Narrated by Moira Quirk
Although I was late to the party that was the debut of Elizabeth Hoyt – this book, published in 2006 – I read it soon after because it was an AAR Top 100 pick. When reading it, I had a reaction several others had – WTF? Virtuous women go to brothels to take lovers? But I got wrapped up in the story, and as is often the case for me – short term memory problems, you see – I let the ending totally engulf me and make up my mind: I rated it a high 5. I went on to read the rest in the series, and indeed made Hoyt an auto-buy author for me.
In The Raven Prince, Hoyt uses a fairytale excerpt (of her own imagination) at the beginning of each chapter which foreshadows and foretells the story itself. In this one, not only is it at the beginning of each chapter, it’s a character in the story as well, in the form of a book that has great meaning and attachment for Edward, the hero. Edward de Raaf, Earl of Swartingham, bears the scars physically and emotionally of losing his entire family to small pox as well as having nearly died from it himself as a child. He also lost a wife to childbirth, but not before he learned that she was disgusted by his scars. He needs to wed again to bear heirs, but hopes to find a woman who can see past the ugliness of his scars. Anna Wren is a local widow that he is attracted to, but not only is she beneath his station, she also is barren. (cue the Law & Order: SVU music) This is their story.
I admit I had the same reaction Lea did to the thought of breaking in a new-to-me and really new-to-romance-narration narrator – Noes! Say it ain’t so! But as Lea, and now Carrie have pointed out, Moira Quirk is all that and a dozen cupcakes. I mean, she totally, totally Gets It. She has pretty much the most delightful voice of any narrator I’ve ever heard – while young, she can voice maturity as well. Her bag o’ tricks as far as characters goes is bottomless – she pulls out personalities and accents and all sorts of wonderful sounds and personas, seemingly out of thin air. Not that I want to lose her from the romance genre, but I can definitely imagine her doing children’s books with the utmost enchantment. On paper, using my left brain to make a list, she gets a checkmark beside every narrator trait that I find important, but using my wilder right brain, she touches every nerve and soothes and delights it with her voice. The most basic lizard brain pushes a smile through, and I find I want to hear her read the want ads and the business phone book. Of New York City.
Fangrrrrl gushing aside, she did a truly brilliant job of bringing The Raven Prince back to life for me – and now I have to admit, the story was just as appalling this time as the first: Virtuous women go to brothels to take lovers?? Well, add in a Notable Pet and an eventually Besotted Hero, and I’m happy and grinning and going, Oh sure, they do, la-la. YMMV, I’m still going for the high 5, at least for the narration.
Book Content: A
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Hachette Audio