Audio Slave Review: Tears of Tess by Pepper Winters

Title: Tears of Tess
Author: Pepper Winters
Genre: Dark Romance
Book Publisher: Pepper Winters

Audio Publisher: Punch Audio
Audio Pub Date: June 9, 2016
Story Rating: 4 Stars
Narration Rating: 2.75 Stars

Our thoughts...

It has taken me a long time to write this review because I have so many mixed feelings and they all have to do with the audio side of things. I have no real issues with the story. I thought I was going to have a lot, especially with how the story starts, but Winters managed to answer every question I was harboring. I was pleased and yet felt cheated out of my ranting. Mainly pleased (but pouty). The story is very dark and not for people with major triggers, but it is well-written and well-done. The relationship works, makes sense, for them and only them. Any other situation and I would be furious. They are a perfect storm. That’s all I’m going to say about the story because I enjoyed it but I had some major issues with the audio. It’s been several weeks and I’m still brooding a little, as ridiculous as that is. 

The biggest thing I can’t decide is: are my complaints with the production of the audiobook or with the narrators’ performances? I think, without knowing anything that happened behind the scenes, that this is more of a production issue. I have not listened to either narrator prior to this but I get the feeling that they are fairly solid narrators that were perhaps led down a path of unfortunate leadership while also letting their performances slip. It kills me to say that, it really does. 

Let’s break this narration beast down, shall we? I’m just going to lay it out there because I’m too perturbed to put it into a nicer format. 

Tess and Brax are from Australia but they don’t have an accent. They regularly use common slang such as knickers, arse, meters, but have no accent. The random cab driver towards the last third of the book has an Australian accent but not the two main characters. This was a problem for me. I could maybe, kind of, sort of let it go if it weren’t for the one guy getting the accent. That shows that it could have been done and it shows a lack of consistency. Speaking of lack of consistency: Q is French. His accent starts out decently; it’s acceptably strong but not as strong as a true Frenchman. Totally something that can be overlooked. The problem arises when his accent starts to weaken as the story progresses. It weakens to the point of being virtually nonexistent in the epilogue (which is from his point-of-view, so this was a huge miss for me). 

Then we have the “henchmen” who all happen to have the same voice. The only discernable feature is their name. Every bad guy sounds like the last with no distinction. I would have appreciated a little bit of a change in inflection or something but I do realize there are several different henchmen to portray with limited options for one narrator. I think I would be more prone to let this slide if it wasn’t compounded with everything else. 

Tess comments that the maid has an accent but we never hear it. If the story says it’s there, it should be there. We get Mexican accents and Q’s French accent but not the maid’s French accent and not the Australian accents. Consistency is important and this audio is all over the place. 

Tess sounds so weak when she speaks of being strong. Her portrayal does not reflect the story at all. She’s speaking of feeling strong and overcoming horrific situations but she sounds mousy and weak. Her voice becomes stronger towards the end but during pivotal points, where she is being incredibly fierce, she sounds meek. This story is powerful and Tess deserves to be portrayed as such. 

I wanted this audio to stand up to the power of the story and it just fell flat for me. The story is dark and deep and powerful but the audio was plagued with issues. A weaker story would have crumbled with this sort of production. I recommend you read this book; it’s worth the read if you can handle dark reads with triggers, but maybe pass on the audio.

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