Author: Dakota Willink
Narrators: Lacy Laurel, Jeffrey Kafer
Series: Stone, Book One
Publisher: Dakota Willink, LLC
Released: June 29, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Krystina Cole was a girl on a mission. She had big dreams and aspirations, none of which included a man by her side. She knew better than that – at least until she met Alexander Stone, the New York billionaire real estate tycoon. She saw the way that he looked at her, and the dark promises in his eyes. She was curious about his world and all that it entailed. But the shadows of her past haunted her, making her afraid to explore possibilities that she could never before have imagined… Alexander Stone was a man who knew how to get what he wanted. He understood the value of finesse, and the importance of patience and diligence to achieve the desired result. He was successful and wealthy, relying on his naturally sharp instincts to guide him through life. But a chance run in with Krystina Cole quickly turned his world upside down. Her quick wit and firecracker attitude was the complete opposite of what he wanted in a woman, and his instincts failed him at every turn… However, both Krystina and Alexander are clinging to the secrets in their past, and neither of them are willing to compromise. Krystina’s hardened heart makes emotional surrender a hard limit. But for Alexander, revealing his past could have devastating results.
Dakota Willink is a contemporary romance writer and editor, and the author of The Stone Series. She is an associate member of Romance Writers of America and a Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards winner.
Dakota has always had a passion for reading and writing. From the time she was an adolescent, she enjoyed curling up with a good paperback, reading genres that ranged from thriller and fantasy, to mystery and romance. She always dreamed of one day writing her own book, but had put her aspirations on hold to focus on her family and a career that would pay the bills. However, her heart continued to be with fictional characters – whether they belonged to a favorite author or if they were just stories that she made up in her own head. In 2013, Dakota gathered enough courage to turn her dreams into a reality. In between playing chauffeur to two very busy children and working her job during the day, Dakota began to put words on paper. Eventually, she began to describe her life as a book. Everything she saw or heard throughout the day, intertwined with her imagination for the creation of future writings. By 2014, with the support of her husband and two children, she gave up the security of a steady paycheck and began working on her first novel full time. Her first novel, Heart of Stone, was published in December of 2015. Less than a year after its release, the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards recognized Heart of Stone as the 2016 Bronze Medalist in the romance category. Dakota resides in the Western New York area, where she enjoys spending time with family, her two Labrador Retrievers, and her spoiled rotten cat. During the summer months, she can often be found soaking up the sun on the Great Lakes with her family.
Lacy lives the life of a full time wife, mother and household manager. Needing a temporary escape from time to time Lacy returned back to her first love - reading! After devouring everything she could get her hands on she thought, -what if she could mix her love of performance and literature in a professional capacity? Once getting involved in the world of book narration she quickly became hooked and when not with her family you can find her in her studio working hard to grow in her own storytelling abilities.
Jeffrey Kafer is an award-winning Audiobook Narrator and professional voice actor. Spanning over 350 titles, he specializes in Romance, Thrillers, Sci-Fi and more!
I was expecting another Fifty Shades book but boy was I wrong. Each character was a little more complex than the ones in Fifty Shades, which I really liked. The book takes place in New York City and was described perfectly for me to understand. The characters were well thought out and developed. The storyline was written smoothly and didn’t seem to be any gaps. I could connect with Krystina and for someone in her mid-twenties she’s been through a lot. Alexander Stone, where do I begin with him. He’s your typical cocky, wealthy guy but don’t worry he’s not another Christian Grey.
Lacey Laurel and Jeffrey Kafer did a wonderful job at narrating the Heart of Stone. I personally like it when there’s more than one narrator. It makes the book sound better and it’s easier to understand the different characters when there’s more than one narrator. I didn’t hear any background noises that would interfere with the narrating of the book either.
So not wanting to give too much away, I really enjoyed the book. It kept up its momentum and it was engaging. I was hooked from the very beginning. Overall, I give Heart of Stone five stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Dakota Willink. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Q&A with Narrator Lacy Laurel
- When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator? I was listening to more and more audiobooks and I just kept getting the urge to do it.
- How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance? I just researched until I found ACX, and on their website it talked about what you needed, how to do it and I just went for it.
- Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started? No, it was not difficult to break in but to stay in is a totally different story.
- A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career? I don’t know if it’s essential, I have a very limited background from when I was in school. I love theater. However now I do find training very important. Getting an instructor for the type of narration you want to perform, attend seminars and classes in both performance and audio technology – you should really know how to use the equipment you are utilizing and some ‘employers’ will only accept your work if you are using certain technology.
- What type of training have you undergone? I am seeing a coach for non-fiction (Sean Pratt-@SPPresents) and another for fiction (Andi Arndt - @andi_arndt). Between the two a variety of topics in narration and the business of narration are covered. I see improvement every time I have a session, which is really encouraging, I am lucky that although I may not have years of professional acting or collegiate acting training I am able to utilize my coaches to help me improve and to learn more about what it is that I do.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating? For me it is a combination of things. Because of the performance aspect, if I am not feeing it, I try not to push through. I will walk away and do some of the many other things I am responsible for in real life. My hours are really flexible because I work out of a home studio, so sometimes it is just as simple as hanging out with the family. Other times, I find that listening to others narrate in the genre’s I work in really helps. Especially when they are good they will motivate me to want to get back in the booth.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? Yes I am constantly listening! I love audiobooks! For me, I find myself listening while I am doing housework or playing the driver to the kids.
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook? My favorite is recording, getting to immerse myself into another world. I also love the read through of the book; it really gets me excited and helps me to plan out where I am going to go. I guess editing is my least favorite part, but only in comparison to the other parts, I love to do it, just not as much as performing or reading.
- Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?
- What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator? It is exactly the story I would read as a consumer, and if it has my attention in that way then I want to audition because I know I will have fun with it while recording.
- How closely do you prefer to work with authors? I love having input from the authors, although every relationship is not the same. I do prefer it when even if they are not the ones who hire me, they have made the decision to have me be the voice of their book.
- Has anyone ever recognized you from your voice? I have had a couple of people recognize me as my pseudonym, and it was nice because I took it as they had taken the time to listen to my work.
- Do you read reviews for your audiobooks? YES! It is an addiction I wish I could drop!
- If so, which ones stand out to you most, positive or negative? The negative, but only because I always try to take something from them that I can improve on.
- Who is your “dream author” that you would like to record for? Dream author – I think CD Reiss, I love her work!
- If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why? I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – that book spoke to me in my soul on so many different levels I can’t even fully describe!
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”? Maybe to them, but as a mother of five kids, I know everyone does not learn the same way, receive things the same way and we are very lucky to live in a time that we have audiobooks as a way for people to enjoy books.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators? Take advice from those who have been there, get a coach and study away!
- What’s next for you? Project wise I am getting ready to dive into Stepping Stone, book 2 of The Stone Series, Asher Black by Parker S. Huntington, Stryker by Tess Oliver, Fighting Dirty by Sidney Halston, and Dark Love Part 2 by JB Duvane.
Aug. 25th: CGB Blog Tours Elsie's Audiobook Digest Aug. 26th: The Book Junkie Reads Jazzy Book Reviews Aug. 27th: Up 'Til Dawn Aug. 28th: Ginger Mom Reads The Bookworm Lodge Aug. 29th: Lomeraniel Aug. 30th: A Book and A Latte The Literary Apothecary Between the Coverz Aug. 31st: The Book Addict's Reviews Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm
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