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Publisher's Summary

As heir to a title and great wealth, Will Masterson should have stayed home and tended his responsibilities. Instead he went to war. Now, after perilous years fighting the French, he intends his current mission to be his last. But all his plans are forgotten when he arrives in the small mountain stronghold of San Gabriel and meets her.

Knowing herself to be too tall, strong, and unconventional to appeal to a man, Athena Markham has always gloried in her independence. But for the first time in her life, she finds a man who might be her match. Two of a kind, too brave for their own good, Athena and Will vow to do whatever it takes to vanquish San Gabriel's enemies. For neither will back down from death, and only together can they find happiness and a love deeper than any they'd dared imagine.

©2016 Mary Jo Putney, Inc. (P)2016 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Once a Soldier

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Mediocre book made worse by narrator

I'm on chapter 20 of this 36-chapter book and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to stick it out.
The plot, so far, appears to be non-existent. British soldier meets British woman in small (fictional) kingdom near Portugal (apparently about the size of your average county) where he and she organize the populous to rebuild damage done by French soldiers during war. The story is veeeeerrrrrryyyyy slow-moving.

Much information is provided about how to rebuild a bridge or repair a flour mill or restore destroyed vineyards or excavate a cave-in but I have yet to figure out if there is any plot beyond "will they or won't they eventually get together?" (It's a romance! Duh!!) There was definite potential but the book badly needs an editor.

Meanwhile we also watch the H & H fall in love with about as much passion as a pair of turtles nibbling on a lettuce leaf because the narrator pretty much delivers only one "pitch" and it isn't "passionate."

Ms. Crick has some very nice accents but only about 3 voices so that all dialogue quickly gets quite confusing if you aren't paying 100% attention to hear the "he said" and "she said". That problem is compounded by the fact that her voices are so far up her nose that it's a wonder she can breathe. Her voices are so strongly nasal that I was distracted by it about 75% of the time. It's also part of the reason there is so little emotional diversity delivered.

I don't think I'm going to be able to get through this.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Adventure and Romance

A good yarn. Likeable characters, the story moves along at a good pace, interesting location and time period. What's not to like?
The narrator was very good at distinguishing the characters. She is also good at accents and male and female roles. My one very small complaint is her pronunciation of "Joaquin" as "Jo-a-kween." It's not necessary to have read the previous books in the series, but it adds to the fun.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not your typical regency

I liked this. It's certainly not your average Regency romance. It's set in a mythical small kingdom between Spain and Portugal following the abdication of Napoleon. I liked the way the book started. It sets up the characters for this series, I believe.

The characters are great. Will and Athena aren't two young kids and they approach their relationship in an adult manner - thought out and practical. The upcoming threat of attack adds to the tension. Maybe too much but it's what sets this book apart. I like the dialogue very much.

I love the narration. Great job by Beverly Crick. I like that characters from the previous series, like Will himself, make appearances. I'm looking forward to the subsequent books in this new series.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good Idea

Maybe 3.5 stars --
It seems I am like a number of other readers and reviewers of this book. I love Mary Jo Putney, and I cannot tell you why this book didn’t just suck me right in as her other books do. I read all of the Lost Lords books and loved them. I always wanted Will Masterson’s story to be exceptional – but – it is just – well – ordinary. The book starts off exciting and it ends with excitement, but the middle of the book just plugs along. It takes place in a fictional country, which is fine, but the things the characters did are against ALL of the rules of Regency times – and probably any other country of that time. I mean, can you imagine any place, during that time period, where it would be acceptable for two couples to go on an overnight ‘camping’ trip alone – totally unchaperoned? Yep – me neither.

What an exciting beginning. Our hero, Will Masterson, along with several other men have been captured by the French and are awaiting execution by hanging. They are locked in a cold, damp basement with no way to escape. What will they do! Never fear, Will figures out a way -- after all -- if he didn't, there wouldn't be any more story! :)

After that exciting beginning, the story goes into some descriptions of the end of the war and Will’s orders to escort a contingent of soldiers to their home in San Gabriel (a fictional country between Portugal and Spain). Besides escorting the soldiers, Will is to evaluate the situation in San Gabriel and report back. This portion of the book moves along slowly with the hero meeting the heroine and others in San Gabriel. He arranges for a friend to bring much-needed supplies to San Gabriel and then there are many discussions with the heroine, the friend, etc. talking about San Gabriel’s defenses, planting grapes, making wine – all sorts of things. It is a way they are getting to know each other. Will and Athena are instantly attracted, but they let their attraction grow slowly.

Then, we reach the conclusion where it gets exciting again with an attack by a renegade, retreating French general who wants to rule San Gabriel by conquering them and then forcing their ruling Princess to marry him.

Will is injured while defending San Gabriel – and – then – like magic – all of Athena’s objections, angst, etc. disappear and she decides all will be wonderful. It just happened too fast.

BTW – there are three romances in this book and all three get their HEAs.

Bottom line is that the story idea was a good one, but the book was a bit slow and didn’t just suck me in and keep me up all night reading it. I had no trouble putting the book down and taking a break from the story. I had really hoped for something more spectacular for Will.

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Very Good

I’ve been on a Regency Romance kick for a while now because I’ve wanted a true romance w/out all the sex scenes of other romance novels as well as one that didn’t delve into god & faith overly much. So I was pleased to find this book that was set in the same time period but well outside the typical drawing rooms & balls of most regency novels. The setting is a Catholic country so there is some mention of religion but it is more cultural than personal & I find that acceptable reading material.

The narrator was good except for 1 word that she mispronounced horribly, lol. 1 character’s name was Joaquin & she repeatedly said, Joe-a-qwin instead of Wah-keen! Her Spanish accent was fine but she really messed up this guys name, lol. 🤣🤣🤣

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting story

I found listening to this story difficult with the voice matched to perform this. I just had difficulty getting into the story as I usually would. I felt like the characters lacked depth and it was awkward...

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    5 out of 5 stars

Another part of the Lost Lords saga

We met Mac, Will's brother in one of the previous lost lords books. However, this time we center on Will, and oh, what an able man he is!
It is fate that sends him on an errand that inevitably causes him to save a kingdom and marry a woman he loves.
It's a dramatic an eventful tale, and I enjoyed it immensely.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great historical romance

What a great mix of romance and history. Only Mary Jo Putney could make history come alive as in this book. And romance.....well, she is genius in romance. As in any good book, the characters are the key to grasping and keeping the reader's attention. MJP is masterful at character development. Beverley Crick has never been one of my favorite narrators....until now. She did an amazing job. Spanish, English, Scottish and Irish? Impressive.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

. . . Always a Soldier

Well written, well defined characters, interesting plot. Strong females, intelligent dialog, and vivid insight into the issues arising from aftermath of war. Romances develop naturally within the story, rather than being the sole excuse for throwing couples into sexual encounters. For the most part it was a believable tale, though occasionally dialogue was somewhat pedantic, and the villain seemed the least developed character. The ending seemed rushed in the attempt to create everyone's HEA. It is refreshing to have more mature, equally matched lovers. I would read more by Mary Jo Putney and the narrator, Beverly Crick, was extremely versatile in presenting a variety of European voices.

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Love in the Midst of War

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I highly recommend this book. One of the characteristics I most admire about Mary Jo Putney is her social conscience and how she works compassionate and humanitarian views into all her books without lecturing. In this book, she examines the destructive after-effects of war and social stigma on both society and individuals and the role of hope, friendship and love in overcoming these evils. Beverley A. Crick's interpretation and performance of the story was excellent. I particularly loved her range of tone and accent to define the different characters.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-11-20

Ann

lovely story I have this book in paperback but still enjoyed audible on to the next