I thoroughly enjoy the romance genre, from erotic to sweet, with variations in characters, situations and complications is always entertaining. But, it is a refreshing change to move from the 20 somethings that are so popular. I like those too, but occasionally you need something different if you have put that age group and the related immature thinking and behavior in your rear view mirror. To that end, Donna McDonald has created (and I have reviewed) several stories with heroines that are living their 40’s like they are 20. And each story has characters with situations and concerns that not only feel relevant, but are relatable.
Starting off with a bang, the characters and conflicts are set in rapid fire dialogue and interactions, establishing Chloe and her concerns within a few short minutes. Chloe is newly divorced after a horrible marriage: her ex-husband played on all of her insecurities and nearly wrecked her self-esteem and dreams. But, with the help of a supportive group of friends, she is starting to take back her own life, and working on herself.
I liked Chloe: we’ve all been in situations where we don’t make the healthiest choices for ourselves or our self-image. And it isn’t helped by the never-ending fascination and obsession with youth: from media to celebrity to fashion magazines. She was trying to make a marriage work, and giving more to the relationship than her husband deserved. Her willingness and determination to move past the hurt feelings and find a new life for herself.
When she heads out to California to hang out with her college friends and spend time at an upscale spa for the pampering, the connection between Chloe, Emma and Taylor is palpable: these are women who know each other’s secrets and dreams, and are determined that time won’t change the hopes or desires they held from their first meeting. While Chloe is more filled out and less California slim and tanned than her friends, they are all invested in the rebirth of the ‘new’ Chloe and are encouraging her blossoming in every way.
Jasper is the spa owner, and is instantly captivated by Chloe: her spirit, her joy and her voice. It doesn’t hurt that she is his fantasy woman come to life, with a body made for sin and a heart that he wants to cherish. Chloe is flirting with him, encouraged by her friends: but his reactions, his words, his touch, all speak to something much deeper. Hot and sexy, these two show the potential and possibilities of a second chance, and is a fun listen for romance fans who want something with future hope.
Narration for this book is provided by Anne Johnstonbrown, and as with earlier works that I have reviewed with her as narrator, her performance starts out quite rough, with character voices varying from little definition to over the top differences that can be quite jarring. Once she starts to relax into the story, however, the character portrayals start to acquire a subtle distinction that is far less distracting. The reliance on a pronunciation style that is over-reaching at best and pretentiously adopted at worst does seem to diminish as the story progresses, most accurately described as what one would ‘think’ a British accented narrator would use for a more American delivery style is the closest I can come. While I wasn’t in love with the narration, the quirkiness of the pronunciation and delivery did become less distracting as the story progressed and the overall effect was a competently performed listening experience.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration 3 Story 5
Title: Next Song I Sing
Author: Donna McDonald
Narrator: Anne Johnstonbrown
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Audio Length: 7 Hours: 4 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance
Freshly divorced at 40 yrs old, Chloe Zanders has few illusions left about her ability to make her dreams come true. She is never going to be thin, never going to be a famous singer, and never going to be sexy enough to keep a man like her handsome ex-football player husband from cheating.
While the first two dreams might continue to flicker hopefully inside her, Chloe now accepts the last one had been doomed from the start. All her ex ever did in their marriage was find fault with her. After learning about the latest twenty-something in his life, divorcing Aaron is just a relief because it means Chloe can finally stop trying to save a relationship so obviously not worth saving.
With her friends encouraging her to move on, Chloe secretly vows to herself that next time around, she is going to look for a man who will love her just as she is. When she meets 45 yr, Jasper Wade, his unrestrained kisses send lust and renewed hope singing through her.
What Chloe feels for Jasper is disturbingly too much too soon, but how can she turn away from a man who keeps insisting she’s his every fantasy come true?
A copy of this title was provided via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.