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Under Currents by Nora Roberts, narrated by January LaVoy

A small rowboat is tied up at a wooden dock surrounded by reeds, on a lake at sunset, the colours are purples and redsWhy I read it:  I pre-ordered this one.

CW: Family violence, domestic abuse

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Within the walls of a tasteful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, young Zane Bigelow feels like a prisoner of war. Strangers—and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake—see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Zane and his sister know the truth: There is something terribly wrong.

As his father’s violent, controlling rages—and his mother’s complicity—become more and more oppressive, Zane counts the years, months, days until he can escape. He looks out for little Britt, warning her Be smart. Be careful. In fear for his very life, he plays along with the insidious lie that everything is fine, while scribbling his real thoughts in a secret journal he must carefully hide away.

When one brutal, shattering night finally reveals cracks in the façade, Zane begins to understand that some people are willing to face the truth, even when it hurts. As he grows into manhood and builds a new kind of family, he will find that while the darkness of his past may always shadow him, it will also show him what is necessary for good to triumph—and give him strength to draw on when he once again must stand up and defend himself and the ones he loves.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Every year I eagerly await the new stand-alone Nora Roberts romantic suspense. Sometimes they miss more than they hit, but when they work for me they really work for me. Under Currents worked.

While I found it a little predictable at the end, I enjoyed the listen so much. The subject matter, dealing as it does with family violence (including spousal abuse, sexual, emotional and physical and child abuse, emotional and physical) is pretty brutal so it won’t be a book for everyone. But at various points throughout the story I was so tense and fearful about what was going to happen, as well as just plain happy as the romance blossomed. There are a few little romances in the book actually – more than one HEA is always a good thing.

Heaven and Hell by Kristen Ashley, narrated by Felicity Munroe

Heaven and Hell audioWhy I read it:  I had the ebook on my TBR, having picked it up for 99c in a sale some time ago. I saw the audiobook at Audible for $1.99 on a whispersync special so I bought it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  After making a bad decision when she was very young, Kia Clementine finds herself in hell. Then, suddenly, within the time it takes for a shotgun to blast, her hell changes. Completely. Then, out of the blue, she sees Sampson Cooper, her celebrity crush. A man the whole world knows is decent. A man the world knows is loyal. A man the world knows is good. All of these very unlike her now dead husband. He’s sitting at a table right next to hers. And she catches his eye.

Terrified of the interest Sam shows in her, Kia finds the courage to go out with him. Not long after, she shares her dark secrets, and Sam shares that he’ll stop at nothing to gain her trust. As Sam leads Kia to heaven, Kia realizes that Sam is living his own hell. Although he gives her beauty and she gives him everything, he withholds his trust. Even with all the beauty Sam shows her, Kia wants it all. But Sam forces Kia to make a heartbreaking decision, and only she can decide. It’s all or nothing.

Trigger Warning: Domestic abuse (in heroine’s first marriage)

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  As is often the case when I start audiobooks, I hadn’t looked at the blurb and so I didn’t really know much about what to expect, other than that I remembered it was a contemporary. In many ways, the story has the same vibe as the ‘Burg series (even having cameos from some characters from that series, including Joe Callahan and Tanner Layne) and the Colorado Mountain series. Pretty much, if listeners enjoyed those series’, they’re like to enjoy this book.

I suppose I should say more than that though shouldn’t I? 🙂

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