More mystery than romance. This is an older Nora Roberts book and it shows its age. Although it's not bad, it's not in the same class as her newer releases. Tucker and Caroline are a southern boy (well, man) and a Yankee raised woman with southern roots. The backdrop to their romance is a serial killer loose in Mississippi. Plus, there's some family drama for both Tucker and Caro (his nickname for her). Not unusual, since what's a romance without tension?
My impression is heavily affected by the narration, which was not a winning performance IMO. Plus, I am a stickler for knowing the age of a book because it sets an expectation (e.g., if you think the book is a fresh release and about a current time, then it feels weird if the details are in the 80s). I looked around on Amazon to find when Carnal Innocence was first released but couldn't find anything older than a few years. Listening to the book, it became clear the book was written in the late 80s or early 90s. While it's true to the time (e.g., no cell phones, only one mention of a desktop computer), it still didn't work well for me. I think it was the performance. God bless the narrator, Tom Stechshulte, but he can't do a female voice without conjuring images of every man-in-drag (think Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire). On the other hand, he did a great job with the southern men, and in such a way that you knew exactly who was talking without needing their name. I love a good southern man's accent - there's something about their cadence, their timbre and their speech that just makes me want to cozy up to him. However, Mr S's vocalization of Caro just didn't work and it distracted me every time 'she' opened her mouth.
If you're a diehard NR fan, you'll probably want to read this. If you're a mystery/romance fan, this one will also work. However, I don't recommend the audible.com version - I was driving through west Texas (5 hrs each way) or I would never have finished it. Getting 10 hours into it after that drive, I couldn't not finish it. I definitely won't be listening to it again or reading it in print. I'll also have to hear a sample before listening to another of Mr Stechshulte's work.
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