Review of audiobook version of Regency romantic comedy
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: June 5, 2016
Listening Length: 7 hours and 16 minutes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
This is the third book of the Six Sisters series.
Beautiful, flame-haired, Deirdre Armitage is an extremely naive, 18-year-old provincial with a powerful romantic fantasy that marriage for her will only be for love. And, to her, true love will consist of a celestial connection with a beloved husband on a sexless spiritual plane.
Lord Harry Desire is a 29-year-old aristocrat who is the younger son of a duke. He recently returned from the Napoleonic wars and is a good friend of both of the husbands of Deirdre’s two older sisters, who were fellow, titled-aristocratic officers in the army during the war. Harry is as handsome and well-built as a Greek god but, unfortunately, or so Deirdre assumes, he is an empty-headed fop.
Deirdre has been convinced over the years due to family mythology, primarily promoted by her oldest sister Minerva, who spoiled her terribly, that she is the smartest of the six sisters. Which high opinion of herself has led to her second absolute requirement for a potential husband, that he be as intelligent as she proudly assumes that she herself is.
When Deirdre is informed by her father, a crude, hard-drinking, fox-hunting, country vicar, that he wants her to marry Lord Harry, she is appalled. She would not want him for his frivolous self alone. But marrying him is utterly out of the question for the primary reason that she has fallen madly in love with a man from a neighboring estate, whom she has been secretly meeting with, the notorious Guy Wentwater. Her father, along with her entire family, loathes Guy because he made his fortune as a slave trader. Deirdre herself also used to find him disgusting when several years ago he courted her oldest sister Minerva and a year after that when he courted her second-oldest sister Annabelle. But when Guy assures her that he has given up the evil trade, and he woos her with a non-threatening, passionless romanticism that echoes her internal fantasy of the ideal man, she forgets entirely that he’s an immoral jerk, and tumbles head over heels for him.
Will Deirdre succumb, as her sisters did before her, to the machinations of the wily Guy? Or will Harry prove to be much more than the dumb dandy that Deidre assumes he is and win her heart and mind away from his rival?
I have very much enjoyed this entire six-book series, but I have to say that, since I absolutely adore Harry, this book is my favorite. Though this novel is written in omniscient point of view, which frequently dips into the perspective of multiple characters in this book, including, occasionally, Harry’s, we readers are not allowed to understand his full goal and motivation in regard to Deirdre until the very end of the book. This is clearly done on purpose to add an element of intriguing suspense that acts to draw the reader eagerly forward into the story. Much sooner than Deirdre or any of the other characters in this book do, we readers are allowed to gradually come to understand who Harry is and what he is up to. And the fun journey to full understanding of Harry is frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious. The humor is frequently enhanced by the fact that we the audience know things about Harry that Deirdre and some of the other characters do not yet realize.
Much as Deidre’s misunderstandings about who Harry is are carried on to the end of the book, her delusions about herself and about Guy roll on almost as long because, for dramatic purposes, they exist as crucial romantic conflict that keeps Deirdre and Harry apart. I confess that sometimes I wanted to smack Deirdre upside the head because she was so unwilling for so long to admit that Guy is a horrible excuse for a human being. But at least she is never dull as a heroine. In one scene in particular, she is truly impressive as a dynamic woman, courageously rescuing herself from terrible danger. What ultimately helps the most to make her a sympathetic character is the fact that she has an extremely strong and believable growth arc, which is always a plus.
Marion Chesney’s Regency novels never include graphic details for sex. As is typical for her, nothing is described beyond kissing in this book. But even so, the romance between Harry and Deirdre is surprisingly sexy for a book with closed bedroom doors. Their chemistry blazes on the page, and the several kissing scenes in the book are delightfully sensual and exciting. I personally found them much more thrilling than many other highly graphic sex scenes I have experienced in other historical romances.
Though it is not absolutely essential to read the first two books in this series before reading this one, it is highly recommended, because there is a continuing cast of quirky subcharacters in this series whom it is a joy to get to know.
Marion Chesney was a genius at writing the Regency period. She frequently laced throughout her Regency romances pertinent details about that era that add color and authenticity to her novels, including this one.
I have read this book multiple times over the years, and this particular time I experienced it as an audiobook. The talented British narrator, Charlotte Ann Dore, does an excellent job, competently portraying both male and female characters of all ages and backgrounds.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5
Regency Setting: 5
Audiobook Narration: 4