I don’t read nearly as fast as Holly or Ingrid, and I really like to multitask in certain areas (embroidery and movie night, anyone?). Holly and Ingrid were recently bemoaning (might be a strong word, but if they weren’t, they should have been) the fact that they can’t process audiobooks, and there I sat, wondering how on earth I’d live without them. (I mean, I would, but my shopping trips would be less fun.)
Aside from one’s ability to process audiobooks or not, there’s the matter of narrators. A narrator can make or break an audiobook. I’m sure I’ve listened to audiobooks that I might have thought were just okay if I had read them, but the narrator brought the story to life in such a way I thought it was fantastic. I might do another smutty six featuring narrators I like to listen to, but for today we’re looking at the combination of great stories brought to life with great narration.
I decided to organize these more or less (how does one even compare apples and oranges, anyway?) in order so we end with my absolute, top, I-squee-to-everyone recommendation. So without further ado, before you give up on audiobooks, try these:
Narrated by Callie Dalton and Teddy Hamilton
Zapata’s books are all first person from the heroine’s perspective, and typically that narration would simply be done by a woman reading the whole book, but in this case, Callie Dalton narrates the story, and Teddy Hamilton voices only Ivan’s lines. The style is unusual and absolutely not for everyone, but I enjoy Dalton’s calm tones with enough intonation to give us Jasmine’s attitude, and Teddy Hamilton’s voice is mellifluous, bringing Ivan to life even though he’s not reading any full chapters. Plus, Lukov is one of Zapata’s most popular books.
Narrated by Alexander Cendese and Iggy Toma
I have listened to so many books narrated by Alexander Cendese and Iggy Toma, and I typically find the combination delightful, but this is the one I’m suggesting. Both narrators have very distinctive voices (Cendese especially), so YMMV, but Cendese as the cuddly but clueless hockey himbo, Cohen, and Toma as the academically superlative but romantically sidelined grad student, Seth, in a playful college romance, really lets those voices shine.
Narrated by Angela Dawe
Did I listen to 19 Psy-Changeling books in a row? In a month? I sure did. Angela Dawe is so easy to listen to. Why am I recommending Silver Silence instead of Slave to Sensation? Well, it’s the beginning of Psy-Changeling, Part II a.k.a. Psy-Changeling Trinity, so it’s a good place to start, and without some dated stuff from the earliest books. But really? The bears.
Narrated by Mary Jane Wells
Mary Jane Wells has narrated many books, but I just listened to this one to prep for our Back to Old School duel, and, look, I stan Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. I could have listened to a satisfactory narration of the book, and it would have been fine if he weren’t quite right, but let’s face it: I would have left unsatisfied. Luckily, I listened to Mary Jane Wells, who absolutely nailed the assignment. She had me chuckling out loud at Sebastian’s outrageousness because she captured him perfectly.
Narrated by Cornell Collins
It’s possible I have accent envy, but really, kudos to Cornell Collins for managing all the different accents in this whole series (there are quite a few). The way he brought Will and Kim to life… So fun. And I legit gasped when Will and Kim kissed for the first time. It’s so fun when a narrator pulls you into the story so completely that you react out loud to what’s happening. Another winning combination: KJ Charles is an exceptional storyteller, and this series deserved—and got—an exceptional narrator.
Narrated by Renée Raudman
I have enjoyed many an audiobook, but I do not think I have ever heard a better narration than Renée Raudman’s in this trilogy. Some of the voices she creates for the secondary characters seem not to be from the same person who is voicing the narrator. The first time I listened to this book, I made excuses to keep cleaning my house so I could binge all three almost straight through. It doesn’t hurt that the story is riveting, too.
Narrated by Neil Gaiman
I know it’s not romance, it’s actually a short children’s book (<1hr), which is how I found it: desperately searching for something to occupy my kids on a drive. It. Is. Amazing. Gaiman simply brings to life this witty and outlandish story about a father explaining to his children why he was late coming back from the corner shop with their milk for breakfast. It involves a stegosaurus, a hot air balloon, a Really Good Moves Around in Time Machine, and, of course, the milk.