Dick Francis wrote 4 novels featuring Sid Halley as the protagonist, and this is my favorite. The thing I like best about him is that there is that deep conflict between what he was as a jockey, and what he has become as an investigator. There is the love/anger feeling he feels toward his ex-wife. The character goes deeper than the usual mystery/suspense. Okay, the character is himself through all the novels, but it's his reaction or growth that grabs you.
As far as the plot, I enjoyed this one because it was smooth, in spite of some peripheral characters that don't seem to fit, but end up fitting very well.
Tony Britton is a wonderful narrator. The listener can hear the difference in class of each character, as well as how he/she relates to the world (hard, timid, brave, etc). Definitely give this Dick Francis a listen.
Setting: New England, contemporary
Genre: Paranormal romantic mystery
I like Amanda Ronconi's performances. She's so cheery, which works for light comedy.
I was disappointed with this book. The premise is great, about a group staying on an island to restore a Victorian mansion, but the characters are one-dimensional. The heroine is Nina, the landscape designer, and the hero is Deacon, the owner of the mansion/island. There is a large supporting cast of characters. Cindy is there to oversee the cleaning and organization of the place. Jake is Deacon's best friend and the architect for the restoration. Dotty is Deacon's unconventional cousin who provides some of the comic relief. Rick is Nina's ex-boss who is the creepy, uninvited visitor to the island. There's also a couple of visits from a very bad interior decorator (I don't know why she was even written in, as she provides no movement in the story). There are also ghosts.
The point of view is omniscient. This is pure laziness on the part of the author. It is much more difficult to keep to one point of view, showing all the action through the senses of one character, but it also provides for a smoother narrative. Showing unfolding events from perspective of all these characters caused a choppiness on the story line. The POV should have been limited to the H/h at the most.
All of the characters knew, going in, that the place was haunted by Deacon & Dotty's great-great-grandmother Catherine, who was murdered by her husband. They didn't have to ask who-dun-it because they already knew. So what was the impetus for the plot? What was the mystery if they didn't ask the question needed to create it? Really, the big mystery is why the characters didn't figure it out as soon as I did.
I am a big Molly Harper fan, but this was not worth the credit I used to get it.
Genre: Regency romance
Rosalyn Landor provides her usual wonderful performance. I truly enjoy her work.
This is the third in The Survivor's Club series. The male protagonist was introduced in the first book of the series, The Proposal, and mentioned in passing in The Arrangement, the second book.
The protagonists, Mrs. Samantha McKay and Sir Benedict Harper, are well rounded. They both have their individual challenges: hers is dealing with the overbearing, puritanical family of her late husband, and his is coming to terms with his disability. The plot is engaging. There aren't any huge conflicts, but there are a couple of minor ones. Hmm. I would say this is almost two stories with a road trip in between. The first part focuses on Samantha's situation and Ben's restlessness. The hero and heroine start out disliking one another, though Ben feels a grudging responsibility for Samantha. The road trip shows the gradual change in the relationship to liking and respect. The second part focuses on the relationship between Samantha and Ben, as well as Samantha's adjustment to life in Wales. It is a nice progression.
The novel is followed by an amusing novela, The Suitor, which is set immediately prior to The Arrangement, though the hero is introduced in The Proposal. I'd tell you more about it, but that might spoil it for you.
I highly recommend this audio production. It is worth the time and credit.
Setting: England, 1816 and 1819
Narration is fair. While Brad Wills lacks the vocal range to do female voices really well, once you get used to his falsetto delivery it's fine.
Even though much of this story was delivered in passive voice rather than through dialogue and action, it was engaging. The main characters were well done, though there may have been too many in the background.
At a house party hosted by her sister and brother-in-law, Emma Hathaway was sitting with Lady Morgan Cardiff. When she turned away for a few moments, Lady Morgan walked into the estuary. Emma went in after her and ended up needing to be saved as well. While trying to save them both, Aiden Cardiff was unable to keep his sister's head above water, and when they reach the shore, Morgan wasn't breathing. Aiden blamed it all on Emma. Three years later, Emma is at another house party hosted by her sister and brother-in-law because Emma needs to find a husband. Among those invited is Aiden Cardiff, who hates Emma with a passion.
I enjoyed the time I spent with these people, though the important secondary characters weren't as well described as they should have been. Once I got used to the delivery by Brad Wills, the book was quite engaging.
Bottom line: Though it may not be at the top of my re-listen list, it is on the list. I believe it was worth the credit.
Setting: England Victorian era
Genre: Romantic intrigue
I enjoy Justine Eyre's performances. I think she does a good job differentiating characters, and she has good range.
Evelyn and Adrian were introduced in His Mistress by Christmas, which was a farce. Though this premise could have been presented in a farcical style, it was not. Adrian is the stuffy, proper head of the Hadley-Attwater family, and Evelyn is his wife of 2 years. They have become so complacent with one another and their marriage, both are itching for something more. But when Evelyn's past as a spy for the crown comes calling, she's not so sure she wants excitement after all. She never told Adrian about her clandestine activities, and her own odd behavior makes her worry that he'll wonder what's going on. Adrian has never been sure why Evelyn married him in the first place, so her nervousness and out of character actions make him more insecure. He worries that she finds him so boring that she'd have an affair. The characters are interesting, and the reveal at the end was surprising. The delivery of the premise was average and could have been tightened up.
Bottom line is that it was an enjoyable way to pass a few hours, but it won't be at the top of my re-listen list.
Setting: England 1822
Narration was average. I wasn't immersed in the story, nor was I kicked out of it by mispronunciation or overly melodramatic delivery.
The premise of this is not new, but the author freely admits that it is a take on the switched personalities trope in a historical setting. The characters had definite personalities, and they definitely set off sparks in their dealings with one another. Their chosen lifestyles are so diverse, you have to wonder how they functioned. The author didn't take the opportunity to give humor to some of the situations except for Lady Corinna's confusion over what to do with a man's morning erection. However, the mutual hatred went too far and too deep. You have to wonder how they could ever forgive some of the things they said and did. But it does make the conciliation more dramatic in a way. I just wish the story had been tightened up and shorter.
Genre: Regency romance
The narration was overly dramatic, and the males sounded forced. I think I would have preferred a straight reading from this narrator.
The story itself is average, though I almost gave it only 2 stars due to the narration. But that's like giving a restaurant a crappy review when your problem is with the server. So, overall this is a fair story. The characters were somewhat one dimensional, but how much depth can characters be in just under 3 1/2 hours? The basic premise was interesting, and had the author developed the characters a little better I think it could have edged up to a high average.
Genre: Regency romance
Narration is average. Polly Lee reads somewhat laconically, and male voices seem forced. These problems did take me out of the story a bit, but not enough that I gave up.
This is a retelling of the Cinderella story with, of course, slightly different characters. The "Cinderella" is the plain Jane spinster, Athena, and the step mother and half-sister, Minerva, aren't truly evil, just selfish. The "prince" role is filled by a visiting soldier. The "fairy godmother" is the younger sister, Persephone, a sweetheart thirteen year old girl Athena cares for, as Persephone was crippled by a high fever. The helpers are the cook and coachman.
The oft-told tale of the revelation of beauty hidden beneath the unadorned clothing and retiring manner was well enough done. It holds the listener well enough, even though you'll know what's coming next. My only problem is that there was a feeling of incompleteness in regards to Persephone.
Setting: London and Sussex, England & Belgium 1813 - 1815
Wonderful narration because...Susan Duerden. She draws you into the story, and keeps you there. I can't say I get totally immersed, but her delivery is smooth and pleasant.
Idealistic soldier Sir Matthew Blackwood meets, courts, and marries sweetly innocent debutante Serena Fitzwater within a matter of weeks. He gets called back from leave early the day after the wedding, leaving her with his family who are, essentially, strangers. The book's main focus is on Serena's adjustment to being the wife of an absent soldier and the way she matures during Blackwood's time at war. His growth and disillusionment are shown through rare letters home, as well as when he returns injured from "the colonies." The couple have to get to know one another as their new selves, and to accept the essential parts of one another's personalities. The sex is mainly implied rather than with graphic details, and the violence of war is present but also not graphic.
This is a new author for me, and I have to say it was worth taking a chance with her. Her language is accessible without being simplistic, and she crafts her story very well. It is mainly told from Serena's point of view in 3rd person singular, though she departs from this briefly and focuses on Matthew's POV.
Yes, use a credit on this one.
Setting: England 1885
I have never been disappointed by a performance by Susan Duerden. She engages the listener in this lighthearted romance.
I quite enjoyed this story about Lady Veronica, whose goal is to break out of her straight-laced widowhood by taking a lover, and Sir Sebastian, whose goal is to leave behind his footloose past by taking a wife. She refuses his marriage proposal and he refuses to make her his mistress. He gives in so he can convince her she should marry him, and takes her to his new house for the holiday. Then his family descends on them uninvited and misunderstanding ensues. This is a good farce that will have you laughing out loud.
Yes, I'd say it's worth the credit.
Setting: England, 1809 & 1811
This is the first time I have listened to Robin Rowan's work, and I was quite pleased. She did male voices especially well.
The plot is quite interesting, though it's a trope that's been done before. However, Elena Greene keeps it interesting with well-developed characters and plot devices. Both protagonists are likable, and three dimensional, with interesting back stories. The author uses activity to move the story along, not just telling what people thought or said. The central conflict centers on Lady Dearing and Sir Jeremy. But revolving around this is a host of problems, including distrust, prejudice, mistaken beliefs on both sides, and communication issues. The antagonists are appropriately creepy, icky, selfish, snotty, and other adjectives of people you just enjoy disliking.
This was definitely worth the credit.
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