Playing the Rake’s Game (Rakes of the Caribbean #1) by Bronwyn Scott (audiobook) – Narrated by Antony Ferguson

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This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Ren Dryden has a spark she can’t risk igniting…

Emma Ward is in trouble. The devilishly handsome part-owner of her beloved Caribbean sugar plantation has arrived, and clearly he doesn’t trust her. But his eyes promise pleasures she can only imagine. Maybe there’s a way to get him onside…

Ren Dryden may be fresh off the boat from London, but he knows when a woman is playing him—and when she’s as intriguing as the alluring Emma, he’s more than happy to play back! But several sultry nights and secrets shared later, Ren realizes just how high the stakes are in this game of seduction!

Rating: Narration – C+; Content – C+

I’ve read a number of books by this author and have generally enjoyed them, and I selected to review this title because of that, and because the story is set somewhere other than 19th century England. Not that I object to 19th century England as a setting of course, but sometimes I like to immerse myself in a tale set somewhere else, and Playing the Rake’s Game, with its Caribbean location, fit that bill.

Renford Dryden, the Earl of Dartmoor, has recently inherited fifty-one percent of a sugar plantation (Sugarland) on the Caribbean island of Barbados, and is somewhat relieved at the opportunity the bequest offers him to leave England. He hopes that the profits from the plantation will help to shore up the depleted family finances and enable him to provide his sisters with suitable dowries as well as make much needed improvements to his estates. His mother is pressuring him to marry an heiress who has made it clear that all she wants from him is his title, but Ren is unwilling to face the prospect of such a bloodless union, so the news of the inheritance comes at an opportune time.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane #10) by Elizabeth Hoyt (audiobook) – Narrated by Ashford MacNab

Duke of Sin audio

This title is available to download from Audible.

A MAN OF SIN

Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.

A WOMAN OF HONOR

Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery’s household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.

A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY THEM BOTH

Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can’t resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B+

Duke of Sin has to be one of the most highly anticipated releases in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series. Since his introduction in book six, Duke of Midnight, the unutterably beautiful Valentine Napier, Duke of Montgomery, has been revealed as a villain through and through, an unscrupulous, vain, amoral man capable of blackmail, kidnapping and who knows what other nefarious acts. But if the Devil gets all the best tunes, it’s often the case that he gets the best lines, too, and Montgomery has emerged as a larger than life character who, in the hands of a lesser author, could easily have overshadowed the characters in the other books in which he has appeared. Wisely, Ms Hoyt chose to keep her powder dry and to give him a starring role – and this is it. And a wonderfully entertaining story it is.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Rogue Not Taken (Scandals & Scoundrels #1) by Sarah MacLean (audiobook) – Narrated by Justine Eyre

the rogue not taken audio

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Lady Sophie’s Society Splash!

When Sophie, the least interesting of the Talbot sisters, lands her philandering brother-in-law backside-first in a goldfish pond, she shocks society and finds herself the target of very public aristocratic scorn, leaving her no choice but to flee, vowing to start a new life far from London . Unfortunately, the carriage in which she stows away isn’t saving her from ruin . . . it’s filled with it.

Rogue’s Reign of Ravishment!

Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, which results in a reputation far worse than the truth, a general sense that he’s more pretty face than proper gentleman, and an irate summons home to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the journey becomes anything but boring!

War? Or More?

He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, making opposites altogether too attractive . . .

Rating: Narration – C; Content – B

Although I enjoyed reading The Rogue Not Taken, the first book in Sarah MacLean’s new Scandals and Scoundrels series, the audio wasn’t an automatic review choice as I haven’t been impressed by Justine Eyre’s narration in the past. The last time I heard her in a British-set historical, I found it hard going and couldn’t finish it because of a number of vocal mannerisms I found extremely irritating, but that was a few years back and I decided to try her again – with mixed results.

The story is basically a road-trip romance that begins when a mix up sees Lady Sophie Talbot, desperate to escape from a serious gaffe at a ton party, stowing away on the carriage belonging to the Marquess of Eversley, one of society’s most infamous rogues. Sophie is one of the five Talbot sisters, the other four of whom feature regularly in the scandal sheets and seem to enjoy their status as gossip-fodder. Sophie, on the other hand, has never done anything remotely scandalous – until she catches her eldest sister’s husband in flagrante delicto with another woman, and is so incensed that she calls him a whore and pushes him into an ornamental fishpond in front of hundreds of members of the ton.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Scandal Takes the Stage (Wicked Quills of London #2) by Eva Leigh (audiobook) – Narrated by Mandy Williams

scandal takes the stage
This title is available to download from Audible via Amazon

Playwright Maggie Delamere shuts down aristocratic males with a mere flick of her razor-sharp quill. If only they were so easy to dispatch offstage – especially Cameron, Viscount Marwood. The impossibly charismatic man seems made to test her resistance. But when writer’s block and an enemy from Maggie’s past simultaneously strike, Cam makes an all-too-tempting proposal….

Cam has never offered a lady his bed without being in it… but Maggie needs a writer’s retreat, and his manor is just the place. It’s the least Cam can do for the brilliant woman who pens his favorite plays. Still, there’s something more than social justice behind the relish which she skewers her “gentleman” characters. And as Maggie’s pen and inhibitions loosen, Cam intends to unlock her secrets – one delicious revelation at a time.

Rating: C for narration; B for content

Scandal Takes the Stage is the second book in Eva Leigh’s Regency-set Wicked Quills of London series, so titled because the heroines are writers. I read the first book, Forever Your Earl a few months back and loved it – it’s beautifully written, with plenty of sexually-charged, witty banter between the leads and has, at its heart, a well-developed, sensual romance that doesn’t completely ignore the difficulties created by the class difference between the protagonists. I was hoping for more of the same in Scandal Takes the Stage (which I haven’t read in print), but while the hero and heroine are just as engaging in this book, I nonetheless came away from it feeling rather disappointed. I’m not completely sure if that’s down to a lack in the story or in the narration, which is somewhat lacklustre.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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Falling into Bed With a Duke by Lorraine Heath (audiobook) – Narrated by Helen Lloyd

falling into bed audio

This title may be purchased from Audible via Amazon

After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady’s desires – and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.

A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime’s pleasure…?

Rating: C+ for narration; A- for content

I’ve become a big fan of Lorraine Heath’s historical romances over the past couple of years, and Falling into Bed With a Duke (Hellions of Havisham series, book 1) is a truly terrific read; poignant and emotionally satisfying with superb chemistry between the two leads, it’s one of my favourite books of 2015. I did, however, hesitate to experience it in audio because I had been so disappointed with Helen Lloyd’s performance in When the Duke was Wicked, which I found lacking in emotion and completely devoid of any sense of the sexual tension that simmers between the protagonists. But Ms Lloyd has continued to narrate more of Ms Heath’s books and I reasoned that perhaps she has improved and decided to give her another chance. Happily, I can report an improvement, although not to the extent that I would give this audiobook the sort of strong, wholehearted recommendation I gave the printed version.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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The Wrong Bride (Highland Weddings #1) by Gayle Callen (audiobook) – Narrated by Ruth Urquhart

the wrong bride audio

This title may be purchased from Audible via Amazon

Shaken from sleep during the night and bundled off to the Highlands by a burly Scot, Riona is at first terrified, then livid. Hugh McCallum insists they were promised to each other as children to ensure peace between their clans. The stubborn laird refuses to believe he’s kidnapped the wrong Catriona Duff. Instead, he embarks on a campaign of slow-burning seduction.At first, Hugh cares only what their marriage can do for his people. Now he’s starting to crave Riona for her own sake, but her true identity jeopardizes his clan’s contract. And unless she chooses to risk all to be his bride, he’ll lose the only thing he prizes more than the lands he’s fought so hard to save-the passionate marriage they could have together.

Rating: C+ for narration; B- for content

The first in a new series by popular author Gayle Callen, The Wrong Bride is an entertaining story that revolves around the idea of mistaken identity. While I at first thought the whole thing was going to turn out to be one of those stories that turns on the Big-Misunderstanding-which-could-easily-have-been-cleared-up, Ms Callen manages to make the misconstruction in this book plausible so that I wasn’t constantly yelling (in my head) at the central characters to “just TALK to each other, you idiots!”

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Other Duke (The Notorious Flynns #1) by Jess Michaels (audiobook) – Narrated by Danielle O’Farrell

The Other Duke

For years Serafina McPhee has been engaged to marry the heir to the duke of Hartholm; and for almost as long, she has been struggling to find a way out of that engagement. When he suddenly dies, she does not mourn but thrills at the idea that she will be free. Unfortunately, best-laid plans go awry when the next in line for the title, her intended’s cousin, Raphael “Rafe” Flynn, is forced to take over the engagement. But Serafina knows Rafe’s reputation as a libertine and wants nothing to do with him, either, even if he is devastatingly handsome.

She proposes an arrangement: she will agree to the marriage and provide Rafe with his heir and spare. Once she has done her duty, he will let her go. Rafe is intrigued both by her beauty and by her utter disgust with the idea of being his bride. Women normally fall at his feet, not cringe away from him. However, since their arranged marriage is not something he can escape, he agrees to her terms.

But when he finds out on their wedding night the truth about her torture at the hands of his predecessor, he finds himself driven not just to fulfill his bargain with his new bride but to introduce her to desire. While they move closer together, surrendering to wicked pleasures, dangerous emotions may violate every agreement they’ve made.

This title is available to purchase from Audible via Amazon

Rating: C+ for narration; C for content

The Other Duke is the first book in Ms Michaels’ series, The Scandalous Flynns, and it tells the story of the oldest of the Flynn siblings, Raphael (Rafe) who is unexpectedly elevated to a dukedom he doesn’t want upon the death of a distant cousin. It’s a fairly short story, lasting for a little over seven hours in audio, and it begins well; but ultimately, it does not contain enough material to sustain a full-length (albeit short) novel. After the first couple of hours, it seems to be padded out with sex scenes that, while well written, are largely irrelevant.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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