While the Duke Was Sleeping (Rogue Files #1) by Sophie Jordan (audiobook) – Narrated by Carmen Rose

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This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

Sometimes the man of your dreams . . .

Shop girl Poppy Fairchurch knows it’s pointless fantasizing about the Duke of Autenberry. Still, dreams can’t hurt anyone . . . unlike the carriage Poppy spies bearing down upon the unsuspecting duke. After she pulls him to safety, the duke lapses into a coma and Poppy is mistaken for his fiancée. But one person isn’t fooled: his arrogant and much too handsome half-brother, Struan Mackenzie. Soon Poppy isn’t sure what she wants more . . . the fantasy of her duke or the reality of one smoldering Scot who challenges her at every turn.

. . . is not who you think.

An illegitimate second son, Struan may have built an empire and established himself as one of the wealthiest men in Britain, but he knows he will always be an outsider among the ton. Just like he knows the infuriating Poppy is a liar. There’s no way the haughty Duke of Autenberry would deign to wed a working class girl. It doesn’t matter how charming she is. Or tempting. Or how much Struan wants her for himself.

Rating: Narration – C+; Content – C+

How much you enjoy the storyline of While the Duke Was Sleeping (the first in Sophie Jordan’s new series, The Rogue Files) may well depend on how familiar you are with the plot of the 1995 Rom Com, While You Were Sleeping and whether or not you enjoyed it. Adapting a plot from a well-known source can be a double-edged sword, as fans of the original are bound to make comparisons, although some such retellings have worked extremely well. Clueless, for example, is a brilliant re-working of Jane Austen’s Emma,successfully translating the action of the novel to Beverly Hills while keeping very much to the spirit of the original. And Sophie Jordan’s isn’t the only Historical-Romance-Rom-Com-Makeover currently doing the rounds; Maya Rodale’s current series, Keeping Up with the Cavendishes also uses famous films as the inspiration for its plotlines, having so far mined Bridget Jones’ Diary and Roman Holiday.

Coming back to While the Duke… now I’ve listened to it, I think anyone considering it would be best off NOT thinking about the original movie while listening. In fact, the only real similarity between the two is the premise; in the film, lonely Lucy falls for the gorgeous guy she sees every day from her booth at the train station and after she saves his life, a mix up leads his warm, loving and wonderfully scatty family to believe she is his fiancée. In the book, shop-girl Poppy Fairchurch worships the handsome Duke of Autenberry from afar, eagerly awaiting his weekly visit to the flower shop where she works. When he becomes involved in an altercation with another man in the street and is knocked into the path of an oncoming carriage, Poppy pulls him to safety, and is afterwards mistaken for the duke’s fiancée.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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Bold Angel by Kat Martin (audiobook) – Narrated by Lucy Rayner

bold-angel

This title may be purchased from Amazon.

They were enemies in a divided land…

Saxon beauty Caryn of Ivesham longed to escape the chill gray cloisters of the convent to which she’d fled – but not in marriage to the towering, feared Raolfe de Gere, the Norman knight they called Ral the Relentless. Even though he had once saved her from a fate worse than death, she could not forget he’d raised the grim battlements of Braxston keep on her dead father’s lands or that his men had dishonoured her sister. If she wed him to bring peace to her people, he would have to lay siege to her bed. But their destiny was more powerful than the clash of swords. The darkly handsome warlord’s blood coursed with desire for Caryn’s burnished crimson lips, and his passion would not be denied. But in the wild ecstasy they shared Ral feared more than his heart was in danger. Could his rebellious bride be a traitor deadlier than the wolves and brigands prowling deep in English forests?

Rating: Narration – C; Content – D

I suppose I should have known what I was letting myself in for when I read the title and synopsis of Bold Angel:

“Saxon beauty Caryn of Ivesham longed to escape the chill gray cloisters of the convent to which she’d fled-but not in marriage to the towering, feared Raolfe de Gere, the Norman knight they called Ral the Relentless.”

It goes on to tell how the

“darkly handsome warlord’s blood coursed with desire for Caryn’s burnished crimson lips”

… yeah, I should probably have moved on at that point, but I had decided I wanted to listen to Lucy Rayner, who has been listed as the narrator of several Julia Quinn romances being released in December (Splendid, Dancing at Midnight and Minx), in order to get an idea of her abilities and performance style.

The result is a mixed bag. It probably didn’t help that the story is unoriginal and the heroine made me want to wring her neck for pretty much the entire (seemingly interminable) fourteen hours and forty minutes of the audiobook. And I couldn’t help thinking that Ms. Rayner’s crystal-clear tones – while not unpleasant – are rather too bright for a romance. I kept expecting her to shout “jolly hockey sticks!” à la Joyce Grenfell whenever things got heated, difficult or angsty.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare (audiobook) – Narrated by Carmen Rose

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You’d think they would have got around to giving a major release a decent cover image!

This title is available to download from Audible via Amazon.

On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library. Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan? Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall? Perhaps the butler did it.
All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: It wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville – the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace. When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.

But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh, so proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit, and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.
Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?

Rating: Narration – B-; Content – B+

Do You Want to Start a Scandal is both the fifth book in Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series and the fourth in her Castles Ever After series as the protagonists are Miss Charlotte Highwood (sister of Minerva from A Week to Be Wicked) and Piers Brandon, Marquess of Brandon – the marquess who didn’t get the girl in Say Yes to the Marquess. Fortunately, however, the book works perfectly well as a standalone, so anyone new to Ms. Dare’s work or to either series could start listening here quite easily. Some characters from the other books make brief appearances (notably Charlotte’s sisters and Piers’ brother), but they are incorporated in such a way that the newbie won’t feel adrift.

Charlotte Highwood is twenty years old, pretty, vivacious, intelligent – and being driven slowly mad by her mother’s constant attempts to throw her into the paths of eligible men. The ladies are at a house-party at the Nottinghamshire home of Charlotte’s best friend, Delia Parkhurst, and when Charlotte discovers that the wealthy and eminently eligible Marquess of Granville is also in attendance, she takes it upon herself to assure him that she has no desire to marry him. He’s rather surprised by her statement, but it doesn’t faze him one bit and he quickly shows himself to be possessed of a dry wit and sardonic sense of humour. He’s also gorgeous, but even if he weren’t completely beyond her touch, Charlotte isn’t interested in finding a husband right now, as she is planning to go on a tour of the continent with Delia as soon as the pair of them can secure their parents’ permission.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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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