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- Lavender Shores
- Narrated by: Kirt Graves
- Length: 7 hrs and 49 mins
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Donovan Carlisle helps countless people in Lavender Shores with his skills as a therapist. It seems, however, that his ability to enable others to live their happiest life only works outside of himself. Donovan truly loves his life but isn’t able to find a relationship that satisfies his heart’s craving. Maybe the problem is that the only man he wants is off-limits.
Spencer Epstein came to Lavender Shores to find himself. Instead, he married one of the local town beauties. He’d thought his prayers had finally been answered. Then he met his pregnant fiancée’s brother. It turned out those answered prayers were just cruel twists of fate.
A decade later, after a divorce and the crumbling of all Spencer thought was set in stone, he sees his brother-in-law at a masquerade sex party. He takes full advantage of the anonymity and acts on the desires he’s held at bay all those years.
The problem is those silent and frenzied moments didn’t satiate anything. The fire and heat between the two men only grows as secrets are uncovered, and they must determine if the cost of their passion is too high....
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- Jorja Lee
Great book; great narrator
This was an interesting story. I really liked both of the characters and listening as their relationship developed. I especially loved the narrator, Kirt Graves. I could probably listen to his voice forever.
1 person found this helpful
- Retired 39
An Improbable but Clearly Entertaining Story
Rosalind Abel, the pseudonym Brandon Witt uses when he pens his more explicit gay m/m romance novels, has written what ultimately becomes a more than satisfying story in ‘The Veranda’ the second volume of his Lavender Shores series.
Once again the characters of Lavender Shores are perfectly brought to life through the excellent narration provided by Kirt Graves.
From the time Spencer (Barton) Epstein and Donovan Carlisle have their first sexual encounter at a gay Broadway-themed costume party in San Francisco - each pretending he doesn’t actually know who the other man is - through their second sexual experience in a hotel steam room, it’s clear they are going to end up together.
This all seems like a no-brainer except for the fact that Spencer was formerly married to Donovan’s sister, Erica, and is the father of their two children, Emma and Ethan. Even Donovan’s professional training as a therapist is going to be challenged to the maximum.
Of course, there is the obligatory HEA ending, with Spencer, Donovan, Ethan, Erica, and Emma all accepting and enjoying life as it is.
Not everyone is happy, though. John Carlisle Epstein, Erica and Donovan’s father, is clearly exploring every way he can think of the sever the bonds forged between Donovan and Spencer. It will be interesting to see if there are further developments in that regard appearing in subsequent volumes on the Lavender Shores series.
- Rebecca Azizov
It's review time 🎧
Narrator score🎧 ; kirt was amazing as always I loved his performance. the gruff voice he gave the MC was so hot 💥
Level of steam🔥: It was hot. it began with a very steamy scene, and then became a slow burn that I loved.
Level of anxiety and sadness0😱😢: I don't know if I want to call this book a sad book. the situation is complicated for sure. but I don't think we have a lot of sadness in the story. more like a lot of mature outlook that I loved.
The book itself📖: It's the last book I listened to in the series meanwhile I know I need to get to the whole series eventually. but because it's a stand alone series I allow myself to prolong the journey with this narrator and this author as well.
the story is very intense and beautiful and still very simple. it could be very dramatic it had all the reasons to , but it wasn't and I loved it so just because of it. it was so mature and lovely.
You've changed. You're daring. You're different in the woods.~ Maker's Wife, Into The Woods
Kirt Graves beautifully narrated The Veranda , book 3 in the wonderful Lavender Series by Rosalind Abel.
Donovan and Spencer's story gave me all the feels and left me wanting have a enchanted Veranda of mine own.
If you want to listen a romantic story with likeable , older late 30's and 40's characters and delightful fairytale ending get this audiobook, it is worth the credit.
Incredibly moving love story! Superb narration!
Donovan and Spencer are both at a point in their lives where I think they’ve stopped hoping for a grand romance or happily-ever-after.
They know who their heart belongs to, but they do not believe their feelings are reciprocated or that a relationship is even possible. One of the drawbacks of falling for your (ex-)brother-in-law.
They are both such caring and kind men. It’s such sweet relief when they finally find some much-deserved happiness with each other. The yearning and love they feel for each other is off the charts.
There’s a little bit of angst when they first cross that line from “mere” brothers-in-law into something more personal, with Spencer being somewhat sneaky in how he goes about it.
But it does the trick in getting the ball rolling. Donovan’s reaction when he finds out that Spencer knew full well what he was doing and with who at the masquerade party was great! Surprising, and wonderful. I would have hated recriminations or emotional drama at that point.
Donovan the therapist sometimes hinders Donovan the man with the doom and gloom of everything he has seen and heard in his years of counseling others. On the other hand, it also helps him to understand Spencer better and be there for him the way he needs.
Spencer was brought up to believe being gay was wrong and sinful, and that a “cure” was possible if he only tried hard enough. My heart ached for all he went through because of that, and the far-reaching impact it had on him, even at a time when you think he’s finally reached a happy and safe place in his life.
I hate that his parents didn’t react better or more feelingly, not at any point in the story. As a mother, I can’t fathom how anyone could treat their children so. How horrible and sad that such things are not confined to the world of fiction.
Donovan and Spencer aren’t in their twenties anymore and they are fully aware that no man is an island. There is Erica to consider, Donovan’s sister and Spencer’s ex-wife, and more importantly still, Spencer’s and Erica’s children, Emma and Ethan.
The scene where Erica finds out that her brother and ex-husband are together is very intense and emotional. This is the scene that made me cry. Her anger is understandable, though how she goes about expressing it is less so, but her sincere remorse at how she lashed out and Spencer’s reaction to everything, make this into a very powerful moment. Very raw. Very real.
One of the many things I adored about this story, is that the three adults always keep in mind what is best for the children and that the children never have any reason to doubt how loved they are. Erica’s occasional mean-spiritedness never touches her children, and when the moment comes to explain to Emma and Ethan that daddy and uncle Donovan are in love, Donovan especially rises to the occasion. Though all three of the adults handle the revelation with care and sensitivity.
I was completely blown away by this story.
Kirt Graves again did an excellent job! He has a warm and soothing voice that made listening to this story an absolute pleasure. Donovan and Spencer come across very distinctly and I really liked the timbre he choose for each of their voices, which I felt matched their personality very well.
- Debbie Attenborough
loving the narrationof these books from Graves!
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian I was gifted my copy of this book.
When Donovan met Spencer ten years ago, it was on Spencer's engagement to Donovan's sister. All that time, they had feelings for each but they were never acted upon . But when Spencer's marriage fell apart and he finds himself at masquerade sex party, and Donovan is there too, he can't pass up this chance to have him, even if its just once, and Donovan won't know who he is. But Donovan DID know. And he wants more.
This is book three in the Lavender Shores series, but you don't need to have read the first two to follow this. It might help to read book two first though, because Donovan plays a large part I that book. Not necessary, just might help.
I'm loving this series, I really am. They are easy books to read, and that's a good thing, especially for me currently.
They are told from both men's point of view, in the first person and it flips from chapter to chapter with each change clearly headed. Ya'll know its not my favourite way for a book to be written, but I knew that after book one they would be this way, and I think that helps massively.
You get each man's reaction to that encounter at the party, each man's attempt to stay away and you get it all in glorious detail when they finally, fully and totally give in to each other.
I love how these books have no major break up in them. They are full of story, and plots and people's reactions, but seriously? Lavender Shores is the best place in the damn world to live! I loved how, while obviously hurt by what Donovan and Spencer do, Erica can see they are happy together and she doesn't keep Spencer's kids from him.
While I am loving the easy reads that these books really are, I find myself waiting.....waiting.....waiting.....for that one in the series that has a bit more bite, is a bit more heart wrenching, gut churning, emotionally devastating. One book to tip it over the edge and give it those full five stars. It will be either one alike that, or one that is far too stinking cute and warm and fuzzies all at the same time, that tips it over! But I have no doubt, there will be a five star book in this series, I just gotta bide my time.
An extremely well written, well delivered, well needed...
Kirt Graves continues to narrate this series, and he really is growing on me!
His voices for Donovan and Spencer were similar, but just different enough for me, with my crappy hearing, to make out the difference if I had left it off, mid chapter.
He continues to portray much more than I got through reading, and that is only a reflection on his skill, rather than the book. I love the emotion that Graves gets across, that, while reading, you might not pick up. The WORDS are all there, but HEARING them makes it much more real.
His voices for the other guys who have appeared in the series remain consistent throughout, and I love reconnecting with them, each and every time they pop up.
I hope to get the opportunity to listen to the other books, too. Some cracking books in this series, and I CANNOT wait to see how Graves gets them across.
Upgrading the book form 4 to 5 stars, simply because of Graves narration.
5 star book,
5 star narration
5 stars overall
**same worded review will appear elsewhere**
- Erryn Barratt
Brothers–in-law to Lovers
Please do not ever ask me to name which Lavender Shores book is my favourite. How could I ever choose? Lavender Shores, a magical town in California, is the most gay-friendly town in America. As well as being LGBT friendly, the town is truly idyllic – almost too good to be true, but still somewhere I would love to live. It’s close enough to San Francisco for its residents to slip into the anonymity of the larger city when they need to get away from prying eyes. Donovan and Spencer encounter each other at a masque party in San Fran. With the purported anonymity of the masks, the two engage in what could only be described as a very hot encounter. At first it is unclear if the two men recognize each other.
Donovan is a member of one of the founding families of Lavender Shores and Spencer, by marrying Donovan’s half-sister Erica, has also joined the elite. Yes, you read that right. Spencer used to be married to Donovan’s sister. The couple may be divorced, but Spencer and Erica share custody of their beloved children Ethan and Emma. The kids also adore their Uncle Donovan, so if the men acknowledge the hot encounter, how will that impact their friends, families, Erica, and the children?
As a psychologist, Donovan has helped anyone in Lavender Shores with emotional problems. In fact, without any churches and with no religious confessors in sight, Donovan is the keeper of all secrets in the small town. Donovan lives a fairly staid and dull life, with only the squirrel who visits outside his window every day or so as true company. He has his favourite patients like Gilbert Bryant (from The Garden), his ex-boyfriend Paulie in San Francisco who hosts wild sex parties, and his cherished niece and nephew.
Relationships? He doesn’t have the intimate or romantic kind. When he decided to stay in Lavender Shores, he accepted that his emotional fulfillment would come from his patients and his family. Between Erica’s pregnancy with Emma and the clients who have come to rely on him, Donovan believed the town was the place he was meant to settle, and settle he did. Coming face-to-face with Erica’s fiance changed his life forever.
Spencer, the fiance, was just as poleaxed. He’d convinced himself he could be happy as a straight man, but Donovan’s appearance tossed all those notions right out the window. He decides to suppress his need for his future brother-in-law and be the husband and father he must be.
For ten years, the men suppressed their desires and strove to be as uninterested as possible – sexually. But a strong friendship has formed.
The night in San Francisco changes everything.
What makes a man a man?
Spencer has tried to work through this question his entire life. His father was a bible-thumping preacher who chose to send his effeminate son to reparative (conversion) therapy rather than just loving Spencer for who he was. Yes, Spencer was able to eliminate the girly walk and bulk-up with muscles, but religion couldn’t pray the gay out of him.
I abhor conversion therapy. If you are not familiar with the details, they are available, but suffice it to say, emotional and physical abuse is not going to make someone straight. I believe in biology and that people can be born gay or transgender. ‘Pray away the gay’ horrifies me. So even though Spencer is a fictional character, his story is repeated over and over again by the real-life girls and boys sent to these camps or therapists.
Many states and provinces and even countries are looking at banning the therapy because, at the mildest, it doesn’t work and, at the extreme, young men and women die. For the record, my city, Vancouver, just banned conversion therapy. The ban might be mostly symbolic, but it’s our way of saying we believe in protecting young men and women on the LGBT spectrum.
Donovan empathizes with Spencer’s pain and doesn’t want to increase the ache and shame. In turn, Spencer is tired of hiding his true self. He has loved Donovan all these years and now that he knows it’s reciprocated, he doesn’t want to stay in the closet for one more moment.
I spent most of the book wondering how Erica and the children would take the news. When Spencer said to Donovan, I am ‘sure of you and your love for my children,’ I felt hope.
Okay, so those little things that made the book so special? Donovan’s visit to Spencer’s office high above the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. I will remember that scene vividly for a long time.
I liked that Spencer had to deal with reality versus the pornography he’s seen. I worry that this new generation of teenagers watch porn and believe that this is what should happen – does happen – in the bedroom. Spencer and Donovan make love.
This warmed my heart.
This is a Rosalind Abel romance so there’s a happy ending that was hard-won. Ms. Abel always has a deft touch with difficult issues. In contrast, she always provides me with moments of great humour. The opening masque theme is the meshing of two musicals. Be forewarned – if you have a favourite musical or composer, they may not get favourable treatment.
Finally, I wanted to talk about the imagery of the veranda. Each Lavender Shores book has a unique location – the garden, the palisades, the hideaway, the shipwreck, the alcove, and the glasshouse. Each has their own special couple and the veranda suits Donovan and Spencer. It’s a distinctive place where they can greet neighbours, friends, and family, watch over the children when they play, and provide the men with a special place in the world. It suits them. This is an amazing book.
I think Kirt Graves was born to narrate Rosalind Abel books. I enjoy all of his performances, but this was one of the best. I really enjoyed it.
It’s never too late to find yourself, or love.
The Veranda is the third book in the Lavender Shores series by Rosalind Abel and can be listened to as as a stand-alone, though I don’t recommend it. The first two books in the series are not to be missed and your listening pleasure will be greatly improved with an understanding of the back stories of the other residents of this magical place. I’ve been reading and enjoying Brandon Witt’s novels for some time and when he announced he was writing this series based on popular MM tropes, under the pen name Rosalind Abel, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. The Lavender Shores series has surpassed all my expectations.
Donovan Carlisle was born into one of the founding families of Lavender Shores. He left the bucolic town to expand his horizons and study psychology. Returning to his birthplace to begin his practice, Donovan finds himself drawn into the lives of the residents who need him more than he’d imagined. Returning to city life as he’d planned is no longer an option. Meeting his pregnant sisters fiancée on the day of his return, ten years ago, Donovan found himself instantly infatuated. Even after all these years of unrequited love he still hasn’t found a man who can capture his heart the way Spencer did at their first fateful meeting.
Spencer Epstein grew up in a very religious family and when he was old enough he moved away from their disapproval to the small LGBT+ friendly town of Lavender Shores. On his first night there he meets Erica and she seems to be the answer to all his, and his family’s prayers. There is certainly attraction and Spencer believes he can love her and make a life that will make his family, as well as himself, happy. When Spencer meets her brother Donovan, at their engagement party, all his well built walls crack. He knows he is attracted to Donovan but he has promised himself, and Erica, that marriage to a woman, and having children, is genuinely what he wants for his life.
After the birth of their daughter, and later a son, Erica begins to accept that she hasn’t been able to change Spencer the way she’d hoped. Finding her needs met elsewhere, Erica leaves Spencer for another man and he begins to live his life authentically. Running into Donovan at a masquerade party, for Pride, Spencer uses his disguise to secretly hook up with Donovan, and the passion he’s been trying to hide is unleashed. When Donovan realises who the stranger really is he is deeply conflicted as to whether he wants to confront his former brother-in-law or pretend to remain clueless. Choosing love at the expense of family and community disapproval may prove impossible. Both men have a great deal to lose and they’ll need to believe in each other as well as those closest to them if they can ever hope for a HEA.
In The Veranda, Rosalind Abel takes two beautiful conflicted men on a journey to finally achieving the HEA they so richly deserve. I loved the MC’s in this story. They were sweet, kind, selfless men whose chemistry when they came together was explosive. I was utterly engrossed from the sizzling opening chapter until the highly satisfying epilogue.
Kirt Graves is one of my favourite narrators and his performance of all the characters in The Veranda was a pleasure to listen to. Whether the dialogue involved everyday conversation, humour, or more intense moments requiring heightened emotion, Kirt perfectly encapsulated the character’s voices. He portrayed Rosalind’s characters beautifully.