ALC Review: Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

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For Sewanee Chester, being an audiobook narrator is a long way from her old dreams, but the days of being a star on film sets are long behind her. She’s found success and satisfaction from the inside of a sound booth and it allows her to care for her beloved, ailing grandmother. When she arrives in Las Vegas last-minute for a book convention, Sewanee unexpectedly spends a whirlwind night with a charming stranger.

On her return home, Sewanee discovers one of the world’s most beloved romance novelists wanted her to perform her last book—with Brock McNight, the industry’s hottest, most secretive voice. Sewanee doesn’t buy what romance novels are selling—not after her own dreams were tragically cut short—and she stopped narrating them years ago. But her admiration of the late author, and the opportunity to get her grandmother more help, makes her decision for her.

As Sewanee begins work on the book, resurrecting her old romance pseudonym, she and Brock forge a real connection, hidden behind the comfort of anonymity. Soon, she is dreaming again, but secrets are revealed, and the realities of life come crashing down around her once more.

If she can learn to risk everything for desires she has long buried, she will discover a world of intimacy and acceptance she never believed would be hers.

From the author of My Oxford Year, Julia Whelan’s uplifting novel tells the story of a former actress turned successful audiobook narrator—who has lost sight of her dreams after a tragic accident—and her journey of self-discovery, love, and acceptance when she agrees to narrate one last romance novel.

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I didn’t have any plans to read this book. I had actually forgotten that I got an eARC of this from Avon Books because I didn’t add it to my arcs shelf. When I later got an audio advance copy from Libro.fm, I finally thought it sounds interesting and maybe I will pick it up when I find myself in the right mood. And I guess I finally was, and this turned out to be quite a fun experience.

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I didn’t realize that Julia Whelan is such a prolific narrator, mostly because while I do own multiple audiobooks narrated by her, I’ve only listened only to a couple, the most recent one being Emily Henry’s Book Lovers. Which is why I kept thinking that wow this voice sounds so familiar. And she really is spectacular in her narration. While the writing itself is good – a nice balance of romance, family drama, self-reflection and more – it’s Julia’s narration that steals the show, as well as the actual premise and it’s execution. As both our main characters are audiobook narrators in the book, the author does a wonderful job giving us a glimpse of the behind the scenes about what it takes to give us readers the best produced audiobooks which we so love.

As it’s also a romance novel that our MCs are narrating, we get quite a bit of discussions about the romance genre, the HEA, the tropes, and ofcourse how it feels to be narrating all those sex scenes. I found the romance genre discussions between our characters to be full of cheeky inside jokes and poking fun at the tropey-ness of everything and it was all quite entertaining, and I feel seasoned romance readers will find it quite hilarious ( I bet you all to find the Nicholas Sparks stand-in). On the other hand, we also have the author handling themes like a grandparent’s dementia and our main character’s coming to terms with her disability and moving forward in her life, and I thought she managed to write it all with empathy and heart. And for all epistolary lovers, you also have some of that here, so basically what I wanna say that this book has a bit of everything, and you won’t be disappointed.

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The only POV we get is of our heroine Sewanee who was an upcoming actress until she lost one eye in an accident and is now an audiobook narrator. She is no fan of romance novels when we begin the story because she has become cynical, feels like she has lost an important part of her, and almost finds it disbelieving that she can still find happiness, love and contentment. Nick on the other hand has lost a lot in life too and is now scared of taking risks because he doesn’t wanna lose more. The way they meet and their relationship develops has all the romance tropes, which they recognize too and make fun of which was quite funny actually. I loved how they really seemed perfect for each other right from the beginning but there were still many issues underneath they had to work through before they were able to accept each other’s love, and the author makes this progression seem very realistic. At the same time, their interactions with their friends and families, and how those relationships also played a part in the main character’s arcs felt very organic.

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While I went in not expecting much, I had a good time with this book and I can definitely say that if you are a romance genre audiobook listener, you can’t give this a miss. It’s well written, has some interesting characters, takes an inside look at the romance genre and audiobook production, and gives us many laughs and tears on the way. And the way Brock McKnight’s voice is described, it really reminded me of my favorite male romance genre narrator and his absolutely sexy voice, making me realize that I haven’t heard his narration in a while. Time for a re-listen then? Who knows..

5 star

PS: Thank you so much to Harper Audio and Libro.fm for providing me with this audio advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

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