Arm Candy by Jessica Lemmon, narrated by Teddy Hamilton & Erin Mallon

Stubbled, dark-haired white guy in a blue/grey suit and a light blue shirt and a blue tie, standing with his hands in his trouser pockets against a backdrop that looks like a projection of boiled lollies against a white wallWhy I read it:  I had this one on my TBR but hadn’t got around to reading it yet. Teddy Hamilton is a big draw for me on audio so it was a no-brainer.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Last call! At the end of the night, a clean-cut hunk and a rebellious bartender act on their unlikely chemistry in this frisky standalone novel from the author of Eye Candy. Davis: I’ve had my eye on Grace Buchanan for a while now. Unlike the bubbly blondes I usually date, the feisty, flame-haired bartender both intrigues and bewilders me. Something about Grace – the tattoos? The nose ring? – makes every part of me sit up and beg. There’s only one problem: She hates me. Trading insults and one-liners has become our M.O. But when Grace bets me that I can’t get a date with a non-blonde if my life depends on it, I’m determined to prove her wrong by landing the ultimate non-blonde: her.

Grace: I’m used to regulars hitting on me, and I’ve turned them all down except for one: Davis Price. I like giving him a hard time, and he’s kind of cute in his suit and tie – if you’re into that kind of thing. Anyway, I don’t care how many blondes he takes home…until one of them sidles up to him in my bar. Nuh-uh. But after my little bet with Davis backfires, our first date lands us in the sack. So does the second. And the third. Neither of us wants more than the best sex of our lives. The trouble is, it’s not a question of what I want. It’s what I need. And what I need is Davis.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’ve heard great things about Jessica Lemmon books and I’ve bought a few but not managed to actually read them. (This isn’t uncommon. MOST of the books on my giant TBR will languish unread forever and ever unless I stumble across a time turner and live an extremely long life. And also if they stop publishing new books.) So when I saw Arm Candy in the Audible Romance package it was a nice opportunity to give her a try at little risk. Plus, I’ve recently become enamoured with Teddy Hamilton’s narrations and I was happy to have an excuse to listen to his voice in my ears again. I like Erin Mallon’s narrations too. But Teddy Hamilton’s voice has a sexy drawl which just does it for me.

Keepsake by Sarina Bowen, narrated by Erin Spencer & Teddy Hamilton

face and upper chest of a shirtles guy. A dark-haired woman is embracing him from behind and he's holding her arms to his chest, her face buried in his neck, his face turned toward her. There are trees in the lower foreground to signify the Vermont setting.Why I read it:  This one is available via the #AudibleRomance package.I have it in digital format too but hadn’t found time to read it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  There’s a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he’s good for much more than farm labor.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I have all of the True North books on my TBR but I haven’t read any of them yet. Keepsake works as a stand alone novel however and I didn’t have any trouble following the story. The blurb attracted me and I was in the mood for an angsty listen so I loaded it up on my iPod. It wasn’t as angsty as it could have been actually but I enjoyed, particularly, Zach’s vulnerability in the story. He’s a bit of a cinnamon roll hero (h/t Olivia Dade) and I have soft spot. Also, I’ve recently listened to Goodbye Paradise and Zach had also been at Paradise Ranch so there was a link.

Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen, narrated by Teddy Hamilton & Dake Bliss

extreme close up of a picture of two shirtless guys laying down (should that be lying down?) about to kiss. The picture is off-centre so one face is in the top left and the other (what is visible at least) is in the lower rightWhy I read it:  I bought the book when it was re-released last year but hadn’t found time to read it. The audiobook is part of the #AudibleRomance package so I listened to it instead.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  The trajectory of the romance between Josh and Caleb in Goodbye Paradise is unusual for the genre. For one thing, they’ve known each other all their lives. There’s no meet cute. But the main difference is that they always love each other. We don’t see the development of those feelings, there is no courtship as such. Rather, the story is about how the two men reveal their existing love for one another and how they eventually come out into the open, showing that love to everyone by doing so.

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