Tuesday, 31 August 2021

10 of the Best Romance Audiobooks I’ve listened to this Summer

Romance Audiobooks, Audible Audiobooks, Audible Free Trial



Today I wanted to talk audiobooks! I grew up loving audiobooks, falling asleep to them as a kid, helping to get me through long car journeys & hospital stays. I find them really comforting. They are also really practical for me as, with my chronic pain condition, I often struggle to hold books to read for any length of time. 

I downloaded Audible about 2 years ago now when I was ill and I haven’t looked back. A little bit about Audible: You have access to thousands of audiobooks including audible originals and podcasts too. I started with a free trial (I think mine was for a month) and includes a couple of free credits which you can use to download books of your choice (1 credit per book) then it’s £7.99 per month and you get 1 credit. It’s really good value seeing as most audiobooks are worth double/triple that. You also get to keep and listen to any audiobook you download even if you cancel your membership. A new feature of the membership is that it now also gives you access to Audible Plus where you can download select titles to your library completely free. I now have so many in my library! You can sign up for your Audible FREE TRIAL Here

My goal this year was to ‘read’ (or in this case listen to) 50 books. I have almost hit that now so I’m going to need to up it! I’m thinking 70, maybe 75? Especially going into the colder months I tend to cosy up with my audiobooks more. Obviously the narrator’s voice is a huge factor in whether or not you’re going to enjoy an audiobook. Some people’s voices are just going to annoy you, no rhyme or reason! So I like that Audible give you the option of listening to a sample before you buy - usually they’re around 5 minutes too so a decent one. I have phases when it comes to genres. I love magical/fantasy books, the classics of course, cosy mysteries and I had a really strong crime fiction phase during the first lockdown but Romances and Romantic Comedies are what I always come back to. There is nothing like a good swoon over a romantic hero/heroine. I find them addictive and they just make me feel good and hopeful. 

So here are my top 10 that I’ve listened to this Summer and that enjoyed the most and would consider repeat listens. They all have a Summer and/or travel vibe so perfect if you want to hang onto that Summer feeling or if you're heading on a staycation/vacation soon. No spoilers - or the most minimal I could manage whilst still describing the books anyway! I’m obviously focusing on the audiobook format here but you can take them as recommendations for the paperbacks/kindle versions too of course if that’s more your preference. Two of the books on my list are being made into films as well which is exciting, one only recently announced. I wasn’t aware of this during listening though I only found out afterwards! I’ll let you know which they are when we get to them. 

For a bit of fun I have put a little ratings system at the bottom of each of my picks which are Swoon, Sob & Spice Levels and well as Laughs and Narration from 1-5! Swoon is fairly self explanatory, Sob is for how many years where shed during reading, Spice is for how steamy the tension/sex scenes were, Laughs how much I laughed out loud and Narration for how I rate the narrator(s) performance. Exclamation points added where I felt it exceeded my 5 point scale!

Let me know if you’ve read or listened to any of these books. I’d love to hear your thoughts and discuss!


Beach Read by Emily Henry Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Julia Whelan

“I’ve never met someone who is so perfectly my favourite person” ~ Gus Everett 

“January is a hopeless romantic who narrates her life like she's the lead in a blockbuster movie. Gus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale. But January and Gus have more in common than you'd think: They're both broke. They've got crippling writer's block. And they need to write best sellers before summer ends. The result? A bet to swap genres and see who gets published first. The risk? In telling each other's stories, their worlds might be changed entirely....”

I absolutely howled with laughter listening to this one! January and Gus are both such endearing, funny and compelling characters with rich backstories that make you care so much about what happens to them. There are so many hysterical scenarios that they get into with the book genre swapping and the banter & chemistry between Gus and January is just the best! The book writing element was something I really loved as well, the drafting process and the struggles they both go through with it. 

I very much enjoyed all the side characters too, particularly January’s best friend Shadi (who mainly appears via texts and phone calls but still makes an impact) and Pete and Maggie. This book was at the top of the best seller list last summer but (as usual) I am late to the party and only read it this year. It is very much deserving of all the hype! There is nothing better than when you find a book you can enjoy reading over and over and over again and still keep loving it as much as you did the first. Beach Read is one of those books for me (I’ve listened to it 5 times already!) and Emily Henry is now one of those authors that I HAVE to read everything she’s ever written.  

Interestingly, there is an alternative epilogue in the US version of the book, I’m not sure what the reason behind this was and I can’t decide which I like best. Although they kind of complement each other in a way! I think the end part of the UK epilogue could follow on from the US one - if you know it let me know what you think? I found out about the alternate ending on a blog so of course I had to go and buy a copy of the US version just to read it because I love this story so dam much! 

Swoon Level: 5/5
Sob Level: 4/5
Spice Level: 5/5
Laugh Level: 5/5!
Narration: 5/5!


You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Julia Whelan

“Wherever you are, that’s where I belong. I’ll never belong anywhere like I belong with you” ~ Poppy Wright

“Twelve summers ago: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other and are pretty confident they'll never speak again. Eleven summers ago: they're forced to share a ride home from college, and by the end of it, a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together. Ten summers ago: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver. Poppy holds his hand the whole way. Seven summers ago: they get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans. Two summers ago: it all goes wrong. This summer: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.”

I didn’t think it was possible for a book to live up to Emily Henry’s previous book, Beach Read, which was such a hit for me but she’s done it again! This story is a slow burn, friends to lovers trope which bags of chemistry, laughs, in-jokes and emotional moments. 

Emily Henry is a master at writing chemistry between her couples and sparkling dialogue. She also writes fab female leads that are flawed but with so much strength & personality. I aspire to be more like Poppy! She’s so fun and colourful, absolutely loves travel and ends up having a successful travel blog which was a part of the story that really interested me for obvious reasons. Alex is Poppy’s opposite but they gel together so well that by a few chapters in they feel real and like you’ve known them for years. Be warned though if you get as invested in Poppy & Alex as I did then be prepared to cry at multiple points throughout their story - it’s an emotional ride! There is a part during the last quarter where Poppy gives a speech to Alex and it actually broke me!

I really like the format of this book in that you’ve got the main thread of ‘this summer’ but it’s interspersed with chapters that are flashbacks to Poppy & Alex’s previous summer trips. Counting down until you finally find out what happened ‘two summers ago’ and why they haven’t spoken since. When I went back and listened to it for the second time I decided to work through the chapters in order of the Summers rather than in order of the chapters (i.e 12 Summers Ago, 11 Summers ago) until I got to the This Summer chapters. Which was a just a different way of listening! You and Me on Vacation is the UK version of this book FYI in the US it's titled People We Meet On Vacation which matches with something Poppy says about why vacations mean so much to her.

Swoon Level: 5/5
Sob Level: 5/5!
Spice Level: 4/5
Laugh Level: 5/5!
Narration: 5/5


The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Cynthia Farrell & Deacon Lee (epilogue only)

“Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in...well, everything. Her identical twin sister, Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag), and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man. Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now, there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs. Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of...lucky.”

This book, wow, what a happy surprise it was!! I know there has been a lot of hype around it since the release and although  I wasn’t actually aware of that when I first started it, I can understand why now! Olive is a hilariously relatable character whose life is basically a series of most unfortunate events until her ‘luck’ suddenly seems to change. The trip to Hawaii with Ethan is just one hilarious situation after another - I can listen to that part over and over! Full of many miscommunications & misunderstandings. I’ve got to shout out Olive’s family, which is big and messy but so supportive and always there to pick her up. I loved them!

The tears shed were definitely more infuriated tears than sad tears. Without giving away too much it was more of “I can’t believe x did that and y didn’t believe it and take the correct side” sort of sob fest! I was really happy with the ending though and there is some rather satisfying commupence for a certain ‘x’ too. I throughly enjoyed the whole story, the characters, the narration was great and the epilogue ends up being from Ethan’s POV and is narrated by Deacon Lee for that last chapter. 

This is one of the books I mentioned is being made into a movie. I don’t believe they have cast it or have started filming yet as it’s all only been announced very recently but I am SO excited about it! I can see it making for a fantastic film. 

Swoon Level: 4/5
Sob Level: 3/5 *more angry sobs than sad ones!
Spice Level: 3/5
Laugh Level: 5/5!
Narration: 5/5


The Hating Game by Sally Thorne Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Katie Schorr

“I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them.” ~ Lucy Hutton

“Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman sit across from each other every day...and they hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. Lucy can't understand Joshua's joyless, uptight approach to his job and refusal to smile. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy's overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and desire to be liked. Now they're up for the same promotion, and Lucy, usually a determined people pleaser, has had enough: it's time to take him down. But as the tension between Lucy and Joshua reaches its boiling point, it's clear that the real battle has only just begun....”

Apparently I really love the enemies to lovers trope too as there are many of those in my picks! Or at least distain to lovers. As you can tell by the title though this is most definitely an enemies to lovers story with a ridiculous amount of chemistry! This is another book that I laughed out loud a lot during listening! The back and forth hating between the two leads is hilarious and Lucy’s internal conversations are brilliant, so weird and random. The only small complaint I had with the narration was sometimes I found it hard to tell what was dialogue and what were just thoughts/narration. 

This is the second book on my list that is being made into a film! Not that I knew this when I was listening to it. I’m glad about that as I didn’t have a picture of the actors who are playing them already in my head. I do think it’s been well cast though! I believe it’s already completed so we might not have long to wait. 

I absolutely LOVE everything about this story and I can totally understand the hype around this book and author Sally Thorne’s debut. Josh is the most perfect male lead providing many swoon-worthy moments and Lucy is just adorable and hilarious. One small thing that I think would’ve liked though is if there had been an epilogue! I personally felt like it would’ve benefited from one (but maybe I’ve just got used to other books I’ve loved lately always having them). Without giving spoilers, I really wanted an epilogue of Lucy at home on the strawberry farm with her parents a few weeks on from the ending. It would’ve been really nice and satisfying.

Swoon Level: 5/5
Sob Level: 2/5
Spice Level: 5/5
Laugh Level: 5/5
Narration: 4/5


Well Met by Jen DeLuca Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Brittany Pressley

“Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him? 

The faire is Simon's family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn't have time for Emily's light hearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she's in her revealing wench's costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they're portraying?”

The Ren Faire series by Jen DeLuca has been one of my favourite discoveries of the summer! All the books are set at a small town Renaissance Faire in the US which just sounds magical. It makes for really unique & fun stories too. I have looked and we don’t really have anything like the same thing here in the UK which is a shame because all I want to do is go to one, dress up in costume and find my own pirate! 

The first book sets up the series and all the characters in future books. It centres around Emily & Simon who have sizzling chemistry. I’d say it’s more of a distain to lovers trope than enemies, slow burn, but oh my, the level for swoon here is unmatched! If, like me, you had a burning crush on Colin O’Donoghue’s character, Hook in Once Upon a Time then you need to read this book. Trust me! I believe Simon’s Ren Faire character was based on him. Emily moves to town to look after her sister and niece after they are involved in a car accident and she arrives a bit broken and lost herself. You get to experience the Ren Faire for the first time through her eyes as a newbie which is really fun. It turns out Simon is broken too and they have some really emotional scenes alongside all the banter. This book is one I keep coming back to, I find it both comforting and so wonderfully immersive!

Swoon Level: 5/5!
Sob Level: 3/5
Spice Level: 5/5
Laugh Level: 3/5
Narration: 5/5


Well Played by Jen DeLuca Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Brittany Pressley

“Stacey knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it's been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by Faire next summer. Maybe she'll even find The One. When Stacey imagined "The One," it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she's not sure what to make of it.  Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey's shock, it isn't Dex—she's been falling in love with a man she barely knows.”

The second book in Jen DeLuca’s Ren Faire series.  This story centres around Stacey and I can’t really say who else as that will spoil the plot! 

I absolutely adored Stacey and felt like I could really relate to her. She struggles with feeling like she’s been left behind in her, without much purpose and everyone is moving on without her. Even so she’s still such a sunny and caring character. The Ren Faire each summer is the main thing she has to look forward to and it brings her to life! There were moments where I had a hard time with the ‘cat fishing’ element of the story but in the end I felt like it was turned around and justified enough to make me happy. Stacey has a really great character arc and I was rooting for her all the way! I was happy to see there were plenty of scenes with Emily, Simon and Mitch too and their stories get moved along throughout this book. I still think Well Met tops this one for me but it was a wonderful sequel. 

I have already pre-ordered Well Matched on Audible, which is the third instalment and due out in October!

Swoon Level: 4/5
Sob Level: 3/5
Spice Level: 4/5
Laugh Level: 3/5
Narration: 5/5


No Judgements by Meg Cabot Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Piper Goodeve

“The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida - and it's sending waves crashing through Sabrina 'Bree' Beckham's love life. When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island - as well as its connection to the mainland - Bree isn't worried...at first. She's already escaped one storm - her emotionally abusive ex - so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake. But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realises how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it's up to her to save as many of Little Bridge's cats and dogs as she can...but to do so, she's going to need help - help she has no choice but to accept from her boss' sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café's most notorious heartbreaker.”

Meg Cabot has been an author I’ve read for many years now, ever since The Princess Diaries! She also wrote a series called The Heather Wells Mysteries which are still my favourite of hers.   

No Judgements is the first in the Little Bridge Island followed by No Offence and No words (which is coming out this September). There is something very compelling and romantic about two characters being thrown together amid a big natural disaster! I loved the setting of Little Bridge and the description of this impending doom of the hurricane on it’s way. Drew and Bree spend the first half of the book judging each other based on preconceived ideas of the other. He calls her ‘freshwater’ (which is cute) because she’s new to the island and seems clueless about what to do in a hurricane and she believes he’s a notorious player. I really warmed to Bree as a character and rooted for her to be happy on Little Bridge and confront the things in her past too. I wasn’t totally sold on the narrator, some of the dialogue parts were okay but the rest was a bit robotic. However, I did find I got used to it and I can get over it as I really enjoyed the story. 

I have read the sequel to this one, No Offence, which is a completely separate story to this one but set on the same island and a few character cross overs. I didn’t rate it as much as this one though. I am still looking forward to the next book, No Words, I’ll definitely be downloading it on Audible as soon as it’s released. 

Swoon Level: 4/5
Sob Level: 1/5
Spice Level: 3/5
Laugh Level: 3/5
Narration: 3/5


Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Brittany Pressley

“It's been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her year long post college European adventure. Since then, she's lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea's thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent co-worker, Jason Knightley, her status as most successful money maker is unquestioned. When her introverted mathematician father announces he's getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her year abroad. Inspired to retrace her steps - to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy - Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago can help her find it again. From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.”

I actually discovered this book through searching the narrator, Brittany Pressley, on Audible as I’d enjoyed her narration of Jen DeLuca’s Ren Faire books so much. I have listened to this book twice, the second immediately after I finished it on first listen, that’s how much I enjoyed it! It has a kind of Mamma Mia vibe with the lead character, Chelsea, journeying to catch up with 3 past loves. I won’t spoil anything but Chelsea and the guy she end up with have amazing chemistry that’s really enjoyable to read! I really loved the travel element, the different places she chose for Chelsea to re-visit and how they fit with each of the love interests as well. There is a theme of loss throughout that is very powerful and drives most of Chelsea’s motivations and mistakes. It also lead to a lot of tears from me!

I felt like the story was very cinematic, I can totally picture this story being turned into a movie at some point. Jenn McKinlay has a new book out now that I’m just about to start actually called Wait For It. Who knows maybe that’ll end up in my next ‘audiobook picks’ blog post

Swoon Level: 4/5
Sob Level: 4/5
Spice Level: 3/5
Laugh Level: 4/5
Narration: 5/5


If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Heather Long

“Angie has always wanted to travel. But at 27, she has still never left her small mining town in the Australian outback. When her grandmother passes away, Angie finally feels free to see the world - until she discovers a letter addressed to the father she never knew and is forced to question everything.  As Angie sets off on her journey to find the truth - about her family, her past and who she really is - will enigmatic stranger Alessandro help guide the way?”

This was my first book my Paige Toon (great name btw!) and I loved it so much I’ve already downloaded a couple more of hers. The story starts in central Australia, a part I don’t know much about but really enjoyed the descriptions of the settings, and then spends most of the rest in Italy. I absolutely loved the feeling of being taken on a virtual tour around Rome and some of the other cities to. It’s the closest I’ve come to being on holiday this year!

I loved Angie as a character and really related to her lack of travel experience and yearning for more, having not travelled very much myself either and Italy is at the top of my bucket list. I must admit I did cry absolute buckets over this book and I don’t think it was just because I was hormonal at the time! There are parts of the story that are truly heartbreaking and I felt all the feelings. There is a lot of loss & grief experienced throughout the story. I don’t want to give spoilers but at one point I was worried it was going to turn into more of a full on a tragedy rather than a romance story but Paige Toon manages to pull it back and it’s all the more satisfying for it!

Swoon Level: 3/5
Sob Level: 5/5!
Spice Level: 2/5
Laugh Level: 2/5
Narration: 5/5


It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey Book Cover Audiobook

Narrated by: Charlotte North

“Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar...in Washington. Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather — and the hot, grumpy local — that she’s more than a pretty face. Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan — and this town full of memories — may have already caught her heart.”

Tessa Bailey describes this as her “Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” who’s cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town...where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn’t belong.” 

You’ll always find Tessa Baileys books heavy on the spice so if you enjoy lots of steamy love scenes and swoon worthy male leads then she’s your author! I think this is the 5th book of hers I’ve read and it’s in my top 2. At first I thought I wouldn’t like Piper and find her incredibly annoying but she turns out to be so kind and endearing, I loved her! From what I’ve read so far, Tessa always does a dual POV in her books and does it really well. So we get chapters from the POV of each of the leads and can get in their heads which I really like. The men in Tessa’s books don’t always hit the mark for me - some are just too overly ‘alpha’ and possessive for my liking, however I really loved Brendan and he has great chemistry with Piper. The town is adorable and Piper’s character arc is a really fun one!

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series about her sister Hannah! 

Swoon Level: 5/5
Sob Level: 1/5
Spice Level: 5/5!
Laugh Level: 3/5
Narration: 5/5


Comment below if you’ve read or listened to any of these books and we can discuss!



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