4.5 Xe Sands is outstanding. This is my first listen to one of her performances, and her soft, seductive delivery is mesmerizing. She handles male..Show More » voices as well as female and is simply impressive. I am eagerly looking forward to the next Anne Stuart / Xe Sands combo due to be released in early Dec.
This is also my first Anne Stuart romance, and I chose well in my opinion. She has a lyrical, softly humorous turn of phrase that appeals to me. No talking down to the reader. I loved the hero and the heroine equally. I read somewhere that there is no bad boy hero like an Anne Stuart bad boy...which is why I decided to give this a try. And this bad boy was quite appealing.
Anne Stuart is such a wonderful writer. Like Stephanie Laurens, she writes characters that are three dimensional and have more than a bit of attitude..Show More ». I'm a bit ambivalent about the earlier series Ice but really enjoyed the House of Rohan.
I was delighted when I saw that there would be a new series: "Scandal at the House of Russell". Basically three daughters are trying to find the person behind their father's death and public ruin. The first book in the series, Never Kiss a Rake, was excellent and I'm happy to say that the second in the series is too.
The Scandal series is a bit racier than the Rohan series but it's nicely balanced with some humor and really fine writing. As with the first book in the series, the male lead is nuanced -- not a completely nice guy but he comes around to the right behavior. The female progatonist, like her sister in the early book, takes a position in service for the person she's investigating. She has issues with her position as a maid -- working long days, backbreaking labor, and having to put up with difficult people is far outside her previous experience as a daughter of a rich man.
I enjoyed both books in the series and look forward to the third. The books should be read in order as there are themes that run across the series.
I would also like to highly recommend Xe Sands for the excellent job she's done on this series. I think of all of the female narrators, she consistently does an excellent job. With many female narrators, I find their male voices lacking. Xe Sands is able to comfortably carry different accents (Irish, ...) but also can convey a gravely nature to a male voice. I admit to a bias for books read by Jim Frangione and Simon Prebble -- but I am delighted when I see that Xe Sands will be providing the narration for a book.
Is this my all-time favorite series? No -- but it's definitely toward the top of the list.
And I'm _really_ looking forward to more books by Anne Stuart.