Audiobook Adventures: More Wallowing

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m bored at the dayjob. Go figure.

Another fun fact: It’s so windy here on the open prairie (well, a barren cornfield north of the airport, but whatever) that the facilities guy put himself on call to HELP US OPEN THE DOORS. True story.


Current read: Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

Narrated by Stina Nielsen

I’m retitling this Until the Yawn, because I’m clever like that. I’m about halfway in, and the pacing just ….keeps …..slowing …….down. I expect great things from Camden because I’ve unreservedly loved all her previous books; Against the Tide and Into the Whirlwind are both DIKS.

Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

Sadly, Dawn has “meh” all over it, partly because the narrator is noticeably lackluster, but mostly because the main characters are both completely insufferable. He’s a Cranky Crankhole and she’s a Sunny Sunbeam and ALL RIGHT THEY’RE OPPOSITES WE GET IT MOVE ON ALREADY FOR CRIPES SAKE. The heroine is described as “nice” at least 1,486 times.

A bunch of scientists just showed up at the cursed mansion, so I’m hoping there’ll be some ghost action or a dog unearths buried treasure (I like dogs) or Mr. Crankhole breaks his other leg falling off a cliff or something to get this story moving.

HOWEVER. The prequel novella, Toward the Sunrise, was really good. It had GOATS as a primary plot device and I still liked it.



Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

Narrated by Rachel Botchan

Gist gave me a dud with her last book, which gave me Book Anxiety for this one. But I sucked it up and got sucked into her world-building once again. I stayed a while to wallow.

Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

Gist can take a tiny thread from a historical newspaper article or, in this case, a Chicago World’s Fair brochure, and spin it into glorious layers of character and relationship building. And then she surrounds it with an almost touchable sense of place. Tiffany Girl has the same Grumpy vs. Perky pairing as Until the Dawn, but this time it works beautifully.

I don’t necessarily recommend the audiobook over other formats; the narration was serviceable but nothing outstanding. Just read it. Trust me.


The Bride by Julie Garwood

Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

I wanted to like it. I really did. Garwood’s The Prize was my first audiobook ever, and I hated it so much I put the narrator (Anne Flosnick) on my Never Again list. Then I tried Ransom and loved it, so I figured what the hell.

The Bride by Julie Garwood

Hell indeed. I hated The Bride. I thought it was irredeemably stupid. I know it’s a classic and it has a million copycats. I still hated it. I yelled “OH FOR GOD SAKE” approximately seven times per chapter. We won’t even discuss the eye-rolling.

Me and Garwood were just not meant to be.


The Parfit Knight by Stella Riley

Narrated by Alex Wyndham

Me and Stella Riley, on the other hand….

The Parfit Knight by Stella Rilery

Nearly perfect in every way. A noble but insecure hero. A strong but vulnerable heroine. A bad guy I still want to punch in the face. If someone had punched him in the face, and then had him press-ganged, this would have been perfectly perfect instead of just nearly perfect.

The narration was perfectly perfect. Wyndham is brilliant.


A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Narrated by Angele Masters

So, some people loved this and other people didn’t. I — because it’s all about ME — loved it. LOVED IT. I struggled with the Book Anxiety again; Raybourn’s foray into more “upmarket” chick lit didn’t impress me, and I read the first three chapters of this three times over three months.

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Then I tried the audiobook, and I was there. As Joanna Bourne said (yes, I’m name-dropping, shut up), Raybourn is brilliant at texture, and the world-building was stellar with this one. The heroine is, admittedly, very…odd, and the actual romance doesn’t show up until the last chapter, but the melding of action and suspense was everything I’ve wanted since my last (umpteenth) re-read of Lady Julia. I did not see the twisty bit coming at all, and I’ve read at least five books attempting that particular twist.

I am eagerly awaiting the next installment.


Ruined by a Rake by Erin Knightley

Narrated by Alastair Stephens

Knightley is a new auto-buy for me, and I grabbed her two novellas on Audible as soon as I saw them.

Ruined by a Rake by Erin Knightley

I…squeed. I think I honest-to-god squeed. A solid A grade – FIVE BIG FAT STARS – because this completely charmed me and I’m going to listen to it again and again. I’m…using a lot of italics.

The other novella, Scandalized by a Scoundrel, was more of a B-/C+ read; it really needed the same narrator as Ruined.


The King’s Man by Elizabeth Kingston

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Everyone else squeed, which usually scares me off. I should trust you guys more.

The King's Man by Elizabeth Kingston

I got to the part where the disguised-as-a-boy heroine whips out her bow and shoots the smarmy hero in the foot to shut him up and then I was all OH HELLS YES.

And then the end killed me dead. Actually, just mostly dead, but I still haven’t fully recovered.


The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Narrated by Faye Adele

Yes, I’m the only person in Romland who hadn’t read this yet. Steampunk intimidates me. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. I had a Scribd credit to use so I girded my clockwork loins. Or would clockwork loins already be girded? I’m still a noob at this kind of stuff.

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

While I was listening, I was all “yeah, I see why everyone likes this, it’s pretty good.” And then after I was done, I kept thinking about it. And thinking about it. Random scenes pop into my head and they’re vivid. So I’m keeping my Scribd subscription for a few more months.


All the Loretta Chases

Narrated by Kate Reading


Mr Impossible by Loretta Chase

I love Daphne and Rupert SO MUCH.

I also listened to the Scoundrels series and I still think Rupert would just ignore the blow-hard Marquess of Dain until he got fed up with the endless blustering and threw him out a window.

Chase’s earlier novels — Devil’s Delilah, Viscount Vagabound and Knave’s Wager — were kind of uneven. I liked Vagabond a lot, but the other two didn’t do much for me.


Next up….


Who started me on audiobooks anyway??? I may have a problem. Damn you all.

Audiobook Update: The Kearsley Binge

The binge is done. I have no more new Kearsley audiobooks. *sob*

I started my re-reads even before the binge ended. I listened to Winter Sea again first, because I had to prepare myself for the re-read of Firebird.

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

I love this book. I have I mentioned this before?

Firebird was even better the second time, because I allowed myself to just sink in and wallow in it.



Wallow: to indulge in an unrestrained way in
something that creates a pleasurable sensation.

My facial expressions while reading this book are even dopier. Except when I’m ugly-crying, and no one needs pics of that.


Also, I really need to go to St. Petersburg.

ANYWAY. Back to the first round. Every single book will be a re-read. A quick breakdown:

More must-reads….

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley   Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley   The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

I am not kidding about this. Your life is incomplete without these books. Trust me.

Time-Travel for Serious Time-Travelers….

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley   The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Only Kearsley can invalidate all my cynical skepticism about Serious Time Travel. These are full-on “sucked into the past unwillingly” stories, and she makes them work.

The ones I’m slightly iffy on, so I need to read them again….

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley   The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

These are more straight-up suspense that are almost…Hitchcockian with the MacGuffins and red herrings and bizarre dreams and whatnot.

The narrators….

Katherine Kellgren (Firebird, Desperate Fortune) sounds exactly like Lady Mary from Downton Abbey. Perfection. I am coveting the entire Bloody Jack middle-grade series.

Barbara Rosenblat (Splendour Falls) is one of my “I’ll Listen to Anything” narrators. LOVE HER.

Rosalyn Landor does a great job with Winter Sea, but she’s the voice of so many romances (Balogh, Kleypas, Garwood, Quinn, Milan), I wasn’t quite as enthralled on the second listen.

I did have some issues with Carolyn Bonnyman‘s narration of Season of Storms and Mariana. The performances are great, but her softer delivery and intonation make it really difficult to hear while I’m driving — I have to crank the volume to full blast to cut through ambient noise.

Good, but not rave-worthy until I listen to more from them: Jill Tanner (Named of the Dragon), Sally Armstrong (Shadowy Horses), and Nicola Barber (Rose Garden).


A huge round of applause for Kearsley’s design team, because these are truly beautiful and evocative covers.


Just in case Ms. Kearsley might see this…. I am being patient waiting for your next book. No, really. I’m not even going to email or tweet you.

I’m just going to leave these here, so you know that I am WAITING PATIENTLY.


The Classic Movies List: A Rec for Every Romance Trope

Here’s the work-in-progress list— The Google doc is always open for more!

Kelly’s Must-See List

Because it’s All About Me. Watch these and report back.


 It Happened One Night The Shop Around the Corner How to Marry a Millionaire


 Drama_TheClock  Drama_BestYearsOfOurLives Drama_RandomHarvest

Note: I would have included Casablanca, but that’s just a given on any list.


Suspense_Notorious  Suspense_Rebecca Suspense_Gaslight

  • Notorious — I’ll just be over here curled up in a ball yelling things at the television.
  • Rebecca — Perfect casting of a perfect adaptation of a perfect novel.
  • Gaslight — Your skin will crawl until the beta hero saves the day.

Note: All the best suspense movies have one-word titles.


Friends to Lovers

  • Holiday
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Gigi
  • Born Yesterday
  • It Should Happen To You

Enemies to Lovers

  • QuietManThe Quiet Man
  • The Philadelphia Story
  • The Shop Around the Corner
  • Bringing Up Baby
  • His Girl Friday
  • Desk Set
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • Notorious
  • Ninotchka/Silk Stockings
  • The Band Wagon
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Whirlwind Romance

  • The Clock
  • On the Town
  • Anchors Aweigh
  • Bringing Up Baby



  • To Have and Have Not
  • The Clock
  • On the Town
  • Anchors Aweigh
  • I Was a Male War Bride
  • The Best Years of Our Lives
  • Since You Went Away
  • Casablanca
  • The More the Merrier
  • Tender Comrade
  • A Foreign Affair

Reforming the Rake

  • Love in the Afternoon

Obsessive Love

  • Laura
  • Double Indemnity
  • Leave Her to Heaven
  • Dragonwyck

Unrequited/One-Sided Love

  • Little Women
  • It Should Happen to You
  • The Apartment
  • Easter Parade
  • How to Marry a Millionaire
  • Footlight Parade


Some of these aren’t HEA, but all are must-see!


  • I’ll Be Seeing You — streaming on YouTube!
  • The Clock
  • Brief Encounter
  • Kitty Foyle
  • Random Harvest
  • Love Affair/An Affair to Remember
  • Enchanted Cottage
  • A Place in the Sun
  • Splendour in the Grass
  • Butterfield 8
  • Waterloo Bridge
  • Casablanca
  • Dark Victory
  • Now, Voyager
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Marriage In Trouble

  • Barefoot In the Park
  • The Bishop’s Wife
  • Adam’s Rib
  • State of the Union
  • Barkleys of Broadway
  • The Palm Beach Story
  • Wife Vs. Secretary


  • Random Harvest
  • Spellbound

Secret Babies

  • Bachelor Mother/Bundle of Joy
  • It Started In Naples

Love Triangle

  • Holiday AffairHoliday Affair
  • Sabrina
  • Casablanca
  • Holiday
  • My Favorite Wife
  • Rachel and the Stranger
  • A Foreign Affair
  • The Vikings

Sibling’s best friend/Best friend’s sibling

or sibling/best friend’s love interest

  • Holiday

Road Trip

  • It Happened One Night
  • The African Queen
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Sullivan’s Travels

Age Gap

  • SabrinaSabrina
  • Love in the Afternoon
  • That Touch of Mink
  • Gigi
  • Daddy Long Legs
  • All That Heaven Allows*
  • Sweet Bird of Youth
  • It Started In Naples
  • The World of Suzy Wong
  • Funny Face

Second Chance

  • Philadelphia Story
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • Dishonored Lady
  • His Girl Friday
  • The Awful Truth


  • Love in the Afternoon
  • That Touch of Mink

Marriage of Convenience/Arranged Marriage/Forced Marriage

  • Love With the Proper Stranger
  • Crossing Delancey
  • Mrs. Skeffington
  • Come Live With Me

Lost Souls/Lonely Hearts

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Rocky
  • Marty

Big Misunderstanding

  • BellBookAndCandleBell Book and Candle (not a misunderstanding as much as magical intervention)
  • Christmas in Connecticut
  • The Shop Around the Corner
  • Love Affair/An Affair to Remember
  • Bachelor Mother/Bundle of Joy
  • How to Steal a Million
  • My Man Godfrey
  • My Favorite Wife
  • Without Reservations
  • Some Like It Hot
  • I Married a Witch
  • Indiscreet

Romantic Suspense

  • Notorious
  • To Catch a Thief
  • Gaslight
  • Key Largo
  • Charade
  • The 39 Steps

Opposites Attract/Unlikely Lovers

  • DesigningWomanDesigning Woman
  • Vivacious Lady
  • Platinum Blonde
  • Pygmalion
  • Woman of the Year
  • Tammy and the Bachelor
  • Guys and Dolls
  • African Queen
  • Royal Wedding
  • It Started In Naples
  • Bringing Up Baby
  • The Pirate
  • Ninotchka
  • The Sound of Music
  • Grease
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • The Lady Eve
  • My Man Godfrey

Class Differences/Family Objections

  • SwanThe Swan
  • You Can’t Take It With You
  • My Man Godfrey
  • West Side Story
  • Pygmalion
  • Duel in the Sun
  • A Place in the Sun
  • All That Heaven Allows
  • Made for Each Other


  • The Swan
  • Born Yesterday
  • Pat and Mike
  • Pygmalion

Witty Banter

  • ThinManThe Thin Man
  • His Girl Friday
  • It Happened One Night
  • I Was a Male War Bride
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • To Catch a Thief
  • Adam’s Rib
  • The Awful Truth
  • Arsenic and Old Lace


  • Pride of the Yankees

Straight-Up Rom-Coms

  • BallOfFireBall of Fire
  • The Lady Eve
  • How to Marry a Millionaire
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • Pillow Talk
  • Some Like It Hot
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  • It Happened One Night
  • More Than a Secretary
  • Singin’ in the Rain

Not genre romance but totally romantic

  • The Best Years of Our Lives
  • The Apartment
  • Destry Rides Again
  • From Here to Eternity
  • A Place in the Sun
  • Marty
  • West Side Story
  • Rebecca
  • Penny Serenade
  • All This and Heaven Too

Look like romance but totally aren’t  – The Anti-Romance

  • Doctor Zhivago
  • Love Story
  • The Way We Were
  • Atonement
  • Gone With the Wind

Kickass Women

  • Barbara Stanwyck
  • Katharine Hepburn
  • Maureen O’Hara
  • Rosalind Russell
  • Lauren Bacall
  • Myrna Loy
  • Irene Dunne
  • Ginger Rogers
  • Claudette Colbert

Beta Heroes

  • Jimmy Stewart
  • Gary Cooper
  • Jack Lemmon
  • Joseph Cotten
  • Gregory Peck

Alpha Heroes

  • John Wayne
  • Robert Mitchum

Suave and Sexy

  • Cary Grant
  • William Powell
  • Leslie Howard
  • Clark Gable

Best Kisses

  • The Best Years of Our Lives
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • The Quiet Man
  • The Shop Around the Corner

Year in Review: The Page O’ Lists

Have I mentioned that I ♥ bullet lists? And…ellipses. Also — em-dashes.

Favorite historicals….

Virtuous Scoundrel by Maggie Fenton

Favorite contemporaries….

Favorite inspies….

Author Binges….

Panda rolling in snow

Me reading Carla Kelly

  • Carla Kelly
  • Molly O’Keefe
  • Julie James
  • Meredith Duran
  • Laura Kaye
  • Donna Thorland
  • Edith Layton
  • Sarah Mayberry
  • Susanna Fraser
  • Laura Frantz
  • Erin Knightley
  • Sarina Bowen
  • Amanda Quick

New Adult….

Did someone say FANGIRL?

Did someone say FANGIRL?

Yes, really. I actually read — and liked — some New Adult.

Favorite audiobooks….


Me listening to Susanna Kearsley

  • All the Susanna Kearsley — I’m on my second go-round. The Firebird is the current fave.
  • A boatload of comfort reads — Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Cecilia Grant, Loretta Chase. And holy cow, I almost forgot how much I love Rupert and Daphne in Mr. Impossible.
  • A bunch of Amanda Quick — With This Ring, I Thee Wed, The Paid Companion, Otherwise Engaged
  • Virtuous Scoundrel by Maggie Fenton — Did I mention that you should READ THIS BOOK?
  • The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory – A bit more repetitive than I remember from traditional reads (and re-reads), but still my favorite Gregory.
  • The Proposition by Judith Ivory — First listen from library, then I had to buy it so I can keep it on my phone at all times.
  • Ransom by Julie Garwood — Everything I was hoping for that I didn’t get with The Prize.
  • Heartless and Silent Melody by Mary Balogh
  • The Siege Winter by Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman — This helped me get over my blah about Hild (see below).
  • The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati — Someone else needs to read this because I neeeeeed to discuss the ending.

Catching up….

Black Ice by Anne StuartStuff everyone else has read that I just got around to and why in the hell didn’t I read these earlier.


Still with the Book Anxiety….

The Big Fat Books….

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens — This is still a work in progress. A very…slow…work in progress.

The TBR Challenges….

The Heyer Project….

I documented Part II of the quest, in which I color-coded a spreadsheet of Heyer’s character archetypes and plot tropes.

I’ve listened to Bath Tangle and Black Sheep and Venetia three times to erase Cousin Kate from my brain.

Deconstructing For Such a Time, Parts 1-17

I'm not coming down until someone apologiesI know I went overboard on my continued ranting about this book and probably pissed off a lot of people, but I desperately needed to think through the depictions of my faith on the page.

I learned a lot, and what I learned will forever change the way I read inspirationals and historical fiction.

More Sappy Holiday Goodness: No Christmas Like the Present by Sierra Donovan

  • No Christmas Like the Present by Sierra DonovanTitle: No Christmas Like the Present
  • Author: Sierra Donovan
  • Published: Zebra, October 2014
  • Source: Library (and then purchased)
  • Length: 257 pages
  • Tropes: Mysterious Man of Mystery, Lady Scrooge
  • Quick blurb: A glorious mash-up of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. No, really.
  • Grade: A

I don’t use gifs (except for Tessa Dare books), but this one calls for a gif.

Belle gif

This is only $1.99 and everyone should read it immediately. The premise could have been horribly wrong, but it’s everything right. So of course I had to live-tweet it.


Accessible (screen-reader friendly) version