This series was recommended to me by a friend, based on my enjoyment of other supernatural romance series. (The fact that this particular book in the series is also a period romance is just icing on the cake for me, personally.) I found the characters and story-lines to be interesting and suspenseful, and as another reviewer wrote, the heroine is of the headstrong, independent variety that contributes to an interesting story (even if you occasionally sigh at her bull-headed-ness). The male lead character speaks in an intelligent, witty manner and has all the desirable traits of the hero of a romance novel. The narrator is excellent; you can distinguish which character is which, and she handles men's voices as well as she does those of female characters. I enjoyed this first Arcane Society novel so much that I plan to begin reading the next in the series as soon as possible.
This was the second Georgette Heyer novel that I've listened to (VENETIA being the first), and I'm very glad that I did so. As with VENETIA, it took me a little while to get into the book and sort out who each of the characters were and their roles in the story (such as who was just a transitory, very minor character and who was not), but as it went along, I really enjoyed the wit and charm exhibited by the main characters. I must admit that I found Amanda's spoiled, headstrong qualities to be quite annoying at times, but the manner in which Sir Gareth seemed to see through all of her "make-believe" and sometimes use it to his advantage when she'd verbally painted herself in to a corner was humorous.
My only quibble is that I wish that Lady Hester was in more of the book, though I guess that it could have been worse (regarding the amount of time in which she's not present in the narrative). I liked her as a character, even though she wasn't the typical feisty heroine that one often sees in romance novels. Her kindness was a wonderful counterpoint to Amanda's scheming, and as long as the former was there, the latter didn't irritate me so much. Once Lady Hester was back in the thick of things (where the main plot-line was concerned), I really enjoyed this book the most. My impatience with Amanda notwithstanding, I do acknowledge that she is a very memorable and engaging character, overall. I also really liked Sir Gareth as a character, particularly his dry humor and also his steadfast determination to doing the right thing, despite all obstacles put in his way.
Sian Phillips did a fantastic job at capturing each of the characters and giving them distinctive voices. The story flew by so much faster than it might have otherwise because of her spirited performance. I will definitely seek out more audiobooks read by her, especially any Georgette Heyer novels.
As another reviewer or two have written, I'm already a dedicated Lynsay Sands fan and was excited to see another of her books available on audio. So, this book was a sure thing for me. I knew that I'd enjoy listening to it, regardless of most other reviewers' opinion of it because of the luxury of being able to listen to it while I did other things, rather than having to sit and read a paperback version (which one has to do with many of her historical romances, because of how few are available on audio). But, I digress...
I enjoyed the plot and Sands's writing style, as always. I find her characters compelling and the situations they find themselves in humorous, and she has a way with the love and romance, too.
The narrator DID take a little getting used to because of her somewhat-monotone delivery and her interesting accent. However, I liked her, once I was used to her voice and style of delivery. I wouldn't name her as "Audiobook Reader of the Year" because of the monotone quality, but she wasn't completely awful, in my opinion. She did attempt to use different voices for different characters, and her Scottish accent lent a great deal of authenticity to this book (in regards to it being set almost completely in Scotland). Except for trying to weave a little more liveliness into her style, my only other suggestion would be for the dialogue spoken by English characters (Evelinde and Mildrede) be read with an English accent (and all the way through the book, not just here and there) while switching back to a Scottish accent for the Scots. The lack of appropriate accents didn't ruin the audiobook experience for me, but it would have made it a touch better.
However, being such a fan of this author, I will not hesitate the buy the audio version of TAMING THE HIGHLAND BRIDE, which is also read by Marianna Palk. As I said earlier, I can be certain that I'll enjoy it, no matter what.
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