The Forsaken

I will never stop saying that Echoes from the Past by Irina Shapiro deserves to be on the big screen, as an HBO special or a Netflix series, really put out there. Especially since after the book three, I almost thought Quinn was ready for the quiet life. But oh no. Shapiro has thrown our fav clairvoyant archeologist for another loop in The Forsaken.

As always, I’ll try to keep this spoiler free, but if you still won’t take my advice and get this series, it’s on you if I slip up.

  • Genre: Historical/Time Travel
  • Story Rating: 100/6 Glass Slippers
  • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

In 2014 Quinn’s mother in law comes upon a grisly discovery beneath the kitchen of her ancestral home. Quinn and Gabe go to her aid and unearth skeletal remains, a sword, and a rosary that Quinn can’t wait to get her hands on. The mystery is made more pressing since whoever was found under the floor was somehow connected to Gabe’s family. But as Quinn learns time and time again in her own life, some familial secrets are best left undisturbed.

In 1462, Lady Kate has just been forced from the priory to go home to her parents. She’s grieving the loss of her brothers from the last battle of the War of the Roses and fears her father will marry her off, something her mother always warned would be the worst thing to ever happen to her. But she comes upon some wounded knights, and although she never took her vows to become a nun, seeing them safe is her Christian duty. While she sees her nursing as nothing more than a necessity, one of the knights is making his own plans, plans that will change her life forever.

Where to begin…I guess I can start with Quinn’s tale, our favorite psychic who often dives into the past. Over the course of the other few books, I’ve gotten attached to her and wish that she could just live her life in peace instead of constantly picking through the rubble of of other peoples mistakes to find answers. She’s been betrayed over and over in a series of events that leaves me both wanting more and just wishing Quinn could finally settle down into the simple life she’s trying to build. And as far as her biggest problem, the person I blame for it all? Well I hope the chart below makes things clear.

The War of the Roses is the beginning of one of my favorite times in history. Bloody, wrought with scandals, and focused on a cast of real people placed in almost otherworldly situations, Shapiro touches on that in her book. She slips slivers of historical events into conversations and passing news from riders to intertwines Kate’s life with real events and keeps the reader, or in my case the listener, gently reminded of what’s going on in the wider world.

When it comes to narration, Wendy Wolfson consistently knocks it out of the park. Her silky smooth voice can highlight the southern drawl of a business man, the low brow accent of a 15th century stable boy, and the gentle tones of a well born lady pining for her knight in shining armor. It’s always a pleasure to listen to her read a story so wonderful.

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this book to lovers of historical, romances, dramas, general fiction, reading, history, air, basically everyone. Lovers of the Outlander series and works by Philippa Gregory will be particularly enthralled, but I really mean it when I say all readers should give this series a try.

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One Night One Secret

I haven’t been much of a fantasy reader lately, outside the usual classics like The Hobbit and a few mermaid romances. And I haven’t read anything with a werewolf as the muscular hottie since high school when Twilight came out. But when one of my fav narrators, Meghan Kelly came to me with One Night One Secret by Hollie Hutchins, I decided to give it a shot.

    • Genre: Second Chance Fantasy Romance
      Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
      Story Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers
      Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

    Susie was a wild child and a single night of passion with a stranger left her pregnant. Several years later, her son Jason is suffering from mystery illnesses and the only explanation she can think of is that there’s something in his father’s past that could answer everything. The only problem? Jason’s father was a shifter, a werewolf that snuck into the human world for a night. She needs to find him, but doesn’t know his name, only the tattoo on his chest. But when she crosses into the shifter world in hopes of tracking him down, she’s blindfolded and taken deeper into their realm, deeper into the darkness.

    Aelnoth is the new lord of his werewolf pack in the shifter world. He loves his people, but not all of their customs. One in particular is the enslavement of the humans who stumble into their realm. He wants to bridge the gap between their worlds, but when he goes to the slave market to make a forced appearance, a red haired human with fire in her soul begs to be bought. He can’t see her sold into sex slavery to be a breeder, so he casts a bid of his own.

    As Susie tries to find her son’s father and Aelnoth tries to keep his pack out of danger, two worlds collide in a dangerous way.

    I’m a mom, so as I was reading, I could really empathize with what Susie was going through. Sure, my kids dad is my husband and I never needed to go on a dangerous quest to find him, but you know how it is. I could really respect Susie going to great lengths to find answers. While she’s not a werewolf, she’s definitely a protective mama who knows how to get what she wants.

    I really enjoy a well planned fantasy world and wanted to know more about the shifter realm! It’s just a really interesting concept to have it within the human world, in the open instead of hidden away. Where is it? Is the history taught in schools? How doesn’t the government know more about it? Why has It been allowed to kidnap and enslave humans who are dumb enough to stumble over the border? I have some serious questions that beg answers…or some sort of companion novel to really flesh it out!

    I believe the book deserves an updated cover to reflect the story. Susie’s not pregnant in the book and there’s no love triangle or multiple partners as hinted at in the cover. I’d love to see something dark and sexy. Like Susie in the woods with a wolf creeping behind her or she and Aelnoth facing off against their foes. A good story needs an equally strong cover!

    Meghan Kelly did wonderful work, as always. Her range is perfect and her ability to go from sweet romance to erotica is impressive. She also has a voice that is very easy on the ears. I’ve listened to a few of the books she’s given voice to and can’t find fault with her even tone and character inflections. At this point, I’d listen to her read a dictionary.

    Rescued by the Sea Nymph

    Narrator Megan Green has just introduced me to the Little Mermaid retelling I didn’t know I needed. Well, calling it a retelling is unfair, since it was much more than that. There are gods and goddesses in disguise, Demi gods on the loose, and a host of rules for both the land and sea. So before I give too much away, here’s Rescued by the Sea Nymph (London Mythos Book 1) by Rebekah Lewis, narrated by Megan Green.

    • Genre: Fantasy Historical Romance
    • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
    • Story Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers
    • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

    James is merely the third son of a viscount, a position where he won’t inherit a title or a fortune, so he sets off to make his own. While the majority of his work as a ship’s captain is legal, he has been known to smuggle a bit, something that could send him to the gallows. One night, he taken hostage by a band of men who want his ship and his beautiful sister. When he defies them, they cut off his hand and toss him into the sea.

    Ione has drifted along in her underwater kingdom for years, the outcast of her flashier sisters. She wants more out of life than to breed with a human male and then send him to his grave. And when one in need of her help floats into her ocean, she can’t help but go against every instinct she has, just to save his life.

    Poseidon is feeling generous and gives James a hook for a hand and Ione three days on land to decide her future. But when the men that attacked James are still at large and everyone in the ton wants to know more about the mysterious beauty on his arm, three days might feel like a lifetime.

    First of all, I love the gods and goddesses in London theme. They pop in and out of mortals’ lives, sometimes doing good and sometimes tossing them to the Kraken. I’m really into the theme and I’m going to look into the rest of the books in the series to get my fix.

    Ione is charming, funny, and practical beyond words when it comes to silly human rules like not being able to ride in a carriage with a man and not dancing the waltz too often. She is a modern woman in a mermaid world who doesn’t need a man to be happy, but she wouldn’t mind taking one for a spin. The whole book, I was rooting for her to get her guy, get her legs, and get everything else in the world she wanted. Sure, James is great too, but Ione is a smart mermaid with a quick wit, so she’s my obvious favorite.

    It’s always so funny to me when a narrator goes from one extreme to the other without pause. The first work of Green’s I listened to was a squeaky clean romance with a few pecks, but this book has a lot more steam than that! But I guess that’s what’s impressive about voice actors, they need to have a certain kind of flexibility to allow them to cover so many different kinds of works.

    Overall, this book is funny, interesting, different, sexy without being erotic, and a must read…or listen. I’m really not picky, as long as you grab a copy.

    The Earl of Sunderland

    I’ve been in a true historical romance kick lately and I recently listened to The Earl of Sunderland: Wicked Earls’ Club by Aubrey Wynne, narrated by Kevin Archer. It was sweet, uncomplicated, full of longing glances and turns about the room, and something nice to listen to while cooped up inside from the snow.

    • Heat Level: ❤️
    • Genre: Historical Romance
    • Story Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers
    • Narrator Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

    Military man Kit was the younger twin, born shortly after his brother, who was first in line to become the Earl of Sunderland. But when his newlywed brother dies shortly after his wedding, Kit returns to his childhood home to take on the title. However, the new widow is expecting a baby and puts the future in limbo. If she has a boy, Kit is back to his old life, but if it’s a girl, he can keep his title and change his life forever. And as they wait for the baby to be born, someone steps into his world that he hopes never leaves.

    Grace became the lady of the house at fifteen when her mother died in childbirth after finally producing a male heir. The small family grieved, but Grace threw herself into raising her little brother and running the estate alongside her father. She convinced herself that love and marriage was not for her, but when she visits her recently widowed and pregnant cousin and meets Kit, she may just change her mind.

    Squeaky clean, this listen is for all ages. Kit and Grace share a few kisses and brush hands, but nothing more. However, their attraction is very physically based in the book, which was confusing at times since they would later think how great their off page conversations had been. I would have liked to witness their deeper chats and expand on their connection. Although their personalities on their own were very well fleshed out and you did want them to work out, if only to let Grace have her cake and eat it too by way of having a permissive husband who would probably also allow her to stay home.

    The subtitle of Wicked Earls’ Club made me wish there was actually more of the bawdy crew in the book! One would think the wicked earls would be, well, wicked. Sure they gambled and cavorted with “ladies of the night,” but that was off page and skimmed over. In fact, no one was wicked. They were all perfectly nice, accommodating, and they should have been called Sweet Earls’ Club instead.

    It’s been ages since I’ve listened to an audiobook narrated by a man, but Archer was perfection. His tone and passion really worked for the book and I can’t believe I haven’t listened to him before! His narration work was so convincing, it’s easy to get lost in the world of Grace and Kit.

    Overall, it was a cute book, a fast listen, and what a sweet, historical romance should be.

    A Gypsy’s Christmas Kiss

    I adore audiobooks. I listen to them in the car, while cleaning, while doing graphic design for work, basically whenever I can. It’s a great way to get my hands-free reading fix. So today I have a short but sweet one entitled A Gypsy’s Christmas Kiss, written by Dawn Brower and narrated by Megan Green. By the way, this is the 6th book in the Connected by a Kiss series. While I always recommend getting a series in its entirety, this book is a stand-alone in a collection of stories by different authors.

    • Genre: Historical Romance
    • Heat Level: ❤️
    • Story Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers
    • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

    Finley, the Duke of Clare, isn’t the warm and fuzzy type. The Battle of Waterloo and a few personal tragedy hasn’t exactly made him open to love and everything that goes with it. But while out feeling sorry for himself, he comes upon a shop and meets a mysterious young woman.

    Lulia is the daughter of a Romany princess and a disgraced English nobleman’s son. Her mixed heritage means she doesn’t fit anywhere, and when she’s left orphaned, she relies on her few friends to keep her company. Teaching fencing lessons pays her bills, as does telling fortunes. When a sad young man with a chip on his shoulder comes into her shop, she might see more than she plans.

    Years later, Lulia has slipped into English high society, spending time with her pupil turned friend, Diana. But she carries many secrets, even from those closest to her. One secret is the strange bond she felt with the young man she met so many years ago. And when the same young man steps back into her life, will her hidden past ruin everything or will the pieces fall into place just in time for Christmas?

    This instalove story is what I like to call “Grammy Safe.” I can listen to it with my grandmother in the car on my way to drop her off at mass with no worries. I can also listen to it on my way to drop my daughter at ballet class. The sweet story is driven mainly by emotions and unexplainable ties that draw Finley and Lulia together. Of course they’re both very attractive, but a few chaste kisses are all this late Georgian era couple share on their way to happily ever after.

    I do wish this book was longer and a little deeper where the story was concerned. When I say it was instalove, I mean they were completely fixed on each other after ten minutes to the point where even after ten years, they were still mad for each other. I would have liked to see why they loved each other without the vague “he’s perfect” and “she’s strong.” Lulia is such a vivid character with such different parents and Finley has such an interesting past that I’m sure has many stories, that I’m left wanting more.

    But the story was short and sweet and great for a little feel-good diversion that makes audiobooks so special. It certainly helped that while listening, it was snowing in my area, mimicking the flurries Lulia and Finley saw in England.

    This is my first listen to a piece Megan Green lends her voice to. She has a certain inflection to her tone that really gave an exotic feel to the book. Lulia’s accent was distinct, making it clear who was speaking when she was sharing a moment with Diana. Even the men had a slightly different tone and everyone’s voice was consistent throughout the work. While consistency doesn’t sound like something to be applauded, I have listened to some audiobooks where a character loses their accent midway through!

    Overall, I enjoyed the story and wished that the rest of the series delved into it more, particularly where Lulia is concerned. How did her parents meet and fall in love? What’s it like being a Romany princess? Did she have to give up fencing? Will she try for the Romany throne? Dawn Brower, if you read this, I would like more Lulia, please and thank you.