Five Audio Romances to Make You Laugh on Hoopla Digital
By Jocelyn Adler
Do you love books? I love books. Do you have an unlimited book buying budget? Sadly (oh so sadly), I do not have an unlimited book buying budget. The most painful fact about being a book lover, to my mind, is this: our book budgets never stretch as far as our desire. Ahem. So to speak.
Libraries are a wonderful (...partial) solution to this problem. One library service that's especially dear to my heart is Hoopla Digital, which checks out multimedia items through their app, including that most pricey of book-formats, audiobooks. I'm picky about audiobooks, and tend to only like the very funny ones, or comfort reads I've devoured before.
So, let's talk about funny romance audiobooks:
The Unlikeable Demon Hunter by Deborah Wilde
I love romance, I love fantasy novels, and I've been cross-pollinating those two aisles in the bookstore for years. I'm so glad my hybridization efforts paid off with books like "The Unlikable Demon Hunter." Nava's snarky first-person narration stole my heart from the moment she puked on her Rabbi's shoes (that’s not a spoiler, it happens in the first chapter). Nava’s brother Ari was supposed to be inducted into the all-male Brotherhood of David, and when the mystical induction ceremony targets the wrong twin, self-proclaimed hot mess Nava has to figure out what to do – with the help of a hottie from the Brotherhood. The author describes her series as Bridesmaids meets Buffy, and I’d agree. This is currently Deborah Wilde’s only series, and the text ebooks are in Kindle Unlimited, and as a result they’re only available on Amazon (so you’ll only find the audiobooks through your library). But, if you just can’t get enough of this author, she also writes YA romantic comedies as Tallulah Darling. The audiobook narrator, Hollie Jackson, has a great, wry delivery style and never steps on the punchline. Fun fact: Hollie Jackson also narrates the cracktastic “Ice Planet Barbarians” series by Ruby Dixon. This book is read by one female narrator, appropriate to the single POV, and she does a good job on all the voices. Highly recommended, first in a series with the same protagonist throughout.
Josh and Lucy are officemates, they hate each other, and they are in line for the same promotion at their publishing company. Starting with that premise, this book evolves into a sweet and fun romance, with tight prose and tighter plotting. I loved this book in print, but listening to it on audio really drove home how hilarious the writing is. Lucy keeps making funny mental asides to herself throughout the book, and her way of processing the world is, as Josh would say “deeply weird.” For example, when Lucy sees that Josh has books at home, she says to herself "I am intensely relieved. What would I have done if he'd turned out to be a beautiful illiterate?" By this point in the book, we know that Lucy loves books and publishing like she loves to breathe air, and the line lands beautifully in both the print and audio versions, because the reader realizes how important that quality is at the same moment Lucy realizes her fear was unfounded. The narrator, Katie Schorr, does an excellent job of capturing Lucy's cute, quirky personality in her vocal delivery. This stand-alone title is also read entirely by a one female narrator, and it works very well, because this is a single-POV book, and everything is filtered through Lucy’s head. I believe that the present-tense narration makes this title especially well-suited for audio.
Annie lives in New York with a day job in PR and secretly moonlights as a celebrity blogger; Ronan is a Rugby player, a PR disaster, and the latest target of Annie’s blog. Based on the title, I was looking forward to a sex-worker romance, but sadly, "Hooker" is also a position in rugby. Well, I like rugby romances, too. The sports hero/PR Manager pairing is almost cliché in romance, but Annie is a different personality than we usually see in that role – a social misfit who sends emoticons-only emails to her clients because she thinks text words are becoming outmoded. If you like this one, the next in the series has a hero who is truly bad in bed, which is its own special level of unicorn-rare. The narrators here, George Allen and Lucy Rivers, are solid professionals, with the male narrator reading the hero’s POV, and the female narrator reading the heroine’s POV. However, I found that the male narrator's Irish accent takes some getting used to. I love the book, but the dual narration didn’t really work for me.
Harlowe and Finn met on one crazy night in Vegas, and spent a whole 12 hours married. Now, the Alaska Fisherman and the Hollywood Insider are squaring off again, while each is dealing with complicated family matters. This whole series has great banter, and although this isn't book one in the “Wild Seasons” series, I think it's the funniest of them, and one of the most poignant. The whole series has the same anchor narrator throughout, Shayla Thibodeaux. Though each book has a new set of protagonists, Ms. Thibodeaux voices all of the heroines, and has a new narration partner for each one. She is especially skillful at giving specific voices and accents to each character, which she maintains throughout. For example, Harlowe had a rough and husky voice in as a side character in the earlier title, which carried over to the narration here. Although that husky voice was a welcome flavor in earlier books, I found it a bit overpowering on its own, but as an audiobook fan it was a really interesting production choice. Sebastian York, the male narrator for “Dirty Rowdy Thing,” also juggles accents and intonation beautifully. If you like dual narration audiobooks, you’ll love this whole series. If you choose to start with book one, “Sweet Filthy Boy,” you’ll be pleased to hear that the production team put together an audio-only short featuring that couple, called “Sweet Filthy Morning After,” which is also available through Hoopla.
Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is a honey badger shifter with a fierce loyalty to her sisters and a survival instinct that is second to none. Berg Dunn is a bear shifter whose hotel balcony she crash-landed on. Naked. I've loved this author since she was writing dragon shifter novels as G. A. Aiken; she is also the author of the acclaimed “Call of Crows” series. Her longest series, however, is about a world with animal shapeshifters, and this new entry has a non-stop action plot... and the heroine is a honey badger. Berg is a big loveable lug of a bear, who works in security, and he can hold his own. But really, do I need to say more than "honey badger heroine?" This title is narrated by Traci Odom, and although it switches POV from Charlie to Berg throughout, she does a great job voicing both viewpoints. I’ve found that when a narrator reads funny material that is also dramatic, they can lean into one or the other, but it’s hard to hit a punchline hard when you’re maintaining dramatic tension. Odom’s focus is on the drama, and the humor suffers a little bit as a result, but I think it was the right choice. A lot of the humor comes from Charlie’s sisters’ reactions to events. Charlie loves her sisters, and even in the audio version, you never feel like they’re being made fun of – hats off to the narrator for accomplishing that.
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About the Author
Jocelyn Adler is a librarian, author, reader and all around book nerd. If you'd like to check out her novels, the first chapter of each is available at jocelynadler.com. If you'd like recommendations for steamy library books, she also posts those on Twitter and Facebook under the aptly named hashtag #SteamyLibraryBooks.