Tease: Interview with Author Kristen Ashley

Ready for a roller-coaster romance? Hear what superstar author Kristen Ashley says about her audiobook exclusive, COMPLICATED!

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Superstar romance author Kristen Ashley‘s new title—COMPLICATEDwas released as an audiobook original. We asked her to share her thoughts on the audiobook process and her favorite titles. Read on!

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by Kristen Ashley, Read by Lance Greenfield, Erin Mallon
Audible Studios

AudioFile: You’ve made a commitment over the last few years to produce your titles in audio format. Why did you decide to make that project such a priority?

Kristen Ashley: I think it’s important for authors to offer their work to readers in as many formats as possible. Not only do readers have their favorite ways of consuming a book, a goodly number of them cross over from print to digital to audio, and they need to fit reading into busy daily lives. In return, as writers, we need to give them as many options available to do that. Until Audible approached me to start producing my work in audio, it was a project I couldn’t fathom taking on, on my own. It seemed mammoth and thus unattainable. So when they approached, I jumped at the chance, and it’s been awesome!

AF: Tell us about your latest audio-only project. How did the idea come about? What excited you about it? Did anything about the project surprise you or change the way you think about your writing?

KA: Audible is in the final throes of producing all my back library titles in print, so these releases are still ongoing.

However, they also approached me about doing an Audible Original. I have to say I was hesitant at first. I like to be inclusive of all my readers and so out-of-the-ordinary exclusives are tough to manage. That said, it’s heartening that some readers who’ve never tried audio are on board to give my Audible Original COMPLICATED a shot! And I love working with the team at Audible. They’ve come up with some fun ways to help promote the book, including giving me pictures of the narrators while they were performing that I could share, which, not being close to their studios, is something I haven’t been able to be a part of, so it was really cool for me to see those, and I think my readers feel more a part of the process as well.

As for doing this original work with Audible changing the way I think about writing, it hasn’t. I have a pretty highly-tuned process that (I hope!) works across platforms. The good news is that it seems to have worked so far. And this is definitely a case of, if it works, don’t fix it!

AF: What qualities do you think are most important in your narrators? Was there one of your books that was particularly difficult to cast, and why?

KA: I have to feel the narrator personifies (as best they can) the character as she or he sounds in my head. Most of my books are first person and therefore those voices are very strong. I also listen to a number of clips when selecting narrators and find those with ranges between books are important, mostly because my novels normally have a large cast of characters so range is crucial.

I’ve never had a book difficult to cast. Audible has a fantastic troop of narrators. However, I did have a beautiful moment when I first heard the narration of my book FOR YOU, the first in The ’Burg series. The narrator, Liz Thompson, sounded so much like my heroine, February Owens, that I was instantly brought to tears. I don’t tend to listen to my audiobooks all the way through because, no matter how carefully we cast, I have a difficulty reconciling this. But Liz was utter perfection!

AF: What comments do you get from your readers about your audiobooks? Any fan favorites?

KA: I was delighted how thoroughly my audio readers embraced my books in that format. I didn’t know what to expect but I didn’t expect them to be so excited about them that they couldn’t wait for the next (and the next and the next). With my independent titles as they’re being released, we have to carefully arrange schedules in hopes that we can release in all formats on the same date so as not to disappoint my avid audio fans!

The books all have their supporters but I’d say Susannah Jones’s work in my Rock Chick series and Tillie Hooper’s work in my Fantasyland series are the most popular. Susannah had a great number of beloved characters to give to readers, and she did beautifully. I get compliments for Susannah all the time. Tillie had to take on a fantasy world with completely made-up place names, and one book had an entirely made-up language! My readers marvel at how well she did with those. I know it was a lot of work for her but she nailed it!

AF: Which of your audiobooks would you recommend listeners start with?

KA: It really depends on what genres they like to read/listen to. But I always say start with my Rock Chicks. I do a lot of crossing over between series, and that’s my flagship series, so it all starts there. If a reader/listener is into paranormal or fantasy, I’d definitely recommend the Fantasyland series. A challenge for Tillie that she rose to beautifully.

Thank you for having me at AudioFile Magazine! Happy listening and rock on!

Many thanks to Kristen Ashley for taking time from writing to share her audiobook love with us, and don’t miss COMPLICATEDYou’re in for a roller-coaster romance ride with unforgettable narrators. Read the full review of COMPLICATED here.

Tease: Duking It Out

What is it about dukes that makes them so appealing to romance listeners?

Admit it—we’re fascinated with royalty. Just look at the commemorative plates/snowglobes/spoons your relatives scooped up to celebrate the marriage of William and Kate. In the British peerage, dukes are in the direct line of royal succession, and many ducal titles were originally created for the ruler’s siblings. In the Regency period (1811–1820), for example, a popular setting for historical romances, King George III’s progeny enjoyed the dukedoms of Cornwall, Rothesay, York, Albany, Clarence, Kent, Strathearn, Cumberland, Teviotdale, Sussex, and Cambridge, to name a few. For romance readers, dukes are the best of both worlds. They are figures of immense wealth and power (and, of course, they are handsome to boot), with the freedom to pursue outside interests—and maybe, in the world of romantic fantasy—to marry a commoner! Far from common, these six audiobooks about dukes will be a royal treat for listeners.

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BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DUKE: Season for Scandal, Book 3
by Kelly Bowen, read by Ashford McNab
Hachette Audio

Ashford McNab creates a believable cast of characters spanning from the highest to the lowest members of society, with dangerous dealings with the “devil” in a gambling parlor. A recommended title for those who prefer their romances unabashedly feminist and a little mysterious. You can start the series with DUKE OF MY HEART or dive right into BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DUKE!

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IF THE DUKE DEMANDS: A Capturing the Carlisles Novel
Earphones Award Winner

by Anna Harrington, read by Justine Eyre
Hachette Audio

Narrator Justine Eyre’s voice is textured and full of emotion as she narrates the first in this Regenecy romance trilogy. Eyre gives each character a unique voice, from the determined-sounding Miranda Hodgkins to the deeper, more forceful tone of Sebastian Carlisle, the Duke of Trent.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE AND DUKES: Dear Lady Truelove
by Laura Lee Guhrke, read by Carolyn Morris
Harper Audio

Narrator Carolyn Morris draws listeners into the historical romance of Henry, Duke of Torquil, and Irene Deverill, a publisher who has printed provocative columns. Morris helps listeners envision the world of the aristocracy that the characters inhabit and leaves them rooting for Henry and Irene to overcome their differences to find love together.

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DUKE OF SIN: Maiden Lane, Book 9
by Elizabeth Hoyt, read by Ashford McNab
Hachette Audio

The Duke of Montgomery, Valentine Napier, is uncertain in his love of Bridget Crumb, his housekeeper. Narrator Ashford McNab convinces listeners that the despicable duke has hidden depths and motivations to redeem him as he and Bridget join forces to deal with secrets in both of their lives.

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WHILE THE DUKE WAS SLEEPING: The Rogue Files, Book 1
Earphones Award Winner
by Sophie Jordan, read by Carmen Rose
Harper Audio

Carmen Rose narrates heroine Poppy Fairchurch’s vulnerability and hero Struan Mackenzie’s no-nonsense temperament and virility in this historical romance. In Rose’s capable voice, the story, set in London and at the duke’s country home at Christmastime, is a satisfying romp.

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NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED: The Third Rule of Scoundrels
by Sarah MacLean, read by Rosalyn Landor
Harper Audio

Rosalyn Landor’s lovely British accent and engaging delivery provide the perfect pairing for this appealing historical romance. Handsome William Harrow is dubbed the “Killer Duke” after the apparent murder of his soon-to-be stepmother, young heiress Mara Lowe. If you love NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED, listen to the next in the series, NEVER JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER!

Do you have a favorite duke whose tales you love? What is it about dukes that keeps you coming back for more stories? Share your favorites with us in the comments!

Tease: Hot Picks

Our reviewers loved these eight new romance audiobooks—read why!

This month’s hot picks are some of the most diverse, intriguing titles I’ve seen in a while . . . all gathered together! For romance lovers who like to delve deeply into exotic worldbuilding, these titles are unusual gems. Each title listed below has a brief description and a quote from the review as well as a link to the full review. Props to our awesome team of romance reviewers who selected and reviewed these titles. 

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Breathless (Old West, Book 2)
by Beverly Jenkins, read by Kim Staunton
HarperAudio

It’s all about… Hotelier Portia Carmichael finds a peripatetic cowboy from her past too tempting to resist.
Audiobook love: “Kim Staunton makes the journey comforting and familiar, thanks to her heartfelt delivery.”

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The Colonel’s Lady
by Laura Frantz, read by Laura Jennings
Books & Such Literary Agency

It’s all about… Set on the Kentucky frontier in 1779, Colonel Cassius McLinn reluctantly welcomes a group of women to Fort Endeavor, becoming intrigued by Virginian Roxanna Rowan.
Audiobook love: “Narrator Laura Jennings’s use of accents and pacing brings the various characters to life, moving deftly from the twang of the Kentucky soldiers to the pensive cadence of Roxanna and brusque Irish brogue of McLinn.”

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Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, Book 3)
by Lisa Kleypas, read by Mary Jane Wells
HarperAudio

It’s all about… Lady Pandora Ravenel prefers the board games she creates to society’s games, but her unwilling association with Lord St. Vincent involves high stakes for both of them.
Audiobook love: “Mary Jane Wells perfectly captures Pandora’s naïveté, outspokenness, and frustration with a society that marginalizes women.”

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Ha’ven’s Song (Curizan Warrior, Book 1)
By S.E. Smith, read by P.J. Ochlan
Susan E. Smith/ Blackstone Audio

It’s all about… Earthling Emma Watson falls for extraterrestrial warrior Ha’ven Ha’darra on their way to his home planet.
Audiobook love: “P.J. Ochlan’s framing builds anticipation when Ha’ven’s spaceship crashes in unknown territory and when Ha’ven’s enemies kidnap Emma.”

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How the Duke Was Won (Disgraceful Dukes, Book 1)
by Lenora Bell, read by Beverley A. Crick
Tantor Media

It’s all about… Charlene Beckett impersonates her half-sister in her dealings with James, the dashing Duke of Harland.
Audiobook love: “Beverley Crick’s upper-crust British accents are spot-on for Bell’s romance.”

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Knight’s Caress
by Lynette Vinet, read by Elaine Claxton
Dreamscape

It’s all about… Norman keep holder Amberlie accepts an arranged marriage to Saxon warrior Tedric of Woodrose.
Audiobook love: “Narrator Elaine Claxton delivers both the sophisticated French accents of the Normans and the distinctly more plebian English accents of the Saxons.”

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Salt Hendon Collection: Salt Bride, Salt Redux, Salt Angel
by Lucinda Brant, read by Alex Wyndham
Sprigleaf Pty Ltd

It’s all about… These Georgian romances full of villains and historical detail should not be missed.
Audiobook love: “Alex Wyndham takes Brandt’s romantic suspense, set in England in the late 1700s, and creates a vocal tapestry of characters, from the highest nobility to the lowest of servants…”

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What the Heiress Wants
by Kristina Knight, read by Carly Robins
Audible, Inc.

It’s all about… Miranda leaves her family’s business to work for rival Connor Reeves. What will happen when he discovers her true identity?
Audiobook love: “Carly Robins’s narration reflects the sensual charm and determination of publishing heiress Miranda Clayton.”

Here’s the hard part — choosing which one to listen to! (My advice — don’t limit yourself to just one!)

Want even more ideas? Visit our site to find more new romance audiobooks here!