Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Finding Harmony by JoMarie DeGioia
Narrated by Wendy Rich Stetson

A country girl committed to nature. 

A city guy with his eye on the bottom line. 

A battle of wills…a battle for balance 

And a love that can tip the scales 

Rick Chapman is climbing to the top rung of his father's corporate ladder. Fulfilling Chapman Financial’s contract at Cypress Corners, Florida will finally prove his value to the company. And to his father. But one endangered weed, and the pretty plant girl trying to save it, could really screw up his plans. 

Harmony Brooks loves her job as a plant conservationist at Cypress Corners, and the money she earns allows her to make up for a former boyfriend’s betrayal. He not only stole her parents’ money, he stole her heart. And that’s something she won’t ever risk again. But opposites attract, not that she or Rick ever expected to fall in love. 

Can Harmony prove to Rick that he’s worth so much more than his father’s approval? 

Or is Rick so blind he can’t see that loving Harmony is worth losing what he’s wanted for so long?

Publisher and Release Date: Bailey Park Publishing, September 14, 2013

Time & Setting: Cypress Corners, Florida

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

Heat Level: 2

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

Vikki’s Musings

I am so pleased I had the opportunity to review the audio and the book. When I received the request from Ms. Stetson, I was thrilled. While I have reviewed other audio books, this is my first request. Since I said I would be happy to, I asked if Ms. DeGioia would like me to review the writing as well. She agreed so my review will consist of my musings on the audio and the written word.

Harmony Brooks is a plant conservationist for the Cypress Corners Institute. When she finds wild buckwheat growing on the site for the new recreation café, she butts heads with Rick Chapman, the representative from Chapman Financial, bent on fulfilling the contract with Cypress Corners.

There is instant attraction between the two, but Harmony was burnt by a smooth talking guy from her past and is not about to fall for another one. Her attitude toward Rick is strictly business, but she has to constantly push down her attraction.

Rick Chapman is aiming for the top position with Chapman Financial and this contract is the chance he needs to prove to his father that he is the man for the job. The last thing he wants or needs is a cute little honey-colored blonde with amazing hazel eyes keeping him from his goals, but that is exactly what he finds in Harmony.

Can this ill-matched pair move beyond their extreme differences and find a love worth fighting for, or will those differences pull them apart, leaving them broken-hearted.

My musings on Ms. Stetson’s narrative is extremely positive. Her narrative is smooth and flowing, and I could easily differentiate which character was speaking. Her forte is the women’s voices, from Harmony, to Lettie, to the receptionist in Harmony’s office. She brings the characters to life. Her interpretation of Lettie is spot on, an older gently bred southern woman with a very humorous and playful side. The receptionist’s voice is perky and youthful. I could easily picture what each of these characters must look like, just from Ms. Stetson’s tone.  

I particularly enjoyed the inflection in Ms. Stetson’s voice during the love scenes. She is able to create the passion and emotion Harmony and Rick are feeling. She is actually able to emote more passion into the words than I would have felt if I had only been reading those scenes without her narration.

My one suggestion would be deepening the men’s voices a bit, perhaps add a husky quality to Rick’s voice and add a crisper tone to Bill Chapman. Possibly work a bit on bringing in the special drawl New Englanders have. Now she matched Harmony’s father’s voice to his character perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Stetson’s narrative and look forward to Taming Jake with great anticipation.

Ms. DeGioia has written a light-hearted tale of a missed-matched pair that still manage to fall in love against all odds. While the pacing of the story is excellent, the romance between Harmony and Rick unfolds slowly as they fight their growing attraction. I struggled with liking Rick, but once he shares a bit of his story with Harmony, I was able to warm up to his character. I do wish Ms. DeGioia had given me more information about his relationship to his mother. I did not even realize she was no longer living until near the end of the story. However, since the next book in this series is Rick’s brother Jake’s story, I suspect more will unfold.  

I fell in love with Harmony from the first page. She is feisty, dedicated and sweet-natured. This comes across in all her interactions with the other characters in the story. I particularly love Lettie. What a delightful character she is. The author’s description certainly brought this energetic older southern woman to life and adds humor to the book. I hope her character will make more appearances in Taming Jake!

While I would have liked to see a bit more emotion between Harmony and Rick, I still enjoyed their story and was pleased when they found their ‘Happily Ever After’. There is definitely chemistry between them and the love scenes bring that out very well. I look forward to reading the next book in this delightful series. Happy reading! 

About the author

JoMarie DeGioia is a bestselling author of Historical and Contemporary Romance. She’s known Mickey Mouse from the “inside,” has been a copyeditor for her tiny town’s newspaper, and a bookseller. A hybrid author, she also writes Young Adult Fantasy/Adventure stories, New Adult Romance and Paranormal Romance. She gets lost in DIY projects around the house and works out plot ideas during long runs. She divides her time between Central Florida and New England, and you may contact her atJoMarie@JoMarieDeGioia.com

About the narrator

Wendy Rich Stetson has played saucy maids, long suffering spinsters, and quirky leading ladies on and off-Broadway and at regional theaters around the country.  Recently she drove a police car in a feature film called “Liv” (coming to theaters soon) and also said “One cheesecake, two forks” on an episode of “The Big C.”  She has taught Shakespeare to kids as a teaching artist, conducted social media for a 5K charity run called Rafi’s Run, and answered fan mail for a children’s book writer.  Wendy lives in Upper Manhattan with her very patient husband Peter, her 7-year-old daughter Cate, and their geriatric tabby cat, Hannah.  She has a BA in English and Theater from Amherst College and an MFA in acting from Columbia University.

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