Noble Satyr by Lucinda Brant, narrated by Alex Wyndham

Noble Satyr audioWhy I read it:  I was provided with a review copy via the author.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  France and England in the age of hedonism and enlightenment
A green-eyed beauty is abandoned at the court of Versailles
The predatory Comte de Salvan plots her seduction
An all-powerful adversary snatches her to safety
But is he noble savior or a satyr most despicable?

Antonia is pursued by the lascivious Comte de Salvan who wants her as a mistress. When the libertine Duke of Roxton snatches her from Salvan’s clutches, she believes herself rescued. Has she merely swapped one seducer for another? Will Roxton save Antonia from the Comte? Can Antonia save the Duke from himself?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I listened to Dair Devil recently. In that book, Rory and Dair row to Swan Island, on the Duke of Roxton’s estate in the country, Treat, and, among other things, admire some rather scandalous tapestries in a folly there. The tapestries tell the story of the marriage of Antonia, Duchess of Roxton and her duke. Ever since I heard the description of the tapestries, I wanted to know the beginning of the story. And so, I stalked Audible until Noble Satyr was available and shamelessly (honestly, there was no shame whatsoever involved) reminded the author of her (generous) offer of a download code.

This story has a HEA but be warned, the Duke is more than 20 years Antonia’s senior. I haven’t read the second and third books in the series yet (they are on my TBL however) but I gather that the Duke dies in between book two and three. Antonia gets another romance and another HEA in The Autumn Duchess.  In that regard, the series is not unlike another favourite of mine, The Roselynde Chronicles by Roberta Gellis. In that series, Alinor has two romances – the first, in Roselynde, with Simon, a man many years her senior and the next in Alinor, with Ian, the young man who was Simon’s squire. Perhaps it is the case that I was fortunate to read/listen to both series’ out of order – I started with Dair Devil here and with The Roselynde Chronicles, Gilliane. So I knew already that Antonia/Alinor were happily with their “current” husbands before I “met” the first husband. And it may have only been that which enabled me to enjoy the series. I know many romance readers think death of a hero is an absolute dealbreaker and I’d usually be one of them. But for these two series’.  I hasten to add that the deaths do not happen on page and in both cases, the heroine and (first) hero spend many happy years together. I guess that does fit my definition of HEA but it won’t for everyone.

The Duke of Roxton is a rake and a libertine. He doesn’t pretend at being a manwhore. He actually is one. He doesn’t go after virgins, but any married or otherwise experienced and willing woman who attracts his eye is fair game. In fact, one of these liaisons comes back to bite him years later so I didn’t quite buy his “no regrets” speech. Still, Roxton is not a pretend rake. He is jaded and bored and sexually voracious. But then he meets Antonia Moran and his world is turned on its head.

Antonia is very young and very beautiful but it is her vivacity and her delightful spirit which attracts Roxton the most I think. Roxton’s cousin, the slimy Comte De Salvan is trying desperately to arrange a marriage between Antonia and his son, the Vicomte D’Ambert. While Antonia and Etienne (the vicomte) are friendly, she does not wish to marry him and has made a plan to escape to England and her grandmother there, with the help of Roxton (only Roxton doesn’t know it yet). Antonia’s grandfather, the Earl of Strathsay, is dying and it is only his signature on the marriage contract which is outstanding – Antonia doesn’t have much time before she could well be forced to marry Etienne. It is even worse because it is well known by all involved (except Antonia’s grandfather) that De Salvan wishes to bed Antonia and plans use the marriage as a means to get access to her. Antonia detests De Salvan.

Roxton finds himself absconding with Antonia shortly after. They are attacked by “highwaymen” and Antonia is injured in the fray. While she recovers, she makes good friends with Roxton’s sister, Estee, and her beau, Lord Valentine, a friend of Roxton’s from England. Later, Roxton finds himself completely charmed by Antonia as well.  Behind the scenes he tries to do what he can to see that Antonia is free to marry where she wishes but things look pretty bad for that outcome for quite a while.

Roxton is reluctant to become romantically involved with Antonia because of his libidinous past and the big age difference. His reluctance comes from noble intentions but he is ultimately no match for her persistence; Antonia falls in love with the duke regardless of his history. For the most part, what he did before he met her has no bearing on her feelings for him and she is very clear-eyed about it all. She doesn’t think she can have a HEA with the Duke but hopes to have some memories to assuage a potentially dark future. There are trials and turns and delays (naturally, otherwise there’d be no story) but there is a happy result in the end.

Lucinda Brant writes quite beautiful and sensual love scenes but they are in the nature of foreplay. I read across the heat range of romance, from fade to black/closed door sex to very explicit erotic romance – the entire spectrum can be a very satisfying reading experience in the hands of a good author. I would like it if Ms. Brant were to take her love scenes a little further – to, er, completion, if you will. The scenes which are there are so well written and romantic and sensual and, they are, relatively, explicit. The prose isn’t at all purple and it’s certainly not to the level of erotica but there is mention of the body parts being touched or aroused (and Antonia does not shy away from observing Roxton exiting his bath, for example) – so, to be frank, it seems to me that heat level of the book would not be at all increased by showing the act on page. To be clear, I’m not after her to sex it up – just to keep going a little longer in the same vein. It seemed to me a little like a beautiful drawing, only… incomplete. I’d like to see the full picture – the same stylish lines and arcs, finished.

De Salvan is the main villain of the piece but there is another, used by De Salvan, with a mental illness. I thought, all things considered, the treatment of the mentally ill character was fairly sympathetic and the blame placed where it should be. Even De Salvan has reasons for his behaviour, apart from his creepy ways – not enough to make him at all likeable, but there was some light and shade to him.

What else? The narration is, again, stellar. Alex Wyndham does brilliant character voices and accents. Antonia sounds like a female; she is not voiced falsetto – it is so very rare for a male narrator to be able to do that with such skill. Each cast member is recognisable by voice alone and the tone, pacing and emotions are all just right. His portrayal of the Duke was superb. The soft spoken authority, the menace to his enemies, the helpless affection to Antonia; all wonderful. (I have decided Mr. Wyndham would make the perfect Marquis of Rothgar in Jo Beverley’s Malloren series, by the way.)

I very much appreciate the care and expertise on display in the narration – it takes the story to a whole ‘nother level.

Noble Satyr is a gorgeous Georgian romance, with an urbane and charming hero and a fascinating heroine. Add a narrator of Mr. Wyndham’s calibre; et voila! Magic.

Grade: A-

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2 comments on “Noble Satyr by Lucinda Brant, narrated by Alex Wyndham

  1. Merrian

    I have a bunch of Lucinda Brant ebooks in my TBR this review is pushing them up to the top 🙂 I will have to check which one’s now

  2. Kaetrin

    @Merrian: I think you’d enjoy them very much Merrian 😀

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