Mine Till Midnight (Hathaways #1) by Lisa Kleypas (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

mine till midnight

Their lives defy convention . . .

When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Their desire consumes them both . . .

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his ‘uncivilized’ Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship – but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. Can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honoured arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Rating: Narration – A; Content – C+

Mine Till Midnight is book one in Lisa Kleypas’s series about the Hathaway family; it was published in 2007 and an audio recording – with Rosalyn Landor at the microphone – was released in 2009. That version was never available worldwide however; only one or two of the series was actually available in the UK before now (the same is true of the earlier and perennially popular (pun intended!) Wallflower series.) Last year, I noticed first two or three titles in the Hathaways series appearing at Audible UK and immediately assumed that they were reissues of the 2009 recordings – but they’re not; they’re brand new recordings.

The five Hathaway siblings were not born to wealth and privilege. Instead, they were thrust into the upper echelons of society when Leo – the only male sibling – inherited a viscountcy from a distant relative, although unfortunately, the title comes with only a modest fortune. Leo has been in a downward spiral for the last year or so, since the death of the young woman he planned to marry, which is how come we first meet our heroine Amelia – the oldest of the four female Hathaways – as she is planning to drag Leo out of Jenner’s (the club owned by Sebastian St. Vincent). She’s accompanied by her adoptive brother Merripen – a Rom (here’s one change from the original – “Gypsy” has been changed to “Rom”) – and they pull up outside the club in time to witness an altercation between some obviously drunk patrons who are vying for the attentions of a prostitute. Before things can get nasty, the fight is broken up by another man – a younger one with dark hair, gleaming hazel eyes and the face of an angel who, for all he is dressed like a gentleman, obviously isn’t one. He’s Cam Rohan (also a Rom), the club’s manager – and just looking at him is enough to take Amelia’s breath away. But she quickly squashes the ripples of nerves and heat that run through her to focus on her reason for being there, irritated when Rohan waves off her concern for her brother as nothing to do with him. It’s only when Merripen speaks to him in their own language that he at last agrees to allow them inside to search for Leo, and on learning that Leo has left the club for a nearby brothel, and of Amelia’s intention to seek him out there, Cam arranges transportation and accompanies them to retrieve the errant viscount.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Ruining Miss Wrotham (Baleful Godmother #5) by Emily Larkin (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Eleanor Wrotham has sworn off overbearing men, but she needs a man’s help – and the man who steps forward is as domineering as he is dangerous: The notorious Mordecai Black.

The illegitimate son of an earl, Mordecai is infamous for his skill with women. His affairs are legendary – but few people realize that Mordecai has rules, and one of them is: Never ruin a woman.

But if Mordecai helps Miss Wrotham, she will be ruined.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – B+

Ruining Miss Wrotham is the third full-length book in Emily Larkin’s Baleful Godmother series of historical romances with a touch of fantasy. While characters from the other books do appear, it’s perfectly possible to listen to this one as a standalone provided you’re familiar with the basic premise; that each heroine receives a magical gift from their faerie godmother once they reach a certain age. The magical aspects in each book are fairly low-key though, so if you’re looking for witches and spellcraft and battles of magic, you won’t find them here. What you WILL find is a well-crafted and well-told road-trip romance imbued with warmth and sensuality featuring two engaging protagonists.

Eleanor – Nell – Wrotham is anxiously counting the days until her twenty-third birthday. This is when she is due to receive her visit from Baletongue, the devious, malevolent faerie godmother who is bound to deliver a supernatural power to the females of her family line as the result of an ages-old curse. Nell knows exactly which gift she will choose; the ability to find missing people. She’s impatient to receive it so she can locate her sister Sophia, who ran off with her lover four months earlier and has since gone missing. But when Nell receives a months-old note suggesting that Sophia is in London – in Seven Dials – she can wait no longer and even though she still has a few days to go before her birthday, she wants to go there immediately, regardless of the fact it’s one of the most dangerous areas of town. She asks her former fiancé – who jilted her after learning of her sister’s disgrace – if he will accompany her, but he refuses; and as she is storming out of his house, she bumps into the gorgeous but hugely disreputable Mordecai Black, bastard son of the Earl of Dereham – and the last man she’d ever have thought of turning to for help. But when he learns of her intention to venture into Seven Dials alone, help is exactly what Black offers, saying he’s willing to search on her behalf, but Nell will have none of it.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

First Comes Scandal (Rokesby/Bridgerton #4) by Julia Quinn (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be purchased from Amazon

She was given two choices . . .

Georgiana Bridgerton isn’t against the idea of marriage. She’d just thought she’d have some say in the matter. But with her reputation hanging by a thread after she’s abducted for her dowry, Georgie is given two options: live out her life as a spinster or marry the rogue who has ruined her life.

Enter Option #3

As the fourth son of an earl, Nicholas Rokesby is prepared to chart his own course. He has a life in Edinburgh, where he’s close to completing his medical studies, and he has no time – or interest – to find a wife. But when he discovers that Georgie Bridgerton – his literal girl-next-door – is facing ruin, he knows what he must do.

A Marriage of Convenience

It might not have been the most romantic of proposals, but Nicholas never thought she’d say no. Georgie doesn’t want to be anyone’s sacrifice, and besides, they could never think of each other as anything more than childhood friends . . . could they?

But as they embark upon their unorthodox courtship they discover a new twist to the age-old rhyme. First comes scandal, then comes marriage. But after that comes love . . .

Rating: Narration – A; Content – B-

Julia Quinn’s Rokesby-Bridgerton / Bridgerton Prequels series (honestly, the series name seems to change with each book published!) continues with book four, First Comes Scandal, a funny, sweet friends-to-lovers story in which the youngest Rokesby son, Nicholas, finds his HEA with the elder Bridgerton sister, Georgiana. The series has been a bit of a mixed bag; I liked the first two books, but the third, The Other Miss Bridgerton, was a bit of a disappointment, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one. After the first couple of chapters, I thought I’d be able to report that it was something of an improvement – until it got bogged down around the end of the first half and never regained its initial momentum.

Nicholas Rokesby, who is studying medicine in Edinburgh, is rather alarmed to receive a summons from his father Lord Manston asking him to return home immediately. Fearing tragedy and disaster, Nicholas embarks on the five day journey to Kent – only to find out that he’s travelled all that way, in the middle of the term and right before his exams, because Georgiana Bridgerton – who is his father’s goddaughter as well as one of Nicholas’ oldest friends – is in a fix and he wants Nicholas to get her out of it.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Irresistible (Horsemen Trilogy #3) by Mary Balogh (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Sophia Armitage does not consider herself attractive. Even her late husband treated her more as a companion than a lover when she accompanied him to war. But Sophia hopes to enjoy a Season in London as her niece makes her social debut – until, that is, her hopes are dashed when she is faced with a threat she can reveal to no one. Then she meets Sir Nathaniel Gascoigne, an old army friend, and falls in love with him even as she must discourage his growing passion for her. Nathaniel can sense Sophia’s unhappiness and fear, but does not understand that his attempts to protect and help her can only bring about her downfall….

Rating: Narration: A; Content: B+

First published in 1998, but newly available in audio, Irresistible is the final book in Mary Balogh’s Horsemen Trilogy, which features a group of friends who served together in the Peninsular War, and whose fearless feats of derring-do earned them the nickname the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It’s a gently moving and compelling friends-to-lovers story that has a few flaws (mostly relating to some of the heroine’s actions) but which I enjoyed very much in spite of them.

Sir Nathaniel Gascoigne has spent the last couple of years rusticating on his Yorkshire estate drowning (as he sees it) in female relatives – five sisters and one cousin. With four of his sisters now settled, he’s looking forward to having the place to himself once he has found suitable husbands for his youngest sister and cousin, and is heading to London for the Season for the first time in two years with exactly this intention. He also plans a reunion with his fellow Horsemen (two of whom are now happily married) and to have a bit of *ahem* fun whilst he’s in town and break his two-year dry spell ;). One morning shortly after his arrival in town, he and his friends are riding in the park when they are delighted to meet an old friend, Mrs. Sophia Armitage.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Trusting Miss Trentham (Baleful Godmother #2) by Emily Larkin (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon</a.

Letitia Trentham is noteworthy for three reasons. One, she’s extremely wealthy. Two, she can distinguish truth from lies. Three, she’s refused every man who’s ever proposed to her.

Until Letty receives a proposal she can’t turn down.

Icarus Reid barely survived the Battle of Vimeiro. He lives for one thing – to find the man who betrayed him to the French. He doesn’t want to marry Miss Trentham; he wants to use her talent for uncovering lies.

Suddenly, Letty finds herself breaking the rules, pretending to be someone she’s not, and doing things a lady would never do. But her hunt for the truth may uncover more than one secret – including the secret that haunts Icarus day and night. The secret he intends to take to his grave….

Rating: Narration – A; Content B+

Trusting Miss Trentham is the second full-length novel in Emily Larkin’s historical-with-a-touch-of-the-paranormal Baleful Godmother series, which features a group of young women who have been granted magical ‘gifts’ by their faerie godmother. (There is a novella – Resisting Miss Merryweather – between book one, Unmasking Miss Appleby, and this one, but it’s not necessary to have read or listened to either of them to enjoy this instalment). Each of the ladies is allowed to choose their gift – although they must choose carefully, as the aforementioned faerie godmother is not the benevolent sort so often found in fairy tales and will trick them if she can – and in this story, our heroine, Leticia Trentham, has chosen to be able to hear when someone is lying to her.

There’s a good reason for this choice. Letty is heiress to a massive fortune and knew that she would need to be able to tell the difference between a man who wanted her for herself and one who wanted her for her money. Now aged twenty-eight, the more than two hundred marriage proposals she has received in the years since her come out at twenty-one have all been made by fortune hunters, and now, she rather despairs of ever finding a man who can tell her honestly that he isn’t just after her money. She knows she doesn’t have much else to recommend her; she’s not pretty or possessed of the other sorts of qualities likely to attract a husband. She doesn’t simper or defer and she’s intelligent and not afraid to show it – which isn’t exactly a sought-after quality on the marriage mart. She has just turned down yet another would-be suitor when she is approached by a tall, gaunt man with a military bearing and an undeniable air of exhaustion who has heard of her uncanny ability to be able to tell truth from lies – and who asks for her help.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Someone to Honour (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died and she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later, she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies. But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother, Harry, home from the wars with Napoleon.

Gil has come to help his friend and junior officer recover, and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to – secretly because of his own humble beginnings. If at first Gil and Abigail seem to embody what the other most despises, each will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearances of the once-grand lady and the once-humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honor means, and how only with it can one find love.

Rating: Narration: A; Content: B-

The heroine of Someone to Honor, the sixth book in Mary Balogh’s series about the Westcott family is Abigail Westcott, the younger daughter of the late Earl of Riverdale. She was approaching her come out and her eighteenth birthday when her father was discovered to have married her mother bigamously, meaning that she and her siblings – sister Camille and brother Harry – were illegitimate and that Harry could not inherit the Riverdale title (which passed to their cousin, Alex). Abby is now twenty-four, and has spent most of the six intervening years resisting her family’s urging to resume her life in society and find a husband. Although at the time, the news of her family’s change of status was hugely upsetting, she now realises that what happened has set her free in a way she could never have imagined being before. Without the pressure of having to conform to society’s expectations of the daughter of an earl, Abby has been able to take the time to discover who she truly is as a person and to work out what she really wants in life – and has found that the idea of remaining unmarried is no longer as scary as it was six years earlier when she was expected to make a match befitting her status. As her mother and siblings had to forge their own paths to happiness, so Abby has begun to forge hers – the trouble is convincing her loving, well-meaning but sometimes misguided family that she knows what she’s doing.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Someone to Trust (Westcott #5) by Mary Balogh (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

During a rare white Christmas at Brambledean Court, the widow Elizabeth, Lady Overfield, defies convention by falling in love with a younger man in the latest novel in the Westcott series.

After her husband’s passing, Elizabeth Overfield decides she must enter into another suitable marriage. That, however, is the last thing on her mind when she meets Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, at the Westcott Christmas house party. She simply enjoys his company as they listen to carolers on Christmas Eve, walk home from church together on Christmas morning, and engage in a spirited snowball fight in the afternoon.

Both are surprised when their sled topples them into a snowbank and they end up sharing an unexpected kiss. They know there is no question of any relationship between them, for she is nine years older than him.

They return to London the following Season, both committed to finding other more suitable matches. Still, they agree to share one waltz at each ball they attend. This innocuous agreement proves to be one that will topple their worlds, as each dance steadily ensnares them in a romance that forces the two to question what they are willing to sacrifice for love…

Rating: Narration – A : Content – B-

Someone to Trust is the fifth of Mary Balogh’s novels about the Westcott family, and it’s probably not the place to jump into the series. The author does undertake a “previously on The Westcotts” recap in the opening chapter (which is a bit clumsy and info-dumpy), but I’m not going to attempt it here and will assume that if you’re interested in listening to Someone to Trust, you’ve listened to at least one of the previous books and have a rough idea of who is who.

It’s Christmas and the Westcott family is gathered together at the family seat to celebrate the holiday and the marriage of Viola, the former Countess of Riverdale (as told in the previous book, Someone to Care). Lady Elizabeth Overfield, sister of Alex, the Earl of Riverdale, has been a widow for a few years, and seeing her large family, with its happy, recently married couples, brings home to her just how lonely she is. Her marriage was not a happy one (her husband was a drunkard who abused her emotionally and physically), but that doesn’t deter her from thinking that perhaps it’s time for her to remarry.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Unmasking Miss Appleby (Baleful Godmother #1) by Emily Larkin (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

On her 25th birthday, Charlotte Appleby receives an unusual gift: the ability to change shape.

Penniless and orphaned, she sets off for London to make her fortune as a man. But a position as secretary to Lord Cosgrove proves unexpectedly challenging. Someone is trying to destroy Cosgrove and his life is increasingly in jeopardy.

As Charlotte plunges into London’s backstreets at Cosgrove’s side, hunting his persecutor, she finds herself fighting for her life – and falling in love…

Rating: Narration – A+ : Content – A

Emily Larkin’s Unmasking Miss Appleby was one of my favourite books of 2016. It’s the first in the author’s Baleful Godmother series of historical romances with a magical twist – which is very cleverly incorporated into the story. If you’re looking for a high-concept paranormal romance, then you’ll need to look elsewhere, because that’s not what this is. What it IS, however, is a well-written, strongly characterised and thoroughly enjoyable historical romance set very firmly in the Regency London with which fans of historicals are familiar. And added to all that, the cherry on top of the icing on the cake is the extremely accomplished performance by Rosalyn Landor (actually, does she ever give anything other than an extremely accomplished performance?!) – who once again demonstrates why she’s Numero Uno when it comes to narration in historical romance.

After the death of her parents, Charlotte Appleby was – very begrudgingly – taken in by relatives who treat her little better than a servant, and while she longs for independence, she knows that a life of drudgery awaits her. But on the evening of her twenty-fifth birthday, she receives an unexpected visitor in the form of a woman who introduces herself as her Faerie Godmother and tells Charlotte that she has come to bestow a magical gift upon her, a gift earned by an ancestress centuries ago as payment for a valuable service rendered. Charlotte at first can’t believe her ears – there are no such things as faeries, after all – but when the woman reveals that Charlotte’s mother had received a gift on her twenty-fifth birthday, and tells her more about the sorts of powers she can grant, Charlotte starts to think that perhaps there’s something in her talk of magical abilities and gives some thought as to what gift she wants. She realises that this could be her chance for independence and decides on the ability of transformation, reasoning that as a man, there will be many, many more opportunities open to her than there will as a woman. With this in mind, she sets out to secure employment, and applies for a position as a secretary in London.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Bad Luck Bride (Cavensham Brides #1) by Janna MacGregor (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be downloaded from Audible.

Alexander Hallworth, Marquess of Pembrooke, will not rest until he gets vengeance on the man who destroyed his family. Just one more piece needs to fall into place for Alex to succeed: he needs to convince the man’s fiancée, the tragically beautiful Lady Claire Cavensham, to marry him instead.

Lady Claire’s “curse” has left her one step away from social ruin: her past three engagements have gone awry, and now her fourth one is headed the same way. Before anyone can learn of her latest scandal, she’s caught in an awkward situation with Alex who then shocks everyone by announcing their engagement.

Forced into marriage, Alex and Claire find themselves unexpectedly drawn to each other. But as the two of them grow closer, will the truth of their union shatter their fragile feelings or is love strong enough to survive?

Rating: Narration – A: Content – C-

Ever eager to find new authors to enjoy – and because Rosalyn Landor’s name on an audiobook cover is guaranteed to make me take a second look – I decided to listen to Janna MacGregor’s début historical romance The Bad Luck Bride, the first in her Cavensham Brides series. The book starts well, as our hero, Alexander Hallworth, Marquess of Pembrooke, vows revenge on the former friend whom he holds responsible for his sister’s death. The first few chapters grabbed my attention as Alex sets his plan into motion, ruthlessly and deviously engineering the downfall of Lord Paul Barstowe by using the man’s predilection for high-stakes gaming to bring him to the brink of financial ruin, and then forcing him to jilt the fiancée whose dowry could have saved him. The “heroine-as-revenge” plot isn’t a favourite of mine, but I was keen to see how Ms. MacGregor would redeem a man capable of stooping so low and turn him into a romantic hero I could root for. Unfortunately however, at around a quarter of the way in, things begin to fall apart. Too many plot points, contrived misunderstandings, choppy writing and inconsistencies in the characterisation of the principals combined to fragment the story’s focus – and not even the extremely talented Ms. Landor could recapture my interest, which waned to such a degree that I kept checking my MP3 player to see how much of the playing time was left.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

To Sir Phillip With Love (Bridgertons #5) by Julia Quinn (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he’d proposed, figuring that she’d be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except…she wasn’t. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her… and more. Did he think she was mad?

Eloise Bridgerton couldn’t marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking…and wondering…and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except…he wasn’t. Her perfect husband wouldn’t be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled…and when he kissed her…the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn’t help but wonder…could this imperfect man be perfect for her?

Rating: Narration – A+ Content – A-

This fifth instalment in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series is one of the books I have somehow not got around to reading, and which, for some reason I can’t remember, I had thought to be one of the weaker books in the series. This new audio version has laid that misconception firmly to rest however, and is, I think, now one of my favourites of the set. To Sir Phillip With Love is perhaps not as light-hearted as many of the author’s other titles, but it clearly shows that she has the ability to tackle difficult themes and write deeply flawed characters that listeners can root for even as we’re wanting to smack some sense into them or questioning the wisdom – of lack thereof – of their actions.

One such character is Sir Phillip Crane, a widower whose eight-year-old twins are a complete handful. He inherited his baronetcy upon the death of his older brother, and seems to have also inherited his brother’s fiancée, Marina, a very distant cousin of the Bridgerton family. When he receives a note of condolence upon Marina’s death from Eloise Bridgerton, his response engenders a cordial correspondence which lasts a year, and ends in his suggesting that perhaps Miss Bridgerton might be open to the idea of marrying him. It’s an odd notion, to be thinking of marriage to a woman he has never met, but from the tone of her letters, Phillip judges Eloise to be an amenable, sensible kind of woman – and quite honestly, he is so desperate for someone to run his house and, more urgently, manage his children, that marriage to almost anyone would be preferable to things continuing as they are.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.