The story telling and the narration are highly addictive. From the description of the novel you may not be quite sure of what you are in for, but you will be pleasantly surprised by a wonderful blend of mystery and slight romance. The style is remancisant of Austen's "Northanger Abbey", but the skill level is just shy of Christi's "The Secret Adversary". The detail gives you clear visions of the scenes and the plot just quirky enough to hold your attention. While Ms. Raybourn's writing is a great deal of what keeps you on the edge of your seat, Ms. Archer's excellent narration is what will keep you listening. There are many stories that read well on the page, but when put to the ear are just dull because the narration is lacking. This is not the case with this book. Once introduced, you will instantly recognize the many characters throughout the telling, even before their name is spoken.
Again, you have been warned, this book will lead you down a path of pure listening pleasure and story addiction. If you are looking for something a bit cheeky and fun, set in a very different time, give it a whirl. Just remember, depending on the number of credits you have banked, the first story is free...if you become hooked, this could become a costly pleasure. (But it will be worth it!)
Read from July 16 to 30, 2014
Story: 2.5 stars
Narrator: 2 stars
This barely maintained my interest enough to keep me listening through to the end. Rather than being a true mystery novel, it's more of a "lifestyle of the rich and widowed in Victorian England" story, which is interrupted at the end by the climax of the minor plot of the murder mystery. I never grew to like Lady Julia---she's one step up from a typical Too Stupid to Live heroine. Anytime she's told: "DON'T DO THE THING," of course she has to immediately run out and do the thing. And because it's written in first-person, from her POV, I never grew to like Brisbane all that much, either, because I was so disconnected emotionally from her and from everything she did and thought.
So, at least I avoided getting sucked into yet another series.
The narrator, Ellen Archer, annoyed me with her fake British accent (repetitive mispronunciations and accent slippages made it VERY obvious) and pauses/breaks in odd places in the middle of sentences and paragraphs. I've heard samples of other books she does in a regular (generic American) accent, and she sounds much better--with a better rhythm--in those. (She also does commercial voiceovers, including a series for MetLife).
I'd actually purchased this audiobook back in 2008, before the audiobook boom, and before there was much information available about the narrators online. I might have enjoyed the book much more had it been narrated by Charlotte Parry, who did the other book of Raybourn's I've listened to twice and enjoyed both times: The Dead Travel Fast.
Deanna Raybourne's first several books in the series are quite entertaining in the vein of period mysteries with high-born characters solving crime. For those who romanticize the British peerage, this will be a fun read. But the story is done considerable violence by the truly execrable accent. It is not so much the pacing or the quality of Archer's' voice but rather her ridiculous rendition of the Queen's English let alone Scottish. Stilted at times, it sounds as though she has a speech impediment. Some of the pronunciations are just incorrect. She cannot hear the difference in 'a' sounds. For instance, there is a difference between cat and cart, bat and bar. She gets them horribly mixed up. She slips into what sounds like it might be American (tweny as opposed to twenty). On occasion it is so garbled, it is impossible to tell which English-speaking country the accent originates. And the terrible placement of emphasis on certain consonants--part-TING, slight-TEST.
If Ms. Archer had wanted to do a creditable job of it, she might have started with actually listening to someone who speaks English and emulating those words phonetically. As it is, this is grating and after a while, it's laughable. And the worst, for those who are used to hearing English, it is incredibly distracting.
If you're used to hearing Scottish accents, do yourself a favor and do not bother, you will be entirely disgusted.
Say something about yourself!
..with that said...I also love the sex in the stories (my father ((years ago)) used to call our romance books "smut books"; as my mother, my sister and I sat around our kitchen table all reading our "smut" books and drinking tea!! We all used to laugh at that, lol) Because most of these romance stories had a good mix of sex in them lets face it, that is one of the reasons we love romance) but sex does not rate high in this book; but don't think by any means that by them not falling in to bed the story is not wonderful, it is...maybe even better because you understand them both so much more, the society, the times. Not having rip-roaring sex in the story does not take anything out of the story, the tension was there...and the story was brilliant, I loved it!
Directly after I finished this book...I moved on to the next one in the series, I loved that one too...but...that dear readers...is another story. :::wink::::
This is a great story...because a Lady, a daughter of an Earl, would not just fall in to bed with some one, no matter how she or he felt. The story shows you a young woman very much a women of her times, cuddled, and wrapped in cotton..and how a man, his name is Brisbane, who is not a man of rank, (I am not going to give anything away here)....he embarks on an "investigation" with her and how that changes her and him.
I truly feel these characters would be a great Masterpiece Mysteries series...how does one go about that?
that there was another book...sometimes one book is not enough....
the gift...won't say more...
Birsbane...he is a man of his times...he knows his place...and he wants Julia...
Enjoy it, this is a book to listen to again, which I plan to.
A book lover with a romantic soul, but willing to take a leap of faith. I LOVE to get sucked into a story and live there for a bit.
This is a very interesting read. The end will have you on the edge of your seat. I loved it! There is such a sweetness in this book and a wonderful plot! The Heroine has a major development and grows and you grow with her as she goes through the book. I Loved it!
The Narration is brilliant!
Very highly recommended!
Alas, I should have checked the publisher before downloading this from audible. If I’d seen the Harlequin name there I would have saved myself some trouble. This is not my thing. Too much romance and breathy innuendo and too little mystery. Too many modern ideas. Really, Lady Julia, enough with your cross-class do-gooder motif. I know there had to be some women who thought a bit like she did, but it didn’t ring true and that axe just kept getting ground. I don’t think there’s any left. I figured who had to have done it pretty early and so the culprit wasn’t a surprise. Overall disappointing. Lady Julia’s bosom will just have to go on heaving without me. And the fangirls will downvote because they're so mature.
I liked the book quite a bit - but I find Archer's reading off-putting. Her accent wanders all over the place and her pacing is uneven. Still, I do like Lady Julia Grey, and Nicolas Brisbane is an intriguing character. Lady Julia reminds me of Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody, who is one of my favorite fictional females. I'll try another title, but I might have to read these in print if Archer doesn't get better.
Interesting characters but the plot moved so slowly it got tiresome. To guess "whodunnit" in mystery novels, I always ask myself "who is the least likely culprit"... and I could tell very early in the novel that the author had chosen that old cliche to structure her plot. There are other pretensions in the novel that I found irritating as well, including the author's inexplicable need to break out of the first-person "real time" narrative at the end of many chapters to give omninous warnings ("Little did I realize...."). Also agree with other commentators that the lead character, as a married woman, would never have been addressed as "Lady Julia," which is the primary form of address used for her. I applaud the author's attempt to develop a realistic look at living conditions in Victorian England, but not the execution. Pick up a hard copy and skim through it on a cold rainy day, but avoid this audiobook. The narrator is awful. Her English accent for the main character is tolerable, but her other accents--Cockney, Scottish, French, gypsy--are horrible... what you might hear at a bad high school play. Haven't verified this, but I suspect she is American in part because I've never heard a British actress who was so bad at accents, and in part because she gives words like "clerk" and "privacy" their American pronunciations.
I don't know about you, but why are there so so so many 5 star reviews. I LOVE books, but so few are 5 star.
I bought this title with high hopes for a witty mystery following the many good reviews. It was just okay nothing compelling. The story was fair, the narration okay once I put it at 1.25 speed, overall an okay listen.
entertaining, gripping, fun
the fact that it is set in other time is very interesting and educational.
My first time and I loved her!
Lady Grey, of course, who goes through a journey to discover herself and be free of her time.
Can't wait for the sequel...