Two stories, two couples, two eras, timeless emotions.
''This Ground Which Was Secured at Great Expense''
It is 1914 and The Great War is underway. When the call to arms comes, Nicholas Southwell won't be found hanging back. It's a pity he can't be so decisive when it comes to letting his estate manager Paul Haskell know what he feels before he has to leave for the front line. In the trenches Nicholas meets a fellow officer, Phillip Taylor, who takes him into the unclaimed territory of physical love. Which one will he choose, if he's allowed the choice?
''The Case of the Overprotective Ass''
Stars of the silver screen Alasdair Hamilton and Toby Bowe are wowing the post WWII audiences with their depictions of Holmes and Watson. When they are asked by a friend to investigate a mysterious disappearance, they jump at the chance - surely detection can't be that hard? But a series of threatening letters - and an unwanted suitor - make real life very different from the movies. Charlie Cochrane, author of the delightful Cambridge Fellows series, brings her familiar romantic, roguish style to the two novellas that together are Home Fires Burning.
I enjoyed this much more than the short story, Promises Made Under Fire. The story does seem to resolve a little too quickly at the end, and I think it could have been edited to reduce some of the earlier part to allow for more space to be devoted to that last part. For the most part I enjoyed this book, though. I listened in one day an remained interested until the end.
There were a couple of historical inaccuracies, particularly with some anachronistic phrases, but generally it was pretty good on that front.
Why there was a Scottish officer, apparently based in London, in the same regiment as Hampshire gent was a bit of mystery. Or indeed, why an Oxford educated London-based barrister who lives in London, and whose family apparently comes from Hampshire,
Perhaps he was not Scottish in the text, but the narrator added that detail. Not sure, but it did help with distinguishing which character's voice we were hearing.
The narrator did a pretty good job with his accents, but mispronounced the names of the two main settings - Hampshire and Ypres, as well as the rank of Lieutenant, which were some of the most common words in the text. This was very annoying and does take you out of the story to wonder why it is that Audible continues to have Americans narrating these books instead of British (or Australian) narrators. It's so annoying as the small (or in some cases enormous) inaccuracies are really distracting.
The narrator also mispronounced quite a lot of fairly common words, eg. taciturn, bodice, sepia. Again, this is very distracting. Editing of the audio was poor. It was quite common to hear a line twice, once in the English accent and once in the Scottish accent, or with an emphasis on different words. Why are these audiobooks not edited? There appears to be no quality control whatsoever.
There is a second story on the file, but I only got about half an hour into it. That one is set in London and the narrator's attempts at London accents are way off and far too distracting to continue.
This review is focused much more on the narration than the text, but that is because it so important in an audiobook, and I find it find it very difficult to judge the quality of writing if the narration is not excellent.