Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to…
Author: Shannon Stacey
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Audio Speed: 1.25x
Series: Kowalski Family #8-9
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Although I wasn’t won over by the opening scenes, Taken with You is definitely one of the best in the Kowalski Family series. While still set in Whitford, Maine, the series shifts to a non-Kowalski pairing between town librarian Hailey Genest and new-comer Matt Barnett, the “hot game warden” assigned to Whitford. The story hits all the right notes for me, and I adore how Hailey and Matt learn to love despite their differences.
Hailey has watched all of her friends fall in love while she remains single and alone. Feeling like she really doesn’t have time to fool around, Hailey is determined to find the “9-to-5” man who will sweep her off her feet and be the father of her children. And although she’s got chemistry with her new neighbor, with his love of the outdoors and unpredictable job, Hailey feels Matt is all wrong for her. Meanwhile, Matt has been burned in a previous relationship by a woman who didn’t appreciate his outdoorsy nature and wanted to change him into something he’s not. He carries that baggage with him into every new potential relationship, setting himself up for failure before there is any chance of being hurt.
I completely adored Matt and Hailey’s romance as they try to convince themselves that they are only friends with benefits. The pair have amazing chemistry, even when they are pushing each other into potentially disastrous situations (like a 4:30 AM outdoor date or a dinner at a fancy bistro). What I love most is the genuine feel of the romance, which doesn’t tarnish the happy ending. Their love comes from sexual chemistry and true friendship, but they do have to compromise, and their path isn’t easy. I laughed and cried during the book, which I found emotionally fulfilling and ultimately rewarding.
Narration by Lauren Fortgang is once again superb. However, I noticed that (to me) Hailey’s voice had changed from earlier books. It’s not a huge thing, but it sort of bugged me, especially in the beginning scene involving Tori and Hailey. Eventually as the story moved forward, I forgot about it.
Overall, Taken with You is a sweet, fun, sincere romance that swept me off my feet. A must read!
Falling for Max is the final tale from Whitford, Maine, and I have to say I’m sad my amazing run of fabulous audiobooks has come to a conclusion. I wasn’t sure I’d appreciate Max’s story, since both the hero (Max) and heroine, Tori, have always been background characters. But let me tell you, Max and Tori were a breath of fresh air! I loved their quirks, and their romance is both sweet and passionate!
Max Crawford is a fixture to the sports fans of Whitford – a bachelor with a big screen TV and large, leather couches, the men (and Katie Davis) of Whitford watch all the big games at Max’s place. But no one really knows Max. He’s an introvert who works from home and rarely goes into town. Then one day Max realizes he’s lonely, as decides it’s time to find a wife, so he heads to the Trailside Diner to meet more of the locals. Meanwhile, Tori Burns moved to Whitford after her parents put her squarely in the middle of their messy divorce. She works part time at the diner, where she befriends the newly sociable, yet highly awkward Max. Finding out his mission, Tori agrees to help Max find a wife.
Max and Tori are simply cute together. Each knows they want different things in life, but as they spend more time together “practicing” dating and eventually falling into bed together, they grow to be best friends and more. While Max recognizes the budding relationship for what it is, and will do what he needs to to bring Tori around, Tori lies to herself, trying to convince herself that they are only friends. Tori’s parents really messed her up, and her fears of a long-term relationship are justifiable.
While the romance is on the slow side, it is fitting. Watching their friendship grow and then develop into more is rewarding. Although at the 68% mark of the audiobook, I was more than ready for some action! But in the end, I really enjoyed Falling for Max. The story is about overcoming the past to allow love into the present. It was rewarding and sweet. Max and Tori are a perfect couple and I enjoyed their story more than I thought I would. I learned to love both characters and found them insanely adorable together.
Narration: A (see earlier reviews of this series for commentary on the narration)