I loved how there was so much more to both the Duke and to Amelia than there appeared to be upon first acquaintance. These were very well developed characters with believable problems. I enjoyed getting to know them.
Ms. Bellair has a pleasant voice. However, it felt more like I was listening to a friend read aloud to me than I was listening to a professional narrator. She was not able to give distinct voices to the characters, so I had to go back a number of times a listen again to make sure I understood the dialogue correctly. I would have been more aggravated about this had I not purchased the book in one of those surprise, pop-up $4.95 sales. The story and characters were strong enough to hold up against the amateur narration, but if narration style is really important to you, I would suggest buying this book on sale. Like I said, Ms. Bellair's voice was pleasant; I enjoyed the sound of it. I hope she works on developing her craft, especially distinctions in character voice, because she has the potential to be an excellent, five-star narrator.
Yes, I wish I could have. Stupid daily responsibilities.
Ms. Dare gave the characters occasional, short bursts of inner monologue that I found quirky and funny. The characters knew themselves and their own foibles. This technique of sharing their shortcomings made it very easy to relate to the characters. Haven't we all berated ourselves in our own head for saying the wrong thing -- yet again? Or behaving according to a bad habit -- as always -- despite the promises we've made to ourselves? (Oh god, perhaps it is only me. Maybe I've made an idiot of myself for all of Audible.com to read. Probably most people don't second-guess everything they share on the internet, even a simple book review. Why do I even write these things anyway? They are never helpful to anyone, I'm sure. And there I go thinking in absolute terms again, even though I promised myself I wouldn't. This is silly & ridiculous. Pull it together, woman! Just roll your eyes at yourself one last time, click 'preview' and 'submit', and be done with it.)
So far, The Countess has no comparison. I did not expect a historical romance to be so laugh-out-loud funny. I have never had that experience before. I hope to find other books like it.
Sarah Coomes is like the William Shatner of historical romance narration. Her pacing tends to the over-dramatic, with oddly-timed, suspenseful pauses in her phrasing. She was perfect for this book! So much of the humor was in the delivery, and Sarah Coomes was spot on.
I laughed so many times, which was wholly unexpected. Even laughed on a second listen. I snorted and guffawed enough that my husband couldn't believe I was actually listening to a historical romance. He thought I must have chosen a new genre. Now he wants to listen to this book too!
I never expected a screwball comedy in a historical romance novel. It was such a pleasant surprise! No matter how the characters were described, in my mind all I could see was Cary Grant and Claudette Colbert. This was a delightfully funny, farcical romp that was well worth the credit. Excellent work, Lynsay Sands!
Fiona's talk with the king in the garden.
The "I love you" scene was very sweet. It developed so naturally and was just such a lovely statement of fact. No angst. No drama. So simple. So sweet.
The sexual relationship between Fiona and Myles developed in a respectful, realistic way. She wasn't forced amidst a (ridiculous-for-the-character) BDSM subtext. Don't get me wrong. Power exchange fantasies can be fun! But it has to be right for the character, or I just can't buy it. Also, he wasn't the most perfect lover giving her the most perfect sex on their very first most perfect night together. If you have read enough historical romance -- chock full of virgin brides and their reformed rakes -- you know exactly what I mean. Tracy Brogan found a middle ground that maintained the sexual tension, but also allowed for the characters to very naturally fall in lust and love. I could relate to that relationship, and that was very refreshing.
Absolutely! In fact, I've gone back to it twice so far. I really enjoy the interactions between the two main characters, Devil and Honoria. There is just enough lapel grasping with exclamations of "I won't lose you, too!" to make the story deliciously overwrought without being campy. And I can't forget the murder mystery. Or the fantastic sex scenes! Very hot! Every aspect of the novel takes me back to my adolescence and all the reasons I first sought out romances: High stakes drama! Intense, passionate characters! Mystery and intrigue! Sex! So this book was oddly comforting in that way, even as it was titillating, which feels rather awkward. Hehe. It's just a warm, sexy blanket of romantic escapism. (I think I'll use that in the title of this review! lol) This book made me fall in love with the historical romance genre all over again. And I must add that this may have not happened if it weren't for the excellent performance by Simon Prebble!
The culminating scene, of course, and the clever way in which Devil bests the villain.
I've listened to the other five books about the Bar Cynster since I first purchased Devil's Bride. I enjoyed all of them (And I loved that Simon Prebble narrated them too!), but this first book in the series remains my favorite.
Yes. I have listened to Deception twice. It was a light, fun story that included a mystery of long lost buried treasure. You can't go wrong with that. I also liked that all of the families involved (and the relationships between secondary characters) were a little bit unusual. There are no run-of-the-mill nuclear families here. It was refreshing. Ms. Quick relegated the over-the-top drama ("Beware the Guardian!") to the buried treasure subplot and allowed the protagonists to follow their feelings without all the unnecessary anxious hyperbole that is often used in romance novels to create tension. This was also refreshing.
Yes. This was a fun love story with some quirky characters. If this is typical of Ms. Quick's work, I would happily listen to another book written by her. I would wait for a sale though.
Anne Flosnik is very dependable. I can always count on enjoying her narration. She does an excellent job giving voice to the different characters without making them into caricatures.
I was fine with taking breaks. I like audiobooks for listening to while I perform other tasks, like cleaning or gardening. The desire to Just. Keep. Listening. is a pleasure sometimes, and obviously indicates I'm immersed in a great story, but that can interfere with my main goals. I don't consider it a drawback if I am content to listen piece-meal fashion.
The subplot teasing out Nathaniel's relationship with his birth family and their motivations was well done. There were unexpected twists and characters introduced in that story line, and I could never be certain if the villains were going to remain villains or if they would perform some act of redemption. That kept me listening. Plus, most of the action (battles at sea, knife fights, etc.) was tied to these characters and their relationships.But the love story between Nathaniel the Pirate and Alexandra the Seamstress....it was just so-so and ho-hum for me. I did not feel the Great Burning Passion that one expects from a romance novel. There seemed to be a lot of S/He-Is-So-Sexy-But-How-Can-I-Be-Attracted-To-This-Person-When-Nothing-Can-Ever-Come-Of-It! Angst which was made all the more aggravating by dialogue and plot devices (Alexandra gets to be a damsel in distress in a rather needless plot detour.) that were just awkward and contrived. Also, it is difficult to find that Great Burning Passion in a story that never has the characters getting carried away by their Great Burning Passion. In other words, these two never have sex. There is a bit of fooling around, but ultimately heads must rule over hearts (and other body parts) according to Brenda Novak. That's not what I'm really looking for in a romance novel. I want escapism, not moralism. More on that below!
Actually, this is the second book I tried by Brenda Novak. The first one was The Bastard. I don't think I will be buying anything else by this author. It appears to be very important to Ms. Novak that her heroine remains a virgin until her wedding night. The main characters in both Of Noble Birth and The Bastard did not have a sexual relationship. This is odd, considering they are romance novels about the attraction, lust, and passion (and eventually love) between grown men and women. When I'm reading a romance novel, I want the characters to get carried away by their passion for each other, not capitulate to a patriarchal society's demands for an intact hymen on the wedding night. There is enough shaming of women for being sexual IRL as it is; I don't want it as the subtext of the romance novels I read.
Yes. Alison Larkin gave a fine performance.
I bought this book on sale, sacrificing a fancy latte in the budget. It would not have been worth it if I had used a credit or paid full price.
Yes! The story kept me guessing right to the end regarding Pierce's mother's motivations. And the final explanation felt very believable to me. I want to listen to the book again now that I know how it ends so I don't get too distracted with all my wondering what the big mystery is. I think it will be just as enjoyable, but in a different way. This is in spite of the narrator, of course.
Pierce. His transformation felt very real and organic. As the reader, we learn through his eyes the real risks and pitfalls women of that era (and for centuries before and more than a century after, of course) faced in a patriarchal society that kept them so entirely dependent upon the men in their life. He might have learned to forgive and know gratitude, but that he took a moment to put himself into the shoes of the women in his life was very powerful. The author took an extra step there that made the whole story rise above the typical Reformed Rake Regency Romance that we all know and love. It was a pleasure to discover a character with so much more depth than I am used to finding in my guilty pleasure reading.
Mean Old Man
Michael Page just wasn't the right voice for a historic romance. He sounded rather scary, actually (which made for a strange and uncomfortable mix of feelings during the sex scenes, let me tell you). Mr. Page should narrate gory horror novels instead.
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