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Boston Classics Box Set Vol. Two

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Karen Grey has a lovely, deft touch with her characters, the plot, and with the world she's created.”  - Bookbub review


You Spin Me

If two lonely people fall in love over late-night phone calls, will meeting face-to-face make them, or break them? In this heartfelt, slow-burn retro romcom, it may be the end of a decade, but it’s the beginning of a love story.

 

Child of Mine

When a job offer she can’t refuse means single mom Bella York has to work side-by-side with an unforgettable one-night stand, she has a choice to make. Revealing her past could mean losing everything, or gaining more than she ever hoped… for her, and her daughter.

 

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

A novella in snapshots: a couple's relationship across several New Year's Eves, including dating, sex, marriage, kids, job-changes, and moving. As steadfast in their support of each other as they are to the fight for reproductive rights, this sweet and sexy short is chock full of heart. Originally published as part of the limited release Resolve anthology.

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DarcyLovesLiza

8 months ago

Nostalgia done right…

Boston Classics Boxed Set, Volume Two

You Spin Me

Story: 4⭐️s
Narration: 5 ⭐️s

This was a great addition to Grey’s Boston Classics series. The characters were complex and each had a clear arc. Jess and Cal’s romance was sweet and watching their relationship unfold was enjoyable. I love that this and the other stories in the series call back to a time in the past that is further away than some of us like to admit! That setting and what was and wasn’t available then have an impact on some plot points; it makes for some interesting moments that contemporary romances no longer have to deal with. The nostalgia factor in this series is one of its greatest strengths and Grey engages with it throughout in a way that avoided the pitfalls that can arise when a story leans on rather than leans into that trope. The MCs are a wonderful pair and h the way their relationship develops first on the air and then slowly off. The dovetailing of their anxieties - both related to appearance but for differently, yet equally compelling reasons gave some intense layers to the story and to the connection between Cal and Jess.

My only complaint is that the third act from the climax to the resolution was just too quick compared to the build up in the first and even second acts. It took them so long to be in person and then all of a sudden it was the climax and inevitable separation. I just wanted more time with them on the page together as a couple, whether before or after their reunion, which is a testament to the strength of how Grey crafted than characters as much as a weakness in the book itself. Still, overall this was a fun read, especially if you’re a fan of the series.

The audio for this one is excellent. I loved the radio promos as chapter epigraphs. Eric Michael Summerer was the perfect Cal; he brought the humor, vulnerability, and sexiness all in one. It’s the romance H trifecta, and not all narrators are created equal when it comes to striking the balance. Summerer does not have any trouble, and his Cal was everything I wanted him to be. Vanessa Edwin’s performance as Jess was equally remarkable and perhaps the harder job in some ways because of the issue Jess wrestles with and how it slowly revealed as the story progresses. Without spoilers, it would be very easy for the reader/listener to write Jess off for a particular character flaw at the start; however, the way Grey builds the character, coupled with Edwin’s performance provide a bolster and invite us to engage in the journey.

October 2021: I received a copy of this book via the author.
June 2023: Reread and listened for Boston Classics Vol. 2 review and updated some thoughts. All opinions are my own.

Child of Mine

Story: 3.5⭐️s
Narration: 5 ⭐️s

I have to be honest, compared to the other titles in Grey’s Boston Classics series I had a hard time getting into this one; in fact, I picked it up and put it down several times before finishing. I just didn’t connect with the central couple as easily as in previous books; the h, Bella, often frustrated me and though I enjoyed the H slightly more, slightly is the key word there. The plot itself was okay; the secret baby trope is one that already treads a fine line IMO and this incarnation wasn’t compelling to me. The bright spots were to public broadcasting setting (PBS rocks!), Lilah (who can resist a precocious little?), and Ribsy (such a great nod to the wonderful Beverly Cleary!); the thread of Henry getting to know Lilah pulled and interested me much more than his reunion with Bella. Overall, this is an okay addition to the series and though it should definitely be read, I don’t think it is one I will return to as I have with previous installments. Though a strong audiobook production could probably sway me, as Ms. Grey always organizes audios that add another layer to her characters; so, maybe a well-chosen narrator duo could help me to connect more fully to the h/H?

AUDIO UPDATE: As I suspected, the audio version of this book made a huge difference for me. For this production, Grey has narrators, Erin Mallon and Tom Taylorson whom do a really great job adding layers to and evoking empathy for the h and H. Bella and Henry came across much better as I listened to the story compared to just reading about them. Mallon is as compelling in this as she is in all productions and Talorson, who was a new-to-me narrator, imbued Henry with added charm. Henry’s interactions with Lilah are made even more of a high point in the audio. Overall, the Audiobook makes this story better and is well worth the listen and I highly recommend it.

*I received a free reader copy of this book (Dec 2021) and an ALC of the audiobook (March 2022) via the author. All opinions are my own.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes (Scenes from a Marriage)
Story: 3.5 ⭐️s
Narration: 5 ⭐️s

While I enjoyed the characters of Dee and Sam very much, and narrators Carly Robins and Bradley Ford gave excellent performances,I had the same problem with this novella as I did with “Party Like It’s 1999”: because I was so compelled by the characters, I wanted more of them.

I get that “scenes from a marriage” is the whole point here, but the snapshot structure of the chapters (same time every few years) doesn’t allow much space for the best part of a romance - seeing the relationship between the MCs develop on page (especially the falling in love bit which is almost invisible in the novella). Here, the reader is dropped into each scene and any growth is told rather than shown because it’s happened in the in-between, in the parts we don’t get to read. The sense of them as a united couple, a true partnership, would have felt more earned had their love story been more than snapshots, or at least more snapshots. There was a sense of their professional selves and their activism (which I love and is a major part of my longing for whole book about them!), but I also couldn’t help wanting the connection between Dee and Sam to be grounded by more than just big moment/major decision conversations (changing jobs, relocating ,pregnancies etc.) and physical intimacy. Yes, those are important, I love that they have strong intimacy and are totally supportive of each other. However, we never see any smaller moments that flesh out their partnership, which would have felt more earned if some of the scenes were about smaller things. I also missed the presence of secondary characters; especially since Dee is the child in CoM all grown up, it seemed like a missed opportunity for her story to take this form of novella.

As mentioned in the intro, the narrators are a highlight here. Both do a great job and I am happy to see them narrating another Grey classic together. Robins is a perennial favorite and it was great to hear Ford again. They both enhanced my experience with the story, and were yet another reason I wanted more of the characters because of they way they played them.

June 2023 I received an ALC copy of the audio and a ARC of the novella via Home Cooked Books. All opinions are my own.

Laura

8 months ago

Great Contemporary Romance Set

This was my first experience with Karen Gray's work, and I enjoyed the stories a lot. From the opening paragraphs to the end, I was captivated. I had a hard time dragging myself away from the performances of this box set. I liked that the author has written believable characters with flaws, emotions, and prejudices. I appreciated that all the characters had arcs which depicted changes and growth. I savored the snappy dialogue and enjoyed the moments of humor. I found the stories thought-provoking through the deeper themes embedded into the tales. There were six narrators for this audiobook collection, and their performances enhanced the stories' entertainment. Vanessa Edwin and Eric Michael Summerer provided voices that made Cal and Jess come alive in "You Spin Me". Erin Mallon and Tom Taylorson were entertaining as the voices for Bella and Henry in "Child Of Mine". Carly Robins and Bradley Ford were good as the voices of Sam and Dee in "Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes". I was given a free copy of the audiobook through BookFunnel from Home Cooked Books, and I have voluntarily posted this review.

Laura

8 months ago

Great Contemporary Romance Set

This was my first experience with Karen Gray's work, and I enjoyed the stories a lot. From the opening paragraphs to the end, I was captivated. I had a hard time dragging myself away from the performances of this box set. I liked that the author has written believable characters with flaws, emotions, and prejudices. I appreciated that all the characters had arcs which depicted changes and growth. I savored the snappy dialogue and enjoyed the moments of humor. I found the stories thought-provoking through the deeper themes embedded into the tales. There were six narrators for this audiobook collection, and their performances enhanced the stories' entertainment. Vanessa Edwin and Eric Michael Summerer provided voices that made Cal and Jess come alive in "You Spin Me". Erin Mallon and Tom Taylorson were entertaining as the voices for Bella and Henry in "Child Of Mine". Carly Robins and Bradley Ford were good as the voices of Sam and Dee in "Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes". I was given a free copy of the audiobook through BookFunnel from Home Cooked Books, and I have voluntarily posted this review.

BellaReads

8 months ago

4.25 Stars! Loved this Boxset!

You Spin Me (Boston Classics, #3)

Loved this book!

This is an 80s retro story; having not been alive in the 80s, I cannot tell you if the setting and aspects of the time period is accurate. However, it all sounded fun and I enjoyed it!

The book is about Jess (a former ballet dancer, turned working actress) and Cal (a radio show host). They go from strangers, to friends, to lovers, all through meeting and getting to know each other after Jess calls in on Cal’s radio show.

The emotions in this book, excellent! The characters, excellent! The storyline, excellent! The pacing, excellent! The writing, excellent! The romance aspects (which is kinda slow burn), excellent! The dance rep (as a former dancer myself), also excellent! Basically, if you couldn’t already tell, I thought this book was EXCELLENT!

I listened to the audiobook version of this story and the narration was so good! Especially the beginning of each chapter with the radio spot intros.

All in all, an enjoyable experience! 5 Stars!

——————

Child of Mine (Boston Classics, #4)

3.75 Stars. Fun 80s nostalgic rom-com!!

(Audio Review)
Child of Mine is the 4th book in the Boston Classics Series by Karen Grey. Although, each book can be read as a standalone. This series is set in the 80s and this particular book follows Bella York and Henry ‘Hal’ Smith’s love story.

Although the secret baby trope isn’t my fav, I was interested in this book as I have loved all the previous books in this series. This book did not disappoint. I loved Bella and Hal’s chemistry, and their daughter Lilah was cute; I enjoyed all their interactions.

This book was slow at times especially at the beginning, but it picked up in the middle and by the end, I was completely invested. Overall, I had a lovely experience reading it.

Narrated by Erin Mallon and Tom Taylorson. I especially recommend the audio version of this book as both narrators did an excellent job. I could definitely feel the characters in their voices.

I was provided a free advanced listening of this book. However, all opinions shared are my honest thoughts about this book.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes (Exclusive Novella Originally published as part of the limited release Resolve anthology.)

4 Stars!

(Audio Review)
This is a cute short novella that takes place over a 17 year period. We get to see snap shots of our main couple, Sam and Dee’s relationship over the years. From their first meeting in 2005 to where they end up in 2022.

Although short in length, this novella covered a lot of ground. I loved how strong of a character Dee was in herself and her career. I also loved supportive Sam was to Dee throughout the years. We really got to see how much they had in common and also what they loved about each other. This novella, like the others in the original anthology it was published in (although I haven’t read the other works in the anthology), deals with and touches on reproductive rights, so that was a nice surprise. I liked how it was implemented here with Sam’s career as CRNA and Dee’s activism. Overall, a nice short read/listen.

The audio was narrated by Carly Robbins and Bradley Ford. Both narrators did amazingly and I enjoyed my listen. It was easy to get through, not just because of its length, but because of the quality of the audiobook itself and the performance from the narrators.