Excellent audiobook narration of a wonderful historical romance
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: May 11, 2019
Publisher: Pandamax Press
Length: 11 hours and 37 minutes (Unabridged)
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
All of his blameless life, Stephen Kenyon, Duke of Ashburton, has lived an upright, responsible, and somewhat stodgy existence, caring for his estates and his numerous dependents. But at 36 years of age, his personal physician hands him a death sentence. He has only six months to live due to an incurable disease. Angry and despondent at an unjust fate, he is determined to not waste the few, remaining days of his life walled up in an ivory tower of privilege. He will ride out into the wider world and somehow, for the first time, truly live…before he dies.
In the course of his initial, aimless wanderings, Stephen saves the life of a drowning child by plunging in after him into a roaring river. In the process, he meets the boy’s beautiful stepsister, 28-year-old Rosalind Jordan, a foundling adopted as a young child by two charming, lovable actors. Under an assumed name, and purposely omitting to mention his title, Stephen sets out with Rosalind and the actors’ troupe that she is part of on their travels around England. In the process of sharing the actors’ joys and hardships, Stephen grows to care more deeply for Rosalind than he ever dreamed possible. But it is the doomed love of a man with no future.
This is an emotionally intense read as Stephen embarks on a journey that is perhaps the most difficult any human can make, accepting his own mortality. There is a great deal of truth to the saying that only in facing death do many of us ever truly learn how to live.
Stephen is a marvelous hero, a man of integrity, bravery and compassion. And Rosalind is his equal in intelligence, decency and kindness. Their love story, though presented initially as a presumed tragedy, is obviously not going to have a sad ending. It is not a spoiler to say that, because Mary Jo Putney writes HEA romances. Thus, we can assume in advance that somehow all this bad news for Stephen will be resolved in an upbeat finale. The surprise lies in the unexpected twists and turns along the way to that desirable outcome.
The lovemaking scenes in this book, as is always the case with Ms. Putney, are written with deep tenderness as well as passion. There is never any crudeness, and the sensuality always contributes to the overall flow of the plot, rather than being presented as sex for sex’s sake.
The historical details within this story are accurate and woven seamlessly into the story in a natural, unobtrusive way, such that the reader is swept away and fully immersed in a long-vanished world of the past.
Rosalind’s adoptive family of colorful theater people are a delight, and exist as an essential part of this novel. By the end of the story we also have a chance to learn fascinating details about Stephen’s family.
In short, in every way possible, this historical romance is a compelling read from beginning to end.
I have read this book multiple times over the years, originally in the form of a mass market paperback, later in Kindle form, and most recently, I experienced it as an audiobook. The narrator is Siobhan Waring, a British voice talent who does an excellent job with the voices of characters of all ages, both genders and many regional accents. It was a pleasure listening to her perform this wonderful historical romance. I will definitely play this keeper recording many times in the future, and I recommend it to fellow historical-romance fans without reservation.
I rate this book as follows:
Historical Setting: 5
Romance Plot: 5
Audibook Narration: 5