Those of you who read this blog regularly may know that I rarely start a series from the beginning. I usually end up jumping into the middle thanks to a recommendation or a good review, and then working my way backward and/or forward, loving the winding journey just as much as a drive along a twisty New England road in fall.
The picks below are all part of ongoing series. So be a rebel, just like me, and start in the middle. I guarantee the resulting experience will be just as tasty as an apple cider donut from your local apple orchard.
EVER FAITHFUL: Vintage National Parks, Book 3
by Karen Barnett, read by Ann Richardson
I previously mentioned another title in the Vintage National Parks audio series, and I was psyched that our reviewer loved EVER FAITHFUL as much as I loved WHERE THE FIRE FALLS . . . and yet for different reasons! So now it’s official — whether you’re looking for a travel story, a romance, action adventure, or Christian fiction, this loosely linked series covers multiple genres successfully. In this installment, Elise, the ranger’s daughter, meets Nate through his Civilian Conservation Corps assignment in Yellowstone National Park. Richardson delivers a reading that’s lighthearted with an old-timey vibe that grounds every element of these fun stories.
RUNNING FROM THE LAW: Brides on the Run, Book 3
by Jami Albright, read by Jennifer Grace
Ohhh, narrator Jennifer Grace is funny. It takes about 5 seconds before you’ll be grinning at her perfect tempo and over-the-top wisecracks. Down-on-her-luck actor Charlie Klein re-meets Sheriff Hank Odom while discovering her mother has yet again left her high and dry. It feels as though Grace is speaking to a best friend as she relates Charlie’s dire straits and the curveballs life seems to throw at her.
Okay, this is the last title in the series . . . which means you can easily go back and listen to them all, right? Narrator Noah Michael Levine keeps his British accent light and flexible as he runs through Theo’s rocky ascendancy to the Dukedom of Reddington. Taking mill work in exchange for a loan, Theo finds friends in his temporary assignment. Characters from all different backgrounds come alive through Levine’s reading.
WHEN A DUCHESS SAYS I DO: Rogues to Riches Series, Book 2
by Grace Burrowes, read by James Langton
If you don’t like apple cider donuts (ahem), then maybe you like chocolate —which is how our reviewer describes narrator James Langton’s voice. Duncan Wentworth meets Duchess Matilda Wakefield, and she strikes his interest. There’s a panoply of accents — Langton’s conversational banter is very well presented — as well as humor and secrets to discover.
SHADOW WARRIOR: Shadow Riders, Book 4
by Christine Feehan, read by Jim Frangione
Warning: This is an addictive series. Not only are the other stories worth a listen, but you may even decide they are worth multiple listens! The Ferraro family is somewhat akin to a crime family but they seek justice and use their special shadow powers to find it. In this installment, Grace Murphy’s violent past triggers the protective instincts of Vittorio Ferraro. Narrator Jim Frangione drags his words out for full emotional power with a punching strength that mirrors the force of the Ferraro family.
COUNTING ON A COUNTESS: London Underground, Book 2
by Eva Leigh, read by Zara Hampton-Brown
With one of those lovely, proper British accents that is as crisp and reserved as a Downton Abbey butler, Zara Hampton-Brown introduces listeners to rakish nobleman Kit Ellingsworth and his marriage to smuggler Tansyn Pearce. Kit becomes less of a pompous jerk thanks to Hampton-Brown’s nuanced reading, while Tansyn’s Cornish accent shows her inner warmth and her no-nonsense exterior. Hampton-Brown’s lower, throaty voice smoothly delivers the story and the characters’ worries and hopes in an appealing reading.