The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis, Victoria Fox (Narrator)

Published December 6th 2022 by  Atria, Simon & Schuster Audio

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Natalie Fincher was all set in life, recently married, a new fixer upper cottage and the chance to tour with the musical she finally finished writing after years, until her husband dies suddenly. Her life changes in the blink of an eye and two years later, she is still dealing with her grief. Her friends don’t understand, and are constantly trying to get her out on the town and meeting a new man. She still loves music, but can only play anonymously in a London train station. Then, someone starts leaving her sheet music on the piano. Music that brings back wonderful feelings and memories. As she tries to find out who is leaving it for her, she begins to open up to others and finds friendship and maybe even love.

This is such a wonderful story. I love the way Lia Louis writes about Natalie, her feelings and her life while dealing with her grief, it was tangible. I understand how she felt as well as the various situations with well meaning friends. No one can predict how long it will take to deal with grief, and you don’t “got over it”. I cried several times while listening to this book, as it brought back so many memories of those feelings and dark times, but I also smiled and laughed as Natalie began to open up to possibilities of what her new life could be. As she allowed new people in, and friendships developed, I cheered her on. I really connected to Natalie, not only because I have also lost my husband, but because she wanted to live, but was afraid of what that life would look like. She moved forward with trepidation, but still moved with baby steps. She was real and I related to her on many levels. I liked both the men that she met and although there was some romance that slowly develops, I also liked their friendships. Tom was such a great guy, and he seemed to be able to intuit what she was feeling and how to make her smile. A wonderful story about new beginnings, grief, friendship, moving forward and finding yourself with a bit of a mystery added. The audiobook was narrated by Victoria Fox and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. Her voices, tone, expression and emotions were wonderful and added much to my enjoyment of this book. Whether you read this one or listen to it, I highly recommend, The Key to My Heart.

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan, Hillary Huber (Narrator)

Published June 7th 2022 by Penguin Audio

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Nora Goes Off Script was a fun romance, but it also had some serious issues. Nora is the single mother of two precocious children. Her husband never really grew up and expected Nora to do everything, including making all the money. When he decided to leave both her and their children, she let him go, realizing that they were never well matched and there was no point trying to convince someone to stay when they really didn’t want to be there. While dealing with her divorce and new life, she switched from the sappy romance scripts she normally wrote and instead penned a movie script about her life and relationship. It quickly sold and they were in her small town, and her house to film part of the movie. She meets the cast, including the brooding, handsome leading man, Leo. When they finish the filming at her home, they pack up to move one, but Leo decides her wants to stay and find his footing. He offers to pay rent if he can stay another week. The week turns into 3 and Leo becomes an important part of their lives. He and Nora begin a relationship and he endears himself to her children. When he is offered an important role in a Marvel movie, he accepts, but promises to return for Arthur’s play. Things happen and he doesn’t make it back and Nora and the children have to deal with the heartache of being abandoned again, this time by someone they care about.

I liked so much about this book, but I get so frustrated by the lack of communication trope and that is one that plays a big part in this book. Having said that, I loved the characters. Nora is a wonderful mother, hard working, independent, strong, loving and relatable. She has her routines, and when followed things go smoothly. She is self-deprecating and I love when she refers to herself as Carol King. She can’t quite understand how she attracted Leo in the first place, especially when she compares herself to the actresses he works with. The kids were awesome. Arthur doesn’t fit in, but he is so lovable. Playing Fagin in the school’s production of Oliver, brings him and Leo closer together as he helped him rehearse. Nora’s daughter was a typical pre-teen, loved the attention she got when Leo was staying with them and wanted a phone. She was a hoot and I loved her. The townspeople, at least the women, were not very nice to Nora and I loved that they wanted attention from Leo and he rebuffed them. Of course fairytales aren’t real and things came apart in an unhappy way. Of course it is a romance, so things will work out, but it takes a bit of sadness along the way. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and loved the idea of second chances and love winning out in the end. Hillary Huber does a wonderful job with the narration and her voices and expression were perfect for the story. I definitely recommend this one in either audiobook or book format depending on your likes.