March Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Drawing of a Post-Regency gentleman - only just below the shoulders and on down is shown, on a white background. He's holding a top hat and under the titles (on the right) is a purple flowerFlowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale, narrated by Nicholas Boulton – A I was inspired to listen to this one again after reading this post over at Close Reading Romance. I’ve listened before (I reviewed it here for the old Speaking of Audiobooks column when it first came out) and I’ve read it in print as well but it’s a book that reveals something more on each encounter. There is something especially about Boulton’s portrayal of the characters (most especially Maddy) that makes them more complicated and sympathetic and nuanced than even they were on the page.

The things that struck me most about this listen apart from, again that I felt more in sync with Maddy on audio than I did in print, was that the deception Jervaulx practiced on Maddy was not ever addressed. The first part was, kind of but the main one? Not at all. Maddy didn’t confront him about it and therefore Jervaulx never specifically apologised for it.  Ordinarily that would be a thing that would bother me but in this case, by the end it was superfluous. My take was that Maddy never raised it because it didn’t really matter. She understood why Jervaulx did what he did. She loved him for all of his sins and, ultimately she wanted to be with him. It’s not that it didn’t matter exactly – but also it kind of didn’t matter. What the deception did was provide her with a way out and that led to her revelation that she didn’t want one after all. If not for that, she may have felt trapped forever and would never have been able to embrace her HEA. Not that Jervaulx’s actions were justified – just that it’s a neat bit of plotting to bring that silver lining out.

Favourite audiobooks from 2015

I mentioned in this post that the audiobooks listed at AudioGals were my favourite listens where my reviews were posted there and I planned to do a post here to make up my top ten. My sense of fairness was pricked by leaving out the excellent romance audios I listened to from my own library or provided direct to me by publishers/authors. In no particular order, the other top five are:

Noble Satyr audio

Noble Satyr by Lucinda Brant, narrated by Alex Wyndham. My list could not have been complete without at least one Brant title. Alex Wyndham was my “find” of 2015 in terms of excellent new narrators. His work here is stellar and the story is excellent too. Georgian romances featuring rakish and mysteriously enigmatic heroes are my catnip.

Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale, narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Seize the Fire audioWhy I read it:  This book has my favourite section in it from any Kinsale book ever and I have been waiting with bated breath for its release on audio. Nicholas Boulton’s narrations are superb.  So as soon as I knew it was available, I bought it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Olympia St. Leger is a princess in desperate need of a knight in shining armor. Sheridan Drake, amused by Olympia’s innocence and magnificent beauty, but also intrigued by her considerable wealth, accepts the position of white knight. Unaware that Sheridan is a notorious scoundrel, Olympia willingly allows herself to submit to his protection and his potent embrace. Theirs is a love born in deception. But as they weather storms on the high seas and flee from nefarious villains, the love sparked by lies begins to burn uncontrollably. Taking shelter on a desert island paradise*, the princess and the dark knight battle overwhelming odds to keep their adoration burning bright.

(*honey, that aint no paradise)

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  It’s been years since I read Seize the Fire in print. My recollection was that Sheridan was not always heroic, the scenes on the Falkland Islands were AWESOME and I thought the ending was underwhelming. I don’t really remember why I thought it was underwhelming but I remember being dissatisfied with it.  On revisiting it, this time on audio, my reaction was different (in some ways).

Oh, Spoilers ahoy. You have been warned.

Midsummer Moon by Laura Kinsale, narrated by Nicholas Boulton

MidsummerMoonWhy I listened to it:  I downloaded this audiobook as soon as it became available and snuck it in between review books for fun.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  When a powerful, decisive aristocrat undertakes to protect an absent-minded young inventress from England’s enemies, he finds his orderly world turned into chaos. Merlin Lambourne’s stubborn dream of flight puts her at risk, not to mention driving Ransom crazy. In spite of himself, he’s oddly enchanted by this muddled miss and her eccentric ways… but can he overcome his own fears and realize her invention may be the answer to saving both their lives?

A whimsical Regency-era tale of flying machines, fancy, and love among the hedgehogs.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  This is actually a book I own in digital and print format as well but hadn’t previously read.  It is the only Kinsale I hadn’t read.  I’m not entirely sure why.  But it meant that I could experience the book completely without any prior expectations.  This is my only opportunity until the author released a new book as I have and have read (and enjoyed) all the others.

Merlin Lambourne is a kind of absent-minded professor type, albeit a prettier one than usual.  Ransom Falconer, Duke of Damerell, is on assignment from Prime Minister Castlereagh to obtain from Merlin an invention which will aid in the war effort.  Merlin hasn’t been raised to be a member of the haut ton even though she is, by birth, entitled to a place in it.  She doesn’t know the social niceties or anything about propriety, having been raised by her (now deceased) scientifically minded Uncle Dorian and two retainers (twins, Theo and Thaddeus).  She is very focused on her main goal – to invent a flying machine – to the point of being unable to really take in much else.  The way Merlin gets his title wrong all the time, insisting on calling him “Mr. Duke” is funny and when later in the book she gets huffy with him she says:

“If I ever get to be a duke, I won’t be as big a bully as you are, I can tell you that!”

“Since you are exceedingly unlikely ever to get to be a duke, I don’t think we need concern ourselves with the prospect.”

“One just never knows, does one?”

I admit to a fond chuckle.

July Round Up

On Paper/eBook
Mad About the Boys by JL Merrow and Jo Myles – B  This anthology is a collection of 1 new and 4 previously published short stories featuring m/m/f romance (which is my favourite kind of menage story).   Dinner for Three (Merrow) is a wonderful start to the anthology, a contemporary about two happily coupled guys who are interested in expanding their relationship to include their oblivious housemate Claire – I could happily have read a full length novel about this trio.  Because of the very short word count, the characterisations are necessarily very thin and the story doesn’t take us beyond one day of encounters.  What there was however was so very engaging, I was sad when the story ended – I really wanted more.
In the Greenwood (Myles) is a paranormal fairy tale of a wood sprite who brings two men together and then manages to become real – again, this story suffered a bit from the short length but it’s fairy tale quality meant that a certain air of unreality was to be expected and made the story work better than it would have otherwise.The Antithesis of Magic (Merrow) is about a man with no magic in a world full of magic users, who finds he is the perfect third for a fairy and a werewolf who need him.  I wasn’t clear exactly on why Gus was needed and there wasn’t really any relationship between the three so it was the least satisfying in terms of romance.  If it had been expanded to a longer story so I could see a courtship/developing relationship, I would have enjoyed this much more because the set up and the tone of the story was great.   

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