Fair Bright & Terrible by Elizabeth Kingston, narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Torso of a woman in medieval dress, holding a dagger, point down, at her waistWhy I read it:  I’ve been waiting and hoping for this one to come out on audio. So when it did, I bought it stat.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Wales is conquered, and Eluned has lost everything: her country, her husband, her hope. All that remains is vengeance, and she will stop at nothing to have it. Certain there is no trace within her of the idealistic girl who loved Robert de Lascaux a lifetime ago, she agrees to marry him to advance the fortunes of her son, to avoid the nunnery, and most importantly – as an easy way to gain access to the man upon whom she will avenge Wales.

When Robert is asked to marry the woman he has loved for eighteen years, he never hesitates. But the lady who greets him at the altar has so little in common with the girl he adored that he begins to doubt that there is anything left of her bold and passionate younger self. Marriage to her might gain him the fortune and status his family has always wanted, but no wealth has ever mattered to him as much as Eluned has. And she, it seems, does not want him at all.

Trapped in a web of intrigue, revenge, and desire, they cannot forget their past – but can they share a future? The fascinating world of medieval Wales is continued in this riveting companion novel to The King’s Man.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  When I listened to the first book in this series, The King’s Man, I called it a “creditable debut, boosted by excellent narration”. I certainly enjoyed it but felt a little distanced from the characters. I wasn’t sure if some of that was because I had though the story would be more about Welsh independence/rebellion (and I have a soft spot for Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman). I wishlisted the ebook of Fair Bright and Terrible when it first came out didn’t immediately one-click. However, when the audiobook was released I was all over it like white on rice. Nicholas Boulton is a powerful draw card.

Royally Matched by Emma Chase, narrated by Andi Arndt & Shane East

Shirtless muscular blond hot guy reclining amongs tousled sheetsWhy I read it:  This is one from my own TBL.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Some men are born responsible, some men have responsibility thrust upon them. Henry John Edgar Thomas Pembrook, Prince of Wessco, just got the motherlode of all responsibility dumped in his regal lap.

He’s not handling it well.

Hoping to help her grandson to rise to the occasion, Queen Lenora agrees to give him “space”—but while the Queen’s away, the Prince will play. After a chance meeting with an American television producer, Henry finally makes a decision all on his own:

Welcome to Matched: Royal Edition.

A reality TV dating game show featuring twenty of the world’s most beautiful blue bloods gathered in the same castle. Only one will win the diamond tiara, only one will capture the handsome prince’s heart.

While Henry revels in the sexy, raunchy antics of the contestants as they fight, literally, for his affection, it’s the quiet, bespectacled girl in the corner—with the voice of an angel and a body that would tempt a saint—who catches his eye.

The more Henry gets to know Sarah Mirabelle Zinnia Von Titebottum, the more enamored he becomes of her simple beauty, her strength, her kind spirit… and her naughty sense of humor.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day—and irresponsible royals aren’t reformed overnight.

As he endeavors to right his wrongs, old words take on whole new meanings for the dashing Prince. Words like, Duty, Honor and most of all—Love.

A major spoiler for the previous book follows – proceed at your own risk.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  There really are some weird and unusual names in the British aristocracy. Even though this is Wessco (is it supposed to stand for “West Scotland”?), I think Sarah’s name is meant to poke a bit of fun at them. Although the “von” seems out of place even in a fictional country like Wessco.

I enjoyed Royally Screwed when I listened to it recently. I didn’t adore it as others had before me but I hadn’t actually thought it would be my cup of tea at all so I guess it started behind the line. Fictional royalty isn’t something I go out of my way to read or listen to – it’s too easy for me to think of the actual British royal family.  Still, it was rated so highly, that I ended up giving it a go and it turned out to be a good listen.

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