Wed
Jun 14 2017 2:30pm

16 Audiobook Narrators You’ll Have a Crush on by the End of this Post

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I have such a crush on…your voice.

I was brand new to audiobooks in 2012. At the time I was a high school English teacher driving an hour back and forth to grad school one night a week, and I wanted something more than the radio. A colleague had just finished listening to Maggie Stiefvater’s Scorpio Races and said it was one of the best audiobooks he’d ever listened to, so I gave it a shot.

The narrators are Fiona Hardingham as Puck and Steve West as Sean. The story itself is fantastic, but read by these two performers it was utterly magical. Also, something interesting happened. I kind of fell hard for Steve West—‘s voice. I even blogged about it on my short-lived YA blog, ending my review with the wish that I could have Steve West narrate my inner monologue. And he responded to my blog post. And yes I’m still squeeing about years later because yes I still crush on his voice and his audio performances. In fact, I’m currently listening to Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer, narrated by—of course—Steve West.

It wasn't until Steve West commented on my Facebook that I learned audiobooks are more than just having books read to you. Beyond earning some bragging rights, I learned it’s a full-on performance. Single actors can sometimes taking on various roles with such distinguishably different voices that it often astounds me it’s the same person the whole way through. And when you click with the right narrator, it is a transformative experience.

For those of you still on the fence about whether or not to try an audiobook, I’m going to share a list of my narrator crushes with you and the books they performed (with audio samples!) that hooked me. Because now I seek out my favorite narrators as much as I do my favorite authors. For any of you who already adore audiobooks as much as I do, please share your voice crushes in the comments so we can bring more readers over to the audio side. Also, it’s important to note there are so many different ways to listen to audiobooks: CDs, audiobook subscriptions, your public library’s digital collection, etc.

And now for the list! While I read both YA and adult, all books I’m sharing are chock full of what we come to Heroes and Heartbreakers for—ROMANCE!

Young Adult Narrator Crushes

1. Steve West

Book that hooked me: Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

About that voice: Not gonna lie. I have a thing for accents, so the second I started Scorpio Races and heard that the narrators were English, I was a goner. But when Steve West’s first chapter as Sean began, I had to remind myself that this was a YA book because it was one of the sexiest voices I’d ever heard.  And while the book itself is beautiful and lyrical and full of that dash of magic Maggie Stiefvater is known for, it makes the story all that much more irresistible when it’s narrated in a very deep, very rich, very British voice. Don’t believe me? Listen to the sample.

2. Rebecca Lowman

Book that hooked me: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

About that voice: Rebecca Lowman’s voice captures the angst and heartbreak of Rainbow Rowell’s YA (and others like Leila Sales’s This Song Will Save Your Life). There’s just a richness to the emotion in Lowman’s narration, so much so that my heart is usually lodged in my throat for the entirety of the book.

Rebecca Lowman's scene begins at the four-minute mark:

3. Dan Bittner

Book that hooked me: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

*Spoiler-This is book 2, the follow-up to If I Stay.

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

About that voice: Adam Wilde, the protagonist of book two in one of my favorite duets/duologies/whatever you call them, is no longer and angsty teen but now a bitter, angsty rocker—and a famous one at that. Dan Bittner is the epitome of bitter rocker angst in his narration, and I could not get enough of it.

4. Khristine Hvam

Book that hooked me: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

About that voice: Laini Taylor’s writing is gorgeous in its own right, but I think it’s a testament to a narrator when I finish a series and then go back and relisten to it all over again. Hvam’s storytelling is every bit as magical as Laini Taylor’s words. Even when the book goes into the male point of view, her performance is seamless. Flawless. Gorgeous. You can listen to a sample on Audible to see what I'm talking about. 

5. Nick Podehl

Book that hooked me: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Special note: This book is co-narrated by Nick Podehl and MacLeod Andrews. MacLeod, Andrews will show up in an upcoming sample.

Will Grayson meets Will Grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their world will collide and lives intertwine.

It's not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old - including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire - Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history's most awesome high school musical.

About that voice: Nick Podehl’s narration was an early favorite of mine when I was ready almost exclusively YA. I’ve listened to several books performed by him, and no matter who the protagonist, he effortlessly captures the teen guy. He’s not over the top angsty. There’s just an authenticity to him that makes you wish the characters he voices are real and that they really do sound like him.

6. Lin-Manuel Miranda

(I listened to this book pre-Hamilton and never forgot his voice)
Book that hooked me: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

About that voice: Guys…it’s Lin. It’s HAMILTON. Need I say more?

Adult Romance Narrator Crushes

1. Karen White

Book that hooked me: Blissed by Jamie Farrell

Welcome To Bliss, the Bridal Capital of the Midwest!

She's an out-of-place single mother...
Natalie Castellano didn't have the wedded bliss experience typical of her hometown, but that won't stop her from ensuring this year's bridal festival goes off without a hitch. Even if it means she has to play nice with the man who broke her fairy tale.

He's a thrill-seeking widower...
World adventurer and reluctant local hero CJ Blue doesn't want to be in Bliss anymore than Natalie wants him here. But family obligations have brought him back, and now, Natalie is using every trick she has to rope him into helping save a tradition he'd rather forget.

And their fun is just starting...
Despite their rocky past, these two wounded souls have more in common than they expect. They've both loved and lost, they've both tried to move on, and now they've both locked up their hearts. But by joining forces for the sake of Bliss, they might find the courage to risk love one more time.

About that voice: Karen White’s voice is sort of ubiquitous in the romance world. Chances are if you’ve listened to a contemporary romance book, you’ve heard Karen White’s voice. Can I use “Je ne sais quoi” here? Because Karen White just has that certain je ne sais quoi that totally nails the romance voice.

2. MacLeod Andrews

(See, I told you we’d get back to him)

Book that hooked me: The Next Always by Nora Roberts

The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look . . . at the building and the man behind it.

With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next...

About that voice: Guys. Guys. This series is about three brothers who are contractors. They are sexy good guys who restore an inn and  find love along the way, and good gravy MacLeod Andrews was born to voice these men. He’s got that sexy rasp that I totally dig. I never wanted to leave the Boonsboro men or their inn.

3 and 4. Grace Grant and Sebastian York together

(such a sexy duo—we’re talking hot)

Book that hooked me: Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren

A bombshell bookworm. A chronic Casanova. And a lesson in chemistry too scandalous for school.

When Hanna Bergstrom receives a lecture from her overprotective brother about neglecting her social life and burying herself in grad school, she’s determined to tackle his implied assignment: get out, make friends, start dating. And who better to turn her into the sultry siren every man wants than her brother’s gorgeous best friend, Will Sumner, venture capitalist and unapologetic playboy?

Will takes risks for a living, but he’s skeptical about this challenge of Hanna’s…until the wild night his innocently seductive pupil tempts him into bed- and teaches him a thing or two about being with a woman he can’t forget. Now that Hanna’s discovered the power of her own sex appeal, it’s up to Will to prove he’s the only man she’ll ever need.

About those voices: If you’ve read a Christina Lauren book, you know that her heroes and heroines are as sexy in their banter as they are in the bedroom, and the partnership between Grace Grant and Sebastian York 100% translates that sizzling heat to my earbuds.

Beware, these samples are NSFW:

Grace Grant: 

 

Sebastian York:

5. Eric London

Book that hooked me: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

After a decade of serving in the Army, everyone still expects me to be Dominic 'Nicky' Costigan—the skirt-chasing player. They don't know I've been spending my days trying to figure out my post-military life. Including how to pick up guys.

When I meet Luke on a hookup app, he makes it clear it's for one-night only. That's fine with me, because I'm down to see what this silver fox can do. But after I arrive at his doorstep, it doesn't take long to realize we have serious chemistry, and we end up meeting again.

He's got more walls around his heart than a military base, but I think he's as addicted to me as I am to him. He can't resist me for long. I mean, who can? Except Luke's rules exist for a reason, and when I test his limits, things get complicated. Maybe too complicated.

About that voice: So here’s a book I read first and then listened to, and I love when a narrator sounds exactly like I imagine a character to sound. Costigan was the character we loved to hate in Strong Signal, but Eric London’s narration effortlessly captures the hero who is redeemed in this second installment of the series—strong, sexy, yet finally able to be vulnerable and unsure.

Definitely have headphones on for this sample, because it is Not. Safe. For. Work. 

Honorable Mentions:

I. Love. Accents—particularly books set in Australia, performed by Australian narrators. Here are some quick links to a few of my favs.

  • Lia Riley’s Upside Down series (NA contemporary romance, narrated by Brittany Uomoleale and Tim Wright) (clip from book 3, Inside Out, because we need to hear Tim Wright’s sexy voice as one of my favorite Aussie NA heroes, Bran)
  • Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (Women’s Fiction, narrated by Caroline Lee) Before you watch the miniseries, you must listen to the book. Lee’s narration is irresistible.
  • On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (Young Adult, narrated by Rebecca Macauley) This is one of my favorite books. Ever. And Macauley’s narration captures the heartwrenching saga of a cross-generational story that will forever steal your heart.
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (Young Adult, narrated by Chelsea Bruland, Hamish R. Johnson, and Ben Maclaine) Too many narrators to explain why I love them other than to say this is one of the best enemies to lovers YA stories.
  • Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (Young Adult, narrated by Matt Cowlrick) More mystery than romance (but romance is there nonetheless), Cowlrick’s performance is devastatingly perfect.

What do you think? Are you crushing on all these voices or what? Have you crossed over to the audio side, or are you already there? I’d love to hear who your favorite narrators are so I can add them to my list.

Happy listening!

Learn more about or order a copy of the audiobooks mentioned in this post:

Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Blissed by Jamie Farrell  
The Next Always by Nora Roberts
Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren  
Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

H&H Editor Picks:

6 Enemies-to-Lovers Stories for Every Mood

What’s the Line Between Forbidden and Too Forbidden?

June 2017 Romance New Releases

 

 

 

 

 


A.J. Pine writes stories to break readers’ hearts, but don’t worry—she’ll mend them with a happily ever after. As an English teacher and a librarian, AJ has always surrounded herself with books. All her favorites have one big commonality–romance. Naturally, the books she writes have the same. When she’s not writing, she’s of course reading. Then there’s online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes). And a tiny bit of TV where she nourishes her undying love of vampires, superheroes, and a certain high-functioning sociopath detective. You’ll also find her hanging with her family in the Chicago ‘burbs.

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20 comments
Jen Wattley
1. JenWattley
I quite enjoy Davina Porter, the narrator for the Outlander books. And I LOVE Rebecca Lowman! She narrates the second Veronica Mars book, Mr. Kiss and Tell, and she's great. Happy to see her on this great list.
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME! I'm so hooked on Sebastian York's voice and I just downloaded my first audiobook ever. Hello Beautiful Player... here I come ;)
Amy Pine
3. AJPine
Jen Wattley, I'm so glad to find another Rebecca Lowman fan! And yes, Davina Porter is fabulous. Jenn Profitt...#sorrynotsorry. There's no going back once you've heard Sebastian York.
Laura B
5. Laura B
Renee Raudman is excellent. She reads many Ilona Andrews books.
Laura B
6. Lucy D
Oooo....one of my favorite subjects. You must add:

Lorelei King - Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs and
Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones
Susan Erickson - In Death series by J.D. Robb
Luke Daniels - Iron Druid Chronicles series by Kevin Hearne
Amanda Ronconi - Nice Girls series by Molly Harper
Amy Pine
7. AJPine
I need to check out Renee Raudman, Laura B! And oooh, yes! I've listened to Luke Daniels before! Great addition. And now I'm going to check out all the others!
trosado
8. trosado
I've only been listening to audiobooks for about a year now. I find that I'm really picky and tend to prefer the voices in my head (yes, there are many!) to most narrators voices. Sometimes the speed or pacing of their narration is what I don't care for, but to increase the speed will sometimes ruins the story's effect. It's a catch-22 really.

One of my personal pet peeves is a single narrator reading both the male and female POV/voice in a story. There have been two narrators over the last year that I have enjoyed while reading/voicing a character of the opposite sex. - Rob Shapiro for Making Faces by Amy Harmon and Callie Dalton for Kulti by Mariana Zapata. In fact, Kulti and Callie Dalton were my first experience with audiobooks and I have since declared Callie Dalton one of my all-time favorite narrators.
Laura B
9. Renee1
Rebecca Soler, who does the entire Lunar Chronicles, is fantastic!
Laura B
10. Kahintenn
Spectacular post! You've opened up a new world for me.
Laura B
11. Gina Drayer
Nothing against Grant (who is a fabulous narrator) but York and Andi Arndt together are my narrator crushes.
Amy Pine
12. AJPine
Thanks for sharing your narrators, trosdado. Those are new to me, so I'm looking forward to checking them out. Renee1, I LOVED Cinder on audio! And Gina Drayer, Lauren Blakely's books on audio are totally on my list. Looking forward to checking out York with Andi Arndt!

I'm loving all the audiobook love here!
karenwhite
13. karenwhite
Amy I am honored to be on this list! And I'm blushing at the compliments. Plus I agree with all the suggestions.
So, you might not know it but June is Audiobook Month. If you search #LoveAudiobooks there are a gazillion giveaways out there. You might end up with some free audio and other stuff.
For more great narrators, check out the new collective RomanceNarrators.com - we have a giveaway for Audiobook Month, too.
Thanks for the audiobook love and thanks for listening.
Finally, I have to recommend Jill Shalvis Lost and Found Sisters for contemporary romance fans. It comes out next week and is a new kind of book for Jill - still has her usual sense of humor, but it explores a sister relationship as well as a romantic one. It releases next week so look for it!
Laura B
14. Pellington
Jim Dale of Harry Potter fame is my absolute favorite. But I also love David Tennant and Richard Armitage. I could listen to them speak all damn day long.
Laura B
15. andrea2
I love many mentioned above: Davina Porter, Susan Erikson, Luke Daniels. I would add the following as well worth listening to:
Simon Vance - Naomi Novik's League of Dragons series
Mary Jane Wells- Simone St. James' books
Matthew Lloyd Davies - K. J. Charles' series Society of Gentlemen
Sawyer Allarde - Abigail Roux & Madelaine Urban's - Cut and Run series
Gabrielle Baker - Grace Draven's Radiance and Eidolon

and my newest crush:
Alex Wyndham - narrates Stella Riley's Rockliffe Series (a truly fabulous series) and many books by Lucinda Brant. I just finished listening to the Stella Riley books for the third time, the narration is swoonworthy!
hollish
16. hollish
I love audiobooks! Some of my favorite narrators:
Therese Plummer - Found her with Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley & now I'll follow her (or her psuedonym) anywhere. Her voice is so emotive and I love her in YA & adult.
Michael Crouch - Found him on Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, followed him to Magonia & Salt to the Sea. He has a great young adult voice.
Carmen Rose - She narrates a lot of Tessa Dare. Love!
Rosalyn Landor - Who else would narrate Julia Quinn?
Kristin Kalbli - Kristin doesn't do a lot of romance, but her voice is so clear and pretty, I love listening. My favorite of hers is Searching for Grace Kelly.
Justine Eyre - Another wonderful voice for historicals.
Sasha Dunbrooke - Started with Watch Me by Shayla Black. Her voice is so sexy and smoky.
smmoe1997
17. smmoe1997
Pellington, I quite agree with you about Jim Dale, he's my all-time favorite narrator. Lucy D, Luke Daniels is the whole reason I started the Iron Druid series. My other favorite narrators include: James Marsters (Spike of Buffy fame) reading the Harry Dresden series. Moira Quirk who reads Gayle Carriger's books. Neil Gaiman who reads his own books. And Rebecca Gibel who I discovered through the Splintered series by A.G. Howard, and I started Cleo Coyle's coffeehouse mystery series just because Rebecca Gibel being the narrator.
Laura B
18. Blue
Don't forget Nicholas Boulton who narrates all of Laura Kinsale's books!
Laura B
19. Carissa R.
Kate Rudd did a fantastic job on the Breathing Trilogy


I also love Michael Ferraiuolo and Samantha Cook who did
Amy Pine
20. AJPine
I love all the suggestions getting posted here! Keep 'em coming! I'll keep filling up my Audible wishlist.

I'm re-reading Harry Potter with my kids right now, and we finally switched over to audio and are loving Jim Dale.
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