Tag Archives: Recorded Books

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: 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: 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.

Audiobook Review: On This Foundation by Lynn Austin

Title: On This Foundation
Author: Lynn Austin
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Suzanne Toren
Published: October 2015
Series: The Restoration Chronicles, Book 3
Genre: Biblical fiction, Christian fiction
Length: 14 hours, 7 minutes

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

Stone by Stone, the Wall Will Rise Once More Around God’s City

When news reaches him that Jerusalem’s wall is shattered and its gates burned with fire, a distraught Nehemiah seeks God’s guidance in fasting and prayer. Granted an unexpected leave from his duty as cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah sets out for Jerusalem to rebuild the city wall–never anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.

The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and stop the wall’s reconstruction forever. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, with many families resorting to selling their children as bondservants just to keep from starving.

Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is the powerful conclusion to The Restoration Chronicles. This exploration of faith in the midst of oppression offers hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.

My Thoughts on the Book:

This book, and in fact the whole Restoration Chronicles series, is a fabulous example of Biblical fiction at its finest. If you haven’t read the other titles in this series yet, you may want to check out my reviews of Return to Me and Keepers of the Covenant as well.

On This Foundation tells the story of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall in the time of Nehemiah. As with the first two books in the series, this one focuses on a handful of viewpoints – some prominent historical characters and some purely fictional – that bring the story home on a very personal and emotional level, while presenting a balanced look at social and political issues of the day. Along the way the characters face problems and learn timeless lessons that are just as applicable today as they were all those centuries ago.

A favorite quote from the book is a bit of advice Nehemiah offers those working on rebuilding the wall, despite threat of imminent attacks: “The way to replace fear with faith is to pray.” (Disc 8, Track 2, or Page 270) I know I could stand to remind myself of that bit of wisdom every now and then.

While Nehemiah’s story was central to the plot, and he was presented with an interesting backstory, challenges, and flaws to overcome, I felt it was some of the other characters that were most engaging and likeable. Chana, Malkijah, Nava, and Shimon each had a fascinating and unique perspective to share, with challenges of their own, and the overall story was so much deeper and richer because of that. I was particularly impressed by the way the author was able to present both sides of a divisive social issue (the rich vs the poor) through her choice of characters. And I was pleased with the way those issues were resolved without anyone being cast as the Bad Guy.

Historical details and vivid descriptions bring the Biblical account to life in what feels an almost immersive experience. I enjoyed delving into the nitty-gritty details of the work involved in rebuilding the wall as well as feeding the laborers and travelling from the surrounding areas to volunteer. The dangers of attackers, the crushing weight of the stones, and the potential for scorpion stings and other hazards puts the project in a whole new light.

This series is highly recommended for fans of Biblical fiction and anyone curious to experience the genre.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

It’s been nearly a year since I listened to the audiobook edition of Return to Me (first in this series, written and narrated by the same author and narrator), but as I dove into this novel, I was reminded of just how much I enjoyed listening to the earlier one. Suzanne Toren’s reading gives the text a dignified feel that seems quite appropriate to the genre. There’s a musicality and comfortable cadence to her voice that I enjoy, which is a very good thing, considering each audiobook clocks in at over 14 hours’ listening time! The narrator also has an impressive level of comfort with unfamiliar words, phrases, and names that might have tripped me up, had I been reading the text. Overall, a great 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 | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

Title: Hope Harbor
Author: Irene Hannon
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Published: July 2015
Series: Hope Harbor, Book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Christian Fiction
Length: Unabridged, 9 hrs, 42 minutes

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

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

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life–and love–altered her plans. Now she’s home again–with a floundering farm to run . . . a tragic secret . . . and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives–including their own.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Some of my favorite contemporary romances aren’t just romances. Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor is not only a sweet romance between a widow and a widower who never expected to find love again. It’s also a story of overcoming regrets, reconciling with estranged family, and recognizing divine providence in the little things that can make a big difference in our lives. Colorful secondary characters and engaging subplots interweave with the main plotline to add layers and texture to this beautifully told story.

The characters’ interactions and the story itself have a very small-town feel appropriate for its setting. I thoroughly enjoyed descriptions of life on a cranberry farm complete with honeybees and hard labor, as well as visits to the beach, Charley’s taco stand, and church functions.

Food plays something of a central role in the story. There were cookies shared between unlikely friends, cinnamon buns offered in apology, lots of trips for everyone’s favorite fish tacos, and a family recipe for cranberry nut cake that plays a yummy role in the story’s conclusion. After all this talk of food, I want to try some of it. Anyone have any favorite recipes for fish tacos or cranberry nut cake to share?

The main characters Tracy and Michael each harbor regrets related to the death of a spouse. Neither expects to find romance again. The way they work through their regrets and arrive at a place where they’re ready to consider another relationship forms the backbone of the story. And the chemistry between them is evident, even if their romantic moments tend to get interrupted by a comically persistent seagull named Floyd.

Meanwhile, there’s also the story of a charitable organization in need of revamping, a reclusive landlady who regrets becoming estranged from her son, and a teen girl and her family trying to come to terms with an unplanned pregnancy. The secondary characters and plot threads impact each other and the main characters’ story in meaningful ways, contributing to the interconnected small-town feel of the story overall.

Fans of Irene Hannon’s will enjoy her believable portrayal of characters’ emotions as well as the growth of both primary and secondary characters throughout the story, but should be aware that this one doesn’t proceed at quite the thrilling pace of her romantic suspense novels. I highly recommend it, in particular to fans of small-town contemporary romance.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Therese Plummer’s voice and narration style are well suited to this small-town romance. Her narration proceeds at a natural pace, blending into the background to give the story center stage. Character voices are well-done, reflecting the emotions of characters within each scene, and giving voice to multiple male and female voices, including that of a teen girl, which I thought was particularly notable for its feeling of authenticity.

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

Quick Links: About the Book (Goodreads) | Audio Sample (Audible) | Audio Sample (christianaudio)| Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Audiobook Review: Burning Sky by Lori Benton

Title: Burning Sky
Author: Lori Benton
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Published: August 2013 by WaterBrook Press (print) and April 2015 by Recorded Books (audio)
Genre: Historical Romance, Christian Fiction
Audio Length: 13.75 hours, Unabridged

About the Book (publisher’s description):

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.

When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.

Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage–the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

My Thoughts on the Book:

Burning Sky came to my attention quite some time ago, when it won not one, but three Christy Awards in the 2014 awards cycle. It won in both the first novel and historical categories, as well as receiving recognition as Book of the Year. Wow! So this one was already on my wish list when I saw that Recorded Books was releasing an audio edition. As you might expect from an audiobook lover like me, I was thrilled to learn about the new edition and I leapt at the chance for a review copy.

This book is well worth the listen! The story lived up to my expectations, with a deep and multifaceted plot, believable characters who have a lot at stake, and immersion in vivid historical details from a fascinating time in American history. Willa / Burning Sky is a strong and compelling heroine, caught between two worlds, facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, but determined to make a life for herself, even after suffering heartbreaking losses. Her character growth and healing make for a great story. And the suspense, mystery, and romance unfolding along the way makes it all the more captivating. This book is a must-read for fans of historical fiction who haven’t already read it.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narration of this audiobook by Saskia Maarleveld is excellent. The pacing is just right, narration spoken in a clear and pleasant voice, and the character voices stand out as unique and perfectly suited to the characters. The children’s voices struck me as some of the best I’ve heard among audiobooks read by adult narrators, and Neil MacGregor’s accent is simply wonderful.

Whether this is your first time reading the book, or if you’re considering reading it again, I highly recommend the audio edition.

The copy I received initially had a few tracks out of order, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a brand new and corrected copy of the audiobook on my doorstep a few weeks later. Gotta say, I’m impressed that Recorded Books went to the trouble of sending a replacement without my even having to ask. I think it really shows they care about the quality of their product and stand behind it.

A big thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes (and for sending a corrected copy). All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Quick Links: About the Book (from the publisher) | Author’s Web Site | Goodreads

Find this title at: audible | christianaudio | audiobooks.com | downpour

Audiobook Review: Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Title: Tried & True
Author: Mary Connealy
Narrator: Barbara McCulloh
Series: Wild at Heart, Book 1
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: September 2014

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

Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister–and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk–they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”–but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

My Thoughts on the Book:

Tried and True is a fun and lighthearted romp of a story.  If you enjoy inspirational romantic comedy, then you’re going to love this first book in the Wild at Heart series by Mary Connealy.  Our lovely heroine Kylie may have taken up arms to serve her country in the Civil War and then claimed her own homestead out West, all under the pretext of being a boy, but she’s counting down the days until she can leave all that behind for the life she really wants.  One that includes feminine attire, tea parties, and the comforts of “civilized” life back east.

Over the course of the book, Kylie and her “brothers” (read: sisters) wind up in one outrageous situation after another, each described in just the right manner to bring out the humor inherent in the situation.  The opening scene does a great job setting the tone for the book.  We meet Kylie as she attempts to patch a loose shingle on her roof, under threat of an approaching rainstorm, using an improvised “ladder” assembled from a hodgepodge of furniture including a rocking chair.

Throughout the book, there’s a touch of suspense, a healthy dose of sweet romantic moments, and some obstacles and lessons to be learned on the path toward happily ever after for the hero and heroine, but it’s definitely the humor that takes center stage in this book.  And I have to say, the humor is very well done.  I found myself chuckling time and again at something somebody did or said, or the droll way a situation was described.  (Which made for a lovely change of pace from a few much more serious books I read shortly before this one.)  Highly recommended for when you’re in the mood for something fun!

Specific to the Audiobook:

Barbara McCulloh was an excellent choice as narrator for Tried and True.  You can just tell she’s got a real sense of comedic timing that was perfectly in sync with the text of the book.  She paced her delivery wonderfully, speeding up or slowing down certain bits to give maximum impact to the witty asides sprinkled throughout the text, before returning to the casually comfortable reading pace of the majority of the narration.  Male, female, and female-pretending-to-be-male voices were rendered well, each character having his or her own distinct vocal qualities.  All-in-all, a stellar performance by a skilled narrator.

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

Audiobook Review: Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

Title: Full Steam Ahead
Author: Karen Witemeyer
Narrator: Carine Montbertrand
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Series: Full Steam Ahead, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Published: 2014

Book Description (from the Baker Publishing Group’s Website):

When love simmers between a reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante, will they abandon ship or is it full steam ahead?

Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole’s father has always focused on what she’s not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it’s too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family’s greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father’s rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole’s plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father’s rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family’s legacy?

My review:

Karen Witemeyer’s latest novel, Full Steam Ahead, takes her signature blend of witty romance, faith, and history from the ranches of earlier books into the world of the steamboat.  Specifically, to an 1800’s Texas plantation where a reclusive scientist performs explosive experiments designed to improve the safety of steam engines, and thereby prevent future casualties.

I find the history of technology and scientific advances to be pretty fascinating, so I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of this story.  It certainly didn’t hurt that the author incorporated those details in a vivid, and at times explosive way that complements the story well.  And yes, I do mean “explosive” literally.  😉

Nicole and Darius make great romantic leads.  They’re both intelligent and highly motivated characters with interesting backgrounds that just happen to make them perfect for each other… even if they don’t see it at first.  But their chemistry… wow.  I loved watching their romance develop, and particularly the way they impact each other’s faith journeys.

But that’s not all.  Witemeyer also provides some thoroughly charming and entertaining secondary characters.  Not to mention a pair of villains out to steal a treasured family heirloom who season the story with just the right dash of suspense, leading up to an exciting conclusion with a bit of an unexpected but surprisingly satisfying twist.  Definitely worth the read.

Specific to the audio edition:

I must confess that when I read a couple of reviews by listeners who described the narrator’s voice as “old sounding” I was a bit concerned about whether this would be an audiobook I could recommend.  It is, after all, a book about young people.  Would the voices work?  I re-read the book’s description, listened to the audio sample, and decided to take a chance on reviewing it.  I’m happy to say I was not disappointed.

Carine Montbertrand’s performance perfectly captures the wry humor of the novel, and gives life to the characters’ voices and emotions.  Her use of lovely French accents comes in handy for the voices of some of the secondary characters, as well as names of French origin.  Both male and female voices sound authentic and entirely appropriate for their ages.

At times, I did detect a slight gravelly quality to the narrator’s voice, primarily at moments when her voice dipped into the lower registers during passages of narrative description, but I found this didn’t bother me at all, and even seemed to disappear into the background as I grew accustomed to her reading style and got lost in the story.

Overall, I found the listening experience to be a very pleasant one, and I am happy to recommend it.  Thank you to Recorded Books for providing me with a copy of this audiobook for review purposes.