A Risk Worth Taking by Laura Landon (audiobook) – narrated by James Langton

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Griffin Blackmoor blames himself for the tragic accident that claimed his wife and young son. Riddled with guilt, he prays that during the Crimean War an enemy’s bullet will end the consuming torture he can’t escape. Instead, that bullet finds his best friend. Now there isn’t enough whiskey in England to make him forget all the people who have died because of him. But before he can drown himself in an endless sea of liquor, he must keep the promise he made his dying friend. Except that promise is sure to risk an innocent woman’s life—and his own battered heart.

When her brother’s sudden death leaves her destitute, Lady Anne Carmichael knows she must marry. Although her dark beauty earns her the attention of London’s most eligible bachelors, only one man can stir her soul with his kisses. Griffin Blackmoor is everything she swore she never wanted. So why does his love feel like exactly what she needs?

Rating: C- for content and B+ for narration

I’ve listened to and read a couple of other books by Laura Landon and, although they weren’t dreadful, they weren’t anything to write home about either. I chose to listen to A Risk Worth Taking solely because I happen to like James Langton as a narrator. While he couldn’t transform what turned out to be a fairly run-of-the-mill book into an exciting page-turner, he did at least make the eight-plus hours of listening pleasant ones. The story is simple and undemanding but it’s also unoriginal and has been better executed elsewhere.

Griffin Blackmoor is an ex-soldier and intelligence officer whose wife and young son drowned in a storm at sea four years previously. Weighed down by guilt, Griff has lived a reclusive and aimless life since then and is determined never to experience that sort of loss ever again. Not only that, but because he blames himself for the tragedy, he has become convinced that anyone who gets close to him will be hurt as a result of their association with him.

When Griff’s best friend Freddie, the Marquess of Brentwood, is shot and killed, it only serves to reinforce Griff’s belief that he’s bad news. He is sure the bullet that killed Freddie was actually meant for him and the pain of his friend’s loss, together with the crushing weight of guilt, finally sends Griff over the edge and into taking refuge at the bottom of a bottle.

One of the things the author did well was her treatment of Griff’s alcoholism and his subsequent struggle to kick the habit and stay on the wagon. I’ve read many books where one of the characters has an addiction of some sort which is miraculously overcome with very little pain or effort, so kudos to Ms. Landon for not sugar-coating Griff’s problem and not being afraid to show him when he is inebriated and having trouble walking, seeing, or thinking straight.

Freddie’s last words had been a plea to take care of his sister, Annie, but given Griff’s preoccupation with drinking himself into an early grave, it’s some months before he remembers his friend’s request. Being an unmarried man, he cannot have a single lady residing, unchaperoned, under his roof, so he decides that the best thing for all concerned – and mostly himself – would be for Annie to take up residence with his brother and his wife, the Earl and Countess of Covington.

Lady Anne Carmichael and her young sister, Becky, have been left destitute by their brother’s death, as his estates (with one small exception) are entailed. The new Marquess is all sweetness and light, allowing the ladies the use of a cottage on the estate yet after only a short time, he tells them he needs the cottage for the new caretaker and the sisters will have to leave. There is an alternative but Annie refuses his proposal of marriage even though she has no idea where they will go.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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