By Kathryn Alley, Cameron Phillips, Nuria Berbel Torres and Sarunicka Satkuruparan
Valentine’s Day may be over but if you are like us and prefer to have romance every day, the audiobooks team have you covered. Here are our recommendations for a match made in audiobook heaven.
Sarunicka’s Pick: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Narrated by an ensemble cast
I’m recommending Daisy Jones and the Six, written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, narrated by an ensemble cast that includes Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt and Judy Greer. This is a retelling of how the most successful band of the '70s came to a sudden crash and fleeting end. For the first time, the members of the band sit down and tell their story on their terms. Unravelling the truth exposes the complex relationships, agonising attractions and personal struggles that underpinned the members' years together as a band.
As with a lot of titles where ensemble narrations are present, consumers gravitate towards the audiobook format over the print copy given just how much listening to a story from multiple perspectives elevates the experience. Having an ensemble cast makes it feel like you’re listening to an interview, simultaneously making you forget the band isn’t real and making you wish it was.
Ultimately, Daisy Jones and the Six is a story of how being broken leads you towards those who are more broken and how survival can end up being a choice between what you love and what is right. It is perfect for those who want to read about different kinds and parts of love; its layers, less-glamorous aspects, sacrifices and what it can really take.
Nuria’s pick: Seven Days in June by Tia Williams and Narrated by Mela Lee
Seven Days in June is a beautiful second chance romance novel that explores the complexities of life alongside self-actualisation, sacrifice, and generational trauma.
When Eva Mercy, a successful erotica writer, has a very public and surprising reunion with Shane Hall, an award-winning author of literary fiction, she is reminded of their shared past. A passionate week fifteen years ago where they revealed themselves to each other. They bonded over their mutual pain and coping mechanisms, self-harm and addiction. They knew each other in their rawest forms. Now in the present, Shane has been clean for two years, and Eva has found medical help: they reconnect over their shared past. During a steamy Brooklyn summer, Shane and Eva prefer to pretend nothing is happening, but their chemistry is undeniable. As we as readers navigate their complex romance exploring both their past and their present, Williams juxtaposes their calm and composed present selves with their terrifying unruly teen years.
Eva feels conflicted with their rekindled partnership. Their shared experiences make her feel hesitant as to whether they can navigate a successful adult romance. She needs him to disappear so that she can think clearly, but what she feels for Shane is undeniable.
This slow burn and captivating love story depicts the power of rewriting our own origin stories and the way life has a habit of bringing people together. Narrated by Mela Lee, this is a hugely satisfying romance listen that will have you as attached to the characters as they are to each other.
Cameron’s Pick: Made in Korea by Sarah Suk, narrated by Raymond J. Lee and Joy Osmanski
For some reason, I have become completely enamoured with Netflix Korean shows. As a collective they explore similar themes, which doesn’t offer much variety, but in isolation, single parenthood, enemies to lovers tropes, modern vs traditional love, class, power dynamics and working culture are all extremely engaging. Plus, accompanying that, they are stylish. Made in Korea ticks all those boxes with the added joy of Lee and Osmanski’s narration of the lead protagonists Valerie and Wes.
Kathryn’s Pick: The Light We Lost, Written and Narrated by Jill Santopolo
If you’re anything like me, the best romance stories are raw and offer vulnerable glimpses into the enchanting fairy tale of love and the heartbreak of reality. My favourite love stories understand this well and masterfully balance a melancholic romance. When I think about the listens that have impacted me the most, or even made me cry, I think of The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo.
The Light We Lost is a beautiful, devastating story that encapsulates the trope, “Right Person, Wrong Time” in a captivating way. Santopolo narrates brilliantly, capturing the inner workings of the human heart through her protagonists, Lucy and Gabe, who she describes as “binary stars orbiting around each other.” Lucy and Gabe met in college, but their passion for each other is eclipsed by their individual passions to achieve their dreams. The Light We Lost is achingly profound and lovely to meditate on your own manifestations of love and dreams for the future. Made even more beautiful in audiobook form, Santopolo’s performance invites audiences to follow the emotional journey of two soulmates and the sacrifices they make to achieve their dreams and for each other.
The ending is surprisingly abrupt, and you may need a tissue or two, but The Light We Lost is a must-listen for those who can appreciate beauty in meaningful stories.