audiobook, book review, New Book, review

Secrets and Charades-An Audiobook

I love audiobooks and listen to them all the time. They’re great for when I’m in the car, cleaning, or laying out in the summer. So when a big time narrator named Meghan Kelly released another historical romance, I jumped at the chance to give it a listen. But before we get into Secrets and Charades, written by Cindy Ervin Huff, let’s get to know Meghan. Meghan is a natural performer. She made her rounds through the high school drama and choir scene and went to college to hone her craft. While it wasn’t what she expected, she couldn’t leave the entertainment world completely behind.

After working with a talent agency in New York City, she moved to the Detroit area, where she became a talent agent and worked her craft for six years. While it was rewarding, it was often difficult and she found her true passion in voiceovers, which later led her back onto the stage as a singer.

Now she is no stranger to the world of voiceovers and began her audiobook narration career five years ago. She looked into ACX, or Audiobook Creation Exchange, and booked her first gig, now boasting over two hundred audiobooks on her resume. Although that might sound like a piece of cake, think about your average audiobook. Think about the thirteen hours of flawless narration you’ve been enjoying, the character voices, the polished tone that brings a story to life…all that takes hours to create.

She begins by searching the ACX platform, looking for a good fit for her talents. Once she’s found one, she retires to the custom home studio her husband built for her work. Then begins the difficult part of her job, getting a perfect read. Each hour of narration takes about six hours of work. This includes the pre-reading, voice prep, recording, proofing, and mastering. Not only is she the voice of the audiobook, but she is the editor and main promoter as well.There is still joy in what she does, as she adores historical romance and fiction. A love passed on to her from her mother, it is what ultimately led her to Secrets and Charades, a sweet historical, western romance with more than one hidden agenda and man in disguise in its pages. Download Secrets and CharadesHEREShop her audiobooks HEREVisit her website HERE

Genre: Historical Christian Western Romance/Mystery

Heat Level:❤️

Story Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Jake is a cowboy in every sense of the word. He works hard on his piece of land, tending to the cattle and raising his wild niece Juliet. Between keeping his ranch hands in line, turning a profit on his herd, and the limited number of eligible women in his corner of the desert, he’s out of luck when it comes to love…until a letter answering his matrimonial ad changes everything. Evangeline is a no-nonsense doctor In Missouri that is far less interested in marriage than most women her age. She’s content to tend to her patients and recover from a small scandal that hit her medical practice. But her niece Maggie has other ideas. Maggie, pretending to be Evangeline, answered an ad for a wife in the matrimonial times and had been corresponding with a man named Jake for quite some time before coming clean to her aunt. Initially scandalized, Evangeline soon thinks that maybe a marriage of convenience and a fresh start is just what she needs to shake off her past. Besides, she believes the Lord works in mysterious ways and perhaps marrying Jake is all in the plan.

Her new home is desolate, warm, but far from the conveniences she has grown up with, and armed with her hefty dowry, she settles into life at the ranch. But when it comes to Jake, she’s not entirely ready to begin her widely duties and puts the fate of the marriage into God’s hands. But aside from the physical aspects, Evangeline is hiding many secrets from her new husband and isn’t sure if he will even want to keep her when she finally does come clean.

While they sort out their life together, cattle’s thieves roam the area, taking not only their livelihood, but sense of security. Bandits are not unheard of and two-faced ranch hands complicate matters when secrets become unraveled. As time goes on and her feelings for Jake deepen, Evangeline must both come clean about her past and keep her new home from falling into ruin. Okay, so I’ll start with the story first. Overall, I enjoyed the book. Because there was no physicality or overt romance scenes, the plot had to carry the book completely. In that, it did not disappoint. It had everything you would expect in a western, and more. There was the fallout from the civil war, cattle thieves, racist shop owners in a dusty town, men on the run, and the ramifications of women’s rights and breaking the glass ceiling of what is expected of a woman and a wife. As a historian, the story was vastly believable as well and I didn’t find any inaccuracies that might ruin it for another history buff.

The bulk of the book relied on Christian values, from the themes of forgiveness and grace to the cornerstones of Evangeline and Jake’s marriage. While I normally do not read Christian books, it’s nice to have a clean read that one can share with Grandma without feeling the need to skip Sunday dinner out of shame.

As for the narration, I was pleased as punch (whatever that means!) at how Meghan handled things. Her voice was clear and sharp and she gave life to each character as she spoke. You could always tell when Jake was calling out from the barn or Juliet was speaking about her beloved dog, even without using “he said/she said” after every sentence. You would never know she was a one woman show, recording and editing herself. Overall, I highly recommend Secrets and Charades in audiobook and highly highly recommend Meghan Kelly as a narrator. Remember to visit her website HERE and see what’s next on your Audible list.

book review, Novella

Kissed by a Cowboy

Let’s get some good old fashioned western romance in the mix! Today we have Kissed by a Cowboy, the first book in the eight part series titled Heart of Oklahoma by Lacy Williams.

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Heat Level: ♥

Overall Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Haley Carson comes back to her small hometown in Oklahoma in order to tae care of her dying aunt. A chance meeting with a little girl named Olivia brings Maddox Michaels back into her life. Maddox was Haley’s high school best friend’s older brother, and hewas on the fast track to a pro football career. But life often has different plans and he ended up back in Oklahoma to care for his family. Haley always held a bit of a candle for the tall cowboy, and the spark was reciprocated, although neither of them would truly admit it before. Now it seems that they might have a second shot at exploring a possible romance, but life is messy and family obligations can get in the way.

I don’t believe I’ve ever read a christian romance before, but I went in with an open mind, looking forward to reading a book focused on budding love, rather than lust. While the sweet story was lovely, I was left wanting more. More romance, more dialogue, more…something. Now, that something wasn’t sex, but depth into the characters and their motivations. The info dumping and choppy sentences also left me feeling irked, but I often try to ignore those for the sake of the story as a whole. Still, if you like squeaky clean love in a novella form, pick up a copy of Kissed by a Cowboy.

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