Goodreads summary of With A Kiss We Die By L.R. Dorn (Review and extended thoughts on audiobook below): Two college lovers suspected of a brutal double homicide enlist a podcasting crime journalist to proclaim their innocence in this psychologically riveting and compulsively readable novel of love, lies, and murder.
I’m Ryanna Raines. And welcome to “The Raines Report.”
Ryanna Raines is the host of a popular true-crime podcast. Her specialty is investigative journalism, her style is truth-seeking moxie, and with millions of listeners along for the ride, her star is rising. But when an intriguing message is left on her tip line, the reporter is pulled into the most challenging case of her career.
The mangled bodies of a husband and wife have been discovered in their multi-million-dollar estate in Southern California. The prime suspects are their twenty-two-year-old son and his girlfriend, two college theater students who are now facing arrest and indictment. In a surprising move, they only want to speak with Ryanna, offering exclusive interviews in exchange for her help getting their side of the story told.
Instead of a badge or a weapon, Ryanna carries her voice recorder onto the battlefield of the high-profile murder investigation. Through a series of interviews, Ryanna examines her subjects from multiple angles and diverse points of view, breaking past the walls of “he said, she said” to pierce at a dark and horrible truth.
Written in the style of a true-crime podcast, With a Kiss We Die is a heart-racing mystery and thought-provoking tale about love and secrets that unfolds episode by episode as it hurtles towards an explosive conclusion. L. R. Dorn has crafted a suspenseful examination of our cultural obsession with true crime, the complicated moral obligations between journalists and their subjects, and the often-deadly line between performance and deceit.
With A Kiss We Die By L.R. Dorn-Review
To be honest, when I requested With A Kiss We Die, I didn’t connect the author with Anatomy of Desire. This is funny because when I read the summary, I thought oh, I hope this has the same structure as Anatomy of Desire. Even better, the author’s note, in the end, talks about how they loved the structure of Anatomy Of Desire so much that they were enthusiastic about repeating the structure again.
And so it wasn’t till about halfway through With A Kiss We Die that I made the connection. Why? Because I loved L.R. Dorn’s latest novel, but because I didn’t know it was her novel, I thought someone had committed some serious plagiarism. After doing some research, I found the connection, felt like an idiot, and went on LOVING this book.
Yes. This is me. I am shamed.
Now you should know off the bat that I listened to With A Kiss We Die rather than reading a hard copy. This is extremely important, but I’ll explain later when I talk about the audiobook. Right now, I just want to talk about the story and characters. Secondly, you should know that this is based (but not a retelling) on murders that took place in the eighties.
A Kiss We Die is a character and structurally-driven plot. L.R. Dorn has written a story that is both riveting and addictive. I read it in one sitting. It starts off quickly, and the pace just doesn’t stop. One of the most compelling parts of the story is whether Ryanna is falling under the spell of the two lovers, suspected of murdering his parents. There are ethical questions that are addressed as they become essential to the plot. L.R. Dorn drops hints occasionally but never spoon-feeds readers on what they should think.
There is an actual build to the climax of the story, and at that point, the layers of this onion are peeled back. Thus, revealing the truth behind it all.
With A Kiss We Die By L.R. Dorn- Characters
The love interests in the story are both gripping and cringe-worthy. Their story immediately sucks you in as you wonder what the truth behind their account will be. However, there is also a worship slant to their affair that is co-dependent and wholly unhealthy. L.R. Dorn writes their dynamic with an air of mystery. You know there is something wrong, but you don’t know quite what it is. Besides their obvious co-dependence, Dorn excels at leaving you hanging and wanting more.
Ryanna and the team behind her all play significant roles. They might not have personalities flushed out, but that isn’t the point of their role. Their role is to serve as a sounding board for Ryanna as she navigates the story she is chasing. This is also true for the two lawyers. What is essential is that Ryanna has a human side to her. She isn’t just the host of a podcast. Ryanna is a mother and wife. She is presented as a whole person, which makes her thoughts and actions more believable.
Thank you to William Morrow and Harper Audio for the advanced audio copy of With A Kiss We Die by L.R. Dorn, which releases on July 11th.
With A Kiss We Die By L.R. Dorn-Audiobook
I must note that I believe With A Kiss We Die makes a much better audiobook than a hard copy. I felt the same way about Anatomy of Desire. Part of this is because of the full cast presentation and production.
It isn’t just that there is a full cast for the audiobook. The production has each narrator goes line by line instead of chapter by chapter. Additionally, they add sound effects to make phone calls truly sound like phone calls (that is just one example). It is easy to follow and makes it more rooted in the production of an actual podcast. Also, it gives a real-life feel to how production behind a podcast sounds. Having characters directly interact by the narrator voicing them gives With A Kiss We Die a real-time, reality-based sense. The story pops off the page when you connect this to L.R. Dorn’s writing.
Lastly, I also want to note that the cast includes the brilliant Hillary Huber, Lauren Fortgang, and January LaVoy. They and an extensive list of new to me narrators do a brilliant job.