Head Over Ears | Romance Audiobooks

Delight in these six star-earning romances on audio, each offering a swoony sonic treat.

Chick Magnet by Emma Barry. Brilliance Audio. Jan. 2023. 8:51 hrs. ISBN 9781799799030. $26.99.

Small-town Virginia veterinarian Will Lund is surprised to find a loose chicken in his backyard. He is even more surprised to discover the chicken’s owner, the gorgeous social media chicken influencer whose online persona captivated him during the pandemic. Nicole Jones, better known as Chick Nic to her many followers, is only looking for her loose chicken, not the grumbly man who seems to judge her for caring for her flock while also appearing to be a secret fan. While their backyard bickering is clearly fueled by mutual attraction, Nicole has come to Virginia to heal from the fallout of her public breakup with an even more famous but far more toxic influencer. As Nicole learns more about Will and his struggles with his small veterinarian practice, she cracks Will’s shell to discover his enormous heart. Despite a few inconsistencies in Will’s Southern accent delivery, listeners will be delighted by narrators CJ Bloom’s and Aaron Shedlock’s snappy, animated performances. VERDICT Full of heart, humor, and slow-burn steam, this latest from Barry (The One You Want) should be on libraries’ must-buy lists as they develop their contemporary romance audio collections.—Elizabeth Gabriel 

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn. Tantor Audio. Mar. 2023. 11:39 hrs. ISBN 9798765057322. $24.99.

Recently unemployed Georgie Mulcahy returns to her small Virginia hometown after her boss in LA decides she no longer needs a personal assistant. Georgie has mixed feelings about the town, but she’s there to figure out who she is when she’s not solving other people’s problems. Georgie’s parents’ house would have been the perfect place to land if they hadn’t lent it out to dock builder and former bad boy Levi Fanning and his adorable rescue pit bull Hank. Georgie tries to ignore ridiculously handsome Levi’s grumpy frowns—all she wants to do is help her best friend Annabel settle into motherhood and check off some of the bucket-list items from their “friend fic” notebook. Levi has his own troubled past to overcome, but expansive, beautiful Georgie could be the one he’s been looking for all along. Clayborn’s (Love at First) latest lyrically written story is warmly narrated by Alex Kydd, who communicates Levi’s tension and reserve, and Amelie Griffin, who allows Georgie’s growing confidence to come through. VERDICT Lots of buzz for this book, combined with Clayborn’s well-received backlist, makes this a must-purchase. Press into the hands of listeners who also enjoy Nora Roberts and Emily Henry.—Elizabeth Gabriel 

Midnight Duet by Jen Comfort. Brilliance Audio. Jan. 2023. 11:32 hrs. ISBN 9781713663430. $42.99.

Narrators Meg Sylvan and Hunter Millbrook bring sparks to Comfort’s (The Astronaut and the Star) sexy yet wacky romantic comedy. Self-absorbed diva Erika Greene’s star on Broadway is rising until an accident derails her career. Two years later, she lives in Paris, NV, working as a tour guide for a dilapidated opera house she recently inherited. Needing fast cash to prevent her home from being sold, Erika rents it to Nachtmusik, a German hair metal band. She meets nitpicky lead singer Christof Daae, who is similarly trying to keep the band together after a secret breakup with his longtime girlfriend and now former keyboardist. Sylvan’s impressions of Erika and Sibylle, Christof’s sister and Nachtmusik’s bassist, are a delight. Almost everything Erika says is tinged with confidence and sarcasm, while Sibylle’s obsession with the occult is played for laughs. Millbrook vocalizes a version of Sibylle and the remaining members of Nachtmusik, including Christof, with pitch-perfect comedic timing. Even though his Christof is slightly cartoonish, Sylvan’s sultry take complements the leads’ erotic chemistry. VERDICT Even naysayers of the insta-love trope will root for Erika and Christof to have their happily ever after. A must-purchase for romance collections.—Anjelica Rufus-Barnes 

Ana María and the Fox by Liana De la Rosa. Books on Tape. (Luna Sisters, Bk. 1). Apr. 2023. 10:44 hrs. ISBN 9780593675861. $85.50.

The eldest of three daughters, Ana María Luna Valdés strives to be the perfect daughter, niece, and sister. When she and her sisters are sent to England after the French occupation of Mexico, Ana María sees an opportunity to break free of expectations and discover her own independence, even though all the eyes of the British elite are upon her. Having started at the bottom of society, Gideon Fox climbed the ladder to become a member of Parliament. When Ana María’s and Gideon’s paths cross, unexpected and exhilarating love blooms between the two. De la Rosa’s (“Once Upon a Scandal” novels) series starter is a slow-burn romance. Narrator Ruby Hunt nails the various accents and dialects, even that of the villainous earl who is after Ana María’s fortune. Her characterizations of Ana María and Gideon bring out their individual personalities and strength of character. Though the book is slightly less steamy and more willing to tackle issues such as racism, equality, and human rights, fans of Bridgerton will enjoy this first book in a new series. The author even includes a note about the historical context and her inspiration for writing the novel. VERDICT An excellent Bridgerton read-alike that should have broad appeal.—Elyssa Everling 

The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest. Books on Tape. Feb. 2023. 10:07 hrs. ISBN 9780593675625. $85.50.

On a whim, Lily Greene, a shy editorial assistant, emails her favorite fantasy author N.B. Strickland, who emails back. During several months of correspondence, Lily shares her dread about blind dating and her aspirations of being a children’s book editor. Strickland discusses his global travels and his self-imposed anonymity. Then, Strickland suddenly ghosts her. Several months later, Lily runs into her new neighbor Nick Brown and musters up the courage to talk to him. They hit it off instantly, and that is when Nick realizes that, as his pseudonym Strickland, he ghosted Lily. With attraction growing between them, it may be time for Nick to finally come clean. Keylor Leigh and Malik Rashad narrate YA author Forest’s (Zyla and Kai) gratifying adult debut with aplomb. Leigh’s optimistic vocalization of Lily is the right match for the bookish co-lead. Lily feels less accomplished than the rest of her Black, affluent family but looks on the positive side. Rashad’s down-to-earth yet elusive Nick doesn’t feel worthy of Lily because of his past. However, he finds their bond too irresistible to break. VERDICT The audiobook defies many traps of the secret-identity trope, making this romance a slow burn worth its sizzle.—Anjelica Rufus-Barnes

Something Wild & Wonderful by Anita Kelly. Hachette Audio. Mar. 2023. 10:34 hrs. ISBN 9781668619612. $27.99.

Alexei Lebedev hoped a solo trek along the 2500-plus miles of the Pacific Crest Trail would help him discover himself. His conservative, religious parents rejected him after he came out to them, and now he looks forward to finding out who Alexei 2.0 will be. When Alexei helps fellow hiker Ben Caravalho deal with an unwanted snake encounter and then keeps running into the cheerful, gorgeous man, the two decide to form a “trail family” and journey together. Ben can sense that Alexei is struggling, but he can’t help but fall in love with gentle Alexei, who promises to stick with Ben through his biggest fears on the trail. When Ben realizes his biggest trail fear is losing the Alexei he already loves to Alexei 2.0, they must decide whether they can overcome past traumas and turn their “for a time” into forever. Narrator Mark Sanderlin skillfully distinguishes between the voices of Alexei, Ben, and their loved ones in this dual POV romance. VERDICT While deeply poignant and emotional, Kelly’s (Love & Other Disasters) charming writing, humor, and care for her characters make this a stunning romance. Contemporary romance at its best; essential for most core romance collections.—Elizabeth Gabriel 

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