Lady Claire is All That (Keeping Up With the Cavendishes #3) by Maya Rodale (audiobook) – narrated by Saskia Maarleveld

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This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon.

In the third installment of Maya Rodale’s captivating, witty series, a marquess finds his fair lady – but must figure out how to keep her.

Her brains…

Claire Cavendish is in search of a duke but not for the usual reasons. The man she seeks is a mathematician; the man she unwittingly finds is Lord Fox: dynamic, athletic, and as bored by the equations Claire adores as she is by the social whirl upon which he thrives. As attractive as Fox is, he’s of no use to Claire…or is he?

Plus his brawn…

Fox’s male pride has been bruised ever since his fiancée jilted him. One way to recover: win a bet that he can transform Lady Claire, society’s roughest diamond, into its most prized jewel. But Claire has other ideas – shockingly steamy ones.

Equals a study in seduction.

By Claire’s calculations Fox is the perfect man to satisfy her sensual curiosity. In Fox’s estimation Claire is the perfect woman to prove his mastery of the ton. But the one thing neither of them counted on is love.

Rating: Narration – A; Content – B

Anyone familiar with Maya Rodale’s current Keeping Up with the Cavendishes series can’t fail to have noticed that the plots of the previous books in the series (Lady Bridget’s Diary and Chasing Lady Amelia) have been loosely based on famous films**. The plot of Lady Claire Is All That, the third instalment, is no exception, deriving a storyline from the 90s movie She’s All That, which in turn borrowed its plot from Pygmalion.

The basic premise is that of high-school jock – in this case an incredibly handsome, ridiculously wealthy, hugely popular marquess – meets and falls for high-school geek – here, a new-to-London American lady who is obsessed with mathematics and widely thought to be rather odd. It’s a fun, fluffy listen for the most part, but amid the froth, Ms. Rodale manages to make some pertinent points about sexism and feminism, and to include some moments of insight and introspection on the parts of both hero and heroine as they come to realise they need to make some major re-evaluations of their sense of self and plans for the future.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

The Earl (Devil’s Duke #2) by Katharine Ashe (audiobook) – Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld

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This title may be downloaded from Audible

In Katharine Ashe’s newest unforgettable romance, the question on everyone’s lips is answered at last: Who is Lady Justice?

How does a lady of wit and courage bring an arrogant lord to his knees? Entice him to Scotland, strip him of titles and riches, and make him prove what sort of man he truly is.

Opposites…

Handsome, wealthy, and sublimely confident, Colin Gray, the new Earl of Egremoor, has vowed to unmask the rabble-rousing pamphleteer Lady Justice, the thorn in England’s paw. And he’ll stop at nothing.

Attract.

Smart, big-hearted, and passionately dedicated to her work, Lady Justice longs to teach her nemesis a lesson in humility. But her sister is missing, and a perilous journey with her archrival into unknown territory just might turn fierce enemies into lovers.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – A

The Earl is the second book in Katharine Ashe’s Devil’s Duke series (The Rogue is book 1), and is also the last in her Falcon Club series which is not, sadly, available in audio format. Because it refers to a number of characters and events featured in earlier stories, this might not be the best introduction to Ms. Ashe’s work for anyone unfamiliar with it, although it could be listened to as a standalone if you’re prepared to do a bit of homework in advance and perhaps read a few reviews and the synopses of the earlier books.

Throughout the Falcon Club books, the club’s secretary, Peregrine, carried on a public, witty and usually caustic correspondence with Lady Justice, a popular pamphleteer whose passionate outpourings on the subject of political reform and disdain for the injustices wreaked on the masses by the privileged few are a real thorn in the side of the establishment. But at the end of The Rogue, the unthinkable happened. Knowing of the Falcon Club’s expertise at locating missing persons, Lady Justice asked Peregrine for help to locate a young woman who has disappeared.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast (audio) by Nancy Campbell Allen

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This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

The Lord of Blackwell Manor, Miles, is plagued by a family curse that changes him into a shape-shifting wolf every month during the full moon.

Lucy, a smart, attractive, and well-respected botanist, travels to Blackwell Manor to take care of her sick cousin, Kate, who is married to Miles’ younger brother. For Lucy, the trip is a welcome respite from her work and recent discovery of a breakthrough serum that could eliminate the scourge of vampires from London. But Lucy finds more than she bargained for when she arrives at the Manor.

Miles, who is brash and inhospitable, does not take kindly to visitors. He is still unsettled by the mysterious death of his newlywed wife. And then there’s Marie, Miles’ sister, who was attacked and murdered just weeks earlier. Miles is horrified to think that he might be to blame for the deaths. And who is the ghost that haunt the halls?

Lucy is convinced that the death of Miles’s wife and sister – as well as her cousin’s mysterious illness – are tied together, but how? Lady Charlesworth has her eye on inheriting Blackwell Manor for her family. Could her daughter, Candice, or her son, Arthur, have had a hand in the mysterious deaths? The clues make a vampire suspect highly likely. During her investigation, Lucy finds herself caring deeply for Miles, but he fights to keep his distance in order to protect Lucy from his family’s secret. And, yet, he feels attracted to the woman who is able to look past the fearsome-looking scar that has marred his handsome face. With no other option, Miles and Lucy must work together if they are to find the answer to the mysteries at the manor.

But that’s not all Lucy wants to solve. There’s a deeper mystery behind Miles. Can she solve that too? Ultimately, she must decide if she can love the man – beast and all.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B-

A Victorian era steampunk/paranormal story, Beauty and the Clockwork Beast is the first in a projected series from this new-to-me-author, and while it was an enjoyable listen, I can’t say that it breaks any new ground. The story is a fairly predictable one, and while the author has peppered the text with things like “telescribers” (which I imagine are mobile phones or tablets), “tons” (short for automatons which are programmed by means of metal punched-cards), steam-powered airships and ray guns; and thrown in a few vampires and shape-shifters for good measure, I never felt as though I was in a fully-defined and alternative world. There’s a nicely gothic feel to the story overall, but really, this is just Victorian England with a few extras bolted on.

Lucy Pickett has gone to stay with her cousin Kate at Blackwell Manor. Kate is newly and happily married to Jonathan Blake, younger brother of the Earl of Blackwell, but she has been unwell for some time, and Lucy is concerned about her. Lucy works for the Botanical Aid Society and is an expert on plants and herbs and their medicinal – and other – qualities. She is a botanist of some renown and one of a small number of people working on a top-secret project to develop something to combat Vampyric Assimilation Aid, a drug which enables vampires to move around in daylight and blend in with the normal population, making them even more dangerous than they already are. Lucy hopes that she will be able to find out what is wrong with Kate and help her to regain her health.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

The Rogue (Devil’s Duke #1) by Katharine Ashe (audiobook) – narrated by Saskia Maarleveld

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This title is available to download from Audible.

Lady Constance Read is independent, beautiful, and in need of a husband – now. The last man on earth she wants is the rogue who broke her heart six years ago, never mind that his kisses are scorching hot.

Evan Saint-André Sterling is rich, scarred, and finished with women forever. He’s not about to lose his head over the bewitching beauty who once turned his life upside down. But Constance needs a warrior, and Saint is the perfect man for the job. Only as a married woman can she penetrate Scotland’s most notorious secret society and bring a diabolical duke to justice.

When Constance and Saint become allies – and passionate lovers – he’ll risk everything to protect the only woman he has ever loved.

Rating: Narration – B; Content – A-

I was so pleased when I saw that The Rogue was coming out in audio format. I read and loved the book earlier this year; it’s a beautifully written, sensual and tender romance combined with a dash of mystery and boasts one of the most wonderful romantic heroes I’ve read in quite some time. While it’s a continuation of the author’s Falcon Club series, the book also marks the beginning of the Devil’s Duke trilogy; so while some of the characters from the earlier books are referenced and make cameo appearances, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy The Rogue as a standalone.

Six years before the start of the story proper, Lady Constance, eighteen-year-old daughter of the Duke of Read, meets and falls in love with a mysterious, stunningly handsome young man. They enjoy a gentle flirtation and exchange some passionate kisses during the two weeks they manage to meet in secret, but it’s not long before they are discovered and Constance’s love is sent away.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.