is a worthy goal.”

I think this book would be an excellent choice for a book discussion group. It comes complete with an eight question discussion guide, covering this and other thought provoking topics that could make for a fascinating group discussion. Whether you’re looking for a book to discuss or just a good read, if you enjoy history, romance, and suspense in a thought-provoking book with complex characters, then this book would be a great choice. Highly recommended.

Thoughts on the Audio Edition:

I consider myself a fan of Barbara Rosenblat’s work, and I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one. This prolific and popular narrator has been recognized with 6 Audie Awards and 40 Earphone Awards, among other honors which include being named one of AudioFile’s “Golden Voices” and a “Voice of the 20th Century.” Her skill with accents and her impressive vocal range made the voices of individual characters realistic and immediately recognizable. And her portrayal of the characters’ emotions brought them to life in a vivid and compelling way. It was a pleasure to hear this award winning Inspirational story paired with a narrator of Barbara Rosenblat’s caliber. Whether you already love audiobooks or are interested in giving them a try, you can’t go wrong with this one.